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Jilted GTC may go to court

THE General Teaching Council is to take legal advice on moves by ministers to shorten the life of the existing council, as it shifted up a gear to persuade MSPs to amend the provisions affecting its future in the education Bill.

Members of the GTC, at their March meeting in Edinburgh on Wednesday, fiercely condemned plans to prevent them serving out their four-year term of office until January 2003.

They will be forced to step down at the end of October next year because, according to the Scottish Executive, changes to the composition and structures of the council need time to bed down.

But Ivor Sutherland, the GTC's registrar, suggested that, since these transitional arrangements had not been the subject of consultation, the courts might rule them "ultra vires".

Norma Anne Watson, the council's convener, denounced the move as "offensive".

Bob Irvine, a senor official in the Scottish Executive Education Department, who attends GTC meetings as an observer, simply commented that the SEED would consider the matter with its own legal advisers.

The GTC has written to all MSPs protesting at other parts of the Bill. Mrs Watson said reducing the teacher representation from 30 to 25 leaving a majority of one was "totally unacceptable", as was the creation of separate constituencies for teachers and heads which runs counter to the concept of a unified profession.

She also condemned the refusal to give the council greater powers over continuous professional development, and described the reserve power for ministers to intervene in the work of GTC committees as "the sting in the tail" and "an insult".

Teacher members on the GTC said these issues were all indications that ministers did not trust the council or teachers.

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