Northern Ireland news

Northern Ireland teaching regulator to be dissolved over systemic failings

Education minister Michelle McIlveen. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire
David Young, PA

A professional body that regulates the teaching profession in Northern Ireland is to be dissolved, the Education Minister has announced.

Michelle McIlveen told the Assembly the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI) had not fulfilled its responsibilities to be a voice for the teaching profession.

She said she was standing down the council and its committee with immediate effect and would bring forward legislation to dissolve the non-departmental public body (NDPB).

Her move came after an independent review of the GTCNI identified systemic failures and a breakdown of working relationships within the organisation.

The GTCNI was set up in 2002, and was responsible for registering teachers in the region and upholding professional standards.

“GTCNI has not fulfilled its responsibilities and been the voice for the teaching profession that it was intended to be,” Ms McIlveen told the Assembly.

“The report presented to the department reflects an NDPB in organisational failure, with a majority of its members acknowledging that it is failing.

“I am clear, and legal advice has confirmed, that I would be failing in my responsibilities as Minister of Education if I did not take rapid and decisive action, having received such a stark indictment of the council and its leadership.”

The minister said her department would undertake a public consultation to identify which of the council’s functions are critical to the wider education system and must be preserved.

She said the outcome of the consultation, which will engage with the public, teaching bodies and other education stakeholders, would inform the drafting of the legislation needed to dissolve the council and the design of alternative mechanisms to protect the key functions.

“It is essential that suitably qualified individuals wishing to teach here do not face any unnecessary barriers or delays in entering our workforce, particularly given the current pressures facing schools,” Ms McIlveen said.

“Arrangements are already being put in place to ensure GTCNI registration, a legal requirement for all NI teachers, continues without interruption.”

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