Partnership is protecting pupils

4th June 2004 at 01:00
Your front-page article on the "leniency" of the General Teaching Council for England (TES, May 21) could be misunderstood to imply that teachers convicted of sexual or violent offences against children are being referred to the GTC and then allowed to return to teaching.

This is not the case.

The Department for Education and Skills receives and assesses all misconduct and conviction cases. Where it considers the case presents a risk to the safety and welfare of children, it deals with it. Other cases come to the GTC. Serious convictions against children lead inevitably and rightly to the teacher being barred from practice.

Furthermore, the jurisdiction of the DfES extends beyond teaching to a wide range of situations involving work with children and young people.

The GTC considers cases of registered teachers convicted of offences which do not raise child protection issues. All our decisions are notified to the DfES so that it can decide whether the teacher should be barred from working with children more generally.

There is a close working partnership between the DfES and the GTC in the interests not only of child safety but also of the integrity of the profession.

Margaret Morgan Chair, Professional standards committee General Teaching Council for England Birmingham

The Editor writes: The Government's guidance states that the Education Secretary should not only handle cases that directly involve children. It states that the Education Secretary should consider cases where teachers commit sexual offences against someone over 18, any offence involving serious violence and "behaviour which indicates a risk to others".

However, teachers who have committed all of those offences have had their cases examined by the GTC instead of the DfES. On the day the article appeared a GTC conduct panel heard the case of Stephen Hunt, who had been convicted on six counts of indecent assault.

See the DfES July 2003 publication "Child Protection: Procedures for Barring or Restricting People Working with Children in Education", pages 7amp;8 paragraphs 19 to 22, www.dfes.gov.uk

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