Public to get right of appeal to GTC

MEMBERS of the public are to be allowed to report allegedly incompetent teachers directly to the General Teaching Council for Scotland, it has emerged. The initial plan was to allow the council to intervene only if a teacher had been dismissed for incompetence by an education authority.

But Peter Peacock, Deputy Children and Education Minister, has made it clear that referrals would be allowed only under tightly controlled circumstances where authorities had failed to investigate complaints adequately.

The move is an attempt to reconcile the authorities' responsibilities as the teachers' employer and the GTC's role in maintaining professional standards. The council would be allowed to investigte and act against incompetent teachers, including removal from the register, but only where the complaint had already been made to the authority.

Direct complaints would also be restricted to cases where allegations had been thrown out without following the procedures currently being drawn up by a working party chaired by the conciliation service Acas, which will set out the steps to be taken where there are problems with a teacher's conduct or capability.

The changes, outlined in a letter from to Mary Mulligan, chair of the Parliament's education committee, will also prevent a referral to the GTC where an authority has not dismissed a teacher but has followed the Acas procedures.

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