Candidates look to kill GTC from within

27th February 2004 at 00:00
Many teachers seeking election to England's General Teaching Council want it abolished. Dorothy Lepkowska reports

Thirteen of the 87 candidates in this year's elections to the General Teaching Council for England question its value and some want to abolish it.

The disgruntled nominees represent almost 15 per cent of all those standing in four teacher and head categories. Ralph Ullma, a council supporter, has already been returned unopposed in the secondary headteacher category.

The candidates' election statements reveal their reasons for standing, though they do not disclose where they come from or in which schools they teach.

Most of the candidates are supportive of the work of the GTC (dubbed at one union's conference as the Gullible Teachers' Club) and believe it has a positive role for the profession.

However, some are highly critical. Neil Taylor, who is standing in the secondary teacher category, said: "I can't think of a useful thing the GTC has done. Teachers across the country have been required to pay for an organisation which is little more than a background noise in educational debate.

"I want to see the GTC enjoy the benefit of early retirement - something denied to the profession it supposedly represents."

Another secondary teacher, Nigel Bowler, says in his election statement:

"So far the GTC has been a waste of time. It has also been a waste of money. This is probably the last chance for the GTC to be any use at all."

Terry Bladen, who is standing in the secondary teacher category, said: "The majority of teachers object to having a GTC and they object to paying for it. The council will have to look at why the profession has this perception and what can be done about it."

Primary headteacher candidate John Stevens, described it as "unrepresentative, unaccountable and unnecessary".

Several candidates fear rises in fees. The registration charge - currently pound;28 - rises to pound;30 in April.

Secondary teacher Bryan Cook, said: "The GTC's activities must not push up the registration fee for classroom teachers. I don't believe that requiring teachers to fund the activities of a GTC is an acceptable or positive way forward."

Chris Keates, deputy general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said that some candidates were standing to "minimise the impact" of the GTC.

"There are concerns that instead of focusing on a regulatory role, the GTC is trying to replicate areas of work that are already being carried out by other bodies, such as the Department for Education and Skills and the teacher unions," she said.

"Increasingly there is a feeling that it is an irrelevance."

Peter Strauss, a primary head candidate, who supports the GTC, said: "We must stand up as a profession, through the GTC, and force the Government to abandon its obsessions with targets, tables and tests."

Secondary teacher Colin Goffin said: "I see the GTC as an essential meeting ground between teachers and government."

A spokeswoman for the GTC said: "We welcome a wide and healthy mix of candidates and would be surprised if some were not anti-GTC."

Voting for the council ends at noon on March 26, the results will be announced on April 6.

opinion 23; Letters 26

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