Members damn GTC on failure to win hearts or minds

13th February 2009 at 00:00
General Teaching Council's own research reveals low esteem in which it is held

The general Teaching Council is "too large and unwieldy" and does not have the backing of teachers, research commissioned by the organisation itself has concluded.

Eight years after it was established, the council has failed to "win the hearts and minds" of school staff, according to the independent report. Fundamental changes to its remit may now be necessary to allow it to develop successfully, the research recommends.

The conclusions resulted from in-depth interviews with 14 of the council's stakeholders, which include the teaching unions, local authorities and educational bodies.

Many reported that the council's remit was "problematic" and that it would be better if it focused only on registering and regulating teachers. At present, the GTC is also supposed to act as an advocate for the profession.

"There is sufficient weight of concern on this issue that the council should take note and consider whether a change of remit would be helpful and should be sought," the report, by consultancy Rand Europe, said.

But opinions on the GTC's role were "sharply polarised" among respondents, with others wanting the council to do more to champion the cause of teachers.

A spokeswoman for the GTC admitted that there was still a "big job" to do to persuade people that having such a wide remit was valuable, but the council has already ruled out narrowing it.

Instead, it has said it will improve the way it communicates with teachers to show how it can contribute to raising standards. It does not believe that its regulatory powers alone are sufficient to improve the quality of teaching.

The council has the power to strike off substandard teachers, but has been criticised for removing only 10 incompetent staff from the teaching register since 2001. The research was also critical of the way the GTC is governed, with some respondents calling it "unwieldy".

The GTC has set up a review, which could lead to an overhaul of its governing council. There are 64 members, which the council acknowledges is considerably bigger than in similar organisations.

"We want things to be lean and mean, but we want the council to be inclusive of different voices and expertise," said Fiona Johnson, director of communications.

Ms Johnson said it was not surprising that there was still work to do to convince teachers of the value of the GTC.

"The General Medical Council has been around for 150 years and not all doctors are 100 per cent knowledgeable or fans," she said. "Some of the work we do as a regulator is not necessarily popular."

Comment, page 37

64 - Number of members on GTC governing council

In short ... GTC research findings:

- It has failed to win the "hearts and minds" of teachers

- Many believe its remit is too complex and problematic

- The council of 64 people is too large and unwieldy

- Better communications are needed to convince 500,000 teachers of its value.

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