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Wrong reaction from the GTC

THE General Teaching Council's handsome new offices have just been opened by the Secretary of State who indicated an extended role for the council. Its aspirations to become involved with teachers during their careers as well as at the outset look like being realised. It is therefore a pity that the council has chosen this time to show its unthinking side.

Primary teachers who look forward to help from the 5,000 classroom assistants being funded by the Government will sigh at the council's curmudgeonly comments on the scheme (TESS, last week). Non-members of the register might get too close to the secret mysteries of the classroom, say the exclusive brethren. Professional integrity is at stake. So be off with your Pounds 66 million, the Government is being told. Such narrow-mindedness serves no one, and particularly not teachers who need a helping hand to do their professional job better by reducing the non-professional elements of it. The GTC was created in an era of unqualified staff when any able-bodied adult was considered fit to stand in front of an otherwise untaught class. The purist approach to qualifications needed in the sixties and seventies is outdated.

The GTC should welcome the opportunity given to teachers to deploy other staff in their classes. That is not the ever dreaded dilution. It brings status to the profession and demonstrates effectiveness. If the GTC wants a wider role for the new millennium it must avoid knee-jerk defensiveness.

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