Apathy fears as teachers fail to vote

18th December 1998 at 00:00
CONCERN has been raised by the apparent apathy of the teaching profession following the record low turn-out for the four-yearly elections for teacher members of the General Teaching Council.

At a crucial time in the development of the body charged with safeguarding teachers' professional standards, only 27.5 per cent voted in the poll.

The Government has just announced a review of the council's duties which offers it the prospect of significantly beefed-up powers over continuous teacher training and competence, although the investigation will look at its composition and functions before agreeing any change.

Ivor Sutherland, the GTC registrar, described the results as "a bit disappointing given our efforts to extend communication, raise our profile and become more proactive."

But his "spin" was that "if we were doing something terribly wrong, the profession would tell us so.

"The complacency which the results appear to suggest may therefore be an indication that we are doing the job reasonably well."

Mr Sutherland also pointed out that the number of candidates exceeded the 22 teacher seats by "an acceptable margin".

There were also four candidates vying for the single seat representative of staff in the teacher education institutions, and "for the first time in years" a contest for the three further education seats.

The elections represent a triumph for the Educational Institute of Scotland who took every primary seat (although one was not an official union candidate) and all but two of the secondary places. A number of prominent left-wingers from the EIS and Scottish Secondary Teachers Association are now fresh faces on the council.

The results were a particular humiliation for Mary Rose Caden, the outgoing convener, who refused to stand down when she failed to be selected for the EIS "slate". She came 23rd out of the 27 secondary candidates.

Top of the primary poll was May Ferries, a former EIS president and depute head of Victoria Primary in Glasgow. Leading the secondary field was Tony Finn, GTC education convener and head of St Andrew's High in Kirkcaldy.

Leading article, page 10 Jotter, back page

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