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Get rid of the dead wood

Cameron Rose, a board member at James Gillespie's High in Edinburgh, said one of the obstacles in the way of raising attainment was the lack of power for headteachers to do anything about staff "who just don't have it".

Nicol Stephen, Deputy Education Minister, side-stepped the issue beyond saying that such teachers were a tiny minority and that the challenge was to make teaching "fun and exciting".

Alan Blackie, president of the Association of Directors of Education, said he felt there were already sufficient remedies - including support for teachers in difficulty, career appraisal and hopefully a winding-down scheme for "burnt-out cases".

The arrival of Teacher Support Scotland also heralded the prospect of a counselling service to relieve pressures on teachers.

Mr Blackie, while agreeing that teacher incompetence was not a significant problem, acknowledged that it could have a disproportionate effect on a school."But kids are smart," he said. "You know by the subjects they choose where the good teachers are."

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