Commenting on today's BBC Breakfast programme claim that there are an estimated 15,000 incompetent teachers in schools, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers' union, said:
"Claims that there are thousands of incompetent teachers working in schools are unfounded and irresponsible.
"They create a witch hunt of teachers and condemn and undermine the whole profession.
"Teachers are observed, monitored, assessed and inspected to within an inch of their lives.
"All the statistics, including evidence from inspection, show that the vast majority of teachers are doing a good job. Day in, day out they are delivering improvements in educational outcomes for children and young people.
"All maintained schools are required by law to have a policy and procedure in place to deal with incompetence which can end in dismissal.
"If there are incompetent teachers in schools then there must be incompetent managers failing to use the procedures.
"Claims made by some headteachers that the procedures take too long or are too difficult are nonsense and are not either credible or acceptable reasons for failing in their management responsibilities.
"If incompetent teachers are passed from school to school, as some appear to be claiming, then the blame must rest with the employer not the teacher.
"As in any profession, from time to time, agreements are reached between employers and employees for a mutual termination of contract.
"These compromise agreements cover a range of circumstances including ill-health, a change in family circumstances or a breakdown in working relationships. They are not about 'buying off' incompetent employees.
"When a teacher experiences problems in their employment their union is obliged by law to ensure that they are aware of the options available to them. This may include advising them that a compromise agreement may be possible.
"Compromise agreements cannot be reached without the consent of the employer.
"Teachers cannot be labelled to be incompetent unless they have been through a competence procedure and been dismissed by the employer and removed from the national register by the General Teaching Council.
"Simply threatening a teacher with a competence procedure or starting the process is not evidence of incompetence.
"The NASUWT has had numerous cases where incompetence procedures are misused by bullying management who use them as a threat to seek to force out a teacher who's 'face no longer fits', or who has disagreed with a management decision or who has had sickness absence.
"Ill founded, ill-informed and inaccurate claims about the competence of the teaching profession are irresponsible and unnecessarily undermine public confidence.
"We should be celebrating the hard work, dedication, commitment and demonstrable achievements of teachers, not lining up to put the boot in."
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