GTCS warns against hijack of standards

14th October 2011 at 01:00
Replacing list of duties is not `appropriate', teaching body claims

The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) has attacked the McCormac report's recommendation that the Annex B list of teachers' duties in their current agreement should be replaced by the new set of professional standards being revised by the regulatory body for next year.

"It is at best debatable that professional standards can be drafted in this way without prejudicing to some degree their traditional purpose," warns the GTCS in a paper commenting on the McCormac review of teacher employment.

Some employers have attempted to use professional standards as "indicators of contractual parameters" - in other words, a benchmark for disciplinary action. But the council has never endorsed this approach as "appropriate", it adds.

"Consequently, it had not been anticipated that the standards planned for revision during session 2011-12 would incorporate quasi-contractual advice andor replace the need for Annex B of the teachers' agreement," says Anthony Finn, GTCS chief executive.

He goes on to describe the McCormac report's proposal that "external experts" be deployed unsupervised in classrooms as "both unhelpful and confusing".

Mr Finn acknowledged the recommendation that GTCS be given the power to approve systems for the use of external experts mitigated the implications of the proposal to some extent. But, at a time of teacher unemployment, the recommendations were both "unnecessary and undesirable".

"Confusingly, the McCormac report appears both to accept the need for teachers to be responsible for the education of pupils to have high skills, while also judging the requirement for GTCS registration as a barrier to progress," says the GTCS paper.

"This conclusion may be founded on an inaccurate understanding of a perceived requirement to register external experts; it also appears to contradict the need for high-level skills and understanding in teaching," it adds.

The GTCS argues that it would be "professionally inappropriate and potentially illegal" to devolve to other employees direct responsibility for the delivery of any aspect of the school curriculum. The successful work of visiting artists, sports stars, writers and musicians, for instance, was based on professional partnership with teachers who had detailed knowledge of subject content, learning and pedagogy. These professional safeguards should remain, it adds.

While the regulatory body welcomed the contribution made by experts as part of a professional partnership, it nevertheless warned against the potential use in schools of unqualified staff.

Placements

The General Teaching Council for Scotland could soon be in charge of the "Practicum" system for placing student teachers from all eight teacher institutions in schools.

The University of Glasgow currently runs the online system, which matches schools' capacity to university requirements to place students for teaching practice. But, from April 2012, the GTCS could take over that responsibility.

Negotiations between the University of Glasgow and the GTCS started in July and are ongoing.

Initial discussions have been positive, according to GTCS policy and strategy committee minutes.

julia.belgutay@tess.co.uk.

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