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Tories "would give heads more power to fire weak teachers"

GOVE MICHAEL RED TIE The Guardian reports:

Heads would be given tougher powers to fire weak and incompetent teachers the Tories promised today, putting them on a potential collision course with unions. Michael Gove, the Conservative shadow schools secretary, said heads "lived or died" by the skills of their staff and should be given greater freedom to assess, challenge and, where necessary, sack them.

Under current regulations, school leaders are only allowed to formally observe a qualified teacher they suspect of being substandard for three hours each year. They must give them prior notice and inform them of their concerns in advance. Gove told the North of England Education Conference in York that he would abolish this "arbitrary" limit and allow heads – and school inspectors – to sit in on as many lessons as necessary to root out underperforming teachers.

Michael Gove is quoted as telling the conference:

"Any constraint on the capacity of a headteacher to observe teaching in their school to my mind is misplaced. Headteachers are responsible for what goes on in their schools; they live or die and survive or fail as a result of that. They should have the opportunity to mentor and to challenge. There shouldn't be a restriction on it at all.

"It's only by observing lessons that heads can improve the quality of teaching. There shouldn't be an arbitrary constraint on that. We would also like to have a system where inspectors have more time to observe teachers."

All of this chimes well with Conservative thinking that head teachers should be trusted to run their schools rather than being micro-managed from Whitehall.

Unfortunate, though, that Chris Keates has already opted to raise opposition to the move on behalf of the NASUWT, suggesting that this "would in effect licence and endorse management bullying in schools."

Jonathan Isaby


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