New boss relishes 'a rare opportunity' to woo teachers

12th January 2007 at 00:00
"If it was abolished tomorrow, few teachers would notice and even fewer would care," Chris Keates, general secretary of teachers' union NASUWT, once said of the General Teaching Council for England.

It is comments such as these that Keith Bartley hopes to counter when he takes up position as chief executive of the GTC in March.

Under his leadership, he hopes teachers will finally start to understand and appreciate the council as an all-round organisation that ensures classroom standards and helps teachers to develop.

A Mori poll commissioned by the council last summer found that only a fifth of teachers had a positive attitude towards it - a third were negative and the remainder neutral. Mr Bartley has pledged to increase the council's direct contact with teachers and speed up the disciplinary process.

"By changing the make-up of the panel and increasing the number of lay members, we have a larger pool to choose from. As they will be able to attend more often, this should also improve the consistency of sanctions dealt out," he said. The 53-year-old former English and PE teacher has been poached from his post as deputy chief executive and director for children, young people and families at Oxfordshire council. He has also worked previously as an Ofsted inspector.

Mr Bartley, who has six children, described his new job as "a rare opportunity to make a contribution on a significant scale to what happens in England's classrooms".

The council is probably best known for its regulatory work, making sure that teachers are up to scratch. But leaders of the council are increasingly keen to promote their other areas of activity, especially in research and professional development.

The NASUWT has criticised the council, claiming that its work overlaps too much with that of other organisations. But the GTC speaks proudly of its involvement in research, focusing on pupil learning, workforce and training. The council runs three internet "networks", providing links and opportunities for newly qualified teachers and those involved in race equality, diversity or training. Mr Bartley is keen to boost the council's teacher learning academies, which offer training opportunities in 70 local authorities. And as for Ms Keates, Keith Bartley said: "I understand her point of view. She is on my shopping list of people to talk to."

* www.gtce.org.uk

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