Scotland’s largest teachers’ union has voiced serious concerns over the Scottish Government’s plans to disband the General Teaching Council for Scotland and transfer its functions to a body whose members would be appointed rather than in part elected by the teaching profession.
The Educational Institute of Scotland has accused the Scottish Government of “unwarranted interference” over its proposals to transfer the functions of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, (GTCS) the fully independent body responsible for upholding teaching standards and approving applications for registration to teach in schools, to a new Education Workforce Council
Larry Flanagan, EIS general secretary, said, “The EIS is committed to defending the role of the GTCS, in the face of this unwarranted interference by Scottish Government on its independence.
“Teachers fund the GTCS through our subscriptions and have an elected majority on its ruling council. What right does Scottish Government have to remove that democratic accountability from the profession? The Deputy First Minister often talks of empowering teachers - a useful first step would be to take his hands off our GTCS.
“At a time when we are seeking to enhance the status of teaching as a profession, in order to recruit additional high-quality graduates into our schools, this undermining of our professional standards body is profoundly unhelpful and deeply troubling.
“Is it coincidence that these proposals have come after a period when the GTCS has been resolute in upholding professional standards in the face of the Scottish Government’s flirtation with Teach First and while the Scottish Government is pursuing “fast-track” approaches to teacher training?
Mr Flanagan added: “No evidence has been provided by the Scottish Government as to why this merger is needed or where the support for the change is coming from. It seems to be a case of the government feeling the need to ‘do something’ for the sake of being seen to change things.”
The current proposal is to merge the GTCS with the Standards Council for Community Learning and Development for Scotland and open it up to other education workers.
The EIS is not opposed to other education staff having a professional standards body but does not believe a ‘one-size-fits- all’ approach is the best way to achieve this.
The GTCS is also internationally recognised as a success story and has provided a model for teaching councils globally for its work.