Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Gove: Teachers 'in the firing line'

Under new arrangements, schools will be able to remove poor teachers from the classroom in about a term

Teachers have a responsibility to make sure pupils behave and succeed or they will find themselves "in the firing line", Michael Gove has suggested.

The Education Secretary said that teachers who do not see their class improve could be removed from the classroom.

His comments came as the Government confirmed controversial plans to allow schools to sack under-performing teachers in just a term.

The move, which will come into force this autumn, has left ministers at loggerheads with teachers' unions, which condemned it as "draconian" and a "potential bully's charter".

It has also caused a divide between teachers' unions and those that represent headteachers, which broadly support the proposals.

Under the new arrangements, first announced last May, schools will be able to remove poor teachers from the classroom in about a term - a process that currently takes a year or longer.

The three-hour limit on observing teachers in the classroom will also be scrapped, to allow schools to decide on observation times, and teachers will be assessed every year against a set of key skills known as Teachers' Standards.

The measures are part of an attempt by Government to crack down on poor teaching, amid concerns that it damages children's education. Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Gove said the move to reduce the time it takes to sack weak members of staff would force teachers to "focus".

"This process only kicks in when it's clear there are problems and that term is an opportunity for a teacher who has resisted every encouragement so far to improve what they do to finally focus on getting their act together, or acknowledge that perhaps, whatever their talents, they should move on to another profession."

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "What the Government proposes is potentially a bully's charter. The union believes that many well-functioning schools, where development and professionalism is prized, will not adopt Mr Gove's model."

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