School principals given power to sack underpeforming teachers

Public school principals will have greater ability to deal with underperforming teachers when an updated teacher improvement program is introduced in NSW schools next term.

Teacher performance is measured against standards set by the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards, including knowledge of content and lesson delivery.

Education minister Adrian Piccoli said teachers who fail to meet these standards can be stood down in 10 weeks, about half the time it currently takes.

NSW Teachers Federation regional organiser Nicole Calnan said this was the main change under the revised program, which was developed in consultation with the union and arose from the terms of settlement in the award.

She said the improvement process now had to be settled in 10 weeks over a period of 12 weeks, whereas it previously had to be completed over 18.

‘‘It’s rare that these procedures have to be used,’’ she said.

‘‘What we need to make sure of is all teachers are supported by their employer and have access to professional learning to help them improve and strengthen the profession.’’

Corrimal High principal Mark King, a member of the state assembly of the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council, said schools had been aware of the upcoming changes.

‘‘It would be a very rare principal who needs to use these processes as the majority of staff in our schools are meeting and working beyond the standards,’’ he said.

‘‘The support is still there, as it always will be and always should be. 

‘‘The difference is the clarification on the maximum amount of time to be spent on the improvement program, and that works to the benefit of the teacher, the school and the students.’’