Not so negative about strategy

29th April 2005 at 01:00
I fear that last week's front-page story ("Strategy push too far", TESCymru, April 22) gave the impression that the General Teaching Council for Wales had taken a negative position on the Assembly government's basic skills strategy during our recent meeting in Llandudno. In fact, the strategy was not discussed at the Llandudno meeting at all.

The council's response to the Assembly consultation had already been agreed by members and submitted on February 1, and it was that document that was included among the council's papers for information.

As is the council's practice, the response related only to areas within its remit, and therefore, focused on the parts of the consultation that dealt with "developing the teacher workforce" and "identifying the learning need".

In respect of these areas only, the council wished "to ensure that any changes in schools do not firstly adversely affect teachers' workload and, secondly, that these changes are funded appropriately both at initial teacher-training and at in-service levels".

Your letter also quotes retired headteacher, Gwen Williams, who was not speaking as a member of the council. While you printed the essence of some of her concerns, you omitted Mrs Williams's observation that many schools already have basic skills strategies as reflected in their award of the Quality Mark.

There is an obvious need to address issues of basic skills in Wales as a key element of tackling social and economic disadvantage. Unfortunately, the article omitted the fundamental point that the GTCW welcomed the basic skills strategy and commended the Assembly on its strategic approach.

Our response to the Assembly was meant to inform it of the wider issues that need to be considered when implementing this much-needed strategy.

Gary Brace

Chief executive

General Teaching Council for Wales, 4th floor

Southgate House

Wood Street, Cardiff

Editor's comment: we are happy to confirm that Gwen Williams spoke to TES Cymru in a personal capacity. Last week's story reflects the GTCW's reservations about the basic skills strategy.

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