GTC salvo for ministers

10th March 2000 at 00:00
THE Government's plans for the future of the General Teaching Council for Scotland came under sustained, and apparently orchestrated, attack at last week's council meeting in Edinburgh.

The proceedings culminated, as we reported last week, in a threat of legal action if the Scottish Executive does not back down from its intention to shorten the four-year life of the current council.

But it was the plan to divide up the GTC's primary and secondary seats into separate categories for heads and teachers that aroused the strongest passions.

The current education Bill provides for 25 teachers in a 49-

strong council, a narrow majority for classroom teachers which is also a bone of contention.

The 25 teacher representatives would consist of four primary or nursery heads and three secondary heads, leaving seven seats for primary and nursery teachers and seven for secondary teachers (the two sectors have 11 each at present). The remaining teacher numbers would be made up by one pre-school teacher from outside the primary and nursery school category, two from further education and one from the teacher education institutions.

The moves are being interpreted as another anti-teacher signal from the Executive which the GTC claims introduces a divisive element into its work and undermines "the unitary nature of the teachingprofession in Scotland".

The argument against "significantly enhanced representation" for heads, meanwhile, was led by a headteacher - Tony Finn of St Andrew's High in Kirkcaldy. Mr Finn said heads had never had a problem in being elected.

He also pointed out that none of the other professional bodies, such as the dental and medical councils or the Law Society of Scotland, were divided into constituencies and practitioners had a much larger majority. "I am not here to represent headteachers. I am here to represent the profession."

May Ferries, depute head of Victoria primary in Glasgow, also challenged any suggestion that she was on the council to represent primary deputes. "The Executive has sent a message to the profession that it can't be trusted," Ms Ferries said.

Graham Dane, a teacher at St Augustine's High in Edinburgh who is running for the vice-presidency of the Educational Institute of Scotland, warned ministers of the equal opportunities implications since more promoted post-holders would mean fewer women on the council.

The GTC has already pressed its case before the Parliament's education committee, highlighting other concerns about the council's weak role in staff development and the prospect of ministerial intervention in the work of its committees. It now plans to lobby MSPs and parents.

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