Members only?

SHOULD the decision to strike a teacher off the professional register be solely a matter for elected teacher members of the General Teaching Council? Or should the council be able to co-opt non-members and non-teachers onto misconduct and competency panels?

On the Scottish GTC the decision to remove teacher status has long been taken by teachers' peers. But there are only 50,000 teachers in Scotland. If the 25 elected teachers of the English GTC are to remain practising teachers in touch with the values and views of their colleagues, there simply may not be eough of them to deal with every case arising among the 450,000 who teach south of the border.

There is also a case to be made for greater openness and public accountability. And a sprinkling of legal experience on the panels might mean greater fairness. But what is being debated now is whether the council should be allowed to draft in non-members to avoid an invidious backlog of cases; the elected and appointed members of the council - not the teacher unions, council officers or Education Secretary - should decide whether it will actually do this.

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