Sabbatical campaign proposed by council

4th August 2000 at 01:00
THE GENERAL Teaching Council is poised to unveil a campaign to improve teachers' access to professional development, with sabbaticals just one of a host of ideas to be put to ministers.

Draft proposals, presented to the council's members and seen by The TES, claim that in its first year the council could: urge the Government to introduce sabbaticals; campaign for teachers to have the chance to update their subject knowledge and skills in week-end or half-term courses; push for new teachers' access to professional development immediately after the induction year; set up a research programme to identify effective professional development courses; use its website to allow teachers to monitor the quality of such courses.

The proposals, drawn up by GTC officials, have yet to be considered by members, who would need to approve them after the council comes into being next month.

But early indications are that they will command support.

One member, who asked not to be named, said the plans could mean a more active teaching council than many had envisaged, a move likely to prove popular with teacher.

The source said: "The GTC is going to have to offer something that teachers will want to buy into. Professional development is one area that everybody would subscribe to."

Carol Adams, the council's chief executive, said the proposals, put to members at preliminary meetings in June, represented "early thinking", and were not council policy.

But she added that one potentially key area for the council could be assessing the quality of training courses.

She said: "There's a lot of money being spent on professional development, and not all of it is being spent to the maximum benefit of teachers and students."

John Bangs, assistant secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the council should advise Government on professional development. However, he would be concerned about its moving immediately into areas such as quality assurance.

He added: "There is a danger that the council will take too much on and try to run before it can walk."

Earlier this year, Ms Adams suggested that teachers be given the chance of a six-week sabbatical after five years in the job.

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