Sunday, October 25, 2009

Should I send this?

General Teaching Council for England

Whittington House

19-30 Alfred Place



Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dear Sirs

GTC Registration Card

Thank you for my GTC registration card, received yesterday by post, which I return herewith.

The card appears to have no useful official function, other than to thrill the issuer, for I note its caveat that possessing it certifies nothing except the historic and now irrelevant fact of my registration with you at the date of the card’s issue. It serves no purpose for me personally, either: fortunately, despite advancing age, I still know who I am, who I work for and my teacher’s reference number.

For an English teacher, to be associated with this card is something of a liability. The motto on the obverse (“for children, through teachers”) is very modern in both literary and political styles, in that it conveys a fuzzy sense of generalized good intent and lacks verb, subject and any hint of how the undefined objective is to be attained (other than by treating teachers as instruments rather than as autonomous agents). I suppose we must be seen to keep up with the fashionable flight from literacy and from any disputable basis of fact or principle.

The reverse is embellished with a quotation from the “Code for teachers” (which, according to your media release dated 1 July 2009, has been created with reference to “an extensive process of public and professional consultation,” an exercise which had hitherto – and, I suspect, despite strenuous and costly effort on your behalf - escaped my notice). The excerpt reads, “Teachers’ knowledge, skill, judgement, creativity and commitment play a vital role in society.” As an example of stating the obvious it could scarcely be bettered. It is also infuriatingly patronising: I am forced to infer that my motivation is improved by jejune bureaucratic praise and recognition such as this. Its presumed intended effect is undermined by the fact that it is printed in two colours, as though, like my primary age pupils, I have such a short attention span that I cannot complete reading a sentence unless it changes its hue partway through.

Or is this chameleon-like transformation from maroon to blue intended as a political metaphor? In which case, the order of the colours should be reversed, for as you know, the GTCs were set up under an earlier Conservative government’s Teaching and Higher Education Act (1988), itself in part a response to the teachers’ industrial action of 1985, which in turn was a protest against the way in which the profession’s remuneration relative to that of other workers as established by the 1974 Houghton pay award slipped rapidly in succeeding years, to the extent that an article in Punch magazine in the 1980s, comparing workers’ pay, felt able to call teachers “dowdy underachievers” . A medical acquaintance told me years ago that the unstated purpose of the General Medical Council is to suppress and bully doctors, and some may think that the similarly-named General Teaching Councils have an analogous hidden agenda.

It is also regrettable that you should put yourselves (or should I say, us?) to such unnecessary expense when the country is running short of money. The minutes of the GTC for England’s meeting on 27 January 2009 reveal that, despite a registration fee of £37 per member and an expected total income of £21.44 million, your budget will be in deficit to the tune of £354,000. Surely it would assist your finances to desist from glossy, self-aggrandising mass mailings.

I think one could go further, in these straitened times: according to residential properties in Alfred Place have sold for an average £561,583 each in recent years, so if you happen to own your offices, the fast-recovering London property market should allow you to sell numbers 19-30, retain a healthy cash reserve and find a new location that would cost far less in staff pay, travel allowances and other perquisites. If you wish to be in closer touch with your unconsenting membership, you should know that the geographical centre of England is Meriden; but doubtless the Economic and Social Research Council could guide you to areas where wage levels are more competitive still. In the latter context, it is also worth remembering that there are some 200 million English speakers in India, where the average entry salary for a graduate is US$300 – 500 per month (E. Wayne Nafziger, “Economic Development”, 4th Edition, March 2006).

In short, while I must perforce acknowledge that I am obliged to be registered with you, please exclude me from every mailing possible, other than the one asking me for a cheque once a year; and please do what you can to be less of a burden on my, and my colleagues’, time and money.

Yours faithfully


Paddington said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paddington said...

I love it, but they won't get it.

Sackerson said...

Glad you like it, anyhow.

OldSouth said...

Send it, but don't expect them to care.

Better you seek to have it published in an old-fashioned newspaper, where it may create more of a stir.

hatfield girl said...

You've sent it already. I don't know and could not guess your readership but there are enough key words there to be picked out and bring your letter to the attention of the appropriate 'authorities' as Brown calls them.

If you're sending it to them specifically then shorter and with bullet points; you need a specific addressee too or it won't get past the interneeship politically acceptable ninny.

Sackerson said...

I've sent it to The Guardian, instead. Firing on Fort Sumter?