An investigation into why so few teachers have been referred for incompetency hearings has been launched, after it emerged that only 10 have been struck off in eight years.
Most of England's 150 education authorities have not referred a single teacher to the General Teaching Council for alleged incompetence since the disciplinary body was set up in 2001.
"We have had a variable pattern of referrals from employers for cases of alleged serious professional incompetence with multiple referrals from some local authorities and none from others," said Keith Bartley, chief executive of the GTC. He said he could not give an accurate number of incompetent teachers still in classrooms.
The inquiry, commissioned by the GTC and the Government and carried out by the National Centre for Social Research, will report later this year.
The figures provoked fury from opposition MPs and sparked concerns that inadequate teachers remained in the classroom. "If we are to drive up standards, we need to be confident that we have excellent teachers in all of our schools," said David Laws, the Liberal Democrat schools spokesman. "We cannot have a situation where incompetent teachers are kept in the system. When an underperforming teacher is dismissed, this must be reported."
The statistics show there have been 155 referrals, with 64 of those concluding in a competency hearing. Of these, 10 resulted in teachers being struck off and 10 in suspensions. Twenty-three teachers were given conditional registration orders on the grounds they did not appear before a disciplinary hearing again, and six were reprimanded.
Mr Bartley added: "If there is any evidence of inconsistency of approach or anomaly in the patterns of referral, we want to understand what needs to be done to bring about greater consistency of approach and an appropriate level of referrals."
Of the teachers found guilty of incompetence, one – Adrian Pantry, of Carlton le Willows School in Gedling, Nottinghamshire – failed to stop pupils banging on tables, chanting and throwing objects during his lessons. Joan Lambert, of The College High School in Erdington, Birmingham, failed to evaluate pupils' work and also left school without consent to attend a faulty cooker at home. A third, Calvin Lambert, of Godley Community Primary School in Hyde, Manchester, failed to plan, assess or mark pupils' work.
The GTC has also held 494 hearings for alleged professional misconduct – of which 97 resulted in teachers being barred, 69 in suspensions and 136 in conditional registration orders.
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