UK Politics

Teachers' disciplinary body axed

Michael Gove
Image caption Michael Gove said the GTCE did little to raise teaching standards

The General Teaching Council for England - a body set up by the previous Labour government to investigate alleged misconduct - is to be axed.

Education Secretary Michael Gove told the Commons that the quango did "not earn its keep so it must go".

He said the money saved would be spent "on the front line" instead.

The move was welcomed by teaching unions but the teaching council said it would be seeking legal advice about the decision.

Two other education bodies - the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency and the schools technology agency BECTA - have already been given the chop as part of a supposed "bonfire of the quangos".

'Extremism'

Mr Gove told MPs earlier that he was "deeply sceptical" about the GTCE's purpose and benefit to teachers, adding he believed it "does little to raise teaching standards or professionalism".

"Instead it simply acts as a further layer of bureaucracy while taking money away from teachers," he added.

"I want there to be stronger and clearer arrangements in relation to teacher misconduct and I am not convinced the GTCE is the right organisation to take these forward. I intend to seek authority from Parliament to abolish the General Teaching Council for England."

Mr Gove singled out for criticism the GTCE's recent decision to allow a BNP activist who described some immigrants as "savage animals" on an internet forum to remain on the teaching register.

"We need new proposals to ensure that extremism has no place in our classrooms and the bodies that have failed to protect us in the past cannot be the answer in the future," he told MPs.

A GTCE panel had said it was "troubled" by some of the "intemperate" comments made by Adam Walker, a technology teacher from County Durham, but was not satisfied they were suggestive of intolerance.

It is not yet known which bodies, if any, will take over the GTCE's roles.

'Public interest'

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said she had "no doubt" Mr Gove's decision would be welcomed by teachers.

"I have frequently said that if the GTCE was abolished tomorrow, few would notice and even less would care," she said.

"Too much time, energy and resource has been frittered away on pursuing projects and issues which duplicated the work of other bodies and did little or nothing to enhance the status of the profession."

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), also welcomed Mr Gove's decision, saying: "From its inception, the GTCE has struggled to overcome the fact that teachers felt it had been imposed on them."

Legislation to scrap the GTCE will be introduced in the autumn.

In a statement, the GTCE said it was "created by Parliament to work in the public interest to improve standards of professional conduct among teachers, to contribute to raising standards of teaching and learning and to raise the standing of the teaching profession.

"We are seeking legal advice on our position and will be seeking urgent clarification from ministers and Department for Education officials on the implications of today's announcement for the GTCE's work over the next period and for its staff and members."

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