Stronger powers for principals

NSW public school principals have been given strengthened powers and shorter timelines to deal with underperformance and teachers who do not follow guidelines set by the Department of Education and Communities.

"Overwhelmingly, teachers are doing a great job but we can't afford to relax and I make no apologies for setting very high standards," said the Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli.

"We must all guard those high standards. Teachers who fail to perform to expected standards can be stood down from the classroom in 10 weeks – about half the time it currently takes a principal to tackle underperformance."

"Principals have asked me for better guidance and clearer standards to deal with staff whose performance is not up to scratch."

"We need teachers to be the best they can be – both inside the classroom and more generally within their school community -- and where they don't meet expectations we need to respond with a streamlined, fair process."

School staff who do not follow reasonable directions can be issued with a written warning. A subsequent breach would lead to a further official warning and a third breach may lead to disciplinary action – which in some cases could lead to demotion or dismissal.

"We are bringing expectations for public school teachers in line with contemporary procedures used in most businesses. The policy is directly reflected in its name: Fair Warning – Fair Action," Mr Piccoli said.

"Ultimately, these steps are an important contribution to enhancing the quality of teaching and learning in NSW public schools."

"I promised this clear and direct approach when I announced the Great Teaching, Inspired Learning and Local Schools Local Decisions reforms and I am pleased they have been endorsed by the profession and are being implemented."

The new policy will be spelt out in a strengthened Code of Conduct, which includes the Department of Education and Communities' first-ever Dress Code. It will take effect at the start of Term Three.

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