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Teacher council date set

A 55-strong General Teaching Council, with a majority of serving teachers, has been proposed this week, with the teacher unions directly appointing nine members and the Secretary of State 13.

The GTC - responsible for disciplining teachers for unacceptable professional conduct, maintaining a register of those qualified to teach in state schools and advising the Secretary of State - will be established in September 2000.

But despite the Government's concession in its consultation document - ministers had initially intended no direct representation by unions - one teachers' association said it is not enough.

The document proposes a body with 29 serving (or recently serving) teachers, 20 to be elected by the profession and nine union appointees. Of the other 26, half will be appointees of the churches, employers, governors, commerce and other representative bodies, and the rest chosen by Government. The elected teachers will comprise of eight from primary schools, eight secondary, one primary and one secondary head and two special needs teachers.

The proposed term of office is four years. Council members may be all re-elected or re-appointed at the same time (as in Scotland) or the various routes to membership could be phased to allow for greater continuity. Members will not be paid, but can claim expenses. In the first instance Education Secretary David Blunkett will appoint the chair and chief officer.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said he had mixed feelings and was deeply disappointed with the small number allocated to the unions.

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