Euro-law fear for GTC

16th June 2000 at 01:00
A WARNING was issued last week by a leading member of the General Teaching Council for Scotland that it could end up in the courts over its new committee structures.

During a lengthy debate, Wolseley Brown, convener of the finance and general purposes committee, suggested that the professional conduct committee planned to replace the separate investigating and disciplinary committees could cause legal problems under the European Convention on Human Rights.

A teacher struck off by the council could argue successfully in court that he or she had been denied natural justice because the same people were nominally in charge of investigating the initial complaint and then passing the final judgment. "That would cost us a good chunk of the pound;2 million indemnity fund we have at present," added Mr Brown.

A shake-up in the GTC's committee structure follows the review of the council by the cnsultants Deloitte and Touche, whose report was published last June. The professional conduct committee would have three sub-committees dealing with initial investigations, conduct and the GTC's new powers over teacher competence. But the council agreed it needed to look at the legal issues.

The meeting also heard criticism from Douglas Weir, dean of the education faculty at Strathclyde University, of the "old-fashioned and narrow" view of teacher training which lay behind the national memorandum on entry requirements. He believed potentially excellent recruits were put off by unnecessary barriers to training when the rigour that mattered was at "the point of exit from teacher education, not the point of entry."

But Ivor Sutherland, the GTC registrar, said teaching must continue to be seen as a profession that is difficult to get into "so it can demonstrate high standards".

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