National database fears

18th May 2007 at 01:00
Unions say centralised records of teachers' professional development may be the 'road to hell'

ALL TEACHERS will have to record their professional development on a national database from 2010 if plans are given the go-ahead.

But unions fear the move could be the "road to hell" if teachers' personal details are released to a third party, even with their consent.

The NASUWT, strongly opposing the General Teaching Council for Wales's plans for development and training, has branded it a "big brother-style attempt at justifying the body's existence".

But the GTCW said the overhauling of school records into a standard, central system would release teachers from "unduly onerous" bureaucracy. In the final consultation document on its proposals for a professional development framework, the regulatory body called for a government review on record-holding for continuing professional development.

It says a central system would make it easier for teachers to draw on evidence of their development, improve their practice and have an impact on pupils' achievement.

But Heledd Hayes, education officer at the National Union of Teachers Cymru, said the information would have to be "completely confidential" for it to be endorsed. In response to the plans, she wrote: "The question of the portfolio held centrally by GTC Wales is tricky. Errors happen and, despite the best intentions, these could pave the road to hell."

Elsewhere, Dr Hayes welcomed the move for a personal portfolio, saying it could expose schools that were not fully developing staff.

Geraint Davies, of the NASUWT, said data could be used against teachers and schools. "The drive towards CPD seems never-ending," he said. "When will they find time? When they return to their jobs they will have to play catch-up."

The GTCW has been driving towards a professional framework for teachers'

training and development since 2003, when a task-force was set up to work on the plans.

The latest document details the final part of the proposals, which earlier included the chartered teacher scheme, and now includes plans for recording teachers' professional development and more quality assurance from CPD providers.

The proposals have had a mixed response from heads, with some saying it is often difficult to find supply cover or funding for staff to go on good courses. Another recommendation in the consultation is a possible kitemarking of schools and local authorities that demonstrate best practice.

Mal Davies, chair of the GTCW, said the regulatory body was "putting in place a career-long structure for teachers' professional development that has been led by the teaching profession itself".

Jane Davidson, as minister for education, lifelong learning and skills, has accepted all the council's recommendations to date.

Consultation on the GTCW's final document in the series closes on June 15.

Leader, page 26

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