Staff who refuse to pay could have cash deducted from salaries by employers. Warwick Mansell reports
EVERY qualified teacher in English state schools will have to pay a pound;30 annual registration fee to the General Teaching Council from October, if a recommendation to be put to the council next week is approved.
If staff refuse to pay, it is proposed that local authorities should, as an "ultimate action", deduct the money from their pay packets.
The proposal comes in papers that the teaching council this week described as too sensitive to release, but which have been seen by The TES.
The proposed fee is pound;10 higher than the pound;20 that has been widely suggested since the council - which has been funded by the taxpayer for its first year - was created last September.
The papers say setting a higher fee will enable the council to build up "reserve funds" and protect it from financial difficulities in future years.
It is more than the fees for the GTC for Scotland where teachers pay pound;20, rising to pound;25 in April.
Legislation introduced in 1971 also allows the Scottish council to deduct the fee directly from pay packets.
A pound;35 fee, payable from October, was proposed at last month's meeting of the Welsh General Teaching Council. The council is now applying to the National Assembly for funds to reduce the charge. It has not yet been decided whether this fee will be deducted at source.
Meanwhile, the three largest English classroom unions claim to have been deluged by protests after the GTC distributed leaflets last month with details of the registration process - without specifying a fee.
Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said:
"Many teachers cannot understand the need for a GTC. To impose a fee on top of the low pay rise teachers have just received adds insult to injury."
Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said letters he had received from teachers had been "vitriolic".
He said: "People are condemning the compulsory naure of it all. The things teachers care about - workload, bureaucracy, pay - are not within the GTC's remit."
The proposed fee, which must be approved by both the council and Education Secretary David Blunkett, is contained in a recommendation from the GTC's resources and planning committee. It will be considered as the council sets its budget for 2001-2 on Tuesday.
Union leaders warned earlier this week that thousands of teachers, if given the choice, would refuse to pay the fee. All qualified state-school teachers have to register by June 1.
Carol Adams, chief executive of the GTC, told a TESKeele University seminar last week that it would be a "travesty" if good teachers could not teach because they refused to pay (see www.tes.co.uk).
The 1998 Teaching and Higher Education Act allows employers to deduct fees from teachers' salaries. The teaching council papers say advice has confirmed the proposed deduction from pay is legal.
Doctors pay pound;170 to register with the General Medical Council, which allows them to practise. Solicitors pay pound;495 annually for membership of the Law Society, though a spokeswoman said sometimes employers paid.
Annual subscription fees for the NUT are pound;105, for the NASUWT are pound;98, and for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, pound;108.
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* Annual fee to be set at pound;30, though teachers will be able to claim tax relief, reducing the net charge for those in the 22 per cent tax band to pound;23.40.
* Teachers in maintained schools to be offered a choice of payment by direct debit or deduction from salary.
* For teachers that refuse to pay by early summer, there will be "arrangements for a mandatory salary deduction".
* Teachers registering voluntarily, for example from private schools or further education, can pay by direct debit. There will be no deduction from salaries if they fail to pay.
* Newly-qualified teachers or those returning to the profession after June 1 have to pay the fee. It will be docked from their salary if they refuse.