18th July 1997 at 01:00

I was interested to read something about a faster way of getting rid of bad teachers. When I became a governor I realised that parents' perceptions of teacher quality were often very accurate, and I felt despairing when I was told how hard it is to do anything about one who is recognised by all to be really hopeless. Have you any information?


No more than you, I'm afraid. The Government certainly has promised that it will try to develop a "fast track" dismissal procedure. The recent White Paper says that local authorities, trade unions and school governor organisations have been asked to work together to develop streamlined procedures for dealing with incompetent teachers. I imagine that any changes will be closely linked not only with inspection but also with the new ways in which LEAs are to set targets to raise standards in schools, which the White Paper also deals with.

I know existing procedures are slow and most governors share your frustration, but remember: slowness is sometimes inseparable from fairness. Present procedures do work even if they aren't speedy - don't be deterred from embarking on them when you have a strong case, and don't come unstuck on detail; and don't underrate what can be done short of dismissal to improve teacher performance - good models, skilled guidance, target-setting and the good, old-fashioned talking-to.

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