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Henry makes it personal

Hugh Henry, the Education Minister, has put himself in the hot seat and invited teachers to send their questions on the Teachers for Excellence initiative directly to him.

The online debate, launched at the start of December, on how to prepare the teaching pro-fession for A Curriculum for Excellence by making them all Teachers for Excellence, has already attracted constructive criticism and positive suggestions, he said.

Now Mr Henry has promised to respond to as many teachers as possible who email him on a new thread on the website.

To concerns raised about the status and merits of chartered teachers, he stresses that CTs are not an alternative to Teachers for Excellence. All teachers will have to become Teachers for Excellence, he said. The review of the chartered teacher programme will start early this year and the results should be available in the summer.

Already it has emerged from the online debate that teachers could be required to re-register with their professional body, the General Teaching Council for Scotland, perhaps as often as every five years.

Tom Hamilton, director of educational policy at the GTCS, speculates: "As self-regulating professions become even more heavily scrutinised by the public, it seems likely that this periodic, compulsory re-registration will become the norm."

He adds that this already happens in various health professions in the UK and is simply a normal expectation of teachers in some parts of the world, with teachers in the United States having to re-license themselves every five years.

"How long can it be until a similar expectation is placed on Scottish teachers?" he asks.

His contribution follows the suggestion by Peter Peacock, the former education minister, that incompetent teachers could be put on probation and may heighten speculation about the means available to tackle the thorny question of "failing" teachers.

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