Steps to restore status

15th December 2000 at 00:00
WHAT difference will the General Teaching Council make to my life as a teacher?

What guarantee is there that setting up a national body and requiring all teachers to sign up to it will be good value for money?

The GTC is responding urgently to these very valid questions and the answers have to be positive. We must make a difference because we cannot afford as a society for it to be otherwise. We are in danger of losing many of our best teachers and some of our best recruits and there are serious implications for the future learning opportunities of young people.

The Council's job is to help transform the culture of teaching to one of high trust, high confidence and high satisfaction. It will take several years to begin to see this change and the Council will not achieve anything in isolation. We need to engage other agencies to recognise that by treating teachers as professionals, encouraging them to exercise their judgment, investing in them as valued individuals and creating a proper balance between autonomy and accountability we could build further on the impressive improvements in our schools.

The Council is working on a set of key priorities which will form the basis of its advice to Government and its future advocacy on behalf of teachers. These are:

* A career-long enitlement for all teachers to guaranteed funded time and opportunity for professional development.

* A greater emphasis in teacher training on professional qualities to balance the current focus on competences and skills.

* A Professional Code for Teachers, to be widely consulted upon.

* Advice on teacher well-being and a work-life balance.

* Engaging teachers in a discussion of the future system of school inspection.

* Advice to Government on a framework of professional standards.

* A continuing dialogue with teachers, consulting them on key priorities and recognising the need to meet teachers in their own localities.

* Continuing to ask teachers their views and ensuring that these feed into the Council's policies and advice.

* Using the registration process for the benefit of teachers, enabling them to contribute their views.

* Undertaking the regulatory responsibilities in a climate of openness, fairness and with emphasis on high standards.

These are the first proposed steps in the long-term process of improving the status and morale of teachers with resources and time to do the job, a climate of praise instead of blame and a better balance between pressure and support.

Carol Adams is chief executive of the General Teaching Council

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