Cast vote electronically: 15p will go to charity

11th September 2009 at 01:00
For the first time, teachers can vote online in this year's GTCS elections

Original paper headline: Cast your vote electronically and 15p will go to charity

Election fever should be sweeping the nation's staffrooms - at least that is what the General Teaching Council for Scotland hopes.

Ballot papers for the elections to the 12th council, the last before it goes fully independent, were issued last week to the 81,347 teachers on the register eligible to vote, and the 43 candidates have until September 25 to persuade teachers to back them.

Turnout in GTCS elections is notoriously poor, with just 22 per cent voting for the last council in 2005, down from 26 per cent in the 2001 election.

This year, the GTCS aims to boost interest by allowing teachers to cast their votes online, and it pledges to donate 15p to the Children's Hospice Association Scotland for every electronic vote cast.

More candidates have put themselves forward than there are seats in five of the seven categories - eight for seven places representing primary and nursery teachers; 18 for eight to speak for secondary teachers; seven for four among primarynursery heads; six for three as the voice of secondary heads; and two candidates for the one seat reserved for lecturers in teacher education institutions.

There are only two nominations for two further education seats, which means Carol Houston, a lecturer at James Watt College, and Hugh Paton, a lecturer at Anniesland College - both sponsored by the Educational Institute of Scotland - are the first victors.

Nobody expressed any interest in standing to represent teachers working in pre-school centreswhich are not primary or nursery schools.

The EIS has therefore already captured the two FE seats, and will hope to make a clean sweep in the primary teacher category where they have put up seven candidates for the seven seats. The NASUWT has one contestant.

The EIS will also hope to make inroads among primarynursery heads, with four candidates against two representing the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland.

But it is in the secondary fields that the contest will be hardest fought. Among heads, the three seats are being pursued by three members of the EIS and three from School Leaders Scotland. For the secondary teacher vote, the EIS "slate" has eight candidates for eight seats, and the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association also has eight.

Pledges to fight to protect education budgets and jobs, and to ensure CPD is at the heart of A Curriculum for Excellence are common to many of the candidate "manifestos".

For some candidates, however, the burning issue is the make-up of the GTCS itself as it moves from quango status to independent organisation later this year. A number promised to fight to protect the teacher majority on the council and to ensure council members were elected, not appointed. No "hand-picked juries" said James Forbes (SSTA), a French and German teacher at Lasswade High in Midlothian.

Meanwhile, Derek Noble (Independent), a teacher at Plockton High, accused the GTCS of turning the disciplinary process into "a circus", calling the treatment of Susan Barnard, the first teacher to be struck off for incompetence last year, disgusting. If elected, he said he would strive to achieve "discretion and justice" in place of "public pillory."

Candidate statements in full: www.gtcs.org.ukelection.

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