Booting the unsuited or a bullies' charter?

3rd June 2011 at 01:00

Last week, the teaching unions were back to their old "best" - berating heads and condemning measures being proposed by education secretary Michael Gove to improve standards in classrooms across the country.

In a response to these new guidelines, NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates claimed that "teachers will be on a permanent capability procedure". She later added: "Stripping away safeguards to ensure that teachers are treated fairly and professionally will not deliver high performance." True, but removing poor teachers and raising standards of accountability will.

She continued: "These proposals will give headteachers a licence to bully." No, they won't. Poor teachers have dodged and weaved themselves through schools across the UK for far too long.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of heads' union the NAHT, said: "Society places a great deal of faith in teachers. It's vital for all concerned that systems are in place to ensure performance is managed and poor performance is addressed resolutely." Correct. "This will mean that those who place their trust in the profession can be reassured." Correct again, Mr Hobby.

I have spent years supporting and developing staff. On the (actually quite rare) occasions where I have found teaching to be below the standards I require, I have put in place a series of support mechanisms designed to improve performance and help the teacher - not sacked them.

School leaders are not jumping up and down with excitement at the thought of being able to "get rid" of poorly performing teachers. One hopes that, like me, they will be glad they are finally being supported to make what is essentially the only choice left after full and proper support has been provided.

I want skilled and competent teachers in my classrooms. I want motivated staff who take responsibility for their continuing professional development. And, Ms Keates, I want to fully support all my staff, especially those who are struggling. Isn't it all about the children?

Some of the most skilled and effective teachers I have ever met have been incredibly difficult and demanding to manage - but I want them in my school.

It is the unions who are, once again, acting like spoilt children here. Let's hope the grown-ups don't spare the rod ...

Giles Mongare, Deputy head and founder of the UK Secondary Education blogw

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