GTC closure: incompetent staff could cross border

27th August 2010 at 01:00
Teachers may slip through the net to teach in other UK countries due to lack of safeguards

The axing of the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) could leave incompetent or banned members of the profession free to cross borders and work in Scottish or Welsh schools, experts have been warned.

The chief executives of the General Teaching Councils for Scotland (GTCS) and Wales (GTCW) have called on the Government to clear up "significant" practical issues caused by the demise of England's regulatory body, which is planned for next year.

Education secretary Michael Gove announced his decision to abolish the GTC in his first month in office. But there are still no details of what will replace it and the other nations in the UK want to know what safeguards there will be to prevent teachers escaping punishment.

Tony Finn, chief executive of the GTCS, has now written to Mr Gove, alerting him to the prospect of "significant communication gaps across the UK which may be difficult to address".

He wants to meet Department for Education officials "to consider what steps can be taken to ensure that teachers who are guilty of misconduct, deemed incompetent or are listed as unsuitable to work with children cannot easily cross from one jurisdiction to another once the GTC is abolished".

Gary Brace, chief executive of the GTCW, has also attacked the "uncertainty" caused by the ongoing discussions in Whitehall about what should replace the council in England. At present, the professional bodies inform each other when teachers move between countries.

"We would be grateful if the Government gave consideration to the extent of teacher mobility in the UK," said Mr Brace. "It is an issue we all need to be clear on.

"There has got to be a plan for this in order to protect pupils. We need to know what proposals are being made for the new disciplinary body in England and what new system will be in place."

GTC chief executive Keith Bartley said the body had an "effective, well- established and cordial relationship" with colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

"We work closely together when teachers wish to move between the UK jurisdictions, acting in the public interest to assure the good standing of the profession," he said.

"We do not yet know what arrangements the Secretary of State envisages for the future."

Brian Lightman, incoming general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "This is a real issue. Whatever is put in place in England must take account of the fact there is considerable movement from country to country. It is one of the many unanswered questions."

A DfE spokesman said: "Ministers are clear that safeguarding the professionalism of teachers in England is important. The Government wants to ensure that there are arrangements in place that deal effectively with underperforming teachers.

"We are in touch with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and will continue to consult them as options are developed for the future arrangements in England."

  • Original headline: Gove warned GTC closure could see incompetent staff sneak across border

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