Sacking teachers

Peter Peacock has announced a plan to make it easier to
“sack” underperforming teachers.

Of all the teachers I've worked with in my career (perhaps 400) I think I've only come across three or four teachers who I thought should be sacked. Without exception they didn't like children and seemed to go out of their way to make children's lives a misery. I've been driven ever since to ensure that such behaviour cannot be tolerated and would do everything in my power to ensure that such people have no part to play in the profession. Sure there have been other teachers who have maybe chanced their arm or put in minimal effort but that is often the consequence of ineffective management i.e. it can be changed.

As for other teachers who might be underperforming I have always had great faith that – if they want to improve – it can be done. The problem sometimes occurs when the teacher doesn't recognise that their practice has become stale or not that children are disengaged from the learning process – due to their teacher's approach to the teaching process. I think that's why I believe so strongly in gathering pupil opinion about the teaching process and encouraging individual teachers to use that feedback to enhance their practice.

We are incredibly fortunate in East Lothian that our teachers want to do their best for children in their care. I am constantly bowled over by the quality of teaching in our classrooms – if we can just create and sustain a culture where people can share their enthusiasm and expertise with their colleagues.

Last point – I was speaking to a Headteacher colleague from another authority at the weekend who told me about some teachers in her school who just wanted to teach the same way as they had been teaching for the last twenty years and to keep teaching that way for the next twenty. I don't see this as a “sacking” issue but it does highlight the challenge we face to persuade some teachers that the lives of so many children will be compromised by such a self-centred approach. The challenge for Headteachers and local authorities is to work out strategies which will engage and enthuse such teachers – in much the same way as we attempt to engage and enthuse our pupils, whilst maintaining and developing confidence.