New GTCW chair to put chalkface staff at heart

4th June 2010 at 01:00
As a practising teacher, she seeks to bring fresh perspective to troubled council

Following a series of spats with teaching unions, Angela Jardine knows that she has her work cut out to improve the image of the General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW).

As the council's new chair, she admits the GTCW has made mistakes - not least with its proposed new code of conduct - but she is confident that these are blips that can be overcome.

Ms Jardine, an early-years teacher at Gabalfa Primary in Cardiff, is adamant that she will bring a different perspective to the role when she takes over in September, and has promised to start a "two-way conversation" with her peers.

"I think it's crucial that we have a classroom teacher at the forefront," she told TES Cymru. "I will give teachers a really good chance of having their voices heard."

The GTCW has fallen out of favour with many in the teaching profession in recent years.

Last year, a pound;100,000 hole in the council's budget prompted it to ask the Assembly government to increase the annual registration fee to teachers, just a year after it had been controversially raised by pound;12 to pound;45.

Then it was heavily criticised for failing to consult over changes to its disciplinary procedures, before being attacked over its proposed code of conduct, which unions branded "disturbing and demeaning".

The council's disciplinary hearings have also been criticised for inconsistent judgements and for prying into teachers' private lives.

Ms Jardine, who has been an elected member of the council for a decade, was chosen by the 24 members of the council to be their new chair for the next two years.

With 23 years of teaching experience at Gabalfa, she is the first practising classroom teacher to have been elected to the chair, and will take over from Mal Davies, head of Willows High School in Cardiff.

Ms Jardine said she hoped her appointment would help change impressions of the GTCW.

"I think it can be a really positive thing - it can help teachers in the classroom make the link between their role and ours, and I'm sure it will go a long way to improving relations with classroom teachers."

She denied the GTCW has an image problem, but admitted that many teachers are uncertain whether to view the council as a funding body or a disciplinary council.

"We are not seeking out work to discipline teachers but we are there when it comes to us," she said.

"The vast majority of teachers perform at a very high level day-in day- out, but a very small minority of teachers fall short of those standards. The GTCW wants to communicate more with the teachers that are upholding the standards."

Ms Jardine said that recently announced changes to the tone of the council's proposed code of professional conduct - making it less prescriptive and more celebratory of the role of teachers - will go some way to building bridges with the profession.

"We acknowledged that the tone of the code was not as good as it could have been," she said.

She also vowed to fight for continuing professional development opportunities for teachers after the Assembly government withdrew the GTCW-administered annual pound;3 million CPD cash pot.

She said: "I feel it's only fair that as professionals we have some commitment to keeping our knowledge and skills up to date. It's crucial that the voice of the GTCW is represented in any review."

Angela Jardine CV

  • From Wrexham in north Wales.
  • Psychology degree from Cardiff University.
  • Completed initial teacher training at Cardiff University.
  • Has taught for 23 years at Gabalfa Primary in Cardiff.
  • Became a member of the GTCW on its formation in 2000. Takes over as chair in September, succeeding Mal Davies, head of Willows High School in Cardiff.
  • Will be the first classroom teacher to chair the GTCW.
    • Original paper headline: New GTCW chair pledges to put chalkface staff at its heart

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