Time up for bad teachers

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Teaching unions have approved plans for fast-track dismissal proceedings which will see staff who are so incompetent that they jeopardise children's education removed after four weeks if they fail to improve.

A new framework for dealing with bad teachers, heads and deputies will also ensure those failing less drastically are sacked within two terms.

The procedure, brokered by the conciliation service Acas, was formally agreed yesterday by a working party of representatives of teacher unions, local education authorities, churches and governors.

The procedure will now be passed to schools minister Stephen Byers for approval, and is likely to be adopted nationwide. It replaces a less formal system in which each LEA has its own agreed procedures, adopted by most school governing bodies. The process can drag on for up to two years.

Doug McAvoy, leader of the National Union of Teachers, said: "This agreement offers protection for pupils and fair procedures for teachers."