New council aims to weed out weakest teachers

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The Independent Online

Up to 10,000 weak or incompetent teachers should be taken out of classrooms to relieve the burden on skilled and conscientious colleagues, the teaching regulator said yesterday.

Up to 10,000 weak or incompetent teachers should be taken out of classrooms to relieve the burden on skilled and conscientious colleagues, the teaching regulator said yesterday.

Lord Puttnam, the Oscar-winning film-maker and chairman of the new General Teaching Council (GTC), set up to effectively police the profession, said he wanted to stop a tiny minority of staff damaging the morale and image of Britain's 400,000 schoolteachers.

The council will have the power to strike off incompetent or abusive teachers and prevent them working in schools.

It will regulate the teaching profession in the same way that the General Medical Council regulates doctors, and is also considering how to use powers to order weak teachers to undergo retraining or move jobs.

Speaking at the official launch of the GTC yesterday, Lord Puttnam quoted figures for the number of failing teachers produced by Chris Woodhead, the controversial chief inspector of schools. He promised to raise the public standing of teachers, but warned that weak staff would be removed.

Lord Puttnam said: "Teachers who are not pulling their weight in schools have an effect on their colleagues who are doing an excellent job ... every teacher in Britain knows which of his or her colleagues are pulling their weight. Slowly, through the competency procedures, we are hoping to help the 97.6 per cent of teachers who are doing an excellent job and possibly deal with the 2.4 per cent who are not."

Carol Adams, chief executive of the GTC, added: "There are going to be a few people who are perhaps in the wrong job, or struggling in the school ... It's not a question of blame but dealing with people with dignity."

Lord Puttnam said teachers had shed the cynical attitudes which dogged his own school days, but the image lived on in the public's memory.

"As someone who has done nothing but going in and out of schools for the past two and a half years there's a completely different atmosphere."

David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, said he hoped the GTC would raise the profile of teaching. He announced an expansion of training schools and said an extra £40mwould go to pay for bursaries and other initiatives.

A spokeswoman for the National Union of Teachers, said: "Lord Puttnam should not be taking a leaf out of the chief inspector's book. A fast-track scheme to deal with failing teachers identified very few."

* There are around 1,000 vacant teaching posts in schools across Britain, the same number as in autumn 1999, the Government said yesterday.

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