New rules aim to speed up sacking of bad teachers

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The Independent Online

Tough measures for the teaching profession, which could lead to thousands being sacked under a fast-track procedure, will be unveiled by the Government next week.

Tough measures for the teaching profession, which could lead to thousands being sacked under a fast-track procedure, will be unveiled by the Government next week.

Teachers' unions reacted angrily last night to the news that current guidelines on fast-track sackings are to be tightened. They said the criteria for dismissal were so vague they could justify teachers being sacked in "entirely inappropriate circumstances".

At present, the guidelines, introduced two years ago, say the fast procedure, which takes just four weeks, should be used only in extreme cases.

New guidelines will be given legal force for the first time. They will ensure that bad teachers are identified earlier and make it harder for teachers to escape competency proceedings by claiming sickness. The new guidelines say meetings about performance can proceed in a teacher's absence "if he or she is unco-operative".

But teachers say they will also risk dismissal if they failto meet targets for pupil progress under arrangements for performance-related pay. Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "The Government seems intent on widening the criteria for theuse of fast-track dismissal. Ifa teacher is just below achieving targets for pupil progress some heads might say, 'We are going to get rid of this person quickly'."

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, warned that the new guidelines would be "a recipe for confrontation and dispute in schools, and subsequent litigation".

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "Heads will welcome this. Their ability to deal with capability procedures is still far too constrained. But I think it is important to keep performance-related pay separate. Otherwise, it will get off on the wrong foot."

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