Voice Official Response 1021: Consultation on the future status of the GTCS

Voice Scotland Official Response to Scottish Government consultation.


Consultation on the future status of the GTCS requested by the Scottish Government

25 June 2009                             

OR. 1021

This response is made on behalf of, and in consultation with, the Scottish Executive Committee (SEC) of Voice: the union for educational professionals.

SEC determines Association Policy with regard to pay, conditions, and all other educational matters in Scotland

Chapter 2: Functions of an independent General Teaching Council for Scotland 

Section 2.2 - Responsibility for the Teaching Standards

Q1: Would it be appropriate for the GTCS to be given a more explicit responsibility in relation to the standards?

The present arrangement seems to work well enough; however, an arrangement  with the GTCS  taking a lead role but still in partnership with the Scottish Government would be acceptable. 

Section 2.3 - Entry Requirements to and Approval of Courses of Initial Teacher Education

Q2: Should the GTCS assume responsibility for setting entry requirements to Courses of Initial Teacher Education?

The existing collaboration with Scottish Ministers and HMIE is preferred 

Q3: Should the GTCS assume responsibility for the approval of initial teacher education courses?

Scottish Ministers should retain the right to decline to approve any courses in ITE programmes.

Section 2.4 - Continuing Professional Development

Q4: Do you think the GTCS should expand its role to into CPD? If so, what do you think this role should consist of?

This seems appropriate – for the award of Standards and general professional development of teachers eg working with the providers of the courses and other stakeholders and also for a re-accreditation system. Perhaps there is also a role in the official recording  of a teacher’s CPD progress. 

Chapter 3: Governance of an independent General Teaching Council for

Section 3.2 - Size of Council

Q5: What do you think is the most appropriate size for an independent Council?

A smaller GTCS seems inevitable. The figure of 39 suggested by the Deliotte and Touche Review (1999) is not unreasonable. This could allow a teacher majority of 20:19, with increased use of co-option to sub-committees. 

Section 3.3 - Composition of Council 

Q6: How best can we ensure that the public interest is well represented on an independent Council? In answering this question stakeholders may wish to consider factors such as the composition, appointments process and definition of lay member which could all play a role in ensuring the public interest is well represented.

The composition should reflect what is in the public interest and ensure appropriate representation.  A lay member should be from a non-teaching background and not be registered with the GTCS.  The appointments process should be open, transparent and take account of best practice, including Nolan’s principles. 

Based on the 20:19 split as suggested above there could be around 9 seats allocated to organisations representing Teachers’ Employers and University education departments with the other 10 seats open to lay applicants appointed on the basis of skill, life experience and merit. 

Q7: In terms of models the independent Council could adopt, do you prefer Model 1 or Model 2, a variant of either model, the status quo, or something completely different?

Model 1 would  be preferable, as the election  is seen as being democratic and  the appointments process would be more open and accountable. There is, however, the concern that many teachers do not know the candidates and in the absence of information beyond that  given in the candidates’ statements, tend to vote along union lines. 

Q8: In considering the composition of the current Council, do you think that there are groups missing from whose input the Council would benefit?

Other organisations  that might  have relevant interest  should be included. The religious representation could be broadened, perhaps by having someone from the Scottish Interfaith  Council. 

Section 3.4 - Other relevant issues

Q9: Do you have any comments relating to the issues raised in this section?

(a)   Financial issues – feel there should be a body probably the Scottish Government to whom the GTCS are answerable. Teachers will be wary of the over -  expansion of the GTCS’s activities if this is accompanied by  an increase in Registration Fees. 

(b)   Removal of Council Members – this would seem an appropriate course of action. 

(c)   Terms of Office – There should be a restriction to two terms of office on Council, in order to refresh and allow other interested individuals to become members, also to prevent a few, long-standing members becoming entrenched. 

Q10: Do you believe the length of time individuals should be allowed to serve on Council should be capped?

See comments for (c) above. 

The consultation

Maureen Laing

Senior Professional Officer for Scotland

Voice the union for education professionals

1-3 St Colme Street

Edinburgh, EH3 6AA

Tel: 0131 220 8241