Capability-gate was three days ago now, and I recently blogged about all the news and forum articles about the recently announced plans to increase the power of senior managers to sack teachers.
The key changes are that there is less guidance on how the capability procedures should be carried out, less accountability for the decisions made, and that a teacher can be out of the door within a term.
The most concerning details are:
- The statement that "We must deal with this problem in order to protect the interests of children who suffer when struggling teachers are neither helped nor removed." This to me suggests that teachers who haven't been helped or supported will still be removed just as quickly.
- The statement that "...this would help them to counteract "notorious dodges" such as teachers getting signed off sick or launching legal action against head teachers on grounds of bullying and intimidation." This undermines genuine cases of sickness as a result of overbearing capability procedures, and reduces protection from bullying and intimidation by dismissing all claims as simply a way to cover up incompetence.
- "...the system fails to respect the professionalism of headteachers," and it also fails to respect the professionalism of teachers, and the bullying and intimidating nature of many senior managers.
The most valid points put forward from unions are:
- These proposals make it easier for headteachers to sack members of staff they just don't like.
- These proposals remove essential protection from bullying.
The best points I have seen raised in forums are:
- Poorly performing at work is not the same as being incompetent, and this is never acknowledged.
- Already it is too easy for Senior Managers or Ofsted to influence the result of an inspection or lesson observation by both
- manipulating things that are out of the teacher's control, e.g. support available in class, and
- 'seeing what they want to' and using vague performance criteria that can be spun to fit anything
- The price of progress is occasional failure.
- More teachers will be sacked and replaced with cheap NQTs from the last few years of ITT programmes who are still struggling to find their first post.
A lot of the issues I have written about on this blog already have been surfaced from this development. I absolutely agree that the capability and performance management procedures for teachers need a complete overhaul, but this is not the way in which they need to change.
I welcome a decrease in the amount of guidance and wordy criteria to work on, but not if the contents of it are still vague and able to be manipulated. They should be clearer, more able to be measured, particularly to an external body. Perhaps proceedings need to be checked by an external body to safeguard even more against bullying.
Instead more support needs to be put in place to help under performing teachers perform well again. After all, they have all passed teacher training, and been accepted into the school at interview, and most have a good few years history of good performance, so they are clearly capable of being competent under the right conditions.
More work needs to be done to create these conditions, not punish the teachers who are working outside of them.
Finally, illness and bullying need to be taken seriously and not described as simply a 'dodge' to distract from the fact that the teacher is incompetent. Teacher stress and depression, and incidents of bullying from senior management are too commonplace in education, and are only set to increase, and they are all set to be dismissed as the random accusations of a desperate teacher trying to hang on to their job for dear life.
Are you worried about the new proposals and it's potential effect on you?