Don't knock the GTC volunteers

30th April 2004 at 01:00
I am pleased that Philip Delnon took the time and trouble to vote in the recent General Teaching Council election and I'm sure he intended his letter ("Poodles should be put down", TES, April 23) on the subject as good knockabout fun. But part of me just wonders if his colleagues from the profession, who took even more time and trouble in offering themselves for election, were amused by his caricature of them as "lapdogs" and"poodles".

By now, even Philip must be aware that the council he so flippantly dismisses draws two-thirds of its members from among practising teachers.

The others are expert in education-related areas. And all of them are volunteers who give generously of their time and expertise to support the profession, in the public interest. It seems unlikely that they do so merely to "dictate government policy", whatever he means by that.

What the council does, as it is required to do by legislation, is to offer the Government advice based on what research indicates and teachers tell us is likely to support good teaching. Now, although he has passed up this opportunity to be elected to the council, Philip could still contribute to this valuable work by attending any of our teacher meetings which are held in his area. Alternatively, he could do so through the GTC website.

He is, I fear, at his most cavalier when he analyses the voting intentions of others - even those who didn't vote. I made no assumptions about them, but he is quite clear that their decision argued indifference. Equally, I have heard it asserted that it denotes satisfaction. We will never know, but a likelier explanation may be pressure of work.

One thing I do know is that I had no difficulty in finding worthy candidates to vote for, but perhaps I approached their election statements with a different attitude from his. And he is certainly wrong in claiming that those who did vote were of a like mind to him - or perhaps this was just another of his little jokes. If he cares to read again the statements of the 22 primary and secondary teachers who were elected by their colleagues in the profession, he will find that only two were openly antagonistic towards the council. All the others, with some minor reservations, were positive.

Still, I understand the temptation not to let the facts get in the way of a good harangue.

Nonetheless, it is clear that we at the council have much more to do to convey to the profession at large all that is done on their behalf. Perhaps I could start with Philip if he would care to contact me at the address below.

John Beattie Chair General Teaching Council for England 344-354 Gray's Inn Road London WC1

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