Trainees to register as teachers

18th April 2008 at 01:00
England's General Teaching Council (GTC) is set to expand its reach by making all trainee teachers join its official register within a month of starting their courses.

According to its proposals, around 34,000 would-be teachers will also have to fill out a "suitability declaration" of any past crimes or misdemeanours before they start training. An additional 11,000 fulltime equivalent overseas trained teachers and instructors without qualified teacher status (QTS) will also have to register.

The plans, due to come into force in September, have provoked debate, with the National Union of Teachers arguing that the register should only be for qualified teachers. It said Criminal Records Bureau checks ought to be enough for trainees to work in schools.

Last year, only 21,000 people out of 34,500 gaining QTS actually got jobs as teachers, so there would also be substantial paperwork implications. The pound;33 registration fee would be waived for trainees.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families is due to consult on the implementation of the plans later in the spring.

The drive to engage teachers with the GTC earlier in their careers came as the council announced another poor turnout in its four-yearly elections.

Only 32,000 teachers out of 530,000 registered voted for 25 elected seats, with a turnout of only 6.2 per cent in secondary and 6.9 per cent in the primary teacher categories. Four years ago, turnout was close to 10 per cent.

Voting in the primary headteacher category was higher at 14 per cent, but was still down on almost 23 per cent in 2004.

Judy Moorhouse, the GTC chairwoman, was disappointed. "We will need to reflect on the reasons for that," she said. "The GTC is less controversial than it once was, which may be a factor, and on the positive side, teachers now have alternative ways of getting involved directly, such as through our networks and our conferences."

Despite the low interest among members in voting, newly elected members are celebrating their success and are looking forward to getting involved.

Flora Barton, 28, a teacher at the 30-pupil South Stoke Primary School, near Wallingford, in Oxfordshire, teaches Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 in the same class. A strong supporter of small schools, she is looking forward to speaking out on their behalf.

"By standing for the GTC, I was hoping I would be able to have an influence on how students are taught and make a positive impact," she said.

Aaron King, 27, a special needs advisory teacher in Wakefield, is another new member. "You get low turnouts in local council and TUC elections," he said. "It's more to do with people's lifestyles than their attitude to the GTC - teachers are phenomenally busy."


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