GTC insists on standards brief

There need be "no confusion and no conflict" between the General Teaching Council and local authorities over the removal of incompetent teachers, the council claimed at its meeting on Wednesday in North Lanarkshire. Both should work in tandem, fulfilling "distinct and different" roles.

The GTC rejected suggestions it is usurping the position of local authorities by demanding a significant and early role in identifying teachers with classroom difficulties and by striking incompetent teachers from the register.

Ministers have backed authorities, as employers, to handle the complexities of incompetency, assigning the GTC a minor and late part in the process. But the council insists it should develop a national role in maintaining teaching standards beyond the two-year probationary period.

It believes confusion about differing roles has "dogged and distorted" the debate. Responding to the Government's plans for improved standards, the GTC says authorities have shown little enthusiasm for dismissing teachers and may be reluctant to act without monitoring from a national agency.

"There are therefore real practical problems about taking the view that incompetence is purely a matter for the employing authorities. Past experience alone suggests that this approach will not solve the problem, small though it is," the council states.

It wants to be involved once serious underperformance has been identified. Cases would be referred to the GTC to investigate fully. Judgments might mean giving advice to authorities, putting the teacher back on probation or withdrawing registration.

Authorities, the council says, could parallel the GTC action or await the report. "Such a system would be simple and clear. It would work because it duplicates the present arrangements for misconduct. It would have the added advantage of guaranteeing national standards and procedural consistency. "

In a frank admission, the council admits incompetent teachers "may on occasion have been hidden" but the practice is no longer acceptable in the new climate of shrinking budgets, higher standards and parental demands.

* The GTC has repeated its demand to be involved in monitoring local appraisal schemes and backed the general thrust of the Government's voluntary approach. It has, however, rejected biannual reviews of performance and supported appraisal every three years. Incompetence and appraisal should not be linked, the council says.

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