Unions bid for greater teaching council role

The Government may have to concede a more influential role for the unions in order to get its plans for a general teaching council off the ground.

The strongest opposition is likely to come from the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, which wants unions to be able to nominate the majority of members on the council.

In its response to the Department for Education and Employment's consultative paper on the GTC, the union insists that it attaches great importance to teachers being represented through their established associations and it wants the majority of the council to be teachers.

However, Stephen Byers, the standards minister, favours heads and teachers being elected onto the council through national and regional ballots, with only a limited number of nominations by teacher and headteacher unions.

As part of the consultation, he has expressed the view that the Government "is not interested in a talking shop for teachers or a body to defend the way things are".

The NASUWT is not alone in pressing for direct union representation. Of the unions that have prepared their response in advance of next week's deadline, the Secondary Heads Association wants to see serving teachers in the majority on the council with some direct union representation.

According to SHA, all council members should have a constituency to which they are accountable, rather than the Government's proposal for national or regional ballots of the profession.

* The teacher unions and local government employers have agreed a voluntary procedure for speeding up the sacking of incompetent teachers.

The working group chaired by the arbitration service, ACAS, is suggesting that the procedure remains subject to local agreement, but local authorities should impose new time limits.

In most cases where teachers are identified as failing to meet certain professional standards, they will be given no more than two terms in which to demonstrate improvement. In more serious cases, where delay may not be in the interest of pupils, teachers will be given only four weeks.

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