Union anger over teacher fees rise move

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The Independent Online

Union leaders reacted angrily today to proposals to raise the registration fee for teachers.

The NASUWT teaching union claimed General Teaching is looking at a £6 hike, from £33 to £39, which it calls "totally unjustified."

The General Teaching Council for England (GTCE) is considering an increase at a meeting this week.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said many teachers will be angered by the attempt.

"When the Council tried to do this before, there was a massive negative response from the profession." she said.

"The GTCE clearly has yet to come to terms with the fact that until teachers are convinced it performs some useful function, any proposals to increase its fees will meet resistance

"If the GTCE concentrated on its regulatory function, which has the potential to make a major contribution to raising the status of the profession, rather than persisting in engaging in a whole range of costly activities which in our view largely duplicate the work of other bodies, including the Training and Development Agency and the Department for Children, Schools and Families, there would be no need to seek this increase."

She added: "There is no justification for increasing the financial burden on teachers. The GTCE should pare back its activities in line with available funds.

"At a time when schools, local authorities, the DCSF and its agencies are all looking for efficiency savings, why does the GTC believe it is exempt?

"The NASUWT will make every effort to resist this increase and will continue to press for a review of the GTCE's remit to curtail activities outside its regulatory function."

A GTCE spokeswoman said the fee level has yet to be discussed by council members.

"The NASUWT statement breaches confidential information that Council members have not yet had the opportunity to debate together," she said.

"It calls into question the continuing participation of the NASUWT in the governance of Council.

The GTCE fee has remained unchanged at £33 per year for the last four years. It is the lowest fee of any teaching regulator in the world.

"The GTCE's remit is set by Parliament and requires the GTCE to be more than simply a regulator - the remit requires us to work to raise standards of professional conduct among teachers, to support improvements in teaching standards and to raise the standing of the profession.

"Whilst successful efforts have been made to contain costs and to operate as efficiently as possible, we have now reached the point where an increase will be required if the GTCE is to continue with the programme of activities agreed by Council in January 2009. Rises in the number of case referrals to the GTCE will require a substantially increased budget for regulatory work. Council members will meet this week to decide whether to seek a fee increase and at what level."

The spokeswoman insisted that the net cost of the fee is "very small" as the majority of teachers receive an annual salary allowance of £33 to offset the fee.