Disquiet amid plans to freeze chartered scheme

21st January 2011 at 00:00
Fears that the chartered teacher scheme may never be revived came to the fore at the latest meeting of the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

Council members appeared more exercised by this issue than any other, and assurances from the Scottish Government's representative at the meeting were greeted with scepticism.

Entry to the scheme, which is designed to keep high-quality teachers in the classroom, is to be frozen as part of the November budget deal between the Government and local authorities.

Jason Fitzgerald, vice-convener of the GTCS education committee, questioned the wisdom of that decision when there is "considerable interest" in the scheme abroad.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development had "made clear that the quality of teachers is the most important thing for children in the classroom", he added.

Senior government civil servant Michael Kellet stressed that suspension of entry to the programme was only a proposal which was being discussed through the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT). No agreement had been reached and the proposal was for a one-year freeze only, pending the "more fundamental review" of the 2001 teachers' agreement.

But Glasgow University's Jim Conroy summed up the scepticism in the room: "The idea that institutions of whatever kind are going to simply mothball their provision in the hope that this thing will resuscitate seems to me naive. There are all kinds of ramifications that simply haven't been thought through."

GTCS convener David Drever noted that countries which had achieved excellence in their education systems had programmes similar to the Scottish chartered teacher scheme.

Another member, Linda Fisher-Dougan, was concerned that a major report highlighting the impact of chartered teachers (TESS, September 24, 2010) would be "shelved" as a result of the scheme's planned hiatus.

It revealed that chartered teachers' growing confidence and improved understanding of pupils were having profound effects in the classroom, although some were still encountering hostility and confusion about their role in their own schools.

Education Secretary Michael Russell, in welcoming publication of the Donaldson review of teacher education last week, said teachers should be supported to achieve a masters qualification as part of moves to improve their skills.

But he was tight-lipped when The TESS asked him how this apparent emphasis on teacher professionalism squared with the decision to suspend entry to the chartered teacher programme.

"There is still a lot of discussion to take place on the chartered teacher programme," he said. "It's part of the agreement with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and would have to be done through the SNCT."

  • Original headline: Disquiet at GTCS amid plans to freeze chartered teacher scheme

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