Some head teachers in Wales say sacking process too slow

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Media captionThe standard of education in Wales has come under greater scrutiny since the latest Pisa international league tables

Poorly performing teachers in Wales can take too long to sack, a BBC investigation has found.

Some can take a year or more to be removed from their posts, some head teachers told the Week In Week Out programme.

They are critical of the process, as they say they are being pushed to raise standards and improve results.

One head teacher told the programme he had staff that would "never be good at their job".

When Education Minister Huw Lewis was asked if there were bad teachers who need to be sacked, he said he hoped "those sorts of measures" were not needed.

The programme, broadcast on Tuesday, contacted 215 schools and, of 50 that replied, 29 said it took a year or more to sack under-performing teachers.

The standard of education in Wales has come under greater scrutiny since the publication of the Pisa international league tables which showed Welsh schools are the worst performing in the UK - falling behind in key subjects like maths, reading and science.

Of the schools that responded to the survey, 16 said it had taken a year to sack poorly performing teachers and 13 said it had taken two years or even longer.

'Battered and bruised'

The programme had access to one of Wales' worst performing schools, St Illtyd's Roman Catholic High School in Cardiff, which was put into special measures last year.

Mike Clinch, brought in as executive head to turn St Illtyd's around, said: "My first impressions of the school were it seemed as if the staff had been battered, bruised and pummelled.

"Morale was very, very low. Pupil discipline wasn't good. The kids had been told they were in a poor school and were behaving accordingly."

He added: "There are some good teachers here, some teachers who will be good when they're shown a little bit of training and tips, some who were good but have lost their mojo and a small number who will never be good at their job."

Out of 55 staff, he said he would like to remove five or six.

The programme follows Mr Clinch as he brings in new disciplinary measures for pupils and ways to improve teaching.

One teacher is shown struggling to control his class and he receives advice on how to improve by a colleague from another school who was brought in to observe.

BBC Wales sent Freedom of Information requests to 22 local education authorities asking how many teachers had been dismissed in the last five years.

Only four teachers had been removed, with a further 38 resigning before or during the process that can lead to dismissal.

'Treated fairly'

The NASUWT union was blamed by some head teachers.

Its Wales spokesman, Rex Phillips, denied he was defending weak teachers, saying the union's job was to ensure staff are treated fairly by the disciplinary system.

"We do not defend incompetent teachers. What we do is make sure that anyone who is deemed to be in that situation is treated fairly. If it's taken a year then that's because of the way the system has been managed," he said.

"If they are weak teachers then that will show up through the capability process and ultimately, if they don't measure up, that will lead to dismissal."

When Education Minister Huw Lewis was asked by Week In Week Out if it was too hard to sack bad teachers, he said: "We need to be in no doubt that whatever it takes, really, is the endpoint of our thinking in terms of raising school standards."

When asked if there were bad teachers who needed to go, he said: "My sincere hope is we will not [need] to consider those sorts of measures."

Week In, Week Out - Teachers on Report, Tuesday, 4 March, BBC One Wales, 22.35 GMT.

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