'Irrelevant' and 'unwieldy' - GTC damned by own study

13th November 2009 at 00:00
Audit finds 'confused' regulatory body failing to support and engage with profession

The General Teaching Council for England has failed to engage with teachers and is not a "convincing" professional body, a survey of its partners has concluded.

The organisation's remit is viewed as being too wide and it has not won the "hearts and minds" of school staff, according to independent research commissioned by the council itself.

The body can also be regarded as too close to government rather than a champion for teachers, the survey found.

The results come from a "perceptions audit" that interviewed 15 of the GTC's key partners, including teaching unions, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, and the Training and Development Agency for Schools.

"The General Teaching Council is seen by some as too large and unwieldy an entity to provide the strategic focus that interviewees think is required," the report said.

It adds: "All think it has failed to engage with the teaching community, that it is not yet seen as relevant to teachers' needs, concerns or aspirations, and that it lacks grassroots engagement in teachers' professional lives."

The GTC's remit includes teacher registration and regulation, training and professional development, and advice and lobbying on education policy.

Organisations with close links to the council fear it is trying to do too many things at once and that parts of its remit overlap with work being done elsewhere, the study discovered.

As reported in The TES, the interim findings were presented to the council in January this year.

But full publication has been held off until now to allow for a Government review into whether the remits of the GTC and a number of other organisations needed to be changed. None was necessary, the review found.

Fiona Johnson, the council's director of communications, said it was a "misconception" to accuse the council of having failed to win the hearts and minds of teachers.

There are different views about whether the GTC should be a voice for the profession and "bang the drum" for teachers or if that "treads on the toes" of the teacher unions, she said.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, one of the organisations questioned in the survey, said: "The GTC needs to enhance the status of the profession by being a strong regulator. It needs to focus on that and stop dabbling in other things. Its whole raison d'etre is confused.

"It needs to identify its unique selling point - regulation - and focus on it."

Ms Johnson said work was being undertaken to improve its communication with the public so that teachers have a better understanding of its role.

She also said the council had agreed in principle to change its structure so that the members who decide the regulatory rules will no longer sit on disciplinary panels.

This would bring the GTC into line with the regulatory bodies in medicine and law.

"It is not thought right for the same people to set the rules for disciplinary hearings and then hear the cases," Ms Johnson said.

CODE SHOULDER

The NASUWT is gathering signatures for a petition against the new GTC code of conduct for teachers introduced last month.

Chris Keates, the union's general secretary, has argued that it strays too far into teachers' private lives.

Teachers have said too many of the statements are overly subjective and open to abuse.

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