The interest of central government in teachers has largely been confined to questions of supply, although it has also necessarily been much concerned with questions of qualification, payment, pensions and conduct. The main responsibility for teachers' employment has generally been the concern of the local authority and of teachers' associations. In an attempt to strengthen the position of the profession, the Education Act 1899 made provision for the establishment of a register of teachers.
In 1902, by Order in Council under Section 4(a) of the Board of Education Act, 1899, a Teachers Registration Council was established consisting of six members appointed by the board and six representing different groups of teachers. The object of the council was to establish and keep a register of teachers in accordance with regulations framed by a properly constituted consultative committee and approved by the Board of Education.
It soon became apparent, however, that it was not practicable to frame and publish an alphabetical register of teachers in a form contemplated by the 1899 Act. The form in which the register was kept led to protests by the National Union of Teachers and the board's obligation to maintain such a register was accordingly removed under Section 16 of the Education (Administrative Provisions) Act, 1907. This latter Act did, however, provide that His Majesty may "constitute a registration council representative of the teaching profession, to whom shall be assigned the duty of forming and keeping a register of such teachers as satisfy the conditions of registration established by the Council for the time being, and who apply to be registered". Such a registration council was constituted by Order in Council in 1912.
The council was independent of the Board of Education, having separate accounts. It issued lists of teachers in alphabetical order; registration was voluntary. As neither the board nor the local education authorities used the register in selecting candidates for promotion, its attraction remained limited.
Owing to the granting of a charter to Reading University, thereby necessitating its representation on the council, and to the growth of new associations of teachers, the Teachers' Registration Council was given a new constitution by Order in Council in 1926. When, in 1929, the King ordered that the body of Registered Teachers should be known as the Royal Society of Teachers, the Teachers' Registration Council became the society's executive council. Registered teachers were now entitled to use the initials MRST (Member of the Royal Society of Teachers).
The Ministry of Education abandoned registration in 1948 and the council was finally dissolved by Order in Council in 1949. This was on account of the changed conditions introduced by the Education Act, 1944, and by the decline in applications for membership of the Royal Society of Teachers. It was superseded by the National Advisory Council on the Training and Supply of Teachers. The rights of existing members of the Royal Society of Teachers are safeguarded under an educational trust set up for this purpose.