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GTC scope and vision are greater;Letter

Your editorial "Dark side of the GTC" (TES, April 16) suggests the consultation paper on the General Teaching Council is concerned only with maintaining a register of teachers. Not so. Our vision for the GTC goes far beyond the scope of the consultation document.

As my foreword made clear, we believe that a strong and effective professional body for teachers will contribute to raising standards in schools and improving the status of teachers. The GTC will draft a code of professional conduct and will provide advice on a range of issues including training, career development and recruitment.

We are appointing a chief executive to develop the professional capability of the GTC, who will develop its advisory role, consider its approach to standard setting, establish links with other professional bodies and provide an authoritative voice for teachers.

The purpose of the consultation paper is to allow us to lay regulations before Parliament in due course which will allow the council to finalise its administrative arrangements quickly after elections in spring 2000.

Your questioned the proposal to use "balance of probabilities" in considering misconduct cases. We know there are a range of views on this very sensitive issue. We know that employers and other professional bodies use the balance of probabilities in deciding whether to discipline a teacher or member, while other professional bodies apply the criminal standard. We need to debate the best approach.

You also express surprise at the Secretary of State's decision to retain responsibility for cases involving the "safety and welfare" of children. This is a difficult area, where we need to adopt a consistent approach to all workers with children, whether they are teachers, caretakers or youth workers.

Charles Clarke

School standards minister

DFEE

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