Teachers reject speedy sackings for incompetence

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The Independent Online
The Government came under fire from teachers' leaders yesterday after extending recommendations made by unions and employers for a fast- track dismissal procedure for incompetent teachers.

The school standards minister, Stephen Byers, approved recommendations that will see staff removed within just four weeks in extreme cases, and otherwise within two terms.

However, the Government is extending the new procedure to heads and deputies, and is stressing that long-term sickness will be no defence against dismissal. "There will be zero tolerance of delays," Mr Byers said.

Local authority employers have told the Government of cases where teachers have remained on the payroll for as long as five years.

Details of the new procedures will be sent to schools and local education authorities within 14 days.

The Government's apparent sense of urgency yesterday drew criticism from teaching unions. Peter Smith, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, insisted the problem of incompetent teachers was "relatively small scale".

"By all means let's deal with it quickly, but to suggest that there is a crisis out there on which the Government needs to act within 14 days is nonsensical," he said.

Nigel de Gruchy, leader of the National Association of Schoolmasters - Union of Women Teachers, has written to Mr Byers expressing a similar concern.

Lucy Ward