Neil Munro reports on the growing tensions over professional incompetence and what to do about it.
THE General Teaching Council for Scotland, to which the Government wants to give new powers to deal with incompetence, stands accused this week of presiding over the admission of weak teachers into the profession.
The charge comes from the Association of Directors of Education which claims the GTC's system of scrutinising probationer teachers is ineffective, complaining that it excludes education authorities and relies on reports from headteachers.
The directors, in their response to the consultation on the GTC, make some hard-hitting criticisms of the GTC's exclusive reliance on reports from headteachers in evaluating the performance of young probationers, which is the basis for deciding whether they should be granted full registration with the council.
The probation system, directors say, is "in urgent need of review". The council is currently conducting a review and Jim McNally, the development officer seconded to carry it out, says the plan is to draw up a standard for full registration, building on the competences already demanded of students entering teacher training.
Support for probationers will also be made more coherent in a new framework. The result, Mr McNally says, should be a clearer indication for heads of what is expected of probationers.
Directors accept there have been improvements but say there is "little reason to believe the system currently operates as was, no doubt, originally intended. As a result, ineffective probationer teachers are by no means always prevented from attaining full registration."
Mr McNally replied that he would like to see the evidence for such a claim.
The ADES points out that the GTC has no staff to carry out its own independent investigations on the quality of probationers.
It continues: "Furthermore, it does not draw on the expertise of, for example, HMI or local authority advisory staff who could provide an independent view. Instead, it relies exclusively on reports from headteachers which do not necessarily apply consistent criteria."
The directors end by calling for significant changes "if the transition from provisional to full registration is to represent valid judgment of professional performance".