Alphabet rules in popularity stakes

28th April 2000 at 01:00
The new General Teaching Council could be a happy marriage of diverse views or it could reopen old wounds. Warwick Mansell reports

IS ROSEMARY Clarke, from Balksbury junior school, Andover, the most popular teacher in England?

The Hampshire teacher's claim to fame results from the fact that she topped the primary poll in the first elections to the General Teaching Council, gaining more than 4,000 first-preference votes of the 40,000 cast last term.

In the secondary section, David Belfield, head of design and technology at Cowplain community school, Waterlooville, also in Hampshire, polled 3,500, 1,000 votes more than his nearest challengers.

But without wishing to detract from their glory, it has to be noted that these two high-scorers - one a secretary for the National Union of Teachers and the other for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers - both have names which come at the start of the alphabet. As such, they appeared at the top of the list of names on the poster campaign for the joint-union slate which went into staffrooms and magazines around the country.

Ms Clarke told The TES: "The GTC must be seen to be independent of the unions, and must concentrate on professionalism rather than politics. I am against it getting involved in disciplinary or competency cases."

But the election was not entirely union-dominated. Runners-up in both of the largest categories were independent candidates with strong electoral messages.

Ralph Manning, from Hethersett middle school, Norfolk, called for radical reform of the Office for Standards in Education and the need to rescue an "exhausted" profession.

A key plank of the message from Anthony Handley, a languages teacher at Coloma convent girls school, Croydon, was the rejection of performance pay.

Vicki Paterson, head of Brindishe primary, Lewisham, south London, was elected to represent primary heads and Tony Neal, treasurer of the Secondary Heads' Association and head of De Aston school, Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, to represent secondary heads. David Dewhirst, head of Broomfield, Leeds, was elected in the special school category.

The 64-person council, which has a majority of teachers, is made up from elected teachers and those appointed by the unions and organisations including the church, local government, and higher education. Education Secretary David Blunkett also gets to hand-pick a few (his are to be announced in June).

Chief executive Carol Adams said: "Reaching consensus among 64 people is a challenge. I do not underestimate that task."

Certainly there could be some interesting political clashes: Carole Regan, for example, a former president of the National Union of Teachers and leading light of the Socialist Teachers Alliance, was elected alongside Peter Britcliffe, a former Conservative council leader in Lancashire.

Among appointed members, Liz Paver of the National Association of Head Teachers, and Canon John Hall of the Church of England board of education, have clashed in the past over compulsory acts of worship in schools.

But with much of its role, particularly the relationship with organisations such as OFSTED still to be hammered out, the interaction of those personalities could be crucial.

As Mick Carney, appointed to the council by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers which is sceptical about the GTC, put it:

"If it develops sensibly and slowly, it can become a very influential body in which teachers will have a deal of confidence.

"If it becomes a battleground for all sorts of different agendas in education, it could be fraught with all sorts of problems."

The council has been set up to regulate and promote the profession. It will have the power to strike teachers off its register on grounds of misconduct or incompetence, and advise ministers on the recruitment and supply of new teachers, training and professional development.

Members will spend the equivalent of 20 days a year on council work. The full council is expected to meet three or four times a year and be split into smaller committees and groups.

The cost of teaching cover for them will be met by the council.


The General Teaching Council will be made up of 64 members:

25 elected teachers (11 primary, 11 secondary, 1 special school,

2 heads);

9 teachers appointed by the main teaching unions;

17 people appointed by representative bodies, including churches, local government, higher education and the Equal Opportunities Commission;

13 people appointed by the Secretary of State, to include parents'


Members will serve for four years except for those appointed by the

Secretary of State who will serve between two and five years. The chair will be elected by the council from among its own membership.


Vicki Paterson Brindishe primary, London, 1,402 first preference votes, 14 per cent of votes cast in the section.

Average first preference votes per candidate: 797. Total votes cast: 10,364.

Secondary heads

Tony Neal De Aston school, Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, 1,352 votes (38 per cent).

Average first preference votes per candidate: 594. Total vote: 3,561.

Special school heads

David Dewhirst Broomfield school, Leeds, 1,986 votes (32 per cent).

Average first preference votes per candidate: 874. Total vote: 6,117.

Teachers of junior pupils

Rosemary Clarke Balksbury junior, Andover, Hants, 4,295 votes (11 per cent).

Ralph Manning Hethersett middle, Norwich 3,986 (10).

Norma Redfearn West Walker primary, Newcastle Upon Tyne, 2,277 (6).

Marilyn Harrop Ryhope junior, Sunderland, 2,233 (6).

Jo Gough Meadowside primary, Knaresborough, N Yorkshire, 1,789 (4).

Peter Britcliffe St Mary Magdalen's CofE, Accrington, Lancashire, 1,761 (4). Sarah Bowie Wetherby St James Cof E primary, Leeds, 1,740 (4).

Tony Cuthbert Uplands junior, Wolverhampton, 1,728 (4).

Sheila Mountain Hardwick primary, Banbury, Oxfordshire, 1,521 (4).

Derek Johns St Margaret's C of E, Basildon, Essex, 1,216 (3).

Helen Meaney Homerswood primary, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, 877 (2).

Average first pref vote per candidate: 852. Total votes cast: 40,034.

Teachers of senior pupils

David Belfield Cowplain school, Waterlooville, Hants, 3,513 votes (8 per cent).

Anthony Handley Coloma convent girls' school, Croydon, 2,462 (5).

Carole Regan Central Foundation girls' school, Tower Hamlets, 2,148 (5).

Alice Robinson Our Lady's RC high, Lancaster, 1,216 (3).

Andrew Connell Appleby grammar, Cumbria, 1,163 (3).

Hans Ruyssenaars Coulby Newham comprehensive, Middlesbrough, 972 (2).

Anthea Tullock Bisgrove Davenant foundation school, Essex, 880 (2).

Andy Barker Bungay high, Bungay, Suffolk, 867 (2).

Gail Mortimer Saint Cuthbert's RC, Rochdale, 827 (2).

Mary Gibbon Hebburn comprehensive, S Tyneside, 807 (2)

Martin Scotchmer, Bishop Fox's school, Taunton, Somerset, 529 (1).

Average first preference vote per candidate: 345. Total votes cast: 46,272.


Canon John Hall, general secretary of the Church of England board of education. Urbane and seasoned media operator who has spoken out in favour of doubling the number of C of E secondary schools and repealing Section 28. He has protested at the lack of spiritual dimension to the national curriculum.

Representing the Catholic church on the council is Oona Stannard, director of the Catholic Education Service.


Gilbert, chair of the Association of Chief Education Officers and chief executive of Tower Hamlets, she courted controversy last year by urging her fellow officers to refuse to carry out bureaucratic Government tasks.

Mick Carney, Experienced "fixer" with the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, is now the union's treasurer and a teacher at Peterlee school, County Durham.

Chris Gale, chair of the National Governors' Council. Described as a "woman of steel" beneath a friendly exterior, she has proved a strong advocate for

governors since assuming her post last year.

Liz Paver,

flamboyant former president of the National Association of Head Teachers, appointed by the union, and head of Intake primary school, Doncaster. A member of the Church of England's synod and Archbishop's council, she led successful calls for primary schools to be given more time to teach the 3Rs.

Ian Beer, chairman of the

Independent Schools Council, is a former headmaster of Harrow and a former president of the Rugby Football Union. He once captained the Cambridge University rugby team. He welcomed government moves to promote closer links with the state sector.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today