Union slates anger GTC candidates

25th February 2000 at 00:00
Teachers standing for seats on the General Teaching Council are critical of the backing given to opponents. Warwick Mansell reports

ELECTION candidates for the General Teaching Council are throwing in the towel after reading in The TES that the unions are backing their rivals.

At least five candidates entered the race last December unaware that teaching unions would back candidates in newsletters and with a poster campaign, as well as the nine representatives they are allowed to nominate directly.

Now some independents claim they have been left with no chance and wish they had not put their names forward. With 208 teachers standing for just 25 seats, some were predicting that only those with union support had any prospect of success.

Sam Alam, a secondary English teacher from Hillingdon, north London, said it was "unbelievable" that the Government had not made it clear that unions could be involved.

He said he had not known of the union slates until he read The TES two weeks ago - six week after the deadline for nominations.

He said: "This is unethical. What chance have any of us who are not union-backed got now when posters supporting certain candidates are going out to staffrooms across the country?"

However a Department for Education and Employment spokesman said it had had "no indication the unions were going to do this".

Primary teacher Stephanie Nicholls, from Avenue middle school, Norwich, said:

"I thought I had as good a chance as anybody, but now I feel like giving up.

If union-sponsored candidates win all 25 seats, they would hold a 34-30 majority on the council, which will also include nominees of education "stakeholder" groups and the Secretary of State.

Meanwhile, unions and employers are at odds over whether the GTC should have the power to deregister a teacher who resigns having been put on competence procedures. The unions believe that the GTC should only consider cases where a teacher is sacked for incompetence.

Leader, 16; Letters, 19

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