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Plans to overhaul teaching regulatory body are unveiled; VOW NOT TO 'GO DOWN ROUTE OF DE-PROFESSIONALISATION'.

Byline: GRAHAM HENRY

WALES' teaching regulator could be replaced by a new registering body under radical plans unveiled to by the Welsh Government yesterday.

A host of new professions would be required to register with the teachers' regulator in Wales under the proposals announced by the Education Minister.

The Welsh Government is pursuing a 20-point plan, which would require employees in work-based learning, teaching assistants and possibly youth workers and support staff to register with the GTCW.

Only qualified teachers are required to register and be regulated by the GTCW under current rules.

The government will now consult on the proposals until March 2012.

Teaching unions hailed the measures as evidence that Wales was not following an English route to "de-professionalisation" of teachers by bringing other education employees into the regulated field. The Education Secretary in England, Michael Gove, announced the abolition of the General Teaching Council in England (GTCE) last year.

But Mr Andrews said yesterday: "I have made clear how much I value the work of all the people working in schools, colleges, work-based learning and informal learning settings who directly support our children and young people to achieve their full potential.

"I am, therefore, planning a number of reforms to support the wider workforce and plan to use the provisions of one of the forthcoming Education Bills to bring these changes into effect."

It is seen as an attempt by the government to harmonise differences in requirements for professional standards and training across different professions.

The Welsh Government said that while some of the differences are appropriate, there were others that were "more artificial" and "created barriers" among the workforce - and did not assure the public that all professionals worked to the same standards of competence. The plans could mean the end of the GTCW, in its current form, with proposals to either "reconstitute" the body, or form a new educational registration body.

Dr Philip Dixon, director of teachers' union ATL Cymru, welcomed the review, but he stressed that the Welsh Government should make sure it was "owned by the profession and not be some sort of quango" and that the costs of membership should be met by employers.

He said: "The Minister is quite right when he points out that a key feature of a profession is that its members are registered with a body that maintains professional standards.

"Those who crowed over the abolition of the GTCE are now deeply concerned, as they realise that this was part and parcel of the English agenda to de-professionalise teachers.

"Thankfully the Welsh Government is keen to promote teaching as a profession and not just a job."

Anna Brychan, the director of head teachers' union NAHT Cymru said: "We have always supported the existence of an independent professional body for teachers on a par with those that represent the legal and medical professions," she said.

"While members have not always agreed with the GTCW, they remain fundamentally opposed to going down the English route of abolition and the consequent de-professionalising of teaching."

Rex Phillips from the NASUWT union - which has historically been opposed to the GTCW - welcomed the proposals but stressed proposals would require a "detailed analysis" before an informed response can be submitted. He also said that the body would argue for the new organisation to be limited to a regulatory function only, and said that the GTCW had "lost the trust of teachers a long time ago".

"The NASUWT notes with concern that the proposals could lead to an extending, rather than limiting the functions of the body," he said.

"In responding to this consultation, the NASUWT will be careful to argue for the rights of workers currently employed by the GTCW to be protected fully."
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 17, 2011
Words:620
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