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Join the debate on Can I Sack Teacher?

In the last 40 years fewer than 20 teachers have been struck off for incompetence in the whole of the UK.

That is despite registered teacher numbers totalling around 500,000 and the fact that education experts put the figure of bad and failing teachers at closer to 15,000.

Panorama's investigation has uncovered an informal system which has allowed incompetent teachers to be 'recycled' - moved on to teaching jobs in other schools - rather than being subjected to a formal process to test competency.

The story has provoked great reaction in online debates and in the media.

There seems to be a consensus of opinion that not enough is being done to address incompetent teachers.

The Independent reports on the new chairman of the House of Commons select committee on education, Graham Stuart's comment that head teachers and senior school management "need to gird their loins and get the person out so they don't damage anyone's education".

Others take a more hard line approach, calling the current system "a cosy conspiracy".

We'd like you to enter the debate and give us your comment on tonight's programme. Use this forum to share your thoughts.


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  • Comment number 1.

    We welcome your input via our team blog. Please join the debate and tell us your thoughts on Can I Sack Teacher?

  • Comment number 2.

    Q1. What makes an "incompetent" teacher?
    Exam results? Ability to control the most disruptive? Parents' perception? Pupil's perception? The Head's perception? These often contradict each other...

    Case A: Teacher gets outstanding exam results. Pupils hate teacher as teacher very strict. Parents complain that teacher gives out too many detentions which inconveniences them after school. Lesson observations show teacher is average. Incompetent?
    Case B: Teacher does not get good exam results. Excellent lesson observations. Pupils love teacher. Pupils love the subject and want to study it further. Incompetent?
    Case C: Teacher gets excellent results. Parents do not like "trendy" methods of teacher. Pupils enjoy the subject. Lesson observations are poor. Incompetent?
    Case D: Teacher is expert in subject and gets excellent results for high ability classes. Since taking on lowest ability classes, can not control the disruptive, abusive, violent and apathetic pupils. Incompetent?

    Q2. Is the 5% BBC estimate of incompetent teachers part of the 30-50% that register but quit within the first 5 years of teaching?!

    Q3. Does the 5% include the vast numbers of non-qualified staff who teach in schools, many of whom do not even have A Levels, let alone teacher training? In fact, in my child's school the number of TAs/ cover supervisors doing the job of teachers is... about 5%... how strange?!

    Q4. Is this new wave of teacher bashing in any way connected to having to justify massive public sector job losses?

  • Comment number 3.

    Do you not think that your comments on the show tonight undermine and de-value the excellent work done by hard working teachers like myself? You are very harsh about the profession (which is difficult and demanding) but the teachers I know, including myself are dedicated hardworking professional individuals who want the very best for the children whom they teach.

    Incompetent teachers do need to be dealt with, but with training, support and guidance. Not by your 'witch hunt' of a show that you aired tonight.

  • Comment number 4.

    I went to a school in my local area, so did my two sisters. Your programme seems to focus on primary education but I want to highlight the more damaging consequences of having a bad teacher at a-level when your university applications rests on a handful of exams over 2 years.

    I was taught chemistry - badly. Our first teacher stopped turning up to class after numerous absences a month before our first set of exams. The second teacher who replaced her was so awful that she missed out benzene compounds entirely which unfortunately comprised of 1/4 of one of our papers.

    She turned up a day before our exams and apologised for being incapable of covering all the a level syllabus. Thanks.

    Due to a lack of other choices and the fact you get bad teachers at most schools, my sisters followed. My youngest sister took music a level. Her teacher accidently taught her different exam boards syllabus. When my mother complained to the school the accused teacher launched a personal attack on my sisters character a week before her final exams. She was lucky to get an additional lesson from the nearby boys school to rush through bits of the syllabus that had been missed out. She doesnt think she'll get her university place and if they are going to raise the fees it's unlikely she will be able to afford it in the future.

    It's appalling. We don't need fancy laptops and electronic whiteboards. We need these people to leave!

  • Comment number 5.

    You've neglected to mention that there are also incompetent head teachers, that fail to motivate their staff, have no clue about people management, and need themselves to go back to school. I know of schools where a head teacher has demoralised so many staff that some have left the profession. So don't rely on the head teachers for information, their viewpoint is skewed by their own petty likes and dislikes.
    Anon(non teacher).

  • Comment number 6.

    Perhaps the programme should research how many teachers have left the profession because of violent and disruptive children, false allegations and aggressive parents? This is a bit one-sided. When did Chris Woodhead ever get left on his own with 30 disruptive pupils???

  • Comment number 7.

    Your programme kept reiterating that the general teaching council had been in place for 40 years. Your researchers should do their homework - it was set up in September 2000. In my school, I have no incompetent teachers. The vast majority are good or outstanding. If I hear of any incompetent teaching by supply teachers then they are struck off our list and Hays Education will not send them to our school again.

  • Comment number 8.

    Im quite shocked to discover that school teachers were not supposed to put children in cupboards, the secondary school i went to did this to me and a few others on a regular basis..

    Shame its too late for me to complain. I will never send my children to that school and hope noone else has to go through that.. Im disgusted

  • Comment number 9.

    I contacted my school because of a teacher that was teaching my daughter A level biology. The teacher was shocking she never had a lesson plan, didn't like the children asking questions and even went as far as telling my daughter she was a trouble maker because she didn't understand something. My daughter needed her A level Biology because she was going to university to study Paramedical science. My daughter ended up taking extra lessons from another Biology teacher when I complained they said they would deal with it but never did. My daughter has always been a model pupil and worked extremely hard (even when her dad died of cancer) always giving 100% she did not deserve this teacher and I am not the only one who has complained. I even asked to speak to Ofsted and they didn't bother getting back to me. This teacher is still teaching very badly.

  • Comment number 10.

    Simon Burgess' comments don't make sense. Could you link to his research to back up his claims please. Also the GTCE has only been in existence since 2000 not the 40 years the program says.

  • Comment number 11.

    I work in a secondary school as a PSA and I can confirm that some of the supply teachers and even full time staff are incompetent and most don't care about the purpose of the job. Because of the area the school is in these teachers basically said they 'don't need to put much effort in as the kids any gonna do anything useful with their lives'

  • Comment number 12.

    It is ironic in the extreme to hear those who believe in state provided education to bleat how "education is being used as a political football".

    What do they expect?

    Teachers in state provided schools will always be unsackable because it is not in the politicians interest to upset the teaching unions who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

    This will continue to happen until society forces those who have made the personal lifestyle decision to bring a human being into existence to be entirely responsible for that decision. That includes being financially responsible and actually forcing parents to pay for the private education of the child that they have decided to have.

    This is why, in theory, all schools should be private schools - anything else is not only immoral but is the worse form of open-ended irresponsibility that create the conditions where teachers are unsackable and schools exist to keep the incompetent and useless in work at the expense of all taxpayers.

  • Comment number 13.

    whoever it was, on the programme, that said outside of teaching "an incompetent individual would just be sacked", is incorrect - I have had to take staff through a competency procedure (with the aim of ultimately terminating their employment) and, frankly, all that happens is your HR department bullies someone into resigning. companies do not sack people - they make their lives miserable so that they leave!

  • Comment number 14.

    When i was at school i had a maths teacher, he taught me the last 2 years, he used to make jokes and mess around, everyone in my group did laugh, but when it came to working he used to shout at meif i got an answer wrong, he used to make jokes and think it was funny, some students complained because he was a sort of bully,but the head of year and head teacher didnt take any notice but the student moved into a different room and got work to do from the maths lesson, there were times when my friends in that group didnt like him the felt like he was forsing them to do things they couldnt do, even i now how that feels because he did the same to me, he made me do things i couldnt do i did try to do it but i knew i couldn't he would shout at you and say " Come on you can do it just use that bloody brain!" When it came to the last few weeks before our final exams in year 11, he made us do exams to practice then go through them with us after we did them and he marked them, he would then tell us its stupid how were getting rubbish marks and that we had to get good ones before the actual exam, so most of us in the group stopped after school to go to revision classes to make him happy, about 6 of us went to the classes, and there was different teachers who taught us and they taught us differently, they didnt shout they would exaplin more on how we could improve where as our original teacher would shout and just give up. When the final exam came our maths group felt like we would fail, and would be scared of what our maths teacher would say, we did the exam and when it came to finding out, most of us got E's or F's but there were 2 students who got a C, when we went to collect out results our maths teacher was there, he did come over to talk and see what we got, and he didnt look very happy. And he is still working today, when about half my group complained about him.

  • Comment number 15.

    I completely agree with jillus57, as a newly qualified teacher there's enough pressure to tick boxes whilst being the best teacher u can for the childrens sake. We don't need programmes like this, once again presenting such a negative message!
    The lack of support from and the blame placed by parents and people looking for a story, is presenting a big enough wall between us as it is!! What about extra training, support, encouragement for struggling teachers- no its a better story when you are picking on people!!

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    This programme seems to be focusing on firing 'incompetent' teachers rather than retraining. Head teachers look towards training and support rather than getting rid of a teacher. The 'incompetent' teacher the show opened with was a supply teacher, who could as someone else above has said, could possibly have only GCSEs. Panorama has been irresponable here as they have only looked at estimates and the one piece of research that was completed was done by someone who seems to have no idea of current classrooms. A pupil could lose a grade as a result of holidays taken during school time, bad behaviour by themselves or classmates. This 'witch hunt' was terrible 'factual' television as there were no real facts.

  • Comment number 18.

    I agree that their is incompetent teachers in the system but why is it that the problem is always the teacher that is at fault. The program has already highlighted poor classroom management as being one aspect of teacher’s incompetence but when you have genuine unruly children from a disaffected background who have little or no respect for authority then classroom management is always going to be a problem. Theirs no real deterrent for these pupils and regardless of the level of teacher classroom management is always going to be an issue and this means the easy options and blaming the teacher.

  • Comment number 19.

    I've known extremely good teachers who have been 'sacked' because parents and students have had control rather than the school. SOme have been in teaching their whole lives and because one child complains the system does not back the teacher. Friends of mine have left because of this attitude. I would like to pass on my knowledge through teaching but am afraid of the way teachers are not supported. My husband is teaching now and is finding the same. Thus the children are losing out. When I went to school teachers were respected. The teachers were OK but were up against the dreaded comprehensive system. I saw the downfall in the seventies and I must admit most of my best learning came after this time. The teachers are fine its the system that lets them down.

  • Comment number 20.

    This programme seems to be entirely based on the difference between an estimate of 15,000 incompetent teachers by an ex inspector and the figure of 18 actually struck off.
    Firstly, finding that 4-5% of lessons were unsatisfactory in the inspector's experience and then extrapolating from this that it is reasonable to assume that 4-5% of teachers are incompetent seems very odd. Being 'competent' does not mean you never teach an unsatisfactory lesson in any circumstances. I am a teacher found to have given an 'outstanding' lesson in a recent OFTED inspection at my school but I have definitely delivered lessons I consider 'unsatisfactory' in my career.

    Secondly, the proposition that a headteacher in a particular school feeling that a teacher is incompetent should equate to another teacher which should have struck off is ludicrous. There are many teachers who teach successfully in their current schools but, were they to find themselves in a different school would find their lessons deteriorating rapidly.

    To be struck off, even for a limited period of time, is to have in most cases your career cut short. Training, support and lesson observations are used in many schools to ensure their staff are effective teachers even if they have had their moments of 'incompetency'

  • Comment number 21.

    I am an 18 year old student and personally I believe that maybe children should be asked how they feel about the teaching in their school. This never happens, and when a complaint is made about the incompetence of a teacher, nothing happens and it just gets worse! It is truly awful, I have had many incompetent teachers in my time at college; an English teacher that frequently cried in my lesson, a teacher that fell asleep in the classroom and some that simply do not have any knowledge about what they are teaching. I would like to think that I am quite an average English student, and I used to have a big passion for the subject.But have had it completely destroyed for my A levels. Something needs to be done, it is too late for me, but for future generations something should be done. It is unfair, as this is our lives that they are changing!

  • Comment number 22.

    my son is in year 10 and has suffered in most of his school life against incompetent teachers, i have been to the head and chair of governors, the school refused to remove my son from a teacher who is blatenlty picking on him, finally they agreed to remove him, but why should my son suffer because teachers thinks they can bully, yet the school deny this is happening. Why cant parents do something about these kinds of teachers?? Why should our children suffer because a teacher has decided I DONT LIKE YOU, being a teacher should mean feelings aside and do your job.This school needs investigating..

  • Comment number 23.

    as a former student of a secondary school which is has been clasified by ofstead as "failing" since i have left, i would say this panarama program is adressing very important issues very well. however 5% as an estimate of poor teachers is a relative utopia compared to what i would say the level of incompetence is. When in year 9 i went though a whole year of bad surply teaching because there was no teacher at all for us! when the class disiplin decended into anarcy the school including the heads apeard to take no responsibility for it, sugesting incometence in those who were running the school too. I experianced many more cases of incompetence at every level of teaching in the school. However there were a few diamond teachers who were truely inpiring that could be found mixed within the silty mud that is the rest of the rest of the profession.

  • Comment number 24.

    Another area that needs looking at are the tutors in college!!

  • Comment number 25.

    I agree with Engineerthefuture, not only may teaching be bad in primary, but surely teaching for A levels should be taking more seriously! But jillus57 I also agree there are many great teachers but something needs to be done about the incompetent ones!

  • Comment number 26.

    At primary school(reception class)my daughter experienced her first incomptent teacher, nine children left the school at the end of the school year including my own child. She still teaches there the headteacher just moves her around.

    She's just finished her GCSE's and was recently recalled to school to redo all the course she had done for her ICT because the teacher gave the pupils the wrong syllabus.
    He also done the same thing last year, just in case you're wondering the Headteacher is aware.
    What training do you suggest he should have.

  • Comment number 27.

    I worked in the office of a Secondary School, my child was also in the school. Every year there was at least one teacher I was unhappy with and I could see what the SLT and other teachers thought of them, what the students thought of them. I saw two teachers "encouraged" to leave and that they perhaps didnt suit the school and they were given bland references. I did see teachers dismissed but usually on medical as they were being put under pressure to improve and then went sick. So they could easily reappear somewhere else. I think the school also had staff join with inaccurate references. I also saw lots of cover teachers who were in my opinion unfit for the job, and the students knew it too. ITS TOO LATE FOR MY CHILD BUT WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING THE OTHER CHILDREN.

  • Comment number 28.

    I used to teach Year 2 (Primary). My last class were very successful and at the end of the year achieved higher than average results, many of them gaining Level 2A and Level 3. The class had a very successful Reception year, Year 1 and 2 yet now in Year 5 many of the pupils who would have been going to the local grammar school are not average pupils or below average and facing the prospect of the community college instead. Why did this happen, due to the teacher they met in Year 3 who is also the Deputy Head. Parents are now taking their children from the school because of him. Now tell me incompetence doesn't harm results.

  • Comment number 29.

    It is true that most teachers have done fantastic jobs however I think that is important to deal with incompetent teachers quickly. while at school myself I had a teacher who left the class to learn the course for myself to the point where some of the class had to teach him the lesson content at the beginning of the class. many complaints were logged against this teacher however many years later we were informed that the same teacher would be taking my siblings for the same subject and have watched this year unable to prevent as this teacher killed my brothers enthusiasm for the subject and also see his high grade turn into a fail.

    Over all I believe that it is essential for teachers that are deemed incompetent to be dealt with swiftly, 8 years after the first complaints the teacher is still there and more students are failing something needs to be done.

  • Comment number 30.

    I am a head of Maths In the Birmingham area and I have experienced incompetent teachers first hand but there are 2 major problems that arise from this. It's very hard to get rid of them and when or if you do it is even harder to replace them. I work in a school that can be very challenging, a lot of teachers have taken on posts only to leave shortly afterwards as they have been unable to cope with the students or the pressure (yet have been very successful elsewhere). This makes it even harder to recruit new teachers especially linked with the fact there are in the West Midlands more Maths jobs that teachers to fill them. This leaves you with the choice of an incompetent teacher in front of a class or no one in front of the class. The problem lies in the lack of teachers in shortage subjects, if you solve that problem then incompetent teachers will be forced out and standards will rise. The governments answer to this is a pay freeze to make it even less desirable for those with Maths qualifications to enter teaching when they can earn more elsewhere. Well done Tories

  • Comment number 31.

    I completely agree with Jilius57. In most successful civilised countries teaching is a valued profession. Sadly in a failing Britain teachers are too frequently used as scapegoats for the inadequacies of parents and the pupils themselves.

    Yes - there are some poor teachers - but conducting a witch hunt such as yours merely deflects from the real argument - 'Why are teachers so poorly paid, so poorly regarded and so powerless to actually do their job in a so-called first-world nation.

    All that and a workload that grows by the week. Well done (not) Panorama.

  • Comment number 32.

    This past year my daughter's teacher was as far I as I am concerned incompetent to teach. She threw a child's shoe across the classroom, consistently shouted at them, told the parents the class was not as bright as the others. Cheered at the end of every week and screamed when showing them outside to waiting parents, saying they're all yours. She failed to follow the Active Learning procedures. I approached the teacher on 3 separate occasions for some help with a subject she was struggling with and was told by her no nothing she could do. She belittled the children. At the end of the school year she made all the children rip up their project work for the past year. When confronted with this we were told that she asked them and that is what they wanted to do. These children are 8 years old, none of them wanted to, infact one child was made to rip up another childs which he didn't want to do. There were numerous concerns and the Head Mistress did her best to deal with it to no avail but it was also a losing battle for her. This teacher will continue to teach in the new term. I have requested that my second child will not be put into her classroom when she reaches that grade.

    I will add that there are numerous teachers within her school that are excellent. The Head Mistress has an open door policy and is 100% behind our concerns and that of the childrens. They go above and beyond what is required and are approachable and friendly. An education is only as good as the teacher who provides it and the parents involvement but if that fails then unfortunately your child is the one that suffers.

    I don't believe your programme was a witch hunt, I think you have highlighted a lot of parents concerns. I know I was scared to as I thought my child would be singled out because of something that I had done. Thankfully this has not been the case.

  • Comment number 33.

    I agree that incompetent teachers should not be in the profession. However my difficulty is that what teachers are dealing with her is a very volatile and diverse raw material. I know some teachers who are very effective at teaching in one school setting and with students there but would be deemed incompetent in another. Is it fair to completely strike a teacher off from the whole profession because they have been seen to be incompetent in one setting? Furthermore perhaps there also should be an investigation into 'Can I expel the student?' as I have also seen how difficult this is and yet unruly students also have a profoundly negative effect on the learning of all.

  • Comment number 34.

    I cannot believe how one sided this debate is. I ran an ICT department where long term absence from other members of staff combined with non recruitment of specialist staff was papered over by the SMT. They used Cover Supervisors. Worse still, the SMT also managed to collapse the computer servers in the middle of the exams. In my opinion, the SMT was incompetent but silenced me from saying anything by pushing me out via a compromise agreement. I have no doubt that the way they tell the story is that I was the incompetent one. I cannot do anything about that because they made me sign a compromise agreement that effectively means I cannot report, for example, what I believe was criminal behaviour.
    And what support does a techer get in such a situation? Have you tried going up against an LEA or a school? Result - teacher has to deal with Panorama programs suggesting that he/she is incompetent but SMT get a good OFSTED. It is easy to make a teacher look incompetent - even if they are not.

  • Comment number 35.

    It’s quite obvious from this report that the person producing this naive and one-sided piece of research was taught by an incompetent teacher.

  • Comment number 36.

    I can understand the concerns and worries that people are facing and clearly they want the best for their children. However, one can rant and rave about teachers in general, but surely the true issues are not discussed. How are teachers trained? Why is it that some schools are making great efforts to train teachers effectively and others exploit individuals and don't give them to tools to help young people. Surely, by removing people will only solve the problem in the short term. Should teachers not be developed and given the tools to make them effective? Whey you are a banker you are trained to do your job well. How often are teachers trained effectively regarding behaviour management, SEN needs etc? They often face excuses like budgets and not time to send you on a course. It seems like teachers are being victimised by what is a system that is failing both the child and the teacher. How often does a teacher need to mark 300 essays, plan 7 lessons, stay at school till 8:00 in the evening? Very often. The issue is they might be over worked and also not trained to a level to cope with what they face. How are they supported? Surely by just getting rid of them will not solve the problem. Supporting them and making sure they can function effectively is key to what is needed? It is sad to see that the public is only striking out and also that the language used in the programme is so emotive and focused on the negative side of what teachers do. Many do a great job, many are very focused on the wellbeing of young people and give up all their time to ensure that it happens. It is not a very balanced representation fo what is truly going on. Very disappointing!

  • Comment number 37.

    I have been watching your programme on 'incompetent' teachers, as you call it. I work in a school and see some of the issues mentioned in the programme, however I see more excellent practice than poor. Mr Woodhead said that about 4.5 % of teachers were incompetent, so what about the 95.5% of good teachers. I witness creative and excellent teaching every day yet your programme is based on the minority and not the majority.

    It is sadly of no surprise to me that the BBC have again decided to focus on the negative because you do not believe that positive stories attract viewers. Clearly ratings are more important than balanced arguements. How about a programme of creative and inspirational teaching in the classroom? The public will not listen to the facts but they will listen to over used words like incompetent. You have a responsibility to provide a balanced view and not sensationalise news stories. How about using the licence fees more appropriately and I would suggest that the BBC take a hard long look at the programmes they are producing, I believe standards are slipping.

  • Comment number 38.

    Overall an upsetting and one-sided broadcast – the first I have ever commented on. Incompetence should not be accepted, yet the majority of teachers work incredibly hard for the education of their pupils. This seems to have been forgotten by the program.

  • Comment number 39.

    I am not a teacher. However, I am related to 2 teachers.
    I am sorry, but that was sensationalist TV. Comparing incompetent teachers with incompetent Doctors? What is the implication, that both jobs hold the same responsibility? Therefore why doesn't a teacher earn the same as a Doctor, or receive the same level of training (5 years)?
    The two children used as examples. There was no mention of their behavioural records or their academic abilities - nor no mention of the other pupils in the class and their attitudes to the teacher.
    The teacher who was struck off for locking children in cupboards; labelled as incompetent. That wasn't incompetent, that was malicious and sadistic and he was rightly struck off. There is no comparison with someone who may need extra support/training to teach.
    No mention of parental responsibilities and how this is as important as teachers skills. How many incompetent parents are there?

  • Comment number 40.

    I wonder if we could get the Panorama reporter and her production team struck off for incompetent journalism. Video with no relation to the content of the voice-over, opinions asserted as fact, unsupported allegations and pseudo-questions self-answered by non-sequiters.

    I have no interest in the subject matter, but I have taught journalism on three continents over 30 years and, were this presented as a student project, I would have given it a D. Its only redeeming value as a TV programme, pulling it out of the "F" range, was the clarity of the video and audio.

  • Comment number 41.

    A totally biased programme by a journalist that seemed to have a grudge over her own teachers. Where was the evidence? The whole programme seemed to be all based on what a few parents said. A teacher can often struggle with one class and be excellent with a different class even in the same school, does that make them incompetent?

    In my opinion your journalist would do better making a less biased report, weighing up both sides of the argument. Incompetent means not able to teach, largely due to poor behaviour by the children. Is that the teachers fault or more a reflection of values in society.

    Stop knocking teachers BBC!

  • Comment number 42.

    So just *one* "incompetant" teacher can completely destroy a year of a child's education.
    I bear what might be news for you: Just ONE disruptive child in a classroom can completely destroy a *whole* year's worth of education for a whole class. It has a lot to do with the "money-saving" antics of successive governments in their futile attempts to close Special Schools (they cost too much!) and disperse the pupils from those schools into the general school system.
    I am NOT a teacher - thank God!!! I have never heard such a biased report from our national broadcasting organisation (I hesitate to call it the British Broadcasting Corporation....)

  • Comment number 43.

    Dear BBC,
    The intellectual bankruptcy of the tonight's Panorama transmission renders it unworthy of the BBC brand. The confusion between prevalence and incidence phenomena illustrate an educational deficit that is far more alarming than the subject matter of the program.
    The naivety of the principal journalist’s question regarding the outcome of elimination of the bottom 5% of the normal distribution of (so-called) teacher (in-)competence is remarkable.
    The key question is how to minimise the standard deviation of the bell shaped curve, which is, of course, intrinsically linked to the multivariate bell shaped curve which describes “(in-)competence” of the pupil population served by those teachers.
    This unashamed political attack upon the teaching unions by a publicly funded organisation begs serious questions of the political independence of the BBC.
    Paul Mitchell.

  • Comment number 44.


    I am curious as to the wisdom of the timing of this programme. Teachers are being made redundant, losing their allowance points, are told that they have to maintain quality with a much lower budget (no money to get textbooks and basic resources) and have been told that they will have a two year pay freeze. Mr Woodhead, who can hardly be accused of being overly compassionate to the teachers' cause, recognised in your programme that there were no more incompetent teachers than there were incompetent professionals in other jobs (5%, he reckons) so at this time of extreme penalties on the teaching profession, with a direct effect on children, why not broadcast a programme about how the financial sector keep awarding themselves bonuses, in spite of the trouble they have caused?
    When you described an allegedly incompetent teacher for "shouting", which probably would make 95% of the teaching profession incompetent, there was no mention of any reasons why she may have acted this way... It was altogether extremely biased. The reason why so many Headteachers would not be interviewed is that it is impossible not to incriminate publicly the teacher you are talking about. Every school has an audience of at least a thousand people (siblings, parents, relatives etc...). If Mr Smith from Bristol talks about an incompetent teacher in their school, all thousand people concerned will make guesses and allegations, not a situation a Headteacher would want to put the rest of their very competent staff in.

  • Comment number 45.

    Really poor, unobjective journalism. 5% incompetence in any industry would be considered very low. All this episode has done is undermine a profession full of graduate professionals who on the whole could have earned far more in the private sector but chose to work in teaching to better a childs futures.

    What schools need is resources to bring poorer teachers up to standard or the PGCE should be made more rigorous

    I work as a manager in a top 100 private sector company and far more than 5% of our workforce are incompetent.

    Shame on you!

  • Comment number 46.

    What about incompetent headteachers and deputy's? More so those who have led a school for 3 years and have now been placed into "Special measures".

    How can we the parent get help and advice for this? Seems the LA is backing the head without speaking to us or the teaching staff - we have lost too many good teachers and face, maybe losing even more under her headship. The teachers at our school are afraid to speak out because they fear losing their job.

  • Comment number 47.

    Rigorous, well-researched, backed by hard evidence - shame these words can't be applied to the programme. This episode of Panorama was basically alarmist, tabloid-style 'investigative journalism' laughably based around little more than a single provable statistic (i.e. the number of teachers in the UK), a guess (how many are incompetent) and the opinions of representatives of the various groups of people concerned (though remarkably few normal teachers - who seem wisely to have viewed the whole mess as somewhat beneath them) from whom Sam Poling somehow managed to extrapolate universal truths using the time-honoured lazy journalistic technique of 'if it sounds dramatic, it'll get the punters watching.' I've seen less drama and more substance in the average episode of The Teletubbies. Must try harder.

  • Comment number 48.

    Incompetent teachers will remain in schools while they are judged by their own.

  • Comment number 49.

    My son was failed by an incompetent Head teacher. My son is on the autistic spectrum and the head would systematically bully my son by humiliating him publicly and ignoring his needs. She would leave him alone with a known bully in the knowledge that the bully had a vendetta against my son. I often complained,(and even took my complaints as far as our local county council and board of governors) but my efforts were futile and the complaints were made light of, indeed, sighting me as a 'paranoid' parent who was struggling emotionally as I was a single parent. During my son's time at this school, he went from being a happy child to a very argumentative and troubled one and his grades slipped to well below that of an average child. I have heard many parents and staff complain about the Head's practices yet the situation appears to be brushed under the carpet as it is a small rural school which meets all of it's academic targets.
    Meanwhile, my Son attends a different school, where he receives the help and support that he needs. He has gone from below average to gifted and talented in his grades within 10 months, showing even more the incompetence of the previous Head teacher he had.
    I also work within education and have done so for the last 11 years. During this time and 3 different schools, I have met far too many incompetent teachers. In fact, I have seen all of the schools 'push' good teachers away and deliberately employ incompetent ones with the appalling attitude that they'll do. I have witnessed untrained adults standing in classrooms whilst the students run amok and have even known classes to be taught by assistants for a whole academic year. Alarmingly, this occurs within the core subjects and is a practice that needs to be stopped. There is a reason why adults who want to be teachers have to acquire a degree and then go through the process of teacher training. Any weak teachers should be either re-trained or removed at that stage, not allowed to enter a classroom in the capacity of a qualified teacher and risk ruining a child’s education.

  • Comment number 50.

    Agree whole heartedly with this programme.
    I am 16 and over the years I have had a number of incompetent teachers. I missed out on almost a year of teaching at the age of nine and the teacher was not dismissed but took an "early retirement".
    Things did not improve in my secondary school. There is a quick turnover of teachers. Teachers who cannot control the class usually stick around for a year and then move on to another school.
    I think its very sad that my generation has to put up with these teachers. I must add that not all teachers are incompetent and I have had some good ones as well. I just sadly seem to have had more bad ones.
    While I'm here, I'm going to moan that teachers should not be assessed through exam results because this puts unneeded pressure on the pupils. I was pressured to get an A* IN EVERY SINGLE SUBJECT. I was working hard to get an B/A! But NOOO that's not good enough, it's A* or else. All just so the school/teacher looks good. Pupils don't even seems to get considered. In my opinion, teachers should get assessed through a student survey or an OFSTED inspector instead of pupil's results.
    My opinion is that the education system is a big mess and I hope the new government sorts it out sharpish. If I have kids one day, I'll dread sending them through our awful education system.

  • Comment number 51.

    I think most incompetent teachers are just bully's to majority of students.

    I lost the chances to re-sit my gcse's due to a so called incompetent teacher. I ended up in hospital and missed most of my exams and he plainly refused. Not just that he had it in for let say lower class students he either boiled shouted allot or just treated you like dog mess he just steped in. he never got sacked despite the amount of times Ofsted have been brought in.. well 18 years have passed and glad I’m in a fulltime career taken me a long time to get my qualifications and allot of work I just feel sorry for other that was less unfortunate that crossed his path.

    Just wish the government act sooner and bring in always of monitoring a teacher activities in school premises. Because it always starts when people are not watching the lessons Not all teachers are bad I had a few at the same school that was understanding and took you to one side and find out what the issues was and they knew what has been gong off for years

  • Comment number 52.

    My wife is an outstanding teacher and is recognized as such in our area. However our children have attended a local primary school which has a broad spectrum of ability in it's staff. One teacher was so mean to our son that we filed a formal complaint along with other parents and she was issued a formal warning. Our daughter was beginning to fall behind as she reached year 6 in the same school but she has since moved to Senior School in the area and has just received straight As in her first report. Unfortunately the teacher in question is still teaching in the school and continuing to damage the development of children and, rather ironically, the head has since resigned and is now a Lib Dem candidate in the area!

    Most other local authorities have a personnel department that deal with hiring, discipline, appraisal and firing so why do we expect head teachers to manage personnel, delivery of education, finance and internal policy?

    the issue that came out of your programme was one of moral courage of head teachers when dealing with failing teachers. If the management of such teachers was partly removed from the head then we might stand a greater chance of success when maintaining high standards within our schools.

  • Comment number 53.

    What about Senior Leadership and head teachers in schools who cannot control students and expect form tutors and Heads of Department to cover up their own incompetents: they get fast tracked or got out of teaching because they were promoted to their position of incompetence. I suggest the government look at who is managing schools and question their competency. Bullied by parents, peers, students and managers, ask yourself the question could you be a teacher? Walk into a class of thirty students and entertain them for an hour and now you have to do this twenty two hours a week from year 13 down to Year 7. Pitch your lessons to all of these students and don't forget who is 'special needs', brief your teaching assistant, and don't forget the 'more gifted and able'. Mark all of their work and do formal assessments to government guidelines, three times a year, that even the government doesn't really understand to help you out and then face your line manager because little John's parents who isn't very bright, has not achieved a level four in his maths results. I hear there a plenty of jobs in teaching....

  • Comment number 54.

    Your programme highlighted an important issue and one which does need addressing. However I am very disappointed in the way it was done. There was no clarity as to what makes an incompetent teacher, no recognition of the role of unions, and very little about how schools have their hands tied when it comes to dismissing teachers who are underperforming. Schools have a ridiculous amount of targets to meet (SATs, GCSE, CVA...) and so it is incredible to suggest that schools do nothing about teachers who are not meeting these targets - they can't afford not to. Schools are acting under increasing pressure and this is passed on to teachers. Ofsted criteria are increasingly demanding and difficult to meet. It's no wonder some teachers struggle. But most schools rightly support their staff with coaching and mentoring as much as possible rather than starting witch hunts and publicising who is receiving extra support. I sincerely hope David Dobbie receives an apology for the disgusting way in which he has been victimised by this programme. I'm afraid Panorama just lost a lot of credibility in my eyes.

  • Comment number 55.

    i watched the program hoping for once that there would be a balanced approach to the discussion of an important issue (we would be fools to think that the teaching profession doesnt have people that arent suitable for teaching)
    However i was saddened and disappointed by what amounted to another attack on my profession, another witch hunt.
    Teaching is a difficult and stressful profession, which places high demands on you physically and emotionally, but it is one that can be incredibly rewarding. the standards that teachers place on themselves as well as the standards forced on them are almost impossible to achieve, but we still keep trying.
    when is there going to be a balanced program that discusses the teaching profession warts and all with out turning it into another teacher bashing lecture

  • Comment number 56.

    Having watched the programme, I am really disappointed by the way the profession was represented. Whilst I agree that accountability is absolutely necessary, given the important role teachers play in a child's development, you cannot lie blame simply upon head teachers. First of all, surely the criteria for incompetence, which Chris Woodhead defined is entirely open to opinion. Secondly, getting evidence for this is extremely difficult and again heavily subjective and therefore open to interpretation. Thirdly, once that procedure is started, more often than not a member of staff foes off on stress etc... which forces the questions: a). Is it better to have a supply teacher with little or no subject knowledge? b). Is it fair that staff have to bear the brunt of extra workload and therefore likely have an unfair and unequal burden of pressure?

    Whilst I am in no way advocating the presence of incompetency and believe something should be done about it, the answer and choices the teaching profession face are not as simple or reductive as simply labelling them incompetent and giving them the chop. What is not productive however, is advocating a carte blanche policy of complaint and trials based on subjectivity. I am very disappointed in the BBC and the programme.

  • Comment number 57.

    Yet another programme of teacher bashing I see. For just once I would like to sit down to watch a programme on education where teachers are thanked and congratulated on all of their hard work.

    It amazes me how you can create a programme based on teaching where you have not given the opinions on a current "good" teacher but based your "facts" on the opinions of those who have either never taught in a classroom or not been in one for many years.

    It would have been nice to see a definition of our so called incompetence. I challenge those that you inverviewed to spend a week in a classroom with 30 children and see how they get on. Don't forget to throw in the late nights and working most of the weekend into that for very little money, which has now incidently been frozen.

    Perhaps if we were simply able to get on with our jobs without the government making cuts at every junction and changing initiatives when we are getting on fine you would find less of your so called "incompetent" teachers.

  • Comment number 58.

    I think most incompetent teachers are just bully's to majority of students.
    I lost the chances to re-sit my gcse's due to a so called incompetent teacher. I ended up in hospital and missed most of my exams and he plainly refused. Not just that he had it in for let say lower class students he either boiled shouted allot or just treated you like dog mess he just steped in. he never got sacked despite the amount of times Ofsted have been brought in.. well 18 years have passed and glad I’m in a fulltime career taken me a long time to get my qualifications and allot of work I just feel sorry for other that was less unfortunate that crossed his path

  • Comment number 59.

    Having just watched this programme I am absolutly disgusted at the level of total incompetance these teachers have shown and the total disregard for the children involved by their poor education standards, I have two children currently in the education system and would be distraught if my kids were being taught by someone who is allegedly a qualified but inept at the job!

    As I`m employer there are procedures to sack anyone who is shown to be incompetant, however i`m at a total loss to understand why the education authority are not getting rid of teachers who clearly cant do the job they are paid to do.

    What everyone is forgetting its the CHILDRENS education that is paramount here nothing else!! Certainly not the feelings of grown up proffessionals.

  • Comment number 60.

    Well done.

    We're right at the end of the exam season, with pupils eagerly waiting their results. Teachers on tenterhooks, parents nervous... and you release this biased report.

    What were the producers thinking?

    Yes, I've seen incompetent teachers in action. I've also seen them advised to leave. Quickly, before they did any damage.

    The statistics on your programme do not add up. If 0.07% of teachers are bad enough to be in competency proceedings, where are you getting the 5% of teachers ARE INCOMPETANT from? Guesswork? The generalisation may be there, the poisson distribution curve may have been drawn on the white board, but the facts simply do not back up the 5%.

    Teaching is a difficult profession. I have taught in a school in special measures, a failing school and a 'normal' secondary school, and am now in a school recently graded 'good' by Ofsted. I have seen teachers weeping in the staffroom because of the behaviour of children in their classes on one day, bouncing into the staffroom the next because they'd finally had a good lesson with that same class. I've done the mountains of paperwork. I've marked until 1 a.m. and lesson planned until I could do them in my sleep. And so do ALL of the colleagues in my department.

    The comparison with doctors can only go so far. Yes, if I go to the doctors with a really vicious looking mole, I expect him to consider skin cancer. I don't expect him to be a mind reader and also diagnose the fact I've got a bad stomach when I haven't told him that. If I decide to shout and scream at the doctor and call him all the names under the sun, I expect to be thrown out. It is a partnership between doctor and patient.

    A teacher is expected to maintain discipline in a classroom, mark work, and teach their subject. Yes, a pupil has the right to expect to be taught. If they break the rules, or a classmate does, they have the right to expect the teacher to do something about it. I expect my staff to show a good level of professionalism at all times. I also expect my students to try their best to achieve well in lessons. Again it is a partnership.

    This partnership is something that your programme ignored. If pupils take against a teacher for any reason they will not learn from that teacher. In one case at a previous school, a group of year 11 boys started to applaud whenever they saw a male teacher, and this spread like an infection through the school. The poor man, who by the way was a good teacher, left in the end having been made to feel he had been bullied. The pupils' opinion? Oh, he was a rubbish teacher Miss... Compare to the doctor. If you verbally abuse the doctor, he refuses to see you again. Verbally abuse a teacher? You'll get a detention. Maybe parents will be involved. You'll still be in that teacher's class tomorrow. It's not a fair partnership - it is very much biased in favour of the child.

    A lot of things influence a child's education (you might want to look in the education research journals online or in any university library) - social background, preconceived ideas about the subject, ethnic background, when they started at school, if they change school, peer pressure, teaching, personal likes and dislikes... and so on. Singling out teachers as the sole culprits of problems within the classroom is unfair.

    I cannot believe the BBC went all out for a teacher witch-hunt - did you consider for a second what the effect in the classroom tomorrow will be? On already stressed teachers and pupils? Did you have nothing better to do?

    As an end note, referencing the wonderful witch-hunt on Mr Dobbie... For shame. You cost him his job because the school didn't want you anywhere near them. If that man had failed to meet mortgage payments and lost his house - would the BBC have paid his mortgage? If he couldn't cope anymore and did something rash - would the BBC feel any guilt? Or would you wave your hands and claim it was just investigative journalism? And - whatever happened to the privacy laws here? He isn't a criminal - you had no right to treat him like that.

    Garbage. Absolute garbage. And from the BBC. How disappointing.

  • Comment number 61.

    CB's comments on the 'expert statistician's' claim on the show that removing the bottom 5% would create an extra GCSE grade for every pupil are valid and highlight significant weaknesses in the rigour of this part of the program (which spent more time focusing on the fluttering eyelashes and flirtatious hair flicking of the female presenter towards the clever man with the whiteboard marker.)

    Personally, I suspect that the tendency for the best pupils to get the best teachers as a matter of course is a huge factor in the 'statistics' used here.

    Within a school, the 'best' teachers naturally prefer to work with the best behaved kids - the ones who are likely to work for the grades in the first place and not lose their heads when faced with a bit of educational freedom. Any head, or head of department who wants to keep the grades for the majority of their pupils up will do their best to keep the strongest teachers happy - by giving them the pupils most likely to respond to their teaching. This invariably means that top and middle sets get enthusiastic, innovative teachers who are happy with their lot.

    With these classes they CAN be good teachers,innovating and taking risks... but put them with a group of pathway 1 kids and they're in exactly the same boat as anyone else in front of that class; they're teaching children who may think they deserve to do well, but aren't prepared to work for it. With these classes, the order of the day is, sadly, containment and spoon-feeding to ensure that data-focused inspectors believe the kids are making progress. Innovation and risk-taking is a great way to get a TV show for some, but a hiding to nothing for most. The attitude of these children is created by many factors, and parents have to shoulder a lot of the blame for it - but inevitably don't, reinforcing the 'expectation of automatic success' that their children possess, blaming the system and teachers instead of their inability to raise a well-motivated child who believes in working towards a goal. And yes it's a generalised stereotype, but it's one that sadly holds true.

    Similarly, within any area, the best teachers will go to the best schools - and avoid the ones where pupils are not going to work as hard as the teacher wants them to. The weaker teachers find work in already poor schools. Few teachers, good or otherwise, relish the thought of daily battles against children and parents who have a topsy-turvy view of what 'education' is.

    ... and Mr Gove thinks that creating 'free schools', which may be even more susceptible to threats of closure in the face of 'poor performance' than 'normal schools', will fix this situation? The 'free schools' that will go out of their way to attract the best teachers AND the best pupils, regardless of the way their admissions are meant to work... Oh, dear.

    Still, since when did the blindingly obvious matter a jot? Statistics, that's the way forward, clearly. More good teachers will obviously make even the kids who don't want it 'get educated'. Forget about the individuals involved, just focus on the numbers.

    Flick hair. Flutter eyelashes.

    Wipe whiteboard.

  • Comment number 62.

    No mention then, of those headteachers who are determined to get rid of a member of staff whose face doesn't fit their scheme of things. I've been a Head of Department, Head of Year & Senior Teacher & I've seen two headteachers threaten staff, good teachers, with incompetency. Is Chris Woodhead's opinion really the best? Perhaps one viewing by Ofsted is enough to judge incompetency but I'd suggest it isn't. I've taught in some very tough schools and even good teachers can find them hard going at times. Judging teachers by exam results only? Headteachers who 'have' to take incompetent teachers? Biased programme, biased reporting.

  • Comment number 63.

    Private schools also suffer from poor teachers. We had two Physics teachers who's ability was at opposite ends of the spectrum. One was brilliant made the lessons very exciting to go to, and had a 98% success rate of getting pupils Grade 1 GCE O-Level, me included. Unfortunately the guy who taught us A-Level was awful, and this was reflected in the examination results of all the pupils he was teaching. We complained at the very start of the A-Level course but nothing was done. Judging by this program this situation isn't going to change any time soon regardless of the type of school.

  • Comment number 64.

    I agree that sometimes it is the fault of the children, but as a student myself, I am fed up with it always being blamed on children and their backgrounds. I see myself how bad they are, but there is no discipline so of course they are going to act like this. If they are that bad surely they should be kicked out?! Some teachers are genuinely incompetent and something needs to be done!

  • Comment number 65.

    CB (post number 2) hits a lot of points bang on the head. The issues are far more complex than this programme indicated.
    The whole program was based on the assumption that "incompetence" is obvious - it often is not, and young teachers in particular may be capable of being helped to overcome issues they are having. Also some students will hate a teacher others love.
    The second flaw was that it took Chris Woodhead's "gospel" at face value. He had nothing to back it up other than "Well every job must have about 5% of useless people in it so teaching is no different". Brilliant analysis.
    I have no doubt there are incompetent teachers, but this facile "investigation" seemed to have reached a conclusion before it started and did little to enlighten us about the real numbers or what would happen if you sacked the magic 15,000 - in a profession which is about to have a pay freeze, a shortage of classroom staff and previously good teachers stretched to breaking point wont help our children either.

  • Comment number 66.

    Sorry Pure Evil but since when did taking the moral high ground because you can afford to send your child to a private school give you the right to expect others less fortunate than yourself to struggle financially to do the same? I work in a private school (non-teaching role) but was educated byt the state. Having seen both sides of this, I would still send my children to a state school. I have many reasons fot saying this but those reasons all amount to one answer. Namely that stae educated children are in general more balanced and appreciative than privately educated childen. But, that is not what this programme was about was it? I cannot see what this progaramme has proved one way or the other? You get good and bad in every profession. OK, our children are affected but they will get the same risk level with a bad surgeon or GP. BYW There are bad teachers in the private schools believe me!!!

  • Comment number 67.

    [My comment is mainly to the reporters, thus it is not really necessary for me to have publication of this comment.]
    First, I have no connection with teaching or education, or, anyone directly or indirectly, connected with this programme in any way, so my comments are intended as a conscience comment for the reporting.
    Yet, whilst accepting that something should be done about the situation, I am concerned that 'outing' some identifiable teachers on the program - such outings can mentally debilitate susceptible people.
    Are the reporters able to take responsibility for a possible suicide attempt by someone mentioned in the program - directly, or indirectly.

    I think CB, the first commenter, makes a deal of sense.

  • Comment number 68.

    What struck me was that if there is so much incompetent teaching going on why Panorama was unable to find more compelling evidence.

  • Comment number 69.

    Believe me you have no idea what teachers have to put up with in classrooms in state schools. No idea. I am a good teacher who has lots of positive experiences. I have also worked in terrible environments where it has been a living hell. My advice for any teacher going through hell in a state school is: 1. Don't give up 2. Move to a small private school where you will be suopported and will be able to teach.. All the education experts I have met are no longer in the classroom (suprise suprise). I used to think institutions like the BBC and the Times Newspaper reported in a respectful and fair way. If I was a head teacher watching Panarama tonight I would cross the BBC off my list (basically arbitrary witch hunting based on ignorance)of people to talk to. The problem in this country is that schools aren't supported and that sends a message to the students....well done to the BBC for sending that message to the students....and to the parents who now take no responsibility for the education of their children.....Talk to teachers who have come from other countries and are shocked by the behaviour in UK schools.

  • Comment number 70.

    I agree with the comments made by teachers on this. I feel that my hard work and enthusiasm for the job is undermined by this programme. I am fully aware there are some people who probably shouldn't be in the job but this clearly tries to elevate peoples worries in what I believe is a minority issue. I have worked as a supply teacher and permanent teacher and I find best practice in many schools where teachers are observed termly with complete reports and action plans are always put into place. Teaching is one of those professions where people feel they can always improve. We are conscientious be nature.
    Just to become a teacher I went through an application, interview a written and oral test just to get on the course. I then had one observation a week until I qualified whilst completing self evaluations.
    I feel the only thing we have to worry about is teachers feeling they are stuck in a rut. Needing new inspiration and ideas for lesson planning. Support the teachers, share ideas and you will find they are actually good teachers that have lost their way.
    May I also add that with the government changing the syllabus and assessment on a quarterly basis (such as the GTC business, the national literacy hour changed to the strategies then moving towards topic learning and then assessments moving from SAT to teacher assessments then to using both) it is no wonder teachers feel that they are in a spiralling tunnel, this really doesn't help.

    I am sorry I really felt like I had to vent some inner frustrations

  • Comment number 71.

    A biased and very simplistic programme describing teachers as 'good' or 'bad' (incompetant). The reality is that teaching is a complex process. I think this programme was only on to help the government make cuts.

  • Comment number 72.

    Having just watched the program I felt that I really must comment.
    It is 34 years since I left school, it was the best day of my young life, I left that day pitifully under achieving, and totally devoid of any self confidence or self esteem.
    I was bullied and abused throughout my school life since Junior school, the cause of this - a teacher, a teacher that found it easier to ridicule a shy little girl than to be understanding and offer help, a teacher that encouraged the whole class to join in and left that child sat alone at the back of the class afraid to hand in work trying to be invisible, alone, afraid and ashamed of just being!
    Those feelings about school (and myself) started at that young age continued throughout until leaving, as did the bullying, laying the pathway for bullying in my local area so bad that I could not put my nose out of the door without some kind of abuse and being told to go back inside.
    It has taken me 34 years of hard work on myself to feel confident, to like myself and to feel worthy of and recognise respect.
    I have been robbed of the life that I could have had with the home that I could have had, the careers that I could have had, and yes good relationships as I didn't know how to deal with an abusive person.
    That teacher shaped my whole life with his poor teaching skills, and probably the lives of my children who also lack confidence, after all children learn this in part from their parents.
    Please any teachers reading this never under estimate the power of your influence over the life of a child, it is far to late for me to do anything about what happened to me but I am very relived that there is now legislation in place to ensure that teachers do perform well, I believe that if they do not they should be offered retraining and not allowed to work again until they are satisfactory, if they remain unsatisfactory they should not be allowed to teach again - it is far to important a role to mess up.
    Sorry for the long comment, it has been kept inside for far to long!

  • Comment number 73.

    The figures on this programme were only estimates or assumptions, and it was unclear what criteria were being used to define competency. whilst I agree that it is dificult to deal with genuinely incompetent teachers, it is even more difficult to deal with rogue headteachers who cause equal amounts of damage to the teaching profession, damaging the careers of perfectly decent teachers, and therefore denying children access to good role models, often for 'political' reasons. Ofsted have no checks for this, and grievance proceedures often lead to increased bullying. The usual way out if such a person is brought to task is a'golden handshake': a luxury not afforded to teachers.

  • Comment number 74.

    CB's comment at 7.18 is particularly insightful.

    This episode of Panorama really did descend into the gutter; biased, inflamatory and poorly researched.

    Without contextualising the rather "limp" description of "bad" teachers it's hard to decide what the journalist considered incompetent. Were the teachers under strain from workload? Were the management supportive? Was the mix of kids causing the discipline problem?

    Chris Woodhead often speaks sense on what is wrong with schools, could you post the unedited interview on the website? He did highlight the main causes of poor learning:
    1: Lack of discipline in classroom
    2: Poor subject knowledge
    3: Inability to communicate effectively with children

    The first of these is really the fault of govt and school managers not providing teachers wit the the necessary range of sanctions. Until the discipline crisis in schools is dealt with it's hardly fair to blame individual teachers for the chaos in the majority of our schools and classrooms.

    The second of these is the fault of the govt for not setting the bar high enough for entrance into the profession.Although we are not on a par with America where the bottom 10% of graduates make up the majority of the teaching profession, we are a long way from the Finnish where it's the top 10%.

    The last can be dealt with by training and also if the general behaviour improved it would be easier for teachers to form the sort of relationships with pupils that allow good communication. No one is going to like a group of "people" who aim to terrorise, persecute and hurt them on a daily basis.

  • Comment number 75.

    Did the BBC purposefully choose the end of exams and period when teachers are breathing a collective sigh of relief to release this as a windup?

    Good timing though at the same time as 715 school projects are announced as being under the axe...

    Good mentoring for and by other teachers doesn't exist in an Ofsted blame culture - perhaps you'd like to explore why successive governments are happy to have a summative inspection regime instead of a formative one with opportunity to advise and scaffold good pedagogies - oh, of course, that might be a tad complex.

    Instead we are left with inspection provider cartels and not good exemplar practice.

  • Comment number 76.

    I have to say a really poor programme. The programme claimed that 4-5% of all teachers are incompetent yet could only muster three disgruntled parents making unsubstantiated accusations. One parent's dissatisfaction with a teacher doesn't warrant that they should be labelled as being incompetent. It could just as easily be a clash of personality. If anything this progamme highlighted the incompetency of the BBC Panorama team - which we are paying for. Maybe we should be demanding the automatic dismissal of the Panorama team the and removal of their gold plated pensions. PS I am not a teacher but believe in good journalism.

  • Comment number 77.

    I agree with Engineerthefuture.
    Incompetent teaching changes a whole child's future right the way through the education system. I remember vividly in my GCSE years (a few years ago now) studying for my maths qualification. We had a maths teacher who in my mind even at 15/16 years old was totally incompetent. I really enjoyed maths, but was taught by a teacher who demonstrated a complete inability to teach the subject and control the class.
    Most classes were disrupted constantly by a large group of boys who, throughout the year, messed around and weren't dealt with by the teacher in question. Rather than teach the class maths, she would focus all her attention on these boys and neglect the rest of the class to the point where I use to go and get maths textbooks during the classes and read what we were supposed to be being taught. This went on throughout my GCSE year and in the end I use to schedule my music lessons during the maths classes as a much better use of my time.
    To add insult to injury, it was decided by the department during the year that our entire class, without exception, would not be able to take the higher maths paper and therefore would only achieve a B at GCSE irrespective of how well we actually did in the exam. After approaching the Head of Maths about this to demonstrate at how angry and upset I was at being prevented from attempting to get a higher grade than a B in a subject I loved and to outline the trouble our class was going through with the teacher, I was told that the department would not change their decision. Needless to say I had quite a number of music lessons during maths lessons following this announcement and still achieved the B. This also prevented me from taking the subject at A-Level and therefore even before I had taken my GCSEs or A-Levels my future options were restricted due to one incompetent teacher and a school system that failed to deal with it or even acknowledge there was a problem.
    I am sure that the teaching staff at the school put it down to a disruptive group of individuals, but that is the job of a teacher surely, to control, guide, develop and teach? There were excellent teachers at the school who managed to achieve this. An excellent teacher should never be underestimated and in my mind are often unnoticed and unrewarded. There must be a way to expose the teachers who are not doing their jobs and reward the excellent.

  • Comment number 78.

    It is all very well complaining about "incompetant" teachers, why is it that the conditions they have to work in are never considered. Specifically that too many pupils are allowed to get away with whatever behaviour they like? Perhaps if we introduced a discipine system that pupils had some concern/worry about then we would have less of a problem actually trying to teach pupils. Consistently the government have left the problem of disruptive pupils and how to effectively discipline them thereby allowing those that want to learn to take second place.
    The rights of the individual are important but not at the detriment of the rights of the majority.
    I suspect that passing effective legislation about controlling pupils would not be in the interests of any political party as too many of the public would consider this to be "interfering2 with their rights.

  • Comment number 79.

    I am not at all surprised at this programmes statistics regarding poor quality teaching as I had poor teaching in both primary and high school, which has affected not only my learning but also my confidence. My parents questioned my teachers and we’re told, “that the sooner you accept the way your child is the better”. Throughout my education I thought that I was ‘stupid’ and ‘not good enough’. I started university and found out why I struggled so much at school and at 21 years I was told I have dyslexia. I have achieved but only because of my parent’s encouragement, extra private tuition, a handful of good teachers and my determination to prove that I am not stupid.

    Panorama have investigated other professions such as nursing which is also a difficult and demanding job so why should teaching not questioned???

  • Comment number 80.

    My previous comment focused on the role of 'good teachers' in secondary schools - where I suspect that the attitude of children who see school as involuntary incarceration have the edge in statistical terms over 'inadequate' teachers.

    However, I do agree that it can be a 'very bad thing indeed' to have a crummy teacher in primary education, where innovation and risk taking should be a positively essential part of every school day, and six hours a day of interminable monotony can crush any hope that getting an education can be fun as well as hard work...

    Something else Mr Gove, like most politicians, regardless of the colour of their tie, seems keen to discourage.

  • Comment number 81.

    I am very disappointed with what appeared to be a programme that attacked headteachers. Why weren't Borough councils questioned about employment policies? I know about a teacher who was found to be consuming alcohol at school and had over 2 months off with full pay. She has never appeared before a disciplinary committee even though some school governors are aware of the situation. She was also incompetent not teaching children-which was found out after her alcoholism came to light. Head teachers can not act because the councils undermine them.

  • Comment number 82.

    As a former supply teacher, I found the whole tone of the Panorama programme tonight outrageous, a dumbing-down and a pretty shabby attempt to start the teacher-bashing ahead of the Daily Mail. We know the cuts are coming and we don't need the BBC to be getting the boot in.

    All teachers start off on a career-long learning curve and rightly so. No-one comes to the role pre-programmed for perfection and excellence. It is incumbent on Performance Management systems within schools to tightly monitor and, where necessary, control and improve performance of the teaching staff. What does this mean in practice? Well, in a good school with an excellent Head and Leadership team there should be no hiding place for incompetence or low expectations. In my experience the best led schools are the ones in which excellent teachers support their colleagues' development, so that even those teachers who may struggle with workload or classroom management (which includes discipline) have the opportunity to improve.

    I have worked in a number of schools over the years both as a supply teacher and on contract, have observed many excellent teacher colleagues and have learnt much from observing them. Schools with effective leadership from the Head, the leadership team and governing body have nothing to hide and have no reason to hide so-called "failing" teachers. Formal observations of all teaching staff in the classroom by the leadership team, peer observation and Ofsted inspections all combine into an effective monitoring system.

    Where I would agree with Panorama is on the subject of Cover Supervisors, a much cheaper alternative to supply teachers. In the past I have turned down offers to work as a cover supervisor myself purely because I find the move away from qualified supply teachers devalues my qualifications. Cover Supervisors are not required to hold a teaching qualification and so are not trained in teaching techniques. Their role is simply to mind a class in the absence of the classroom teacher. Much worse than this is the anecdotal evidence of Teaching Assistants (also not qualified as teachers) who are called upon to take a whole class in some schools (but in none of the schools where I have worked I should add). When I first qualified in the mid-1990's this practice would have been against the law.

    The team behind Panorama, a once much-respected and revered source of investigative journalism, should get back to what they used to do well and stop this tabloid approach to the issues they cover.

  • Comment number 83.

    Another perfect example of a panorama one-sided analysis of something that is quite normal in any profession or walk of life.
    We are under siege, over scrutinised and expected to be able to not only teach but also act as parents, social workers and special needs teachers. We are however only trained as teachers. I dont deny that some of us could and should do better, but couldn't we all?
    The classroom can be a scary, lonely and dangerous place and I have always compared it to fighting Mike Tyson with one or both hands tied behind my back.
    Well done Panorama, we already were lazy, over paid, underqualified, mostly paedophiles but now we are just down right incompetent. How about properly researching your programms so you talk to more than twelve people and offer your viewers a balanced view of an issue. Oh I forget, sorry, the media is beyond reproach.

  • Comment number 84.

    How was the evidence measured within the programme to identify a sub standard teacher?

    I have worked with some highly motivated, highly skilled practitioners within schools where children have achieved well below national average results. This was not down to the teacher. It was down to a number of factors such as econmonic background, social background and local area aspirations within education. inspiring some pupils to achieve any results at all was a fantastic achievement.

    On the other hand I have worked with less skilled, less motivated and less talented teachers. Yet the social expectations of the children is to achieve good results, which they do, most of the time. This in turn, of course reflects positively on the teacher.

    Education is so much more than just results! I do not feel your programme dealt with the matter of substandard teaching in an effective manner. It felt like watching a tacky tabloid, using ineffective evidence to aggressively put its view accross.

    Teaching should regularly be celebrated for the many outstanding achievements and positive impacts it has in society. Instead it is often subjected to unfair, negative, tabloid criticism from sources who rarely know what they are actually talking about. The Government then wonders why so many teachers leave the profession very early and why there are a lack of teachers in many subjects, including maths and English.

  • Comment number 85.

    I have just finished watching this awful program. It was completely destructive in its tone. Vexatious parents of spoiled undisciplined children like to project their own parental failure on to the nearest whipping boy/girl. Bullying and spiteful managers - I have seen plenty - can and often do undermine perfectly good teachers. Badly brought up disruptive pupils damage the education of others. Get them out of the normal classroom. Certainly some teachers need support to improve their effectiveness. It is an extremely demanding job. Very few teachers deserve to be struck off. Somebody who has a sexual relationship with a pupil, or recent former pupil ought to be struck off and never heard from again. If you are a young person considering a teaching profession, think twice. Do you want to be subjected to this national sport of teacher baiting?

  • Comment number 86.

    Many thanks to CB (Post 2)

    Having taught for several years and moving schools, for promotion, several times; I had the pleasure of being being inspected several times.

    Not surprisingly in most of the schools in which I was inspected, my lessons were more than satisfactory (Inspections covered a number of state and independent schools). At the inspection in my last school I was described as "skillful".

    Only once in my career was a lesson adjudged to be less than satisfactory. Not surprisingly this was in a sink school where ones ability to teach was severely undermined by behavioural issues, violence, children who had no male role model (yes - I am a man), pupils' use of drugs, poor general expectations, pupils who do not value education, parents who see education merely as free babysitting...

    Fortunately I had a window of opportunity and left "The Noble Profession" several years ago.

    Since then I have discovered Flexi Time, Dignity at Work, Two day weekends, choice of when I take annual leave, freedom to go into town without being recognized by "discourteous youths", freedom to go to the lavatory when I want... need I go on.

    Teachers have a hard enough job as it is without the BBC pushing every parent who hears (second hand), from their children, about how horrible Mr X or Miss Y is, to raise the spectre of further disceplinery action.

    Rather than bashing teachers, in my opinion the best thing that could happen to education in the UK would be to re-introduce something that much of the rest of the world still has - no progression without passing the "Grade" or "Standard". It would not take long before students would make greater efforts to avoid getting back-classed.

  • Comment number 87.

    Quote At 9:29pm on 05 Jul 2010, Maggie wrote: . I cant blame you at all I feel the same away with the education system. and they do mess allot of people lives up in the future. I do hope the new government knock the education and teachers on the head and sort it out forgot its been pushed aside and cover up far to long.

  • Comment number 88.

    There are many incompetent teachers in the UK, I’ve interviewed enough in ten years of recruitment to realise this. I would suggest far greater than the 5% mentioned in the programme. Most teachers are average, or rather room for improvement but in the professions defence there are also some good ones, although very few exceptional.
    Many incompetent teachers accept the advice of their unions and gain the agreement that they leave the school to gain a good reference. A good new employer, school, council or supply agency would know to cross check all references by speaking directly with the previous school. By doing this they will discover if the teacher is on the unofficial "grey lists" (of not to use) that all in the profession are aware of.
    The unfortunate thing is there are many schools desperate for staff and will employ anyone and too many unregulated and incompetent agencies providing staff to schools.

    Teachers need to be continually assessed to see that they are performing well like those who work in the private sector and this assessment should gauge whether they should go up a pay scale. Unfortunately this would be something that teachers and their unions would battle tooth and nail against much like they have about league tables.

    What is needed to come out of the government now are stricter guidelines on the employment of teachers, their training and assessment. It should be easier for school heads and parents to rid themselves of ineffective and dangerous staff. Recruitment of new teachers should also be concentrating on those who have industry experience and certainly not graduates without life skills. A large part of the problem is that teachers are historically institutionalised in education without experiencing a working life in the real world i.e. they go to school then college then university qualify as teachers and go back to school at 21. How can they then teach pupils the relevance of their subject to the outside world?

    Thankfully I have no children but if I did I would be extremely worried about all the staff in schools then disgusted and angry at the enormous amount of money from our taxes that is being wasted for these part timers to work 38 weeks of the year on full year’s salaries.

  • Comment number 89.

    I found the episode's coverage largely subjective. There are a great deal more variables to be taken into account. A rather 'unpleasant' tone was the over use of the word, 'incompetent'. We are talking about human beings. Not all teaching days fall in to a 'robotic' procedure. Speaking from experience, I have mostly achieved 'good' & a couple of 'satisfactory' outcomes to lesson observations (including Ofsted). To obtain an outcome of 'unsatisfactory' is very upsetting. However, 'incompetence & unsatisfactory' are not the same - interesting 'play' on words which could be viewed as unprofessional journalism. We can all point the finger; pupils, parents, colleagues, management...I have experienced some of the worst kind of REAL incompetence from School Management when Headteacher's have failed to turn-up for lessons?? It would be wrong of me to judge when there could have been valid reasons - although, The Management Teams don't have a tendancy to share these, as such.....?

  • Comment number 90.

    I found the programme extremely one-sided... Of course, struggling teachers who are offered significant amounts of help and fail to improve should go.

    However, as a teacher myself i went through a period of difficulty with some classes shortly after beginning a new job and whilst experiencing significant upheaval in my personal life. I raised my concerns informally with my head of department, and was told that I would just have to find a way to deal with it. I was offered "help" by way of a couple of lessons observing more experienced/successful teachers.

    Having moved part way through the school year, I was told the school didn't have to provide performance management for me, which also meant it could not pursue a capability procedure. In my time there, many staff members were not allowed to book external training courses due to "budget constraints". Vis-a-vis my own practice, very few practical ideas were given as to how I might improve, although more senior colleagues were quick to tell me about what wasn't working in my classroom. I also received fairly regular criticism on a number of aspects of my teaching, was given extra students to tutor in my own time and subject to lengthy meetings without notice in which I would have to listen to accusations without an opportunity to respond, let alone invite an observer!

    Surely school management also has a responsibility to ensure that struggling teachers are adequately supported without resorting to constant belittling and harrassment?

  • Comment number 91.

    An important subject, sadly very bias reporting.

    The example of a one grade difference between a 5 percentile and 95 percentile performing teachers does not seem a lot.

  • Comment number 92.

    I have to say that this programme was one of the worst examples of biassed reporting I have seen in a long time. There were very few facts quoted and most of the case presented seems to have been on the basis of emotion rather than sound rational argument.

    To use Chris Woodhead as a basis of your argument is shaky in the extreme, his figure of 15,000 was a masterpiece of speculative extrapolation 15 years ago and is no more valid now. The figure that does matter is that for almost as long as the Inspectorate of Schools has been in existence the number of unsatisfactory lessons was 1 in 4 (25%). The equivalent figure is now around 4%, this more than any other figure, shows how much the teaching profession has improved over recent years. To put this in perspective, "Which" might give Solicitors a set of tasks and declare 6 out of 10 unable to give the right legal advice.

    We are in serious danger of making Teaching an impossible profession. No matter how hard teachers try they cannot seem to do enough. There is a problem in the Teaching profession with members who are not up to the job just as there is in every other profession (or walk of life for that matter). There is a procedure to deal with this and if Headteachers are not bothered about performing the procedure then who is actually incompetent here?

    This issue is simply not the big deal that it is being made out to be. Even if the 15,000 figure was true it would still be less than one per school. If some Headteachers are claiming 4 or 5 in their schools then that must mean 6-7 schools, for each of those claims, that are incompetent free.

    The reality is that in the vast majority of schools, the overwhelming majority of teachers are working extremely hard to do their best for the children. Teachers are measured and assessed in probably a more exhaustive fashion than any other profession and yet the figures produced show that they still come up smelling of roses. That this is still not enough for some people is not a fault that can be laid at the feet of the profession. As with any other human activity it is totally unrealistic to expect perfection yet this is what is being suggested by this programme.

    There is no "cosy conspiracy". Like the majority of other conspiracy theories on offer this one holds no water.

  • Comment number 93.

    Mr Woodhead appeared to define incompetence solely as the inability to keep order in the classroom. In the interests of balance I would suggest Panorama does a follow-up programme to show the kind of behaviour that many teachers have to endure in the classroom on a daily basis. Yes teachers often do find it hard to maintain order not because they are necessarily incompetent teachers but because in many instances pupils simply do not know how to behave and in far too many schools teachers get precious little support from senior management.
    I would also point out that no teacher can make any child “learn”. Contrary to popular misconceptions about academic education learning is not a passive occupation it requires a degree of self-discipline and determination on the part of the pupil. If a child has no desire to learn then the best teacher in the world cannot make them.
    I would also remind the BBC and any “appalled” parents who may have seen the programme that if pupils do not have the requisite skills in literacy or numeracy then even a superb teacher is going to find it exceedingly difficult to bring those individuals up to the level required to gain a standard SAT pass at KS2 or a C grade at GCSE. It therefore follows that a teacher working with a high proportion of low ability groups is not going to achieve the necessary level of A*- C grade passes demanded by the school to improve its status in the League Tables.
    To end, I offer two examples of English idiom. It is not necessarily an instance of a bad workman blaming his tools but is more often the case that you can’t make a silk purse out a sow’s ear.

  • Comment number 94.

    I grew up with Panorama and yet this was a piece of ill-informed, biased and unsubstantiated drivel.
    Chris Woodhead's claim of 15000 incompetent teachers is without any legitimate evidence.
    The anecdotal, unproven evidence of parents is cheap.
    The fact that Headteachers would not contribute to this programme when asked if they have any incompetent teachers without any attempt at a definition of "incompetent teachers" is an indictment of the programme, not the profession. (Ask any boss how many incompetent workers they employ and see if anyone answers you.)
    Comments of surprise and disgust that a union should try to support it's members with advice and support shows a woeful understanding of advocacy. (Should we deny people a solicitor if they are charged with a serious crime?)
    Suggesting that schools should sack and risk an industrial tribunal is to suggest that schools break the law and disregard an employees rights.
    It was said that 0.07% of teachers had been through the Competency Procedure available to Headteachers. This is a much more reliable estimate of underachievement than Chris Woodhead. And many of those put through the procedure will have been trained up to become competent teachers.
    In a modern school with competent Senior Leaders and Governors, no complaint about a teacher would be ignored; even if the outcome of the investigation is not always to the satisfaction of the parent or student that initiated the complaint. In many schools students play an active part in the selection of candidates for posts, and observations of teachers already in post. The students' voice is important but ultimately it must be the professionals, the experts, that make the decisions.
    A previous comment was that all schools should be private schools - any teacher struck off by the GTC is still able to work in the private sector and often does so.
    BBC Panorama - please insist that your programme producers and presentors do their homework properly!!

  • Comment number 95.

    I have been moved to make my first ever comment because I was angered by the ridiculously bad journalism in this programme.
    There were few facts and much sensationalist nonsense.
    The first two parents to speak simply disliked the supply teacher because it was their opinion that she gave their children less attention than their regular teacher. They admitted she had done nothing wrong but were still calling for the head to have her removed. This was one of the examples put forward as 'incompetence'.
    I expected more of the BBC.

  • Comment number 96.

    Such a brave and thought provoking programme raising a difficult issue no one really wants to confront; the fact that despite the thousands of brilliant and dedicated teachers, there are also far too many that can ruin a child's life as described here in the comments.
    Incompetent teachers need removing there's no doubt about that. What there is doubt about is what really makes a good teacher and who's qualified to judge. Good teachers are not only grade getters! Good teachers are much more than that; they are good, inspiring people, who like and respect the children in their care and can inspire and motivate them to learn. To measure teachers by the grades of their classes is making a huge and dangerous mistake. Measure them by the happiness of their classes and we might be going some way to finding the good and weeding out the bad. The kids always know - so do the parents. Happy and respected children learn well. That's what good teachers do for a child - that's also what incompetent teachers destroy. I've seen it as a teacher and a parent and seen it happen to others. It is heart rending. Perhaps this programme is the start of that changing!

  • Comment number 97.

    Absolutely appalling one sided program! This program represented everything that is wrong with attitudes to teaching- what's wrong with this picture?

    * Where teachers are blamed for the disintegration of social structure and discipline in society as a whole.

    * Where teachers are expected to take on more and more parental responsibilities to compensate for a lack of parental duty and family structure.

    * Where students and parents have more rights than the teachers facing assault and verbal abuse daily.

    * Where a love of your subject and an enjoyment of passing along knowledge is not enough, you must endure constant personal assessment, and comment from senior management and external bodies.

    So who wants to be a teacher? Congratulations - your negative and witch hunt attitude to teaching is why thousands of excellent teachers choose to leave the profession each year.

  • Comment number 98.


    Wonderfully simplistic.. We are a liberal democracy, with a capitalist economy and a tendency to-wards meritocracy.. Every school appointed the best person for the job at that time... The market provided the person...

    We have to accept that the teachers in classrooms have a degree, have been trained, turned up at interview and then got job.. Like all jobs they had a probation period that they passed, then they worked up the pay scales, passed through the threshold, became head of something, moved in to senior management and then probably became a head... and at every point they were the best person for the job...

    People are in front of pupils teaching for a range of complex reasons and we all have to questions how they got there and why they have been allowed to stay there.. Heads, Governors, LA run our schools and society funds them.. The issue is very complex but there are still shortages of good teachers.. sometimes it is hard to replace a teacher and you have to work with the people who have applied. One schools good teacher is incompetent in another school.. People have a right to find the school that works for them.. their contract is with the school not the profession.

    We must see the bigger picture if we are to address the quality of education in the UK.... We get what we pay for...

  • Comment number 99.

    This is a tricky one. I am a teacher in a very challenging school indeed. I do find some days extremely challenging but I absolutely love my career. However, I do think that many factors which impact on the profession have not been addressed. Today, children and schools are arguably very different. When I attended school it was unheard of for children to blatantly disrespect, ignore or physically attack a member of staff. In my school this is an everyday occurrence. I have put a lot of effort...a lot of my heart and soul...into my class to produce some stability for the children. Many of them have extremely difficult lives at home and I take this into consideration. However, it can be tricky 'teaching' children in a way which meets the criteria dictating what makes a good or outstanding lesson. I am a good teacher; I take the children's needs into account and cater to them. Many of them have poor concentration and I have to be able to identify these signs, changing the lesson on the spot to avoid outbursts and disruptions.

    During my teacher training I worked in what I would class as 'good' schools where the results were impressive, the parents were supportive and the children were well behaved. Nothing could have prepared me for the side of teaching I have come to experience. As it happens, my class have made fantastic progress but many of my colleagues have not experienced the same success. I do not feel that this makes them bad teachers...there are a number of factors that need to be considered. When OFSTED inspect schools they do not take the individual schools circumstances and catchment area into consideration. This disturbs me as not all children are the same and therefore the same delivery of lessons and behaviour management will not reach all children. I have come to learn that this is a big part of teaching. I used to be quite naive, believing that teaching was merely about educating children academically. I now realise that my job is to also educate children socially and respond to their emotional needs. I find my job rewarding but very draining.

    I feel it is all too easy to label teachers incompetent; I am always told (by people who have never worked in a school) that teachers have an easy job. We all come in at 9am and go home at 3pm don't we? WRONG! I am usually in school by 7:30am and leave no earlier than 6pm. I also work most evenings and increasingly over the weekend. I feel that I really earn my holidays...another thing I am criticised for. I also think that people underestimate the emotional strain that teaching can put on people. I cannot help but attach to the children and worry about them when I am not at school.

    Still, back to the issue at hand. There are some incompetent teachers. I have certainly been taught by some dreadful teachers (mainly during secondary school) and have observed a fair few uninspiring lessons. However, it is scary to think that people who do not understand the job could determine whether teachers are doing their jobs properly. I also feel that each school should be assessed fairly, taking into consideration their individual situations.

    Somebody suggested that there is a little bit of a witch hunt going on in an attempt to justify cuts in the pay of teachers. I would agree with this but would also like to add that this is not a new thing. Before I even entered the profession I was aware of the attitudes and opinions people possessed of teachers. I must confess that I too had misconceptions; like anything in life, until you experience something yourself it is impossible to understand what is involved. People have suggested that I am overpaid and have an easy job. I am beyond arguing my case. If it was that easy wouldn't we all be doing it? Besides, going back to cutting pay and budgets (etc) - this frustrates me. Very often the government request that we provide children with wonderful experiences and learning opportunities. However, they rarely provide the resources or money to make this possible. Many a time I have had to dip into my own pocket to buy resources as I want my children to have these experiences. Now my pay is to be frozen...it hardly seems justified!

    When you take into consideration the hours I work, the paperwork that is expected of me, the behaviour I endure, the responsibility I assume on a daily basis and the pay I receive...the job hardly seems worth it! Not to mention all the pressures put on teachers. We are always made to feel that nothing is good enough. No wonder so many teachers leave the profession. It is a vocation...not just a job!

    Admittedly, some teachers enter the profession for the wrong reasons. I know several people who decided to become primary school teachers because they had degrees but did not know what to do with them. They misjudged teaching, failing to consider all of the things I have mentioned above.

    However, despite the negative picture I have portrayed...I personally love my job and am willing to take the rough with the smooth. The children make it all worthwhile and I love the fact that I am making a difference in their lives. It is about the children after all. I think that we have lost sight of that.

  • Comment number 100.

    and let having had to get my two daughters placements in a special needs school , after a lengthy dispute with their previous school and the local education department. your programme brought to light the complete incompetence of our primary school system , whether it be in the hands of the headteacher or the staff or other internal service provided by the school. Which in my own personal case , and possibly many other parents . Feel so angry and very let down buy the "bury their head in the sand regime". That exist in certain primary schools. In the hope that inquisitve right minded parents would just disappear and let their children be accused of he or she being classed as beingto slow ,to cover their very poor educational system..


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