Union threat to teachers' council

25th February 2000 at 00:00
As a "non-union" candidate for the General Teaching Council, I was somewhat alarmed at your report about unions "sponsoring" some of my fellow GTC candidates (TES, February 11). Unions are already permitted nine representatives on the 64-member council so why should they be allowed to put their considerable re-sources into further candidates when others, like myself, have to rely on our own finances to fund our campaigns?

I am one of 134 candidates for 11 places in the secondary-teacher category.

Nigel de Gruchy justifies union-backed candidates by asking "How can people make a sensible judgment on who to pick out of 130 people?" I am not at all convinced by this argument. Teachers are educated professionals who can make a sensible judgment by reading candidates' election statements and using their inteligence. It is presumptuous and insulting to teachers to imply that we cannot make an informed choice without union guidance.

I am not convinced either by chief executive Carol Adams' claim that unions are not backing candidates for "political reasons". Unions are political organisations and are backing their own active members. If this is not political, I don't know what is.

While I would not in any way wish to deny the suitability of any individual candidate to be a member of the GTC, I believe that unions are undermining the democratic principle on which the council was founded and that if their tactics work, those elected on to the GTC may find themselves more accountable to the unions than to the teaching profession as a whole.

Stephen Goodfellow. 63 Churchill Road. Langley Berkshire.

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