A PLAN to disband Scotland’s teaching watchdog as part of sweeping education reforms risks doing “irreparable harm” to the profession and could cost up to £7 million, the body has said.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) issued the warning in its submission to a consultation on the future of the organisation.

The Scottish Government has brought forward proposals to scrap the GTCS and replace it with a new Education Workforce Council.

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The new council would have a much wider remit than the GTCS with plans to register classroom assistants, school librarians and college lecturers.

However, the GTCS argues this could be done at a lower cost and with minimum disruption by expanding the remit of the existing body.

There are also fears the Scottish Government is intent on a power grab to prevent teachers from having a controlling say in the regulatory body.

A similar workforce council set up in Wales has half of its 14 board members directly appointed by the Welsh Government.

In contrast, the GTCS, which was set up in 1965, is fully independent and has an elected majority of teachers on its ruling council.

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The GTCS submission said: “It is our view that the proposal to establish a workforce council focuses too much on unnecessary and costly structural change which will only serve to distract and detract GTCS from continuing to make the progress it has made in recent years, rather than focusing on more meaningful, impactful changes.

“The proposed loss of GTCS as an independent body has the potential to do irreparable harm to the status and identity of teachers at a time when teachers’ professionalism, grounded in professional standards, is increasingly recognised as being critical to delivering the Scottish Government’s aspirations of bringing about improvement in outcomes for all and closing the attainment gap.”

The GTCS warned than as a charitable body it would be difficult to fund the creation of a new body with its current assets - which amount to nearly £6m.

If it was wound up, GTCS officials said one possible outcome was to divide the assets amongst its 74,000 members.

However, the Scottish Government said the proposed new body would help recognise the role and status of all those working in education.

A government spokeswoman said: “Our education reforms are focused on giving schools and headteachers more power and money to raise standards and close the attainment gap.

“Our reform proposals are based on international evidence of how high-performing education systems work - and will deliver extra help for teachers in the classroom, more professional development and a stronger voice for parents and pupils.”

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Meanwhile, Reform Scotland’s Commission on School Reform, said there was “considerable merits” in the idea of a workforce council.

In particular, it supports the idea of removing the teacher majority on its ruling council to remove “vested interest”.

It said: “There is always a risk professional bodies will act in the interests of the profession rather than of the public.

“This risk is clearly substantially increased if the council is effectively controlled by the profession.

“The government is, therefore, right to suggest that, in any new council, professionals should not constitute a majority.”

However, the commission believes the plan should be delayed to allow more time for discussion.