Brian Wilson, the Education Minister, is to honour Labour's election commitment to sack incompetent teachers, bringing Scotland into line with the tough action proposed south of the border.
Local authorities will be responsible for judging competency and devising ways of removing poor teachers from the classroom. Mr Wilson is to consult separately on extending the powers of the General Teaching Council to remove teachers from the register if they have been classed as incompetent.
The minister yesterday (Thursday) wrote to councils and unions asking for co-operation in dealing with teachers who are said to be failing children. "What is needed is a simple, clear procedure which will allow employers to identify poorly performing teachers; offer them the opportunity to improve by providing them with necessary assistance while monitoring their progress, and then, if no progress is possible, to remove them speedily but fairly from their employment as teachers," he states.
It is vital to develop ways of assessing the quality of teaching, Mr Wilson says. Councils are therefore being asked to spell out how their plans for appraisal dovetail with the new strategy. The Scottish Office is also consulting on appeals procedures, the need for consistency between authorities, the length of dismissal procedures and accountability mechanisms.
Mr Wilson said it was "more important than ever that there should be no room in education for those who are performing inadequately". Authorities have until the end of August to submit their plans. They have recently insisted such powers should be their responsibility and not the GTC's. More details of Government action will be announced in the autumn.
However, delegates at the Professional Association of Teachers' conference in Glasgow were quick to condemn Government moves. Susan Leslie, head of Colinsburgh primary in Fife, said: "The recent announcement to name and shame bad teachers has utterly and completely appalled me." She conceded there were poor teachers but said the best strategy was more rigorous control over entry to the profession.