'Gullible teachers club' raises ire

28th January 2000 at 00:00
MINISTERS may set great store by it, but at schools in David Blunkett's Sheffield constituency "GTC" stands for Gullible Teachers' Club.

The General Teaching Council, to use its correct title, aims to raise the status of the profession, with film producer David Puttnam as teachers' champion and cheerleader.

In Sheffield staffrooms, the talk among members of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers is of an organisation offering "nothing for something".

This twist on the Education Secretary's favourite phrase for performance-related pay, "something for something", could form the basis of debate at the union's Easter conference.

Along with colleagues in Doncaster, they believe the GTC will "merely keep a few people off the street who might otherwise be usefully employed in front of a class of challenging pupils".

And their complaints of a tax imposed on teachers before they can seek employment echo unhappiness in Oxfordshire, Worcester and parts of Wales about the pound;20 GTC registration fee.

They feature in an early list of 133 motions which will be cut to 20 for the NASUWT's conference in Llandudno Bay at Easter.

There are the usual gripes about workload, bureaucracy and loss of on-contact time. But it will be over this Easter's conference season where the Government's drive to modernise the profession with new pay and conditions will be sorely tested.

Already NASUWT members in South Derbyshire are calling for ballots in favour of industrial action if the new pay and performance management proposals are deemed unreasonable.

Industrial action is mooted again by teachers in Solihull, London and Leeds over the performance threshold.

NASUWT members in Devon and Hull meanwhile want the same early-retirement deal offered to "jaded heads" made available for classroom teachers.

There is the customary call for Chris Woodhead to be removed from his post as chief inspector, but this year the conference has a new bete noire - John McIntosh, head of the London Oratory School which is attended by the Prime Minister's sons.

Mr McIntosh makes several appearances after asking parents, including the Blairs, for pound;30 a month for the first boy, pound;15 for the second.

"The conference calls on Mr Blair to increase funding for all state schools by this amount," say NASUWT Southampton members. "In this way, he can begin to assure, for all children, the staffing, resources and buildings they need."

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