Letter: Skills tests for teachers, not children

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The Independent Online
Sir: I read with interest your report on how to sack bad teachers (29 May). How frustrating it is for head teachers to have to go through present legal procedures. The problem of difficulties with staff has been solved recently by one head teacher and governors, who realised that a "fast track" solution is already available.

The method chosen was to terminate the long-serving employee's contract legally and with notice, with no requirement to serve out the notice. The reason given for the termination was "a breakdown of working relationship" between the headmaster and the employee.

This leap-frogs all those rather tedious legal requirements of warnings, oral and written grievance procedures, disciplinary hearings, and appeals to the governors, even if they are in the employee's contract. It is marvellous in its simplicity and speed. Many head teachers and governors will see the advantages immediately. It is quick, legal, and has the immediate effect of keeping the loyalty of all the rest of the staff, both teaching and ancillary. What is lost in morale is more than made up for in instant obedience.

Head teachers and governors will also note that it gives a legal, all- embracing reason for terminating any employee's contract. Should a case go to industrial tribunal, a pre-emptive offer exceeding pounds 11,300, the maximum the tribunal can award, will effectively end the case without it being heard.

A WIGHTMAN

Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria

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