The government's plans for a General Teaching Council amount to little more than a toothless organisation that is unconnected with higher education, university teachers argued this week.
Responding to the Department for Education and Employment's consultation on the GTC, the Association of University Teachers said it was disappointed by the government's decision to make the council an advisory body rather than a strong independent organisation taking responsibility for the training of its members.
The AUT argues that the GTC would be a far more appropriate body to perform many of the functions undertaken by the Teacher Training Agency. "We would like to express our disappointment at the government's decision to make the GTC a body that advises the secretary of state," the AUT said.
"We have urged the government to establish a council that would have a strong independent role within the schools sector and that would have real decision-making powers within teacher education and training," it continued.
Ewan Gillon of the AUT said the GTC was supposed to regulate the teaching profession but had "limited powers" to do so. "This is looking like a toothless organisation that is heavily biased towards the management side of education," he said.
In addition, the AUT criticised the composition of the council, which has representatives of vice-chancellors as providers of teacher training but no staff who actually do the training. "The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals represents institutions, not the views of teacher trainers themselves and is not in a position to consult them effectively," the AUT said. It suggests that both lecturers' unions nominate one representative each to the GTC from among academics involved in teacher training.
The AUT also highlights the fact that the GTC will have a parallel role to the Institute for Learning and Teaching, which will set standards of teaching within higher education.
However there is no mechanism in place to ensure the two bodies cooperate with each other. "Cross-representation would help to keep each body informed of development's in the other to encourage sharing of ideas and where appropriate to promote cooperation."