GTCW opts to freeze fee amid conflict fears
The registration fee for teachers in Wales will remain frozen at pound;45 for the next financial year amid concerns that the General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) could face a backlash if it pushed ahead with an increase.
The GTCW had been considering whether to raise the fee to pound;50, but decided it would be "insensitive" in the financial climate. Teachers in Wales are already unhappy at having to pay pound;12 more for registration than their colleagues in England.
Keeping the fee at its current rate means the council will have to make pound;80,000 worth of efficiency savings. It is considering cutting costs by pound;50,000 by moving out of its Cardiff city centre offices.
A recent GTCW finance report suggested that a minimum fee increase of pound;2.50 was needed in 201112 to make up for staff costs and overhead contributions lost when the Assembly government scrapped the pound;3 million annual continuing professional development programme.
But it concluded: "Given the current financial climate and sensitivities following the decision in England to abolish the GTCE (General Teaching Council for England), it is sensible not to recommend an increase and rely on savings."
GTCW council members agreed not to increase the fee at a meeting in Trefforest last week.
Helene Mansfield, a council member and former headteacher, said: "We know we have a job to do just to persuade our own profession of what we do. At the same time, to go to them and say: `We need more money from you' might not be the best option."
Jacqui Turnbull, GTCW deputy chair, said: "It's better to tread water than to create controversy."
However, not all members agreed it was the best course of action. Dr Philip Bassett, a lecturer at Glyndr University, Wrexham, said: "We have to be careful of not being seen to be running scared. Do we believe in what we do? I have no problems in making efficiency savings to make services better, but I do have a problem in efficiency savings if things are getting worse."
Other suggestions are cutting attendance at events such as the Urdd Eisteddfod and scrapping the annual lecture, saving a potential pound;12,700, bringing translation services in-house, saving pound;7,500, and an embargo on using agency staff to cover vacancies, saving pound;5,000.
Rex Phillips, Wales organiser of the biggest teaching union NASUWT, said the council had made the right decision.
"We've argued that Wales cannot support its own teaching council and this is more evidence that it is unsustainable."
The GTCW is writing to education minister Leighton Andrews, warning of the possible impact on its ability to deliver its statutory functions by not increasing the fee.
ANGER OVER MOVE TO SCRAP ENGLAND REGULATOR
Members of the GTCW have warned of serious knock-on effects of the Westminster government's decision to scrap the General Teaching Council in England.
At the first council meeting since Westminster Education Secretary Michael Gove announced his decision, Welsh members reacted with anger to the news.
Susan Davies, headteacher of Cynffig Comprehensive School in Bridgend, said: "It seems ludicrous to me that they are abolishing the GTC in England at a time when we are trying to protect our professionalism and integrity. I'm seriously concerned that we will have a disparate mish-mash in England."
GTCW chief executive Gary Brace said there would be repercussions in Wales. "If you have a deregulated system in England but a regulated system in Wales, you will have practical issues when teachers come over the border," he said.
Former headteacher Helene Mansfield said: "Teaching is under scrutiny as never before. We are there to guarantee the standing of educationalists as professionals."