Reforming the GTC;Leading Article;Opinion

16th July 1999 at 01:00
THE General Teaching Council has got as much as it could have wished for from the review of its activities and by Government endorsement of its aspirations. At last there will be a framework for the council's interest in teachers' professional development.

Sam Galbraith as a doctor needed no persuasion that initial training is insufficient for 30 or more years in practice. Defining minimum levels of professional updating, validating its quality and ensuring its availability are all challenges for the GTC and the Government. If teachers have to register the professional development they have undertaken they will be quick to point the finger at employers that do not let them attend courses or take extra qualifications. Itemising professional inadequacy will also pose problems since upon the definition will hang attempts to bid a teacher a final farewell.

The local authority employers are set to lose out. But their case for taking on the GTC's new role was weak. They can make requirements on teachers who come into their employ. The GTC will oversee a teacher's continuing fitness for a job anywhere in the country. The two roles are separate but cognate.

That said, the Government has missed the opportunity of reforming the composition of the GTC. At 49 members it is too large. Total domination by the Educational Institute of Scotland of the teacher places, which form a majority, is unhealthy, not because the EIS is culpable in putting forward a slate of candidates but because the resulting council is so open to criticism.

Allotting places to more sectors of education will not solve the problem. Politicians and administrators will continue to see the GTC as the mouthpiece of the union. That is bound to detract from its authority and jeopardise its new found role. Here is an opportunity for MSPs to change the Government's mind.

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