Ignore the conspiracy theories

29th June 2001 at 01:00
You predict (TES, June 15) an "increasingly bitter turf war" between the General Teaching Council and unions. As an elected member of the GTC, who has been paying union subs since 1968, I sincerely hope not. Teachers would simply be making fools of themselves. The only thing union secretaries have to fear from the GTC is fear itself.

I stood in the GTC elections after satisfying myself that the council was in no way designed to supplant or circumvent unions. I don't know of any members with such an agenda.

What the GTC can and should do, as well as maintaining the professional register, is address wider educational issues, such as the sense of demoralisation that has created the current crisis in teacher recruitment and retention.

Rightly, unions do speak out on such things; but in the political climate of the past 20 years, they have been too easily brushed aside by the Government as special interest groups, complaining as usual. The GTC, representing a wider spectrum, has a potentially authoritative voice; and unions should welcome it as an ally in the fight to improve the status and self-esteem of teachers in England.

And, of course, 44 out of 64 members of GTC are teachers. The idea of a non-teaching government bloc on the council, with a few turncoats, passing motions hostile to teachers is a paranoid fantasy of the kind to which we tend to be prone in the last weeks of the summer term.

But should teachers have to pay to be on the GTC register? I've always felt there was a good case for permanent government funding, but were that to happen there would certainly be voices denouncing the council as "running dogs of New Labour". And if any union secretary really fears that the GTC is straining at the leash to build an empire they will surely prefer to see the council funded through fees rather than in receipt of a blank cheque from the Government.

Andrew Connell GTC member 11 Mill Hill Appleby, Cumbria - Unions represent individual members and negotiate on pay and conditions.

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