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Beeb's 'incompetent' teachers barb provokes ire and empathy

I can imagine the eye-rolling that went on in teachers' living rooms last Monday night at the sensationalist introduction to Panorama: Can I Sack Teacher? on BBC1. The truth is that, yes, there are people in teaching who shouldn't be there. But is the solution - identify them as incompetent and let them go - simple and problem-free? The word "incompetent" is now a standard, technical educational term used by Ofsted in official reports and assessments. In turn, the word has made its way into the Quality Assurance lexicon of many schools, with far-reaching consequences for any unfortunate staff whose lesson observations have been found to be below par.

Why not use "substandard" or "less than satisfactory" instead of one which is humiliating and inaccurate?

Second, there are flaws in the criteria the programme used to define which teachers were incompetent. It is probably true, for example, that there are teachers who appear to dislike children - but appearances can be deceptive and we must not mistake old-fashioned strictness for a genuine dislike.

Regulate us - we don't want special treatment - but greater support, especially from Government, will result in better, freer teaching and less so-called "incompetence".

Robert Elder, Teacher, Greater Manchester.

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