Panel to vet right to charter status

EXTRA qualifications such as diplomas and masters degrees may not qualify teachers for chartered status - unless they can show how classroom practice has benefited.

An independent panel of experts from universities and local authorities may now be established to assess postgraduate qualifications and experience where teachers want to opt for the new status, which will carry a significantly higher salary of more than pound;35,000.

Plans for a verification panel are likely to emerge in proposals on professional accreditation curr-ently being worked up by the General Teaching Council for Scotland for the Scottish Executive.

Myra Pearson, GTC depute registrar, said many of the 34,000 teachers at the top of the non-promoted scale were potential candidates and would already possess qualifications. "But that is not enough. They would have to show how they match to the standard for chartered teacher status. You could do a PhD and it may have nothing to do with what you do in school."

George MacBride, education convener of the Educational Institute of Scotland, last weekend echoed that opinion in comments to the British Association of Teachers of the Deaf Scotland. "You may have got your qualification just a few years ago. But if all you do is pin it on the wall, it won't count. You must be able to demonstrate that you can reflect on your teaching practice and how you work with youngsters," Mr MacBride said.

The Executive has accepted that accreditation for previous study may have been gained some time ago. Fergus Millan, of the teachers and schools division, told the meeting: "When we are looking for evidence of current practice this could go back 10 or even 30 years."

Meanwhile, EIS members in North Lanarkshire have voted to accept a deal on the working week negotiated with their representatives but rejected narrowly by their local committee of management.

Only 36 per cent of members voted of whom 55 per cent (617) were in favour of the agreement and 44 per cent (485) against. Drew Morrice, local secretary, said: "There are strong feelings about aspects of the agreement and it is important that the climate of trust that existed in the working group is carried forward."

Speaking after last week's meeting of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers, Ronnie Smith, EIS general secretary, said progress in negotiating agreements at council and school level "has been far better than anyone could have imagined a year ago".

Mr Smith criticised "foot-dragging" by the Executive and some local authorities in funding the agreement, including the placement of probationers.

West Dunbartonshire is one authority not to disadvantage existing probationers and temporary staff in its drive to find one-year posts for trainees in August. All will be deemed supernumerary.

Ian McMurdo, director of education in West Dunbartonshire, commented: "I fully support a one-year contract for probationers, particularly the mentoring and professional development aspects to give them the best possible start.

"But I also firmly believe that this cannot be at the expense of existing probationers or temporary staff."

Schools will have to use the council's new flexibility to continue raising attainment and to implement the national education priorities.

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