Departing GTCW chair hits out over training loss
After six years of chairing the fledgling General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) - during an often turbulent period for Welsh education - Mal Davies could be forgiven for bowing out quietly when he steps down next month.
But the headteacher is determined to keep campaigning, and has fired a parting shot at the Assembly government over its decision to scrap the individual training scheme for teachers.
Passionate about ongoing training for teachers, he was "dismayed" when the Assembly government closed the GTCW-administered pound;3 million individual CPD programme last October. He said it was "frustrating" that the government's CPD review was still ongoing almost a year later. "While this is being deliberated, teachers and youngsters are losing out," he said.
"We will be losing a generation of teachers if we are not careful. They are used to having an entitlement to induction funding in their first three years and they come out hungry for more, only to find it's been taken away."
Over nine years, the CPD programme paid for more than 35,000 training and development opportunities at a total cost of pound;27 million, and was recently praised by Welsh inspectorate Estyn for helping to improve classroom standards. Mr Davies has been on the GTCW since its inception ten years ago. He was appointed deputy chair in its second year and later became chairman, serving three consecutive two-year terms.
Mr Davies' tenure has generally been held in high regard by the teaching profession, which has viewed him as a strong chairman who has steered a good course for the council.
Behind the scenes he has worked hard to build strong links with ministers, civil servants and teaching unions, and has been instrumental in a number of key policies, including the recently finalised code of professional conduct for teachers.
Mr Davies said he was "very proud" of the way the GTCW had operated over its first decade, particularly in the accuracy of the teaching register and the "robust" disciplinary system, which despite concerns from teaching unions has only ever seen one formal appeal from a teacher.
The outgoing chairman said he had "thoroughly enjoyed" his tenure, despite a number of high-profile controversies. These include the non-refundable pound;12 increase to the teacher registration fee, concerns over the council's disciplinary hearings and anger over the wording of its proposed code of conduct for teachers.
Mr Davies said the GTCW would respond positively to any review of its role as a result of the Westminster government's decision to scrap its English counterpart, but that self-regulation was "crucial" for the profession in Wales. He admitted the registration fee was "complicated", but said the potential scrapping of the GTC in England might simplify the situation as the fee would no longer be based on GTC costs. He added that the recent change of wording to the code of conduct proved the council was willing to respond to criticism.
However, he admitted there were areas in which the council could still improve: "Sometimes we fail to get our message across to teachers. With a very busy profession it's very difficult - the message gets depleted somewhat."
Mr Davies, who is also retiring as headteacher of Willows High School in Cardiff at Christmas after 17 years in charge, will hand over chairmanship of the GTCW to early years teacher Angela Jardine. Mr Davies has been elected a "backbench" council member for the next four years.
Born in Neath and educated at West Monmouth Grammar School in Pontypool and Shoreditch College in London, where he gained a design technology teaching degree.
Started teaching career in 1971 in technology at Pollards Hill High School in Merton, south London. Then returned to Pontypool to head the technology department at Twmpath secondary modern, which later merged with West Monmouth School.
Later became deputy head at Newbridge Comprehensive before becoming headteacher at Willows High School in Cardiff in 1994.
Joined the GTCW on its inception in 2000 before becoming deputy chairman in 2001 and chairman in 2004. Served three successive two-year terms.
Member of the NUT Cymru, current divisional secretary for Cardiff and former divisional secretary for Gwent.