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Class contenders for GTC role

England's teaching council needs a new chair, but this time it is heads and teachers who are battling it out for pole position. Warwick Mansell reports.

ENGLAND's General Teaching Council is to elect a new chairman this spring - and the historic contest is shaping up into a head versus classroom teacher battle.

Liz Paver, current vice-chair, and experienced union man Mick Carney, treasurer of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, are being cited as possible replacements for Lord Puttnam.

Nominations do not close until April 15, but the jockeying for position has already begun.

The departure of Lord Puttnam could give a serving teacher the opportunity to lead the 64-member council and occupy potentially one of the highest-profile positions in the public sector.

It would be the first time the GTC had been led by someone with classroom experience. Former film producer Lord Puttnam has never taught. He was appointed two years before the council's birth in September 2000 and now believes the post should go to someone currently working in school.

GTC council members controversially elect a chair from among themselves.

Mrs Paver, former president of the National Association of Head Teachers and head of Intake first school, Doncaster, must start a clear favourite after winning the election for the vice-chair last September.

She polled 40 per cent of the votes in that six-way contest - as members of the three largest classroom unions, who all opposed her, split their vote by putting forward four candidates.

As a result, the National Union of Teachers, NASUWT and Association of Teachers and Lecturers are likely to change tactics and back a single nomination this year.

The TES understands that Mr Carney, a science teacher at Peterlee comprehensive in county Durham and former NASUWT president, is favourite for the union vote.

Carole Regan, a hard-left teacher from Central Foundation girls' school, east London, and former NUT president, may also be in the frame.

Other possible independent candidates include history teacher Andrew Connell, who stood for vice-chair last year, and headteacher Rosemary Clarke, who polled more votes than anyone when the council elected its members two years ago.

One teacher member told The TES: "The vast majority of elected teachers, and teachers in the country as a whole, will not want a head in this position."

Mrs Clarke said: "Some teachers might say that heads are slightly more removed from the profession. But why should you be denied this job, if you have the ability to do it?"

The new chair will be expected to balance their current responsibilities with working two days a week at the council. He or she will take up the chairmanship in September. The results will be announced in mid-May.

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