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Teacher council is failure, says union

The GTC accused of failing to represent the profession. Felicity Waters reports

Education's professional watchdog in Wales has failed to capture the imagination of teachers and lacks credibility, according to Wales's largest teaching union.

NASUWT Cymru says changes need to be made if teachers are to have any faith in the General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW). It wants every teaching union in Wales to have a seat on the council, with teachers in the majority. At present, teachers elect 12 of the 25-strong council of members. The rest - some teachers - are appointed by the Assembly directly or following nominations.

"If there was a vote tomorrow I believe that most teachers would not care if the GTCW was dismantled," said Geraint Davies, secretary of NASUWT Cymru.

"While the council claims to provide an independent, representative and authoritative voice for the teaching profession in Wales, teachers find themselves in the minority on the council."

The National Union of Teachers Cymru also wants all seven unions separately represented on the council.

"During the council's first term, there was no representation from NUT Cymru, although we represent close to half of teachers in Wales.

"This was clearly a nonsense," it says in a response to the Assembly government, which is currently consulting on proposed changes to the GTCW's constitution.

A GTCW spokesman said that 15 teachers and heads, as well as former teachers working elsewhere in the education sector, had served on the council last year.

Before the council was set up in 2000 there was no single, independent voice able to speak with authority on behalf of the teaching profession. He said its achievements included making the profession self-regulating, enabling teachers to carry out professional development, and helping to shape government policy.

"The council recommended bringing statutory testing to an end and the re-instatement of the respect for teachers' judgement in on-going assessment and pupil development," he said.

Peter Black, chair of the Assembly's education and lifelong learning committee, said: "The council should be made up of more than teachers. It is an independent body with a clear role to police the profession and to set standards."

The criticism comes as the GTCW publishes its annual report, which highlights its work on a new professional development framework. The report notes that 3,660 teachers received Assembly funding via the council for continuing professional development last year. The GTCW now wants every teacher in Wales to have the same chance.

Chief executive Gary Brace earned pound;61,7700 last year, while his deputy, Haydn Llewellyn, was on nearly pound;49,000. Chairman Mal Davies received pound;20,000 in reimbursement of costs and remuneration in 2004-5.

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