MONDAY 24 JUNE 2002

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Members present:

Mr Barry Sheerman, in the Chair
Mr John Baron
Mr David Chaytor
Valerie Davey
Jeff Ennis
Paul Holmes
Ms Meg Munn
Mr Kerry Pollard
Jonathan Shaw
Mr Mark Simmonds

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LORD PUTTNAM OF QUEENSGATE, Chairman and MS CAROL ADAMS, Chief Executive, General Teaching Council, examined.

 

Chairman

  1. We are very grateful that Lord Puttnam could come in and do a sort of swan song as Chairman of GTC. You are giving up at the end of August.
  2. (Lord Puttnam) Yes, that is right.

    (Ms Adams) Carol Adams will be the link between the old and the new, and I presume that she does all the work. You will be followed by David Miliband. We have tried to please Lord Puttnam by having all-action sessions - a double feature! The Committee is very interested to know just how GTC is panning out. When we met you, Lord Puttnam, 15 months ago, we pushed you a little bit on what precisely the role of the GTC would be. Could you give an introductory statement and tell us something about how you see it?

    (Lord Puttnam) First of all, I would like to thank the Chair and Members of this Committee for inviting us here, at the end of my term as the inaugural Chair of the General Teaching Council. Our previous appearance before your predecessor committee two years ago, at which both you, Mr Chairman, and Valerie Davey were present, was described at the time as a "confirmation hearing". It is therefore entirely appropriate that I should be recalled for an "exit interview" and to account for my period of office. My tenure as Chair of the GTC obviously represents an important formative period for the GTC. During this time the organisation has necessarily focused on creating structures, processes and policies quite literally from scratch. This has included the substantial task of building a register of some half a million teachers. The task of maintaining the register, one of the largest professional registers of its kind, is, of course, ongoing, as we develop its capacity to become a valuable intelligence resource for the profession. The Council has also embraced its regulatory responsibilities for hearing cases of conduct and competence. This has involved arranging an efficient hand-over from the Department in relation to conduct work, and the preparation and implementation of new procedures for competence work. It is of course early days for the GTC in respect of this work and it will be a focus for ongoing review, as we mature into our regulatory role. Central to the work of the last two years has been a campaign of listening and persuasion. We have met, quite literally, thousands of teachers across the country. At our regular teacher meetings in every region, we talk with professionals about the GTC, but, most importantly, our dialogue with teachers is being used to inform our work, so that teachers' expertise and practice can at last be placed at the heart of education policy-making. Teachers are the lifeblood of education and this ability to listen and then use what we have learnt to inform our work defines the function of the GTC. Too much education policy in the past, by successive governments, has been imposed on teachers, and fails to take advantage of their practical experience. I believe we are helping to evolve a cultural change by providing opportunities for teachers to take the lead in shaping professional practice and, with it, education policy. The priority for the organisation moving forward in the coming year is consolidation, to give the GTC a strong base from which to build a valuable and confident professional organisation. I would like to finish by saying that it has been a privilege to be the founding Chair of the GTC. Education is key to all our futures and has been a passion of mine for many years. Being involved from the very inception of a new organisation has been a fascinating and rewarding experience. I have met and worked with a remarkable and diverse group of people, all of them motivated by one thing: the creation of the best and most able generation of young people, well able to cope with the demands of a changing and challenging world. I look forward to watching the GTC mature and the teaching profession grow in stature so that both can fulfil their potential in the development of a new era of teaching and learning in this country.

  3. Thank you, Lord Puttnam. When you came before us two years ago, you were quite keen to make the GTC the voice of the teaching profession. You have had some criticisms from people who say that you are not truly the voice, that you can never replace trade unions as the true voice of the teaching profession. How have your relationships with the trade unions worked out? Are they better or worse?
  4. (Lord Puttnam) I think they are rapidly improving. I would say there is a normalisation that has taken place, certainly in the last six to nine months. Possibly what was misunderstood was the intention behind the GTC and confusion about the role of the GTC. The GTC essentially is not the voice of the teaching profession, but the voice of the educational community. Out of 64 members, 44 members are teaching professionals - deputy heads and heads; and the other 20 are all stakeholders in the world of education from parents through to other aspects of education - from the entire panoply. This has been overlooked or misunderstood. There are a great number of stakeholders in education of whom, for me, some of the most important - the most vital component - are teachers and teaching. The very largest only represents 35 per cent of practising teachers, which leaves by definition 65 per cent that are potentially disenfranchised, and leaves the entire other stakeholder group disenfranchised. The purpose of the GTC is to attempt to speak with a unified voice - the ambitions, concerns and aspirations of the whole educational community. It is partly my fault, but we have failed to get that across adequately.

  5. Is that your only disappointment?
  6. I have another personal disappointment. I have spent the best part of two years attending to the plumbing. It was very, very poor legislation that created the GTC with enormous gaps. It was much more frustrating for Carol and her colleagues. We spent an enormous amount of time, much of it unnecessary, attempting to explain and deal with the fee collection process. It was very poor legislation and has affected the first two years grievously.
  7. Can I press you a little further on that, because that is at the very heart of our responsibility. Here was something that had a long history - a struggle of nearly a hundred years to get the GTC. We eventually get it, after there had been a voluntary organisation running and trying to prove that the GTC was an essential part of the educational landscape. Then you say that having got round to the legislation, and the 1997 Government, having agreed it as part of its commitment, it was poor legislation, but how could that be? Here was something that had been chewed over for all this time. What went wrong in terms of the quality of legislation, from your point of view?
  8. (Lord Puttnam) I think it was possibly rushed - and that is the most generous gloss you can put on it. There were two other things. Because it had taken so long to come into being, there was almost a huge sigh of relief - "there is going to be a GTC; everything is fine". Under those circumstances, the devil is, and has been, very much in the detail. But there is another reason, and I probably would not have said this a couple of years ago because I did not know enough about the internal workings of the Government. There was a general ambivalence in Whitehall as to the value or even desirability of the GTC. If I said to you that the legislation was, if anything, slightly half-hearted, that might go some way towards explaining the inadequacies that Carol and her staff have had to contend with.

  9. If it was half-hearted, who was the minister who took the legislation through?
  10. (Lord Puttnam) The Secretary of State, David Blunkett, but in fairness it was done in opposition to creating the GTC. It may well be that the day he arrived, the commitment having been made, he was surrounded by civil servants who were less keen on the notion than him.

  11. You would put the ball in the court of the civil servants, rather than the elected -
  12. (Lord Puttnam) I am not avoiding the question, but I would put the ball firmly in the court of the ambivalence that existed at the time, whereby no-one thought at the end of the day that it was such a brilliant idea. It was something that inexorably happened, to the enormous relief of those who had been lobbying for it - not personally, but collectively - for 100 years.

  13. There was a commitment to a GTC but people had not thought through the detail.
  14. (Lord Puttnam) No. The fee collection issue, clearly, had not been fully considered. Probably my greatest single failure in the last two years was my failure to press home the case. Carol and I did try to press home the case of the desirability of clearly identifying in the wage round the need for the GTC fee to identify a cost or component.

    Mr Shaw

  15. Lord Puttnam, you have been in the job for 18 months now.
  16. (Lord Puttnam) I was appointed by the Secretary of State two and a half years ago, but we have been up and running as an organisation for 18 months.

    Chairman

  17. How long have you been taking the salary?
  18. (Lord Puttnam) It depends who you talk to! My salary for a period of eight months was paid directly by the Department and GTC took over responsibility in September 2001.

    Mr Shaw

  19. Everyone was very enthusiastic about the GTC when it was launched, and it was a commitment made in opposition. You spent 18 months or so organising the plumbing, and during that time there have been criticisms: "What have you been doing; why have we not heard from the GTC; is it going to be more of the same; is it going to be bigger or become boring; should it be like this; where do you see the GTC going in two years' time?"
  20. (Lord Puttnam) One of my reasons for not seeking to be re-elected was to avoid it going on being boring. I think I became the bore in many instances because, if you like, I had a reflective attitude to what had gone on. We have some very, very solid achievements behind us. As well as doing the plumbing, some water has flown to vital parts of the teaching profession, and we have basically done an excellent job when you consider what we have been up against - putting the pipes in place and making absolutely sure it is up and running effectively.

  21. In 18 months' time, when you are looking at your successor, what would you hope they would achieve?
  22. (Lord Puttnam) I would hope that 18 months from now the kind of questions we are currently facing, the whys and wherefores, will be behind us. We took very good advice and took a lot of notice of the advice given to us by the Scottish GTC. They were very clear: it would take five years to get a GTC up and running and part of the landscape. That is pretty well the timetable we were working to, and probably, looking back, if you want to be critical of the thinking behind the legislation, possibly more notice should have been taken of those five years in the Scottish GTC's life cycle, where, frankly, had we copied the things they did right and noted the things they got wrong, we could have saved ourselves a lot of pain.

    Jeff Ennis

  23. Given that the GTC has been operating for a short time, do you think it is now time to review the size and composition of the GTC, or is it about right?
  24. (Lord Puttnam) I think it would be too early to review the size and position, but what is interesting , looking at parallel organisations and the reviews they have gone through in the past year or two, is that the general drift would appear to be in enlarging the lay representation on bodies. That seems to be the way in which democracy is driven. I would have thought that that would be a good thing to have three years from now.

    Chairman

  25. There is a whole debate about whether a respectable professional should pay the fee themselves. Why does it have to be bound in to a pay negotiation or fom part of a package? Many of us are members of professional organisations and we pay our fee, and that gives us independence in the sense that it says, "I am a member of a profession, and because of that I, out of my hard-earned income, pay something towards that."
  26. (Lord Puttnam) Chairman, two years ago I would have entirely agreed, but what I was not aware of at the time was how many professional organisations' professional fees are paid by the employer. It is quite remarkable. The more evidence we got and the further we delved into it, the more the case was made that the employer more often than not pays professional fees. It has not been my personal experience, rather like yours, but it does seem to be the norm rather than the exception.

    Mr Chaytor

  27. I would like to ask you about the disciplinary procedures that you have adopted and specifically how many teachers to date have been subject to those procedures.
  28. (Ms Adams) We have had five hearings so far. We began our regulatory work last June, and we had our first investigation committee in the autumn. Following that process, we have had five formal hearings. Two teachers have received a two-year prohibition order; one teacher has received a reprimand; in one case there was no jurisdiction, and in one case no action was taken. We are just about bedding in that process, and there are many more cases in the pipeline.

  29. Are those the kinds of figures that you would have expected in the first 18 months?
  30. (Ms Adams) We expect them to be slightly more. It is quite a new process and there is nothing that we can compare it to. The fact that they have to go through two formal processes and we have to go through a public hearing means that cases are coming through more slowly than we anticipated. It is a new procedure for local authorities and employers to refer cases to us, so we were expecting more. However, as I say, no other body in education holds hearings quite like this, so we did not have anything to compare.

  31. You said there are more in the pipeline.
  32. (Ms Adams) Yes.

  33. Can you give us an indication? Is it likely to increase over the next 18 months?
  34. (Ms Adams) I would expect them to increase, yes. There are a dozen or so cases waiting to be heard, and we will see a slow acceleration.

  35. You issue a professional code of conduct for teachers. Are you happy with the way that operates? Is it adequate for teachers? How was that code established in the first place?
  36. (Ms Adams) The Council has developed a highly aspirational code of practice and values. We have not set out to write a code of conduct at this stage, believing that we needed to hear cases and learn how the thing operates; and we are considering now putting forward a code of conduct that will give guidance to members in determining these cases.

  37. There is a code at the moment, but it is not a code of conduct.
  38. (Ms Adams) It is not, no.

  39. That will appear at a later stage.
  40. (Ms Adams) That is right. Beginning the work now, we are beginning to learn how cases operate and what kind of code of conduct would be helpful and informative.

  41. Within the organisation, how many people, or what proportion of your total resource, is allocated to the regulatory world as opposed to the promotional world?
  42. (Ms Adams) A considerable amount. I can give you a few figures outside the meeting, but I do not have them to hand.

  43. Can you give a broad indication?
  44. (Ms Adams) I think it could be getting on for a sixth of the budget. It is a fair-sized budget because there is a lot of detailed work in making sure that the paperwork is correct, that staff are called and members are trained, and that the hearings are conducted adequately.

    (Lord Puttnam) The training component has been a big issue, getting that up and ready and making sure all members likely to be called to deal with disciplinary cases have received the same level of excellent training.

    Chairman

  45. How does a case get to you?
  46. (Ms Adams) Chairman, they are referred by employers in the case of teacher competence. If it is a matter of teacher misconduct, at the moment they are referred to the Department, which refer on to the Council all those cases involved with protection issues. So there are two different routes.

  47. Would it be the head, the local education authority, the Department and then you?
  48. (Ms Adams) That is right, in the case of misconduct.

    (Lord Puttnam) Unfortunately, there is no read-across, no comparability with the old process, because the Department still does child protection cases. The task list has been sliced, so we can only work on year-on-year figures.

    Mr Chaytor

  49. In view of the dual role of the organisation, have you felt over the last 18 months that there has been a tension between the two roles? We all think of the British Medical Association and the general view that over the years it has been more interested in promoting the regulator. Has that been the issue for you?
  50. (Lord Puttnam) My feeling is that it is a very, very good thing. To me, it is part of the growing up. To be a mature, adult organisation, you ought to have no problem at all in being able to self-regulate and also promote the aspirations for your profession. Not only do I not see them as conflicting, but I see them as complementary. Carol is at the sharp end and may feel slightly differently.

    (Ms Adams) I think we anticipated that the disciplinary role would be seen as being something that was rather negative. In fact, going through the cases, it has been interesting to see the response of those involved who have seen it is a fair process and have commented on that; and also the comments made more widely that this is an indication of a profession that is self-regulating, setting and maintaining standards. It is having confidence in seeing how the process works, and it has made us realise that it is a very positive aspect of the Council's work.

  51. If members increase and there is a series of high-profile cases splashed over the front pages of the tabloid newspapers, will that not inevitably undermine the general impression of the profession?
  52. (Lord Puttnam) We have always felt that real success is synonymous with not having tabloid headlines. You are quite right: if you get into tabloid headlines, it means that your processes are not quite working.

  53. Are you happy to reconcile with that the need for transparency?
  54. (Lord Puttnam) The tragedy we have already found is that in the only high-ish profile case at present, the tabloid headline that was attracted had nothing whatsoever to do with that case, in view of the fact that in evidence it also turned out at one point that this teacher had been found drinking, but it had nothing whatsoever to do with the disciplinary case. As long as we stick to the need to do our job properly, we cannot stop tabloid newspapers or anyone else making up or creating a furore where none exists. The key is whether our systems are good and consistent. That is tremendously important. We have to ask whether they work for the benefit of the profession.

    Ms Munn

  55. You mentioned that a number of cases had gone through. I note from the information we have had that one teacher had received a reprimand and that it was to lie on their record and the register for two years. When some disciplinary measure has been taken and that stays on somebody's record, if something else happens within the period there is then a cumulative effect, which would make a difference. Is it the case that after two years nobody would have to know that that had taken place? The reason I am asking is because in many other professions, for example doctors or social workers, there is a tradition that when a disciplinary sanction no longer applies, sometimes the record is removed altogether. I wanted to clarify whether in your procedures it remains on the record, but that it no longer has any impact.
  56. (Ms Adams) I do want to get absolute clarification for that. I believe that it is on there for two years and that is the end of it. The more serious conclusion, for example, of being removed from the register, would have a much more devastating impact. The teacher would have to apply to be re-registered. When it is for a two-year period, that is the end of it.

  57. I know that it is a completely different profession and hopefully out of scale to what you do, but there is the Dr Shipman example where there were clearly some disciplinary concerns in the past; and the danger of expunging the record altogether is that people are not able to go back at some stage and establish a pattern. That is an issue that perhaps we should be taking up.
  58. (Ms Adams) I should like to emphasise that we are learning from this process. We are going to reflect on this following the first six or twelve months of hearing these cases, when we will consider how it is operating and what lessons there are to learn for the future.

  59. I would strongly urge, having had experience of disciplinary issues in a different field, that even though it may not count cumulatively in terms of registration, that information should not be lost because that is where professions do get into difficulties, where perhaps a pattern emerges and people are not able to go back and say, "we have had that before five years ago" so that they can see there is an issue that is more serious than the one-off incident would indicate.
  60. Chairman: It all sounds a bit Stalinist to me, Lord Puttnam, but I am one of the old school.

    Mr Pollard

  61. Lord Puttnam, did I understand you to say that there were no measurable standards for any of these disciplinary hearings in the sense that you made it up as you went along? That is the impression I got.
  62. (Lord Puttnam) No.

  63. If so, is that not subjective? Is there a right of appeal, judicial review for example, and have you got the confidence of the teaching profession when you are doing this disciplinary service?
  64. (Lord Puttnam) What is interesting is that in many, many years in the Department of carrying out precisely this same sort of process, there were very few cases that ever came before the public gaze. It is up to us to learn from case history, which we have tried to do. We have not started on day one with no knowledge. We have tried to learn from the past. You are dealing with peer review. Teachers can see themselves in these situations, which as not always the case in the past. I think you would have to reflect and review this in five years' time and look back and ask if on balance we have been more lenient than the Department, or whether we are being more Stalinist, as the Chairman seems to be concerned we might be. I do not know. We are learning and I think it is a remarkable and very beneficial thing that the profession is stepping up and taking responsibility for its own professional standards in conduct cases.

    Chairman

  65. When we met you before we made a comparison with the General Medical Council. What is coming from Kerry Pollard and Meg Munn is whether there is a parallel here. Is that where you are looking to for the sort of thing GTC would be in terms of discipline?
  66. (Lord Puttnam) In answer to the discipline question years ago, I suggested there was a lot to learn from the GMC's experience, and we would be more than foolish not to learn from it. It would not be a good thing for the profession if, in two or three years from now, someone could prove evidentially that the profession had gone soft. On the other hand, I think it would be quite mad to rush the judgment and claim that we should be swinging one way or another. At the moment, all I can tell you is that the training we have given the individual council members, their attitude to doing the job and their professional approach, is only encouraging, and I think that probably, if pushed, Carol and I would both say we have been delighted with the way the Council have taken these responsibilities on board.

    Mr Pollard

  67. Is there a right of appeal? Presumably, you have a period of appeal and then perhaps judicial review. When you were talking about evidence before, you said that you had not really got any measures yet, and that is really what I was bothered about. How do you decide if somebody is guilty or innocent as charged, if you do not have any measurable performance standards that you can call upon?
  68. (Ms Adams) If we look at the procedures, it might be helpful. The teachers referred to the Council have already been dismissed, or they have resigned in circumstances where they would have been dismissed, for professional misconduct for example - and we are talking about a very tiny minority of teaches, which is important to remember. There has already been a body of evidence and a decision made by employers. The Council's job - and this is where we are different from the GMC because of the employment position - is to decide if this person is fit to carry on practising. It has to decide whether it was an aberration, whether they were under extreme duress. Was there a reason for what happened, or do we feel that this person, based on the evidence, is not fit to carry on as a teacher? I hope that sheds a bit of light on it. We would look at the circumstances of the teacher's dismissal, assuming that procedures were properly followed, and look at the surrounding circumstances. Was there anything mitigating in that situation? The kind of standard referred to would be that of qualified teacher status, and general knowledge in the profession of what you would expect of a manager in a school.

    Chairman

  69. The man on the Clapham Omnibus.
  70. (Ms Adams) It is not entirely in the dark about the judgments that are being made, and it is a two-stage process.

  71. My concern is about Meg Munn's point about keeping it on the record. I have a great deal of experience in the social work area, where these things are very sensitive in terms of knowing that somebody might be a repeat offender, in terms of professional misconduct; but that is very different. You are saying the Department still holds the responsibility for that sort of issue. You do not get involved in that.
  72. (Lord Puttnam) In child protection cases? We do not get involved at all. You asked about the relationship with trade unions. One thing that has impressed me is how much wisdom resides within unions because they have the application to defend the individual teacher. We have found them to be extremely wise and smart in terms of understanding these cases. They pretty well know from experience which way these cases are going, and I have been very, very impressed.

    Mr Shaw

  73. Do you have a view on teacher supply agencies? We heard from Ofsted - Mike Tomlinson before he retired gave evidence to this Committee - that they have no role in inspecting supply teacher agencies. One of your jobs is to promote the profession and professional teachers. We do know that there are 20,000 supply teachers in circulation, and that standards vary enormously. If a teacher has a view on a particular supply teacher and thinks they are the best thing since sliced bread, they will make jolly sure that they have them back time and again. Obviously, the reverse is the case: if they are not satisfied with someone, that teacher would effectively be barred from going back to the school again the next day and will be sent to another one; and that could happen time, after time, after time. At the moment, there is no inspection regime to ensure standards. Do you have a view on that?
  74. (Lord Puttnam) The direction in which I think the question is going is this. We have made retention a very significant issue for us, principally through the enormous amount of work Carol and her staff have done on CPD. We believe that professional development is core to those issues, particularly the issues that you are raising - the willingness and often the opportunity for supply teachers to take advantage of opportunities made available to them. Retention is a vital issue, and something we are working on with the teacher training agency. To my absolute amazement, when we came into office as a Government in 1997, I discovered that no department of government had actual responsibility for retention. It did not lie anywhere, and yet clearly it is fundamental to our ability as the GTC to be effective. So retention and the CPD component of retention is probably our best way of addressing the issues you have just raised.

  75. Do you have a view as to whether training agencies have a responsibility to monitor performance of teachers and to ensure that they are getting the necessary training and support?
  76. (Lord Puttnam) I feel very strongly that it is a more benign version of that. I think training agencies ought to be encouraged to perform a very important alumni service. In five years we lost 45 per cent of teachers. I think trainees ought to remain in touch with the teachers they have trained and do everything they can to ensure that those teachers remain within the profession. If that requires them to be incentivised and encouraged, so be it. They are crucial (inaudible).

    Chairman

  77. Does that go to the heart of the role? I am not sure, listening to what you have to say, that anyone is quite clear about the role. On the one hand, you do not want this to be a high-profile organisation. You said you do not need headlines. I got the feeling that at the one end you want the GTC to be a quiet, professional organisation, doing the business, not worried about the teachers' unions having headlines in the tabloids and so on - in fact, the reverse; but on the other hand, if you want to do something about raising the profile of the profession, if you are really going to tackle the issues like retention, there is a bit of you that is saying, "we want to play a high-profile role". Which is it? Can you have both?
  78. (Lord Puttnam) I am enormously informed as a result of the experience of being President of the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) for seven years, in a high-profile but unbelievably effective organisation that probably has more to do with planning policy and issues than any other organisation. If you want a high profile, the smart answer would be to join Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth. The smart thing to do is to work through the CPRE. I have always seen the CPRE as the more interesting analogy for the GTC - a really influential research base and authoritative organisation, not necessarily something flashy. It is very important in retention and recruitment areas for us to put our head above the parapet. It is easier for me to say that because, as Chairman of the Teaching Awards Trust, that is exactly what the teaching awards are placed to do. This week, as last week, we are in every region of the country promoting teaching as a profession. These things are not incompatible, but were I to advise the Council of the future, I think the respect gained over a number of years of doing the job really well, for example the conduct and competence cases - I know this may be counter cultural, but it might be that that is where the GTC in the long run will prove to be most effective and, as it were, an immovable component.

  79. In the long run, the Chairman of the GTC would have better access to the Secretary of State than the trade unions.
  80. (Lord Puttnam) Not necessarily. I think it has as much access, but possibly a less promoted component. The important thing is this: if you are a secretary of state, who would you talk to when you picked up the phone and needed an authoritative voice on a very tricky subject? If the GTC can become that, then it has succeeded magnificently.

  81. Over the period that you have been in operation, how do you view the fact that this is a state sector organisation, a profession in the state sector? Are there people in the private sector that apply to join the GTC and become members, or get registered as members of the profession?
  82. (Lord Puttnam) There are two representatives on the Council from the independent sector, who have proved to be extremely effective and very valuable. They are very keen to create relationships with the state sector. Any member of the teaching profession, independent or state, can apply, provided they are teachers. There are no barriers apart from QTS (inaudible).

  83. If there was a poorly behaving teacher in the private sector, your remit does not run, does it?
  84. (Lord Puttnam) On competence? Yes.

    (Ms Adams) If the teacher is registered with the Council and falls within its disciplinary procedures - we have about 8,000 teachers from the independent sector, who are voluntarily registered with the Council, and we are encouraging more to do so.

  85. You see yourself running into the independent sector more and more, do you? It is interesting, and I was reflecting before coming to this meeting that the one thing about English literature is the ghastly schools, the worst schools you could think of in Dickens - the awful school in Jane Eyre, and even Decline and Fall. All private sector organisations where these children experience such a horrendous time do not come under the GTC remit, do they?
  86. (Lord Puttnam) Can I turn the question round slightly? If you look ten years ahead, I predict there will have been two important changes. One is that there would be a single classroom teachers' union and probably a single heads' union. Effectively, that would be wholly desirable for the profession. The other would be a situation in which, by definition, 90 per cent of private sector teachers would become members of the GTC. I will explain why. I do not think it has come home to parents and children in independent schools that their children are being taught by teachers who have not qualified and do not have QTS. If that ever does become a question that parents start asking, and it does become an issue, I have no doubt at all - and I have spoken at all the independent heads' conferences in the last two years - that there is a general desire to join the professional association. It is only a process of time, and I suspect it will be a lot quicker than ten years.

    Mr Baron

  87. Can I tease out the relationship as you see it with regard to your relationship with the Government. Not so long ago you were quite critical of the Government and accused them of pretending to sob with teachers. Is that still your view?
  88. (Lord Puttnam) The language of consultation has improved quite dramatically in the last 12 months. I actually remember the very first report that came out, which made it very clear that it was a consultation doc and that it meant it. The wording was by David Hargreaves at the time that Carol and I both sat on it. It was a very important breakthrough. I believe quite sincerely - and this is not just true of education, that successive governments have not really meant consultation; I think it has been a hollow process . I think that in the last 12 months things have significantly changed. I do not know who to compliment, or where the change has come from, but I do think there is a different atmosphere. I, and others, have been pushing for a long time within the Department to realise that it is there to facilitate the profession, not to order it around and tell it what to do. You can facilitate it. When I first arrived five years ago - it sounds like a bit of a headline, but I would say that the Department regarded the teaching profession as the enemy, as a difficult group of people who did not quite do what you told them to do, that nothing was done anyway that you anticipated or hoped, and that it was a fractious, difficult relationship. I think that successive Permanent Secretaries have really set about trying to change that. I am told by people who know better than I that in fact the quality of relationship between the Department and those it serves - and I use that word quite advisedly - is better in the Department of Education than in any others. These are massive cultural changes that are taking place. It is not for me to say whether they are happening fast enough, but, God knows, they are desirable!

  89. I accept that lack of consultation is an old problem. What has made this change come about, do you think? How encouraged are you by it and do you think it can bring real rewards to the whole development of the educational policy chain?
  90. (Lord Puttnam) I am enormously encouraged by the change that has taken place. I wish it would happen more quickly, but that is probably because I am a film producer, not an educator by training. I do think it will pay some tremendous dividends, if we can create a situation where the whole of Whitehall begins to see itself as facilitating what happens in the outside world, where things really happen - in regard to social security, for instance - where people feel empowered and trusted, and do not feel they are being ordered around or bossed around. I think there are dividends for democracy, and the work done by the public sector is colossal. I think it is what the Prime Minister is driving at, in his own way, and he is probably disappointed with the pace at which it is being delivered.

  91. I agree that it is very positive, but how much further have we got to go, in your eyes, to ideally reach the goal of a proper consultation? What part would the various bits play, i.e., the teaching profession and the unions, your body and the Government? What would be the ideal solution with regard to development of educational policy?
  92. (Lord Puttnam) It is a good question. Core to it is trust, creating an environment in which teachers feel trusted and empowered by government to do what they do best. If you read that correctly, it will be teachers who are the first to become very intolerant of those in the staffroom and workplace who are not performing. We do not have that because while teachers feel embattled and under unreasonable levels of pressure, they will tend to protect the under-performers.

  93. Basically, it is a matter of trying to empower teachers as much as possible, and perhaps relieving some of the burden of paperwork and bureaucracy, but trying to get them to have more influence on the way educational policy is being developed. They can only do that when they have more time.
  94. (Lord Puttnam) Yes, they need more time. Coming back to Carol's quite correct analysis, the most important thing is that they need every single opportunity for professional development. Teaching, like any other profession, is going through tremendous changes in terms of technology and implementation of new forms of technology that will create significant change and disruption in the classroom. They need every scrap of help to accommodate that change. At the moment we have inter-generational change. The teacher who comes into the profession at 22 might well find themselves coming through a serious level of retraining at 34 and again at 46. That has never happened to any previous generation in teaching, or indeed in any profession.

    Valerie Davey

  95. To put John's question in a slightly different way, the work of the Council you have described so far has been reactive. You react in disciplinary matters; and you react when the Secretary of State or anyone else phones you. What way forward is there within the Council itself to be proactive and to influence policy? How are you going to ensure that this body looks forward and determines some of the policy issues, if not the detail of them?
  96. (Ms Adams) I can perhaps give you an example that you will find interesting. We came forward very early in the life of the Council to advise government that professional development is essentially if we are going to raise standards of achievement for children; teachers need to be able to learn. We have advocated an entitlement to quality professional advice for teachers, which is not just about going on courses but is about working with colleagues and looking at how they work in the classroom and improving on that, and also identifying what teachers find very motivating. The second thing is that we are working with about a dozen local education authorities and we are exemplifying with them and in their schools what entitlement to professional development can look like. We have some funding from the Department to do this. We have two seconded teachers working with us who have undertaken the work. In two years' time we hope to be able to say to Government and all local education authorities: "This is how you use additional resources; look imaginatively at the way you do things and do them differently" in order to start to deliver teachers and entitlements. It will not be any surprise to you that the 12 authorities are doing it in slightly different ways because they are prioritising what is important for them in their local area. The lesson I derive from that work is that while we cannot provide, we can model with our partners, LEAs, teachers and others, how government policy could become a reality. We can demonstrate that if you look at things on the ground, they cannot be formulated as a one-size, fits-all model; but we need to learn from local circumstances and the teachers working in those communities. I could give you other examples where we are seeking to model what policies will come about in reality.

  97. You said "we have advocated". It might be easy if the "we" was the chair and chief executive. How does "we" become the Council, and how does the Council formulate and take forward these things because I am sure you must have some diverse opinion within the Council itself? How do you take this forward? How does the "we" opinion emerge?
  98. (Ms Adams) On a technical level, the Council has a number of committees focusing on particular issues such as initial teacher training, teacher professional development standards. The process whereby we formulate policy is that we talk to teachers. We run teacher meetings in different parts of the country, and we sit around tables and ask teachers questions, and record those debates. We keep in touch with those teachers afterwards so that we can get further input from them on particular issues such as what they need to do their job properly, what kind of time and what kind of professional development. We then use those soundings of the teachers to draw up draft policy, which is discussed within our committees. The staff work very closely with members who, two-thirds of them being teachers, have quite an input to our policy development. It then goes to Council, and policies only go through the Council when they have been agreed by the majority of the 64 members. Interestingly, although there is a wide variety of views and experiences on the Council, our major policies have had virtually unanimous backing, for example on professional development, on teacher retention and on the need to focus on teachers in the early years of their careers. When something is agreed as Council policy, the chair of Council and the chair of that committee go to the Secretary of State to appoint it. We arrange a meeting and then we have discussions, so that the Secretary of State can receive that advice and perhaps ask us to do some further work. That is how the process works.

    Mr Holmes

  99. When I was still teaching the majority of my colleagues in school could not see the point in the GTC and a registration fee. What would you say to them now, in terms of the two or three great successes you have that show it is worth signing up to the GTC?
  100. (Lord Puttnam) In terms of the success we have had, or taking it beyond that?

  101. Successes that we have already had, or something that is imminent or where they have listened to you.
  102. (Lord Puttnam) In terms of CPD, we have had an enormous feedback and it should not be underestimated. I have been to Australia, and there are areas where other parts of the world are much better at this than we are. We have tried to grab hold of good experiences from around the world. I certainly think we have had an impact there. As I said right at the beginning, it is quite ludicrous that the GTC spent 15 to 17 months trying to solve the fee collection issues. We have now solved them pretty satisfactorily. I would like to think we had a sustainable basis for it. It is hard for me to overstate how much time and attention that has drawn off what might have been achieved. A lot of what Carol and the policy team at GTC have done has necessarily had to be done on paper, as it were, in terms of implementation. I would say to any teacher who has any doubts: "Come and look and listen to the Council in action." I said in my introductory remarks that I was knocked sideways by the quality of the 45 teachers/heads represented on the Council. It is very likely that within a very few years, to be a member of the GTC will become the apotheosis of any teacher in schools. The best news is that as I step down, my place is being taken by an excellent deputy head and excellent teacher from the West Country. Every single time we go to our teachers' meetings, it is fair to say we go into a room where there is a group of sceptics. We have never left those meetings without an overwhelming sense of understanding and support. There are two ways of looking at this: either you say what a rotten job we have done of selling the GTC, or maybe it is just the fact that teachers as a profession need to hear it, see it and feel it before they are prepared to believe it.

  103. You said earlier that the Government had not really listened to teachers and that while it had pretended to consult, it had not. Why is this?
  104. (Lord Puttnam) There are two reasons. One is that, basically, relationships between the unions traditionally and government have been about pay and conditions. That sets up necessarily a fairly narrow band of debate. Here, you have an organisation whose remit is in everything but pay and conditions. Therefore, the area of debate is about what is good for the profession, and the way the profession can take thought leadership for the thing it knows best about. I think we have something quite remarkable, and that is the ability to be the creator of its own future, the architect of its own future. That has never been on offer before. I go further: I do not believe there has ever been any Whitehall structure or government structure that was even prepared to contemplate that kind of relationship with the profession. I think the profession would be absolutely crazy if it did not grab the opportunity with both hands. All the indications are that it is grabbing it with both hands.

  105. You may say that it is too early to know this, but I understand that teachers were supposed to have paid their money in as part of GTC by the end of May, and that after that point it would be deducted compulsorily from their salaries. Do you know what the figures are yet, and how many people have paid their money?
  106. (Lord Puttnam) That target figure, which is a reasonably prudent figure of 430,000 which we need to be self-sustaining - 42 per cent have paid up.

  107. They were supposed to have paid three or four weeks ago.
  108. (Lord Puttnam) Yes. The mandatory component clicks in pretty well now.

  109. So the majority of teachers are still resisting paying.
  110. (Lord Puttnam) Or a surprisingly high percentage of teachers have chosen to pay voluntarily. This glass is half empty!

    Jeff Ennis

  111. Given all the teething troubles in terms of registration fees and collection, do you not think it would be better if the Government directly funded the GTC, and that members could just become members of the GTC free?
  112. (Lord Puttnam) It goes right back to the very first question about legislation. Had I any influence and anybody had bothered to ask me, I would advise the Government to look very closely at what happened in Scotland. What ought to have happened is that the GTC should have been given a five-year run. I think that the government of the day should have paid for two years, and probably should have paid 40-50 per cent of the fees in the following two years and maybe 20 per cent for the fifth year. In that way, the GTC would have had a much better guide path into being. There are two reasons for this. It would have given teachers a chance to become comfortable with the organisation and understand what they were getting in terms of value for money. Second, we had to stick our finger up in the air and guess what sort of resources we needed and what sort of income we needed. That is a very tricky thing to do. My last plea as Chair would be that I think the creation of a world-class database on behalf of the profession and for the profession would be an invaluable tool for both the profession and indeed for the Government - the ability to talk to teachers, and for teachers to talk to each other and the GTC. That would be a tremendous asset. At present, there is no way you look at the planning scenario. It is very doubtful, out of the fees you collect from teachers, that you would reach that point, certainly in the foreseeable future. A really smart government, I would say, should make a one-time significant grant to GTC to make absolutely sure that its hardware and software were immaculate, to enable it to be a truly 21st century organisation.

    Chairman

  113. Thank you for your full and frank answers that you and Carol Adams have given. It is really a progress report, and we are grateful for it. When you say it was a poor piece of legislation, would it have been better if you had had more consistency of ministerial presence over the period of time that this was all happening? For example, we have just had two ministers move on, with only eleven and a half months in office. Do you think that helps the process when they are introducing guiding legislation? It certainly makes it difficult for us. Does it worry you?
  114. (Lord Puttnam) Chairman, I come from another world, where consistency of relationship and knowledge is important. On the other hand, five years ago I started functioning at the Department of Education with a young woman named Estelle Morris. I think she has represented a remarkable level of consistency, and it has been a huge pleasure for me to be working with her. I am relieved and delighted to be stepping down from the GTC without ever having had any personal or professional conflict of interest. I think you should know that Carol Adams has been a tremendous ally to the profession, and I think that she does represent continuity in a way which is almost unusual.

  115. Carol Adams, is the continuity okay? Will the GTC survive without Lord Puttnam in the Chair?

(Ms Adams) I think we have to, Chair. the Council is absolutely determined to do so, and to build on the very excellent staff.