Teachers on the GTCE:why do they do it?

21st November 2003 at 00:00
Liz Paver, headteacher of Intake primary school in Doncaster, has spent a lot of time on trains in the past three years. Her work as a member of the General Teaching Council for England has taken her to open meetings with teachers as far afield as Devon, Norfolk and Suffolk. She also attends regular meetings at the GTCE's two offices, in Birmingham and London.

The presence of a majority of teachers on the 64-member council is essential, Ms Paver believes. "Without that there could not be a GTCE because teachers give it its credibility," she says.

Ms Paver (pictured) is an enthusiast for the council and believes it has done much to persuade teachers of its value. But she says the workload has become increasingly heavy. In the early days, members would need to spend about 20 days a year on GTCE work, she says, but as the regulatory duties have built up that's risen to around 30 days, with a great deal of paperwork.

So if the job is so arduous, why are two-thirds of the council's elected members preparing to stand again? There are compensations. Members can claim reasonable expenses for travel and subsistence, and their schools can claim for supply cover from their local authority for the days they are away. But having the opportunity to meet teachers from all over the country and to reflect on the profession's role has been the most rewarding aspect, says Ms Paver.

"I just hope the profession as a whole will come to realise the worth of being self-regulating, and of having a voice to speak on its behalf."

She is among the majority of members of the council who are nominated - in her case by the National Association of Head Teachers - so it will be up to her union to decide if it wants her to continue. There are 25 elected places on the council: 11 for primary teachers, 11 for secondary teachers, one primary and one secondary head, and one special schools place that is open to heads and teachers. Thirteen members are nominated by the Education Secretary and the rest by a range of bodies with an interest in education.

Of the elected members, two-thirds have said they will stand again in elections next spring.

The chairman, John Beattie, assistant principal of Exmouth community college in Devon, is keen to stand for re-election if his union, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, chooses to renominate him before the closing date of December 15. The chairmanship would then rest on a vote of the new council.

When Carol Adams was on sick leave earlier this year he took on extra duties, meeting regularly with the senior management team. But, he says, Ms Adams was in regular contact and, although her illness made his job more demanding, it did not make it more difficult. "Carol is a very efficient and effective chief executive and she has built up a strong senior management team. She had everything beautifully in place to manage the organisation in her absence."

He says the job has taught him a lot about the workings of the education system. "I have learned a great deal about teachers' professionalism and commitment. For anyone who is really interested in shaping the future of the profession there is now a wonderful opportunity to get involved."

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