The Scottish Office's efforts to win teacher confidence for appraisal and to resist criticisms about being less aggressive over standards than counterparts south of the border were not helped this week by bullish demands from Chris Woodhead, the chief schools inspector in England, that more teachers be sacked.
Mr Woodhead intends to adjust the way members of the inspection service OFSTED grade teachers' performance in confidential reports to headteachers. Asked in a radio interview whether "you regard a test of the success of this policy that more teachers are sacked?", he replied: "Yes, if teachers are not doing the job they are paid to do they should not be in post."
He went on to to accuse his inspectors of being too soft.
They are already obliged to inform heads if any teacher is either at the top or the bottom of a seven-point scale. But last year out of 2,862 inspections, only 88 teachers were given the bottom two grades, casting doubt on the chief inspector's famous assertion that there are 15,000 bad teachers in England.
From September inspectors will continue to grade lessons from one to seven, but reports on individual teachers will put the seven grades into three groups: excellentvery good, goodsatisfactory, and unsatisfactorypoor.