Teachers condemn their own watchdog over “interminable” delays in striking off incompetent colleague


SCOTLAND’S teaching watchdog has been condemned by its own members for taking too long to drum out bad teachers.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) faces accusations of an “interminable” wait to get rid of poor classroom performers.

The criticism has been levelled by the Scottish Leaders Scotland (SLS), which represents school heads, and the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS).

They claim that children’s education can suffer as a result of the lengthy process involved in striking off incompetent teachers.

Recent GTCS cases, published on their website, show recent hearings over incidents that occured as far back as 2005.

A French teacher who taught in a Glasgow school was banned from teaching in January for an offence he committed in 2011.

Jim Thewliss SLS general secretary said: “When it gets to the point where the local authority refers the case to the GTCS, it can take an interminable amount of time to be dealt with.

“You can identify a member of staff whose performance needs to be supported, that can then enter into performance management, and by the time you have gone through the whole system, it can take anything from 18 months to two and a half years, sometimes longer.”

He added: “What that means is that you have a member of staff around whom you have concerns over competence, who is in there teaching kids and not improving.

“There is a process there and we are happy with that process per se. What we would like to introduce is more rigour, so that we get to a conclusion more quickly than we do just now.”

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “We find sometimes it can take a significant length of time before you get to a hearing.

“But quite often the key thing for us is that the earlier stages of the process have not been addressed adequately.”

A GTCS spokeswoman said: “The GTCS recently revised its fitness to teach framework to streamline its regulatory processes. It is entirely within this new framework for a professional competence case to be processed within a matter of months.

This is an issue in the first instance for employers to manage. For a number of reasons, the GTCS does not always receive referrals regarding professional competence from employers of teachers, and the issues in this context are both complex and challenging.

“The GTCS is working with employers to increase awareness and understanding of its processes and recently established a fitness to teach employers stake-holder group to facilitate two way dialogue on issues such as this.”

The Scottish Government is proposing that the GTCS be replaced by an Education Workforce Council (EWCS).

The EWCS would be responsible for the regulation of a wider range of education workers. Such as college lecturers, school librarians and community learning and community development workers.

The GTCS is strongly opposed to the change saying it has “the potential to do irreparable harm to the status and identity of teachers” and “impact adversely on the global reputation of the Scottish education system”.