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Spotlight on incompetence

Researchers will be visiting schools during the next two years to find out what makes a teacher incompetent and what can be done about it, writes Susan Young.

Ted Wragg, Professor of Education at Exeter University, will head the team, which will talk to heads, governors, parents, pupils - and teachers named as incompetent - to carry out the first significant British research into the problem.

The Teaching Competence Project, funded with a Pounds 139,157 grant from the Gatsby Foundation, will include a large national sample of heads and teachers to define incompetence. The team wants to hear their experiences of incompetent colleagues, any steps taken, the outcomes, and whether the process was a success.

Professor Wragg says research has been carried out in America, where it highlighted the ways in which schools tried to cope with the problem - including one in which a head spent hours revising timetables so that a particular teacher only spent short periods with any class. "We need to know if there are things schools can do so the teacher can be reintegrated," he said.

He has no qualms about talking to incompetent teachers, and told The TES: "Often when I am in schools, either heads will send me to observe classes to improve the teacher's performance, or teachers will say something isn't right and can I advise them on it."

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