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New man aims to self-destruct

A history teacher, freshly elected on to England's General Teaching Council, says he plans to use his new position to fight for its abolition. Dorothy Lepkowska reports

A newly-elected member of England's General Teaching Council has vowed that he will campaign to get it abolished.

Neil Taylor, 32, a history teacher and head of sixth form at Chingford foundation school, in Waltham Forest, London, said the organisation was effectively redundant because its work was already being done elsewhere.

Mr Taylor is one of 15 new members taking up teacher representative posts on the body. Overall, there was a disappointing turnout in the GTCE elections with just 10 per cent of teachers voting in the primary and secondary categories, 18 per cent for the special school seats and 22 per cent in the primary headteacher contest.

The secondary head category was unopposed with Ralph Ullman, of the fee-charging Wellingborough school, in Northamptonshire, taking the seat.

Mr Taylor is one of three new secondary council members who are openly hostile to the GTC. He said this week: "I am going to make sure the GTC spends as little money as possible and put forward the arguments for abolition.

"We already have teaching unions to represent the interests of teachers so the GTC is effectively redundant.

"I want to see the GTC enjoy the benefits of early retirement - something to be denied to the profession it supposedly represents."

In his election statement, he described the body as "little more than a background noise in educational debate".

He added: "I cannot think of a single useful thing that the GTC has done."

Nigel Bowler, who has also been elected, described the GTC in his mission statement as a "waste of time and money". And Terry Bladen, a former president of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said he would campaign for a review of how the GTC operates and clarification of what teachers get for their subscription.

Sarah Bowie, a teacher at St James primary, in Wetherby, west Yorkshire, who has been re-elected to the council, said: "I think new members will realise when they attend meetings just how hard the GTC is work-ing for the good of the profession and how it is listening to teachers' concerns."

Of the current group of elected members, there are 13 women and 12 men. The new group of elected teachers will comprise of 17 men and eight women. This does not reflect the overall make-up of the teaching profession, which is 70 per cent female.

All of the nine regions in England are represented, apart from the South-west. Almost half of the new group, 12 out of 25, are members of the National Union of Teachers Carol Adams, the GTCE's chief executive, said it was healthy for the council to have a wide representation. However, she is concerned at the low turn-out and is reviewing the voting system.

She said that the single transferable voting system, where votes are cast in order of preference, might be too time-consuming when there were many candidates standing in one category.

"It is noticeable that where there are fewer candidates, more votes were cast," said Ms Adams. "The council will need to reflect on the disparity and consider whether the current system is off-putting."

She added: "We need to increase teachers' understanding of and engagement with their professional body, so that they are more strongly motivated to vote."

The GTC, which has a subscription fee of pound;30, has 64 members in all, 25 of whom are elected from the teaching profession.

Nine members are nominated by the teaching unions, and 17 by organisations representing governors, children, equality bodies, local government and higher education.

A further 13 members come through the public appointments process. All new members will take up office on September 1 this year.

THOSE WHO WON PLACES

The 25 teachers elected to England's GTC are:

Primary teachers (11 seats):

Tamsin Austoni, Sarah Bowie, Peter Britcliffe, Patricia Castro, Richard Cullen, Tony Cuthbert, Christine Green, Derek Johns, John Peebles, David Storrie, Sheila Mountain.

Secondary teachers (11 seats):

Martin Allen, Terry Bladen, Nigel Bowler, Peter Butler, Ronald Clooney, Anthony Handley, Barbara Hibbert, Bulvinder Michael, Gail Mortimer, John Rimmer, Neil Taylor.

Primary headteacher (one seat):

Pete Strauss.

Secondary headteacher (one seat):

Ralph Ullman.

Special schools (one seat):

David Dewhirst.

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