WHATEVER the many merits of the General Teaching Council, I believe it has two defects that diminish the value of its contribution to Scottish education.
One is its belief that the path to excellence in secondary school lies through an ever narrower specialisation. This contradicts the highly valued breadth of the Scottish certificates of education and degree courses. It also has a practical downside. By limiting the number of subjects a teacher can offer, it encourages rigid demarcation between subjects, inhibits creative deployment of teaching staff, encourages the fragmentation of the S1-S2 timetable, prevents teachers knowing their pupils and increases pupil caseloads to ridiculous proportions.
The second is its focus on academic qualifications to the exclusion of any consideration of a teacher's responsibility for pupil welfare and contribution to the ethos of the school community. This encourages teachers to move between car, subject teaching base and classroom, looking neither to left nor right and not bothering with the personalities and needs of the pupils they teach.
I suggest that the GTC would better serve the interests of the profession and pupils if it promoted certification for secondary teachers to teach additional subjects, especially in S1-S2, for primary teachers to specialise in one of the four main curricular areas in P6-P7 and for both groups to move freely between sectors.
It should also insist that promotion to all posts of responsibility is dependent not just on successful presentation of certificate classes, but equally on effective teaching of all levels of ability, sympathetic supervision of a register class, including contacts with parents and participation in the development of the school community.
David Hill, Relugas Road, Edinburgh