College Riding the Wave of the Future for Teachers
Around the World
By Ivor Sutherland
The inaugural meeting of the
Council of the Ontario College of Teachers marks the
beginning of a new era for the teaching profession in
establishment of the College offers an opportunity
for the profession to extend its authority and
influence into areas of professional life which in
the past have been dominated by others. Teachers in
Ontario will now be in a position to take control of
their own professional affairs.
I am pleased to
have been a part of this exciting initiative and that
the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) was
able to lend support to the College in its early
self-regulatory body in Ontario is part of an
increasing worldwide interest in the
professionalisation of teaching. Since the GTCS
started its work in 1966, there has been a steady
trickle of visitors to the Councils offices
anxious to learn about its origins, its functions and
its operating procedures. Over the last six to eight
years the trickle has become more of a flood as
international interest in establishing professional
Registrar of the General Teaching Council for
Scotland, presents an engraved gavel from the
Scottish teachers college to Ontario College
of Teachers Chair Donna Marie Kennedy at the
first Council meeting in May.
the Labour victory in the general election in the
United Kingdom, a General Teaching Council will
almost certainly be established in England. The new
government has made education reform its first
priority and promised "reforms to the teaching
profession" in the Queens speech on the
opening of Parliament.
years, both the Republic of Ireland and Northern
Ireland have set up national working parties to
discuss the possibility of professional councils, but
neither has so far borne fruit.
African Council for Educators has the mammoth
responsibility of establishing a professional council
for teachers in South Africa across all races,
languages, colours and religions.
Columbia College of Teachers has been in existence
for some years now and is well established.
has boards of teacher registration in both Queensland
and South Australia and a Professional Standards
Council in Victoria. These are not full-blown
teaching councils but have many of the same
established a federal Teaching Council four to five
years ago, but this initiative has collapsed. I
understand that the minister is proposing another
body designed to restore the morale of the teaching
New Zealand has
a flourishing Board of Teacher Registration which has
just been granted enhanced powers by the government.
Despite this, there was a concentrated push to secure
a professional council which has now been established
on a voluntary basis. Since it is not a statutory
body and since registration is not mandatory, there
has been great difficulty in encouraging teachers to
join up and pay registration fees.
several years of intensive discussion, Hong Kong also
appears to be on the brink of establishing a teaching
council along the lines of the Scottish model.
Ontario would find the issues facing all these
professional bodies in the 1990s remarkably familiar.
In Scotland, the GTC is dealing with the issues of
changing curriculum, national testing and the need to
replace a large number of retiring members with new
and equally well-qualified teachers.
teachers who remember the founding of our
professional body more than 30 years ago would also
find the opposition to the Ontario College by some
teachers very familiar.
College, the GTC was founded at a stressful time of
great change in the education system and it, too, was
greeted with doubt about its independence, concern
about its powers and resistance to its fees. But
today, Scottish teachers could not contemplate losing
their professional body and would defend it fiercely.
Ivor Sutherland is a teacher
and the Registrar of the General Teaching Council for