Dual role could prove a hard act

27th August 1999 at 01:00
Unions have warned that the new chief executive of the General Teaching Council may have a credibility problem within the profession. Frances Rafferty reports.

The new head of the General Teaching Council has been warned that she will need to win over the profession if her organisation is to succeed.

Carol Adams, the former education officer of Shropshire and member of the Department for Education and Employment's standards task force, has been chosen as chief executive of the body that will be responsible for governing and representing teachers.

These twin roles - being responsible for recruiting staff of the right quality and quantity, and policing the profession for misconduct and incompetence - will prove her most difficult task, according to teacher union leaders.

Her first problem will be persuading teachers that it will be in their interest to part with the proposed pound;20 that compulsory membership of the council will cost.

Jerry Bartlett, assistant general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "The chief executive's immediate task will be to deal with the public relations problem the council faces.

"She will need to win over teachers who are faced with an involuntary, automatic reduction from their wages to pay for the membership fee. The amount is not the issue, the concern is that the Government is imposing what amounts to a tax because teachers will not be able to work unless they are members of the council."

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, welcomed Ms Adams' appointment, saying he was sure she would have the profession's interest at heart. He said: "Above all she will have to demonstrate that the council is independent of government and that it will be able to recruit the right quality and quantity of teachers and ensure they are properly trained as well as dealing firmly with those guilty of gross misconduct and incompetence. But most of all she will have to impress teachers that they are not contributing pound;20 to be members of a toothless organisation."

Ms Adams's appointment has been treated cautiously elsewhere. She has earned a good reputation in local government circles, but the teacher unions are wary because her recent secondment to the DFEE places her within the Government's camp. There are also concerns that her personality may be too low-profile to head the council, which could need to be seen to take issue with the Government's position.

Ms Adams was an inspector for the Inner London Education Authority, and is a former chief education officer for Wolverhampton and Shropshire.

The GTC's chair will be appointed in the autumn and the council will come into operation from September 2000, with 64 members, the majority of them teachers.

Ms Adams said: "My priority will be to tell teachers about the GTC and explain how they can make it effective."

Jacqui Smith, education minister, said the council will be responsible for drawing up a code of conduct for teachers.

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