Complaints against teachers soar by 800% as parents pitch in

12th February 2010 at 00:00
GTC imposes 18 per cent fee hike to pay for cost of burgeoning number of hearings triggered by public

The number of complaints about teachers from members of the public has risen by more than 800 per cent in a year, the body responsible for policing the profession has said.

Unions have warned that the "worrying trend" of parents, the community and even other teachers reporting school staff to the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) is set to continue.

The rise in alleged misdemeanours being referred to the GTC is so marked that the council is imposing an 18 per cent increase in annual membership fee for teachers to cover the extra costs. On average, every hearing costs about #163;9,000.

"Initial conduct referrals" - cases brought by the public - jumped from just 12 in 20078 to 104 between last spring and the end of January 2010.

The climb is being attributed to growing awareness of child protection issues in the wake of the death of "Baby P" and increased knowledge of the work of the GTC.

The GTC budget for 200910 is #163;21.79 million. Teachers will be charged #163;39 - an increase of #163;6 - to fund this. They will have to pay for the increase themselves as the government allowance will stay at #163;33.

The number of cases of bad conduct have tripled in the past year since schools became responsible for reporting them directly to the GTC. Previously, they were initially referred to the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

The NUT is calling for an investigation into the rise in complaints. "It's a worrying trend which I'm sure is causing anxiety," head of education John Bangs said.

The NASUWT attributes the rise in GTC cases to increased media coverage.

"I don't think there has been a worsening in the conduct or behaviour of the profession; there has just been a growing awareness of the GTC system," said general secretary Chris Keates.

Both the NUT and NASUWT are protesting against the rise in GTC registration fees.

"The GTC brings no added value to teachers' professional lives yet those who run it have no problems spending more money," said Ms Keates. She complained that, despite the recession, "the GTC hasn't stopped any of its non-core activities".

The council spends #163;2.7 million a year on its Teacher Learning Academy while #163;1.3 million goes on publications and a further #163;1.1 million on website maintenance. The rent on its Birmingham and London offices totals #163;1.2 million, committee and council elections come to #163;701,000, #163;679,000 goes on conferences and events, and expenditure on "external relations" comes to #163;625,000.

A GTC spokeswoman said it was confident that the growth in referrals "is simply due to a growing awareness among employers that they have a legal duty to make these".

"We do not believe that there is a growing problem of misconduct."

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