Chalk Talk: Expect an outbreak of Welsh nationalism among English teachers

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The Independent Online

Could there be a welcome in the hillside for those who want teaching to continue to have its own professional body?

The General Teaching Council for England (GTCE), the disciplinary body for the profession, was one of the first organisations earmarked for closure under the Coalition Government's "bonfire of the quangos". Its closure would mean that the profession in England no longer had its own disciplinary body.

It now emerges that some English teachers are so worried about the threat to their professional status as a result of this decision that they are contemplating registering instead with the General Teaching Council for Wales – which is totally unthreatened by the purge.

Initial portents are not encouraging, however. One of the first to make such a move, Peter Taylor, headteacher of Worth primary school in Stockport, Cheshire, has been turned down on the not unreasonable grounds that he does not live in Wales. This has not stopped him from campaigning for other teachers to follow his footsteps.

The resultant fuss over the threat to the GTCE – its chief executive Keith Bartley has pointed out to the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, that it cannot be axed without an Act of Parliament – has, though, focused minds in Whitehall on setting up a replacement body.

* It is not rare for a retiring head from a famous public school to write a book about his or her times there. What is rare – in fact, unique – is for that head to have the book endorsed in its preface by a former Labour Education Secretary. That is what has happened, though, with Christopher Martin's Head Over Heels, an account of his times at Millfield, the independent school with an international sporting reputation. The heartfelt (some would say gushing) preface is written by Estelle (now Baroness) Morris, who met Martin several times during her spell helping run the country's education services.

She says, "The joy he expresses when a young person succeeds, his belief in an education system that can respond to the strengths and needs of each child, coupled with an understanding of the consequences of failure, mark Christopher Martin out as a gifted educator."

Makes you wonder whether relations between the Conservative-dominated Coalition Government and private-school heads could possibly be any warmer.

*With university places a scarcity this year (although possibly not in future, with the rises in tuition fees proposed), news comes of an interesting venture being launched in Aberdeen.

Styled along the lines of Lord Sugar's BBC programme, The Apprentice, it aims to provide a lucrative £14,000 one-year contract to at least one youngster leaving school this Christmas.

Called "The Recruit" and launched by the Enterprise North East Trust, it puts youngsters through a series of confidence-building programmes aimed at developing their business acumen.

Could catch on.

r.garner@independent.co.uk

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