Lost on fast track;Opinion

10th September 1999 at 01:00
The survey by teachers' employers of the numbers dismissed for incompetence raises more questions than it answers (page 1). In the two-thirds of education authorities who revealed what they know, 3,000 cases of action against teacher incompetency have come to light in the first year of the new fast track procedures. How that compares with previous years we do not know. Nor is it clear how many cases there should have been. Famously, the Office for Standards in Education claimed 15,000 teachers were less than satisfactory. But it was always clear that that rating alone was not sufficient to embark on incompetency procedures.

We do not know either how far this 3,000 and OFSTED's 15,000 overlap. Ted Wragg's research into cases of incompetency found inspectors' verdicts far less likely to result in action than complaints by pupils, parents or other teachers.

We do know that 600 of the 3,000 are no longer teaching: 200 others improved enough to avoid this. A further 400 have yet to learn their fate. How many of the 1,800 who never progressed beyond the informal stage simply took the hint and left, or improved sufficiently to redeem themselves, we cannot tell. But what does emerge is that, after all the ministerial hoohah, only 30 cases have so far been recorded under the new fast track procedure to professional oblivion.

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