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GTC will meet in secret

THE General Teaching Council will carry out much of its work behind closed doors.

Only full council meetings will take place in public, but these will go into closed session whenever personal information relating to staff or members or commercially confidential information is on the agenda.

The full council will meet four times this year and three in 2001.

At its first full meeting on September 26, the council agreed that, for the first year, committees, working parties and advisory groups would meet in private.

Even where the full council delegates decision-making power to committees, the meetings will still remain closed.

Individuals have the right for disciplinary cases to be heard in public under the new Human Rights Act. The council is developing procedures to take thisinto account.

The decision was criticised by teachers' unions. John Bangs, National Union of Teachers' assistant general secretary, said: "If a final decision is delegated to a committee, it should be in public."

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said the presumption should be towards openness, otherwise the council would be seen as a rubber-stamping body.

"If much of the committee work is carried out in private, teachers will be suspicious."

Chief executive Carol Adams said: "A significant amount of committee business will take the form of considering unrefined information or undeveloped proposals where public disclosure would be inappropriate.

"The decision will be reviewed in a year's time."

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