England eases rules for sacking bad teachers
LONDON – As part of sweeping education reforms announced Friday, head teachers of schools in England will be given powers from September to sack underperforming teacher after a term, rather than wait for completion of one year. The plans, announced by Education Secretary Michael Gove, are intended to reduce the time it takes for schools to root out weak teachers, a process that takes at least a year at present.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Gove said: “Schools need to be able to dismiss more quickly those teachers who, despite best efforts, do not perform to the expected standard.” The change is part of measures designed to give schools more freedom in managing their teachers through an easing down of existing regulations.
“If the alarm bells are ringing and the red lights are flashing it used to take a year but we are now concertinaing it,” the education secretary said. The education reforms is a fallout of official data revealing that just 17 staff in England have been struck off for incompetence in a decade.
The changes, first mooted last May, were designed to help schools that were getting “tangled up in complex red tape” when dealing with struggling teachers.
Controversial rules restricting the amount of time heads can observe teachers in the classroom will be axed to give schools more freedom to monitor staff.
In a further move, the Government is expected to bring in a rule for annual assessment of all teachers against rigorous new teaching standards to ensure performance is being maintained.
In addition, the new measures to be introduced will stop poor teachers being “recycled” from school to school.
The education secretary added that “nobody benefits” when poor teaching is tolerated. “It puts pressure on other teachers and undermines children’s education,” he said.
Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), the schools regulator, has already criticized variable teaching standards as a problem.
In a report published in November, Ofsted said: “Although teaching has been judged to be inadequate this year in just 3 per cent of schools, it is a serious concern that teaching in over 40 per cent of primary and secondary schools is no better than satisfactory and is only outstanding in around 4 per cent.”
Chris Harrison, chair of the National Association of Head Teachers welcomed the move on Friday, telling the BBC there was a “lack of clarity” over the performance management of teachers.
But Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers described the move as an “attack on their professionalism”.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT union, described the measures as “draconian”.
Hitting back at the criticism by the unions, Gove said that the new rules would create a ‘bully’s charter’ for unethical heads who want to get rid of troublesome or challenging staff.
“At every stage there’s an opportunity for teachers to be represented and for a fair judgment to be made..Nothing matters more than the quality of time children spend interacting with a good teacher.”
The new rules will apply only in England as the education systems in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are the responsibility of devolved administrations.