Tougher stance sought in bid to remove poorest teachers

The proposed four-stage process to remove poor teachers from the classroom could be toughened in its early stages if staff foul up badly, according to East Renfrewshire. It is the first authority to publicly reveal its support for the General Teaching Council for Scotland's draft code on teacher competency, launched in June.

The authority believes the code provides "generally clear, concise and helpful guidance" but is pressing for firmer measures during the first two more informal support stages designed to help teachers improve.

It argues: "While it is important to encourage the use of the support stage, it should also be explicitly acknowledged that where sub-standard performance is due to negligence or lack of application, then some form of disciplinary action will normally be appropriate."

The authority believes that a study in 1999 also highlighted a lack of consistency in the time that schools support ineffective teachers before they begin formal discipline procedures. Headteachers are unsure what constitutes a reasonable duration and there is no guidance on this in the GTC's draft Code of Practice on Teacher Competence, it points out.

"It might be suggested that the support stage could last for between 6-12 months, or 3-12 months, or be expressed in school sessions or terms," East Renfrewshire suggests. It adds that while the first two steps - the informal and support stages - are not part of the formal disciplinary procedures, managers will be expected to keep detailed records of progress.

The GTC launched a three-month consultation on plans to remove "chronically incompetent" teachers from classrooms and its register. But employment and disciplinary decisions remain with local authorities. They will only refer cases to the GTC once teachers have been dismissed after repeatedly failing to meet the agreed national tests of competency. The council can then remove names from its register and end a teacher's career.

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