Bid to make it easier to sack bad teachers dubbed bullies’ charter

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TEACHERS who do not see their pupils improve could find themselves “in the firing line” according to Education Secretary Michael Gove as he outlined plans to allow schools to remove struggling staff in just one term.

Plans to make it easier for head teachers in England to sack underperforming teachers will be introduced in September, the Government confirmed yesterday.

Mr Gove said that the move would free up schools from “complex red tape” which meant it currently took up to a year to deal with poor teachers.

Two of the main teaching unions have criticised the plans, however, with one branding it as “a potential bullies’ charter.” The Government is scrapping the current three-hour per year limit on observing a teacher in the classroom and introducing a requirement for every teacher to be assessed annually against tough new standards.

Ministers also plan to stop poor teachers being “recycled” through the system by ensuring schools pass on information about whether a member of staff had been subject to “capability procedures.”

Mr Gove said: “For far too long schools have been tangled up in complex red tape when dealing with teachers who are struggling.

“That is why these reforms focus on giving schools the responsibility to deal with this issue fairly and quickly. Schools need to be able to dismiss more quickly those teachers who, despite best efforts, do not perform to the expected standard. Future employers also need to know more about the strengths and weaknesses of teachers they are potentially employing.”

Mr Gove said reducing the time it takes to sack weak staff would force teachers to focus.

He added: “This process only kicks in when it’s clear there are problems and that term is an opportunity for a teacher who has resisted every encouragement so far to improve what they do to finally focus on getting their act together, or acknowledge that perhaps, whatever their talents, they should move on to another profession.”

And he warned that teachers whose class does not improve could find themselves in the firing line. Mr Gove refused to be drawn on how many teachers would be affected by the proposals.

The plans have caused a divide between teachers’ unions and those representing head teachers. Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, warned the measures would “anger and depress” teachers, who will see them as an attack on their professionalism.

She added: “What the Government proposes is potentially a bullies’ charter.”

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said: “This is yet another depressingly predictable announcement from a Government seemingly intent on destroying the teaching profession and state education.

“The draconian measures announced yesterday are totally unnecessary. There is no evidence which demonstrates that there are problems with the current system.” Union officials from the NUT, NASUWT and Association of Teachers and Lecturers(ATL) who met in North Yorkshire yesterday were also critical.

Paul Busby, the NUT’s North Yorkshire divisional secretary, warned that under the plans an excellent teacher could be dismissed as poor because of a bad lesson.

“I heard Mr Gove using the analogy that we would not accept an incompetent surgeon but the fact is that some children come into school having had a terrible night at home and are just not in a position to learn.

“If that pupil is then asked what their last lesson was about and they can’t say, then the teacher will be said to be poor.”

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