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Should weak teachers face the firing squad?

Regarding the article "Make firing easier: teachers' verdict on underperformers" (8 April), and the editorial in the same issue, I would like to point out that "underperforming" and "poorly performing" are not the same as "incompetent" or "not capable".

Can any of us say that we have never underperformed? Personal circumstances, illness and so on can distract us or impair our performance, but that is very different to incompetence. Greater "freedom to sack" could lead to hasty decisions, unfair dismissals and the summary end to careers.

Unions are there to ensure that members are dealt with fairly in accordance with agreed procedures. Problem resolution should not be about sackings, but about sensible discussion and negotiation. There are many instances where underperforming teachers are returned to former levels of performance through training and support.

It is crucial that proper processes are put in place to support underperforming teachers, and that each case is judged individually.

Philip Parkin, General secretary, Voice.

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