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GTC bullet for bad teachers

PLANS to axe "chronically incompetent" teachers will be in place later this year after the General Teaching Council for Scotland on Wednesday approved a three-month consultation on a teacher competence code.

Final legal hurdles will be cleared in the autumn, paving the way for a new regime for dismissing failing classroom teachers. Promoted staff who consistently foul up administrative and management duties are also snared by the procedures.

The new powers stem from the 2000 Education Act but have been the subject of intense discussion with local authority employers and the Scottish Executive.

The competence code builds on the new Standard for Full Registration, which will be launched next week. Processes for challenging underperforming teachers will be based on the standard, providing the rigour and legal certainty demanded by employment law.

The GTC proposes a four-stage path to removal from the register, which would end a teacher's career. The first two stages will tackle "temporary underperformance" caused by illness, personal circumstances, lack of understanding of current methodology, loss of confidence or other external factors.

The initial process will be informal with the teacher encouraged to identify the causes of the "perceived" underperformance and take action to remedy it. If there is no improvement, the case will be referred to the headteacher. The second stage looks at appropriate professional development and other guidance to help the teacher, whose continued underperformance will be deemed as temporary.

Only where there has been no improvement will formal procedures begin.

At the third stage, the teacher will be formally classed as "chronically incompetent", forcing the headteacher to detail how the teacher has failed to respond.

At the fourth stage, the authority would refer the matter to the GTC if a teacher is dismissed or where the teacher resigns before being sacked. Those who are struck off will then have their name circulated to other authorities and independent schools.

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