Failed trainee wins reprieve

30th January 2004 at 00:00
School did not support new teacher, reports George Wright

Andrew Walters' dream of a career as a science teacher was shattered just three weeks before the end of his probationary year, when his school told him he was not up to the job.

But last week, England's General Teaching Council gave him a second chance by granting a two-term extension to his induction period after ruling that Poole high school had not done enough to support him.

The GTCE found that while Mr Walters had failed to meet some standards, he had been disadvantaged because the Dorset school was extremely late in notifying him that he was likely to fail.

Poole high runs its own newly-qualified teacher induction programme and Mr Walters was one of 15 to 20 new teachers at the school.

The school was criticised by the GTCE for not telling Mr Walters about his local authority special adviser, for making him teach a "disproportionate amount" of lower ability classes, and asking him to teach maths - which he was not trained or qualified to teach.

Mr Walters, 24, from Bournemouth, told The TES after his hearing in London last Thursday: "I am hugely relieved. It has been a lot of work just to put in the appeal and I really didn't know what to expect.

"I know teaching is the only job for me. I desperately wanted another chance to complete my induction, so I am very pleased with the outcome.

"It has been a stressful time. There were some elements of conflict between me and the school, but I have no hard feelings. In the end I have been treated fairly."

Professor Chris Cook, chairing the GTCE panel, said a condition of the two-term extension was that Mr Walters would have to complete it at another school.

The panel heard that Mr Walters was taken on by Poole high in September 2002 after completing a science postgraduate certificate in education at Portsmouth university. Concerns about his class management techniques were raised in the school's assessment of Mr Walters' teaching in the first term. By the second term, though, the school found that satisfactory progress was being made.

But in July 2003, after a series of observations found renewed class management problems, the school recommended to the local authority that Mr Walters should fail his induction. The borough's induction panel upheld the recommendation, based on the school's evidence that Mr Walters "had not secured a good standard of pupil behaviour". His final assessment also raised concerns over the teaching of special needs children.

Mr Walters, who found a new job working with autistic pupils while preparing his appeal, told the GTCE he was shocked by the decision because he thought issues raised in his first term had been addressed.

Moreover, a discussion with his head of department just days before he was sacked had led him to believe he was on track to pass his induction.

Ron Owen of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, who represented Mr Walters, said: "This is a good result for Mr Walters, but it is not over yet. He now has to look for a new school that will allow him to complete his induction."


Since 1999 all newly-qualified teachers who want to work in maintained schools or non-maintained special schools have to complete an induction year. Out of 20,000 NQTs every year, fewer than 40 do not get fully qualified status.

NQTs are assessed on:

* Planning, teaching and class management;

* Monitoring, assessment, reporting, recording and accountability;

* Other professional requirements such as extra-curricular activities.

NQTs should be allocated an induction tutor and have their progress reviewed at least once every half term. They should not teach more than 90 per cent of a normal timetable.

The head must give early warning of any difficulties experienced by the NQT. Support should be stepped up when it becomes clear that an NQT is at risk of failing. Help should include more specific or shorter-term objectives, closer monitoring and recording of progress. The NQT and the local authority should be notified of any concerns.

At the end of the third term, the school makes its final fail-pass recommendation. This is usually sent to the LEA which then makes the final decision and sends a list of those who have passed to England's General Teaching Council. Teachers who do not meet the standards are deregistered from the GTCE and never allowed to teach in the maintained sector again.

The only way to reverse that outcome, or to gain an extension to the induction period, is through the GTCE induction appeals panel.

Latest figures for the GTCE show that last year there were 12 induction appeals. In six cases, the GTCE upheld the original decisions, but the other six received extensions of between one and two terms.

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