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In defence of the teaching councils

The Ontario College of Teachers has followed the Government's announcement about abolishing the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) with great concern.

The mandates of the GTC and the college are similar. We establish registration requirements and qualifications that must be achieved before a teacher enters a classroom. We develop ethical and professional practice standards. Where a teacher contravenes them, we have an objective, peer-driven process to protect the students in our jurisdictions.

The college has worked closely with the GTC. This relationship benefits our teachers as familiarity with each other's practices facilitates registration.

This process requires that applicants submit a statement of professional standing (Sops). This statement attests that the teacher's right to teach has never been suspended, revoked or cancelled. These statements are a crucial part of our registration and the GTC provides these for teachers from England looking to teach in Ontario. The college knows that a Sops from the GTC safeguards our children.

The GTC plays a key role in promoting professionalism and international teacher accountability. At the June 2009 International Teaching Councils Conference in Wales, participants agreed to develop a charter for the teaching councils present. The GTC took a lead role. This proposed charter highlights that teaching councils are aligned around common purposes:

- improving standards of teaching and learning in their jurisdictions;

- raising the standing of the teaching profession; and

- assuring the public of the conduct and competence of teachers.

Teaching councils assure the public that qualified, certified professionals are tutoring their children. An independent professional body is necessary for raising standards and ensuring competence. This role serves society's interests first and should not be abolished.

Dr Michael Salvatori, Registrar and chief executive officer, Ontario College of Teachers, Canada.

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