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Accused teachers 'to escape action'

Teachers facing allegations of incompetence and misconduct are expected to escape disciplinary action due to the abolition of the General Teaching Council for England (GTCE), it has emerged.

Many cases referred to the GTCE since August last year will not have time to be heard before the council closes at the end of March, an investigation by the Times Educational Supplement found.

Instead the Teaching Agency, which will replace the GTCE, will hear only the most serious misconduct cases that could lead to teachers being struck off.

The GTCE said none of the 323 cases that it has been passed since August has so far been deemed serious enough for transfer to the Teaching Agency, although investigations are continuing. All hearing dates between now and then are understood to have been filled.

The teaching council has often been criticised for the relatively small number of teachers that have been struck off under its watch.

Last month it emerged that 228 teachers had been banned from the classroom by the GTCE since 2001, with 211 of those being prohibited from teaching for misconduct. The remaining 17 were struck off for incompetence, according to the figures released by Schools Minister Nick Gibb.

The abolition of the GTCE was one of the first major announcements made by Michael Gove when he became Education Secretary.

GTCE registrar Paul Heathcote said: "As the Teaching Agency will not be dealing with competence cases, and will only hear conduct cases that may lead to barring, there will inevitably be some cases referred under the current system that will no longer lead to hearings in the future."

A Department for Education spokesman said: "No teacher whose standards fall below an acceptable level will go unpunished.

"All the most serious cases of misconduct that could lead to teachers being barred will be transferred to the new Teaching Agency if the GTCE does not have time to conclude them. All other cases will be dealt with by heads themselves where appropriate."


From Belfast Telegraph