Search begins for first teaching council leader

26th February 1999 at 00:00
Ministers must choose the chief executive of the GTC carefully to send out the right messages to the profession. Clare Dean and Frances Rafferty report

CONTENDERS for the leadership of the General Teaching Council, the new professional body for teachers, are busily updating their CVs.

Ministers are approving the advertisement for the chief executive's job which is expected to command a salary of around pound;80,000. The successful applicant will be appointed by September and will have a year to set up the council, and organise the teacher elections for spring 2000.

It will be essentially an administrator's job - more interesting will be the choice of chair, elected by the members. But there are those who say the chief executive should have a teaching background to have credibility.

Cynics have said the choice may depend on how much the Government wants the council to succeed. GTCs are more popular to parties in Opposition - note the rapid conversion of former Tory minister Baroness Blatch, now an enthusiast, when she found herself out of government.

Elsewhere ministers are looking at ways to curb the powers of professional regulatory bodies, such as the General Medical Council.

The original intention had been for the GTC to be set up with few powers and gradually to be given them if it proved it could behave itself. But heavy lobbying during the passage of the Teaching and Higher Education Bill forced the Government to make concessions.

The council will now be able to suspend or permanently bar teachers for professional misconduct and incompetence.

The GTC is expected to be based in Darlington, with a London office. It will need a comprehensive database including details of 476,000 teachers, who will pay an annual subscription of pound;10-pound;20. Membership will be compulsory.

The Department for Education and Employment received more than 300 replies to consultation on the composition of the GTC. As a result ministers have increased its membership from 55 to 64. The number of elected teachers went up five to 25 and people appointed by major representative bodies, rose from four to 17.

The chief executive will ideally be capable of dealing with all the various stakeholders, able to run a business, competent with information technology and at handling the press.

Speculation has thrown up a number of names. Frankie Sulke, a former teacher who worked at the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and is now head of teacher training at the Teacher Training Agency has been suggested, as has her colleague Stephen Hillier, the TTA's head of communications.

Sandy Adamson, from the DFEE's standards and effectiveness unit - described by one pundit as "an archetypal bureaucrat but at the same time a free-thinking iconoclast" - has also been mooted.

Rowie Shaw, of the National Association of Head Teachers, and Kay Driver, of the Professional Association of Teachers, are tipped - but it is thought ministers will steer clear of the unions.

A number of chief education officers may be in with a chance. David Bell, from Newcastle, Christine Whatford from Hammersmith and Fulham and Tim Brighouse from Birmingham, have been suggested. Pat Collarbone, director of the London Leadership Centre and Margaret Madden, Keele University, might also be in the running.

Roger Haslam, secretary of the "shadow" GTC, believes that John Tomlinson, a long-time campaigner for the council, should be made temporary chair.


The General Teaching Council will be made of 64 members: 25 elected teachers, nine teachers appointed by the main teaching unions, 17 people appointed by the major representative bodies, 13 people appointed by the Secretary of State

The 25 elected teachers will comprise:

11 primary

11 secondary

1 special school

1 primary head

1 secondary head

The nine union teachers will be appointed as follows:

2 by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers

2 National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers

2 National Union of Teachers

1 Professional Association of Teachers

1 Secondary Heads Association

1 National Association of Head Teachers

17 members appointed by major representative bodies will be chosen as follows:

3 by the Local Government Association

1 Association of Chief Education Officers

1 Association of Colleges

1 Catholic Education Service

1 C of E General Synod board of education

1 Commission for Racial Equality

1 Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals

1 Confederation of Business and Industry

1 Disability Rights Commission

1 Universities Council for the Education of Teachers

1 Equal Opportunities Commission

1 Independent Schools Council

1 National Children's Bureau

1 National Governors' Council

1 Standing Conference of Principals

Of the 13 appointments by the Secretary of State:

* two must represent the interests of parents

* others must include people with experience of teaching special

educational needs and reflect the interests of the general public

Members will serve for four years except for those appointed by the

Secretary of State who will be on the council for between two and five

years. The council will elect the chair from its members

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