Page last updated at 11:38 GMT, Sunday, 31 August 2008 12:38 UK

Weak teachers 'put off pupils'

Christine Gilbert
Ms Gilbert criticises what she calls schools' "revolving door syndrome"

Weak teachers can put children off learning and are too hard to sack, the chief inspector of schools has warned.

Christine Gilbert, head of the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), told the Sunday Telegraph pupils were being let down by inadequate teachers.

She said "parents should not have to put up with it".

However, the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) said: "The vast majority of our teachers are doing an excellent job."

Ms Gilbert said teaching rated as "satisfactory" was not good enough, especially in deprived areas.

Her comments come ahead of the start of a new academic year.

We are working with the General Teaching Council to make sure they use their powers, which include prohibiting someone from teaching
The Department for Children, Schools and Families
In the newspaper interview, Ms Gilbert called for schools to be able to fire underperforming staff more easily and criticised a "revolving door syndrome" which enabled poor to teachers move from school to school.

She said: "As I go round the country heads tell me how difficult it is to get rid of weak teachers.

"They say they start the procedure and they might be 18 months down the line and the teacher will move... we need to be thinking of ways of preventing that.

"That isn't Ofsted's role but I sympathise with head teachers about that."

But the DCSF said "record exam results this summer" pointed to "excellent" teaching standards, although it warned against complacency.

Mentoring scheme

A spokeswoman said: "The Children's Plan we published last December set out proposals to improve the performance of teachers who have the greatest difficulty in carrying out their role effectively, including a proposal to help underperforming teachers leave the profession if that is appropriate, and removing their Qualified Teacher Status.

"We are working with the General Teaching Council to make sure they use their powers, which include prohibiting someone from teaching, to make sure no child has to put up with a substandard teacher."

The DCSF said the system to help struggling teachers would include "continuous professional development, such as mentoring and help from the head, to improve on their classroom management and teaching skills".


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