I am a newly qualified teacher, starting my first job this September. I got a letter from the General Teaching Council today asking for my subscription. What am I paying for? Why do I have to pay and not my school or local education authority? What does the GTC do for me?
The General Teaching Councils in England and Wales came into being after the election of the Labour government in 1997, although it took until 2000 before they actually became operational. This followed a long campaign by many distinguished educationists who believed that teachers should have their own professional body. There has been a General Teaching Council in Scotland for many years.
Establishing a new national body is not an easy task and there were undoubtedly teething troubles. Although the overt face of the council is often the reports of disciplinary hearings that appear in the pages of The TES, even this example of self-regulation is an advance on what went before. Nowadays teachers can be judged by their peers rather than by outsiders.
On a more positive note, the council does undertake campaigns such as the need for professional development for all teachers, and it is consulted by the Government.
The council does not fulfil the same functions as the teacher associations, but it is acting on your behalf. You pay because it is your professional body, although the Government has put the fee into recent pay settlements.
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