Competency rules urged

20th June 1997 at 01:00
Ministers have been pressed to legally bind governing bodies to adopt competency procedures as part of the Government's strategy to introduce "faster but fair" ways to sack poor teachers.

During discussions with school employers, school standards minister Stephen Byers was told that a small but significant number of governing bodies do not employ competency procedures laid out by their local authority. He was told that there is a need either for the LEA to be able to compel them or for a statutory rule making them compulsory.

Most LEAs have what are known as competency or capability procedures based on the Arbitration and Conciliation Advisory Service (ACAS) code. Employers feel these can be too lengthy and suggest that a specific procedure for schoolteachers needs to be worked out.

The employers are also looking for a statutory framework for teachers' probationary periods. Once fully qualified, a teacher's progress could be measured by performance management criteria. An individual's contribution to a school reaching its literacy or numeracy targets or its test and examination results would be assessed in their professional appraisal.

Mr Byers was told LEAs would need extra resources if they were to have an advisory and monitoring role in raising standards.

In a letter to the Guardian this week, Edward Lister, leader of Wandsworth council and deputy chair of the Local Government Association's education committee, said teachers should be self-employed and the renewal of their contract would depend on their achieving agreed targets. No results, he said, should mean no contract.

There have been suggestions, emanating from the LGA, that heads should be employed on fixed-term contracts. The heads' unions rejected this proposal during discussions with ministers. But a compromise could be reached if such contracts came with more money or more employment security.

A Government source said that while this was a matter of discussion, it was unlikely to feature in the forthcoming education White Paper.

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