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we need a way to remove teachers who are not up to it

(33 Posts)
sun1234 Mon 12-Sep-11 13:05:33

or at least a replacement for them whilst they re-train!

DS2 had a new, nice, but useless teacher last year when he was in year 2. The warning signs were there from early on but it takes time for your nagging doubts to become a strong possibility that your child's teacher isn't really going to be great for your child but I knew by early December. Then it takes a while longer for the other parents to start telling each other that their children aren't really progressing either - late February. Even by the end of the year when its blatantly obvious, there will still be a parent or two who will swear blind that the teacher is fine and that their child is making good progress. By Easter, the head still denied a problem when speaking to parents (each was made to feel that they wanted special treatment for their child alone and we were each assured that the head was happy with the teaching in our children's class). However, for the last term, there was a whole slew of initiatives to bring the children up to level 2. Most of them ended up at level 2c and barely anyone got a 3 in anything, but the end of year newsletter boasted about the results even though they were below the national average (in an area where everyone speaks English as their mother tongue).

I didn't want to risk it for year 3 and I moved my children to a new school. my (bright) soon is now far behind his new classmates in some subjects but I hope he will catch up. However he is confused about what is expected of him because last year he learned not to try to do the work quickly or well because it annoyed the teacher who wanted everyone to progress together. He'll be fine because he's in a better environment and he is young enough to catch up. But what about the 29 classmates that he left behind?

IndigoBell Mon 12-Sep-11 13:20:13

There are ways to remove teachers who aren't doing their job.

Especially if this is their NQT year - they can fail it.

But normally there's a lot more going on than 'bad teaching', normally there's lots of problems with the HT, the senior leadership teacher as well as the teacher.

For example an NQT is meant to have a mentor and a lot of support. If that wasn't happening it's a whole school problem. Equally the HT refusing to acknowledge any problems is not the teacher's fault.

Basically, it sounds like a bad school and you are well out of it.

As for the rest? I dunno, but some of them would have had the option to move and decided not to take it.

If a teacher is struggling there is loads the HT can do.

LaurieFairyCake Mon 12-Sep-11 13:25:27

Oh god it takes aaaaaagessss hmm In a school I er...<cough> know 2 teachers have been mentored/coached exhaustively for the last 2 years and they're still not up to it and it's going to take all this year to get rid of them.

It's that bad that colleagues of one of the teachers signed her up to a dating site as she said she would leave when she got married grin

sun1234 Mon 12-Sep-11 13:35:06

she wasn't an NQT - she'd done that year and this was her first year after being an NQT. (There was probably warning signs right there that her first school had not kept her on).She had a mentor but until she joined, the mentor was considered to be the weakest teacher in the school by far (but she was ambitious, hence the reason she got the mentor role).

You are spot on though about the poor leadership.

I feel sorry for the other children left behind. We were incredibly lucky to get places elsewhere, only two others got out too. The others are all moving into KS2 together (with children from the waiting list taking the empty places). They are all behind, they've all learned that a noisy, unruly environment is normal and the worst thing you can do is tell the teacher that you are finding the work easy.

IDontDoIroning Mon 12-Sep-11 13:43:08

I agree I'm a governor at a school. When we appointed a new ht all sorts of issues came out with poor performance and attitudes from staff who had been left to coast by the previous head who wanted a quiet life heading to retirement
The new ht put in a set of (reasonable to me) raising standards processes which were met with allegations of bullying etc grievances sickness absences etc.
It's taken 3 years nearly to move them on which has taken a great deal of time from the head and deputy governors time hr etc snd ultimately money. All taking resources from the children left behind, who now have to have intensive support and catch up.
What really appalled me though was the attitude of their unions in defending them when the evidence was incontrovertible.

forehead Mon 12-Sep-11 13:44:42

Our headteacher has taken a sabbatical, thank goodness. She was the most ineffectual headteacher and couldn't give a hoot what the parents thought.
The good teachers left, because of the head's bad attitude and the bad teachers remained. Poor leadership is deffo the problem .

IndigoBell Mon 12-Sep-11 13:49:11

I moved from a school that failed my children and lots of other children, to an absolutely lovely children up the road.

One other family moved with us.

The others parents either thought the school was fine, or knew there were problems but didn't want to move - mainly because they weren't risk takers and didn't like change.

It takes a long time to get over, and I'm still not really over it. But I no longer feel sorry for the other kids. By and large their parents are choosing to put their head in the sand and not see the truth. (Although partly because a lot of them are doing 'fine' academically)

My recommendation is to throw yourself whole heartedly into your new school. Join the PTA, or the governors, or volunteer to read with kids etc. And just try and put the old school behind you.

It's up to the parents left behind to look after their own kids. You can't. You have enough on your plate trying to get your own DC to where they should be.

I'm trying to cram 6 years education into 2 years - it's bleeding hard work.....

The weak leadership at the old school needs to be addressed by the govs.

CustardCake Mon 12-Sep-11 14:03:54

Not all bad teaching is down to bad teachers - certainly the calibre and attitude of the Head have a massive impact all the way down a school. If a teacher is left alone or bullied and belittled then all of this will grind them down.

But bad teachers do exist and there is no quick or effective way in the current system to acknowledge this let alone deal with it.
And its not just new teachers. There are plenty of staff who have taught Year 1 for 15 years and every year dust down the same Florence Nightingale display every Easter, photocopy the same stack of worksheets for the habitats lessons and put zero effort into any reflective practice or fresh planning. They literally turn up year after year and churn out a spiel that they prepared a decade ago. And anybody who tries to get them to take a new approach or heaven forbid, change year groups once in a while gets nowhere at all.
Union strength is important in a profession where you are more likely than most to have serious and false allegations made against you at some stage but that power is abused by ineffective teachers to hold onto positions that they do not do justice to.

IndigoBell Mon 12-Sep-11 14:14:40

If the HT wants to get rid of a teacher like you describe, what they sometimes do is put them in a year group they know the teacher absolutely doesn't want to do........ sad

Or they give them the worst behaved class, which they know they won't cope with sad

Or if they have a septate PPA teacher they make them that.

Or else they do heaps of observations, and fail the teacher on each one.

Or send them on heaps of courses to improve themselves.....

It's not quick to get rid of a teacher - nor should it be - but it absolutely can be done.

CustardCake Mon 12-Sep-11 14:24:04

It does depend on the Head though because not all of them will have the determination or inclination to get rid of failing teachers.
If the Head wants to drive them out they probably can but not every Head is motivated or feels able to get rid of a poor teacher and recruit a better one. This can be for a whole range of reasons - imminent retirement, too afraid to cause outrage by changing things around, too afraid of high staff turnover and wanting stability, union pressure and procedural issues... there must be lots of reasons for Heads to turn a blind eye simply because so many of them do it.

blackeyedsusan Mon 12-Sep-11 14:43:54

sometimes it is the school systems that don't help, ... got to read every book in the sodding scheme...type systems.

poor management and resourcing are a problem. if heads don't step in and help.

sun1234 Mon 12-Sep-11 14:56:36

but when a new teacher is recruited who does the choosing? Surely its the head with help from others, but the head either has the final say or at least a veto?

So if a teacher turns out not to be up to the job, then the person who recruited them also has to take some share of the responsibility?? I think that is why my ex-head was so aggressive towards any parents who raised a concern with her (i.e. she was protecting herself from criticism)

For my part, i am just annoyed with myself that I let it go on a year. At the time, i thought that maybe it wasn't as bad as I imagined and at worst my child had plenty of time to catch up. What I did not expect to find was that he was actually being told off if he regularly did well last year, so now he's confused (and tearful because of the mixed messages).

IndigoBell Mon 12-Sep-11 15:06:02

A HT could never ever admit to a parent that there's a problem with a teacher. They have to support them - or they'd be a very poor HT indeed.

But yes, by critiscing a teacher you are also critiscing the HT.

And indeed if this teacher was being 'managed out', you'd never know.

sun1234 Mon 12-Sep-11 16:06:05

"managed out" therein lies the problem... what happens to all the children who pass through a failing teacher's care during the "managing out process"?

As a man manager, it is difficult to strike the right balance between reassuring the customer that you recognise an issue and are dealing with it versus standing to the side and wildly calling the underperforming employee a failure. But it happens every day in every industry and it is possible to deal with this sort of thing without resorting to swearing that black is white which is what happens in schools.

The way you deal with it elsewhere is by getting someone to supervise/ support more closely or moving the person to other duties. That's the problem in schools: A poor teacher just stays until the end of the year and then starts afresh with a new group of children the following year.

mnistooaddictive Mon 12-Sep-11 16:07:21

I was just about to say what indigo did. Publicly, the head gas no choice but to support the teacher. You font know though what is goingbon behind the scenes in terms of support and performance management.

sun1234 Mon 12-Sep-11 16:09:58

do teachers get probation periods written into their employment contracts?

IndigoBell Mon 12-Sep-11 16:11:15

The way you deal with it elsewhere is by getting someone to supervise/ support more closely or moving the person to other duties. - that's how it's dealt with in schools too.

Callisto Mon 12-Sep-11 16:21:21

I'm quite shocked that this level of incompetance is tolerated so widely throughout the education system. Is it the state system only? I can't imagine crapness being tolerated in private education.

Callisto Mon 12-Sep-11 16:22:51

And being 'managed out'. Jesus, how awful for all of the children who have to put up with sub-standard teaching because their useless 'teacher' can't be given the boot. In most industries, if you can't do the job you get fired.

sprogger Mon 12-Sep-11 16:26:59

Callisto, have you ever worked in management? "Managing out" happens all over the place, including the private sector. It's what we call the HR-approved process of firing people.

IndigoBell Mon 12-Sep-11 16:35:51

In most industries, if you can't do the job you get fired. - no, not in the UK.

Quite rightly there is a lengthy process that has to be gone through to fire people. In 'industry' it takes a minimum of 3 months to fire someone.

sun1234 Mon 12-Sep-11 17:07:29

I've run departments.. if someone screws up once you ask yourself immediately will they make that mistake again and if there answer is probably yes, then that's the last time they get a chance to do it. You change procedures that day or they find that their workload gets re-structured or someone has to sign off on their work for a while. If you really think they are just crap overall, then they find themselves being edged out (resigning is the best outcome), but they don't get a chance to do any damage until they go.

mrz Mon 12-Sep-11 17:36:27

I've run departments.. if someone screws up once you ask yourself immediately will they make that mistake again and if there answer is probably yes, then that's the last time they get a chance to do it. You change procedures that day or they find that their workload gets re-structured or someone has to sign off on their work for a while. If you really think they are just crap overall, then they find themselves being edged out (resigning is the best outcome), but they don't get a chance to do any damage until they go.

Sounds just like what happens in schools

sun1234 Mon 12-Sep-11 18:31:50

but how can that be what happens in schools when weak teachers get to stay in charge of a class for a year or more? e.g. the example in my original post. Who was preventing the teacher from failing my son last year and who is going to help all his ex-class mates catch up now? Also my son's ex-teacher got a new class of 30 six year olds last week, and who is going to stop her doing the same thing to them?

She wasn't bad or mean, just incompetent but still the children are the ones who pay the price.

CustardCake Mon 12-Sep-11 18:40:38

There isn't the staffing levels though to effectively have a decent teacher or a spare teacher overseeing the work of a poor one. The badly performing teacher isn't relieved of their main responsibilities and put in desk duty until they can be sacked managed out. They remain in front of a class of children, perhaps supervising a TA and in control of most of the day-to-day learning of those children for anything upto a year or more. Nobody delegates them to photocopying tasks in the staff room where they can’t do much harm in the way you might handle a poorly performing staff member elsewhere.

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