Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40
WEDNESDAY 9 JANUARY 2002
40. Are you happy that the machinery exists
to deal with incompetent teachers?
(Mr de Gruchy) We co-operated fully with Stephen Byers
(when, perhaps, he was having easier times as Minister of State
for Education) when he requested that we sharpen up the procedures
which would allow incompetent teachers more quickly to be dismissed.
We thought they existed already but we emphasised the fact and
we gave him new procedures. They were agreed between the local
authorities and the teaching unions under the auspices of ACAS.
So all the machinery is in place. We look for prevention rather
than cure with good standards of entry and good training systems
to make sure that only the very competent people get through in
the first place. Then it will be only a small residual problem
that people sometimes, for quite understandable reasons, become
incompetent as life goes onillness, family difficulties
or whatever the case might be. It really is a minuscule problem.
41. If it is minuscule problem, why did 20 per
cent of teachers not apply to go for the threshold?
(Mr de Gruchy) That is up to them. There are a lot
more now applying. I think, perhaps, some teachers were not well-advised
and they are now picking up on the bad advice they received. A
large number of the 20,000 who chose not to apply last timeperhaps
for ideological reasonsare now having serious re-thinks
and a great number of those are now applying.
42. How important do you think the basic level
of teachers' pay is for the recruitment and retention of teachers
coming into the profession, particularly when compared with other
professional, vocationsand I do not necessarily mean within
the public sector?
(Mr de Gruchy) It is very important, although as people
have said earlier and I have been saying for many years now, pay
at the moment is not the major problem. That does not mean to
say we are paid generously, but I would put it in order: workload,
indiscipline, pay. However, it is quite important and, as I said
before, we have co-operated with the new threshold payments. I
would like to think that the NASUWT, in particular, have played
a very positive role in making those proposals workable and reasonably
attractive to the teaching profession. The next thing is to look
at the upper pay spine, mention of which has been made by Doug
earlier today, to make sure that that is operating in fair way.
We accept the link to performance with some reluctance, but we
are saying to the Government that if teachers meet their objective
then they have to proceed up the upper pay spine. At the moment
the Government is not putting in place a system which would guarantee
that all those who do meet their objectives receive the money
that is due to them. If they do not do that then I think the Government
will run serious risks of alienating teachers in a way which is
quite unnecessary and in a way which would be very disappointing,
bearing in mind the progress we have made over the course of the
last few months. So pay remains important but there are even more
important issues as well.
43. Nigel and Eamonn, on that note, I am afraid,
we have to end this session because we have yet another very important
witness to come. Can I thank you and wish you well, Nigel, in
all your future endeavours. Thank you for coming before the Committee.
Eamonn, we look forward to welcoming you over the next years.
(Mr de Gruchy) I wish Members of Parliament well in
the future as well.