Page last updated at 11:11 GMT, Friday, 26 February 2010

Teachers to face on-going checks

chalk and board
The government wants to look at re-accreditation for teachers

Scotland's teachers will face greater checks in the future, the organisation for the profession has confirmed.

News of the General teaching Council for Scotland's (GTCS) plans for re-accreditation came after a primary school teacher was struck off.

Christine Alexander, who taught in Aberdeen, admitted to charges of serious professional misconduct.

Teaching unions have expressed concerns about the plans to monitor their members.

The Educational Institute of Scotland said it was sceptical on the case for re-accreditation.

Its general secretary Ronnie Smith said: "We would be particularly concerned that any future system of re-accreditation should not be overly bureaucratic."

seonag mackinnon
BBC Scotland's education correspondent Seonag Mackinnon

On the day the teaching profession's watchdog gained its independence from government, it bared its teeth.

A teacher in Aberdeen became the second in Scotland to lose on the grounds of incompetence her licence to teach.

But the GTCS indicated it has a compassionate side too.

Faced later with evidence a teacher seems to have his life back on track thanks to family, colleagues and alcohol counsellors, they granted a conditional discharge.

Education is playing catch-up with other professions such as law and medicine in allowing staff to be barred for incompetence. And catch-up with many other education systems around the world.

It has some way to go however to win public confidence that teaching is not a profession which is over protected at the expense of children. Teachers will still remain the majority on the council after its revamp under independence.

It also has some way to go to regain the confidence of teachers. Many are uncomfortable about publicity over new competence hearings. They need reassurance that the public will ultimately see those struck off not as court room villains but simply as people who ended up in the wrong job.

Ms Alexander came before a hearing of the GTCS accused of failing to plan lessons properly.

It was found that she failed to monitor how the children were progressing.

During the hearing it also emerged that pupils at the school where Ms Alexander taught often had the wrong level of reading book, and in some cases had no book at all.

Meanwhile, the council has given a conditional discharge to a teacher who was convicted of being at the wheel of his car while five times over the drink-drive limit.

Ewan McGeer, of Wallace High in Stirling, admitted a drink problem in the wake of periods of depression and problems in his private life.

He has been asked to confirm over five years his continuing abstinence from alcohol.

The rulings over the two teachers came as Education Secretary Michael Russell confirmed that the GTCS would become independent of the Scottish government.

The council said future proposals on re-accreditation would be rigorous but different to the plan in England to bring in a licence to teach - requiring staff to pass a performance review every five years.

Tony Finn chief executive of GTCS said: "It is important to say that teachers in Scotland are highly trained and, consequently, the overwhelming majority of teachers already work to high standards.

"Any work that might be done in the future to introduce re-accreditation should serve to confirm the already high standard of teaching in schools in Scotland and to support teachers in updating their professional skills in an environment in which change is now constant."

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