The national teaching academy proposed in last week's white paper could sound the death-knell for the Institute for Learning and Teaching.
The institute's 14,000 members will be asked in the next two months whether or not to wind up the organisation after less than five years. An ILT council meeting this Wednesday is expected to endorse a recommendation by senior managers to join the new academy.
The provisionally named Academy for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching is scheduled to launch formally early next year. It would be formed by the merger of the ILT, the Learning and Teaching Support Network and the Higher Education Staff Development Agency.
A team led by Sir Ron Cooke fleshed out details about the new academy in a report out this week. Sir Ron's teaching quality enhancement committee, charged with ironing out overlaps in the three agencies' work, has a deadline of March 31 for consultation.
The report says that the ILT has "not made a strategic breakthrough in all parts of the sector". This was not just a matter of membership levels or funding but the way it was owned.
Caroline Bucklow, ILT acting chief executive, said that the institute's council was likely to endorse the merger "provided the new organisation is set up in a way that retains the individual voice of the ILT and that members receive the same level of services and benefits".
Dr Bucklow said: "There is a strong intention (in the Cooke report) to build on what is already achieved. We would want a smooth transition and to retain staff. Our assets would have to be transferred to a charity with similar aims."
The academy will play a key role in the government's push to professionalise teaching standards, in particular the accreditation of all new teachers by 2006, expansion of the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme and the designation of centres of teaching excellence, which carry extra funding.
Projected income for the academy blends funding council grants, institutional subscriptions, contracts and accreditation with individual membership fees. ILT members would have special status as "fellows".
Target subscription fees for higher education institutions, ranging from £10,000 to £25,000, are set substantially higher than those paid to Hesda. Individual membership fees, however, would - at £50 a year - start lower than ILT membership.
Cliff Allen, director of the Learning and Teaching Support Network, said the proposals were radical but were a tremendous opportunity to build a learning and teaching organisation that could wield great influence.