Government war over incompetent teachers 'too difficult'

A government war to rid classrooms of incompetent teachers would be too time-consuming and pointless, one of its advisers said yesterday.

Professor Dylan Wiliam, a member of Education Secretary Michael Gove's team reviewing the national curriculum, said getting rid of them would be "too difficult" and would do little to improve test results.

He told a conference in Leeds: "I don't think it can be done.

"You're taking their job away so you have to arrange support and set them targets. "They may not be very good teachers but they're not stupid. They jump ship and they turn up in another authority."

He said that - if the least effective 10 per cent of teachers were replaced by average - it would have a marginal effect on test results. "You'd be better off offering a bribe of £1,000 per pupil," he said.

Professor Wiliam said schools should be encouraging all their teachers to buy into a culture of improvement "rather than start a witchhunt for the least effective teachers".

He also counselled against offering teachers bonuses for good performance, arguing that it was difficult to prove which teacher was responsible for a pupil's improvement.

If their results improved in the fifth year of primary school, it could be down to the groundwork laid down by their teacher in the fourth year - and you could end up rewarding a bad teacher for good results.