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No second chances for probationers

Teachers are to be given only one chance to complete their induction year successfully before becoming fully qualified.

Standards minister Stephen Byers said: "If at the end of the induction year an individual is deemed to have failed they will be removed from the register and will not be able to come back at a later date."

Previously teachers have been able to retake their probation year. Mr Byers, introducing the amendment to the Teaching and Higher Education Bill, said the move was a measure of the Government's commitment to quality teaching in the classroom.

Vernon Coaker, Labour MP for Gedling, said a 1992 inspectors' report found 10 per cent of 300 new teachers were unsuitable. He said: "For too long there has been a reluctance to tackle poor performance."

The induction period will run for three school terms, or pro rata in the case of part-timers. Headteachers will be responsible for making the assessment and will pass their report to local education authorities. In exceptional circumstances where the LEA disagrees with the recommendation, a new teacher may be given a year's extension.

Stephen Dorrell, shadow education secretary, said: "To say someone who has failed once has failed for life seems to me draconian."

He said those who fail may learn the necessary skills in later life and wish to come back to develop their potential. But Mr Byers said those who fail will have to go back to square one. They will have to retrain, for example taking a post-graduate certificate in education, and do another induction year.

The Secretary of State will specify the schools where induction can take place. Some schools, for example those on special measures, will be excluded. The Office for Standards in Education will monitor the induction process.

Mr Byers said: "During the period of induction the teacher will be given positive support and assistance. They will also be closely monitored. There will be a 10 per cent reduction in their timetable hours."

The new law will affect newly qualified teachers from September 1999.

Jeff Holman, the assistant secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "No one can expect to get it right always the first time, but if there is sufficient support and adequate funding available we can support the Government's move."

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