GTCW's future in doubt

11th June 2010 at 01:00
Welsh regulator under increased scrutiny following demise of its counterpart across the border

The future of Wales's teaching watchdog has been called into question after its English equivalent was scrapped.

Westminster's Education Secretary, Michael Gove, announced last week that the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) would be axed because it does not improve teaching standards.

Classroom union NASUWT Cymru said teachers in Wales would now expect the days of the General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) to be numbered, while NUT Cymru called for a review of its role and functions.

Although they have not taken their Westminster colleagues' position on the matter, the Welsh Conservatives said they were reviewing the place of the GTCW as part of their commitment to cutting bureaucracy in teaching.

A decision about the future of the GTCW lies with the Assembly government.

The Welsh teaching council's chief executive, Gary Brace, said there was "no reason" why Wales should follow England, but the watchdog has already written to education minister Leighton Andrews seeking reassurances about its future.

Rex Phillips, Wales organiser of the NASUWT, said: "We have consistently argued that Wales cannot sustain a separate council, and since the council in England is to go, then the only option is for Wales to follow suit.

"There are more important priorities in Wales than spending nearly pound;2 million on a body that has failed to gain the respect and confidence of the teaching profession."

David Evans, secretary of NUT Cymru, said: "There is a need for a body to regulate the profession, but whether it's in the current guise of the GTCW or not is up for debate.

"We have had many concerns about the GTCW over the years, and its role is bound to come in for scrutiny now. "

But Philip Dixon, secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Cymru, urged caution. "Whatever its failings, the GTCW ensures that teachers are regulated by other teachers and not faceless bureaucrats," he said.

"We would urge the Assembly government to think long and hard before being tempted to mimic this latest ill thought-out policy emanating from Westminster."

Mr Brace said: "I can't see anyone in the Assembly government saying the work we do hasn't been successful."

He said that if the GTCW were scrapped, its powers would have to be given to the Assembly government or another quango, which would cost money.

Mr Brace added: "It's absolutely unthinkable in a post-devolution world that these powers would go to London."

The Assembly government said it had "noted" the Department for Education's announcement about the GTC and would consider any implications arising from the decision.

Original paper headline: GTCW's future in doubt after English watchdog is put down

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