Schools will be able to dismiss under-performing teachers much more quickly than at present under new arrangements announced by the Department for Education (DfE). Currently, it takes roughly a year for a school to remove a teacher, but from September 2012 this process will be possible in about a term.
The DfE has announced a raft of measures which it claims will help schools manage teachers more effectively and ensure that they are performing at the highest possible standards. Schools will also be given greater powers over teacher and headteacher appraisals and the three-hour limit on observing a teacher in a classroom will be removed. Schools will be allowed to decide for themselves on appropriate appraisal times on a case by case basis.
Schools will also have a responsibility to assess teachers annually against the DfE’s new Teacher Standards. In addition, ministers are looking at introducing new procedures for how schools recruit teachers which would force schools to pass on competency information about staff to prospective employers.
Education Secretary Michael Gove claimed that the reforms will “make it easier for schools to identify and address the training and professional development teachers need to fulfil their potential, and to help their pupils to do the same.”
The DfE’s new arrangements have received broad support from headteachers’ organisations, with Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, claiming that the plans will be in the best interests of the profession. “The simplest way to protect teachers is to be seen to be taking responsibility for our own performance. There is so much good practice out there that I think the profession has nothing to fear”, he said.
However, the DfE has come under fire from some teaching unions. Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, argues that the Government is approaching the issue of teacher performance from the wrong angle. “What we do need if we are to raise performance, rather than grab headlines,” she said, “is to improve CPD and methods of supporting teachers.”