General Teaching Council

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Education and Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th April 1999.

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Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Education and Employment 12:00 am, 29th April 1999

It is a little rich for the hon. Lady to make that point, given that for 18 years the previous Government did absolutely nothing to address those issues. Although I am glad that she has given her general support, her remarks were a bit rich.

I defend the role of the Secretary of State in nominating members to the General Teaching Council on two important grounds. First, there is a public interest in regulation of the teaching profession. It is right that there should be such an interest, and it should be expressed by the Secretary of State in nominating people to the council. Secondly, the Secretary of State's nominations will give real flexibility to the council as it begins to evolve. In the regulations, we specify the Secretary of State's specific responsibility to take account of the needs of parents and of children with special educational needs. I believe that those are very important developments in ensuring that the General Teaching Council will evolve into what we wish it to be—an effective, strong and independent representative of the profession.

The Green Paper, the GTC initiative and all our other specific initiatives and measures —on science and on maths, for example—are designed to tackle teacher recruitment. It would be very refreshing if the hon. Lady gave us some support in those initiatives, rather than simply seeking to niggle from the sidelines, as she so consistently does.