Heads told to police staff

2nd December 2005 at 00:00
Peter Peacock wants headteachers and education authorities to be more proactive in dealing with cases of incompetent teachers.

The Education Minister told education directors last week at their conference at Cardrona that he wanted them to identify weak headteachers and rectify the problem before HMIE did, which has frequently led to the departure of the headteacher (and some directors of education).

The week before, Mr Peacock indicated at the annual conference of the Headteachers' Association of Scotland that giving heads more power over staffing structures meant giving them a stronger role in the hiring and firing of teachers.

He said that, while local authorities would remain the employers of teachers, it was still possible to shift the balance more towards headteachers having a greater say. "Schools should be able to decide what is the right configuration to meet the objectives in their particular community," Mr Peacock said.

Lindsay Roy, past president of the HAS, said: "We need to have a more rigorous approach so there is more effective support for teachers who face issues of competence and a more robust way of addressing the problem if it continues."

Heads are understood to be concerned about cases of incompetent teachers being moved from one school to another, with the result that some pupils are being failed.

Mr Peacock told the conference of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland last Thursday: "The view from HMIE is that about 15 per cent of leaders in our schools are regarded as weak. That has major implications for how teachers are managed and how pupils ultimately perform. Bad HMIE reports inevitably lead to these leaders departing. But I want to see you identifying that problem earlier and rectifying it before HMIE reports.

Only you can deal with those issues in the system."

The role of authorities would increasingly be seen as challenging and supporting schools, rather than the "command and control culture" that may still exist in some areas, he said. Headteachers would have to "energise the highest possible teaching standards".

Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, agreed that the public is entitled to expect good teachers.

But teachers are also entitled to expect support, Mr Smith said. "We are not going to accept the notion of anybody being hounded out of teaching where the employer has failed to meet its obligations," he warned.

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