Protect Teachers' Roles, Council Warns

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 11, 2004 | Go to article overview

Protect Teachers' Roles, Council Warns


Byline: By Jenny Rees Western Mail

Teachers' roles need to be set in stone if their professional status is to be retained, according to the chair of the General Teaching Council Wales (GTCW).

As the Assembly Government consults on changes to the regulations governing teachers' workload and qualifications, GTCW chair Professor John Andrews said it must be ensured that the boundaries between the two roles are not blurred.

He said there was a danger schools and local authorities may take different approaches. He would prefer to see the two roles more clearly defined to preserve the professional status of teaching.

'We welcome the government initiative to reduce the workload for teachers and the introduction of support staff,' he said, 'as both of those could re-emphasise the professional roles of teachers.

'Where we have concerns is at any point in time support staff are seen as substitutes for teachers. That would undo a lot of what has been gained with the establishment of teaching as a graduate profession and would have serious effects on the quality of teaching available to pupils.'

He said the GTCW supported the idea of 'one class, one lesson, one teacher.'

'The teacher must be at the forefront in the education of children, in all classes, in all lessons. The danger comes if you have higher level teaching assistants standing in for teachers, and are just supervised by the subject head.

'There are lots of things the support staff can and will be doing, including listening to young children read, as volunteers do in the classroom.

'But wherever there are professional responsibilities and issues of judgement and inter-personal relationships between teacher and taught, that must be done by the teacher.

'We need this clarified in Assembly regulations,' Prof Andrews said.

The council's 14-page response to the consultation questions whether the Assembly is undervaluing the position of teachers and underestimating the scope of the role they fulfil.

'We are concerned that the activities of teachers described in the proposed regulations - known as 'specified work' - seem overly-simplistic and do not fully reflect the true work and the intense responsibilities of a qualified teacher.

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