INCOMPETENT Scottish teachers will be removed from the profession more quickly under a radical overhaul of disciplinary procedures. The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) has published a raft of measures designed to make the process of striking a teacher off quicker and more effective. The move, which also impacts on cases of inappropriate or unlawful behaviour, comes just weeks after The Herald revealed it took the GTCS nearly four years to ban a teacher who it later admitted ?simply could not teach?. The case raised a number of issues, including the length of time it took to arrange a full disciplinary hearing ? while the teacher continued to work on supply. There were also concerns that the hearing itself became bogged down in unnecessarily lengthy testimonies from witnesses. Although incompetence in Scottish schools is not seen as a significant problem, there have been long-standing concerns that removing poor teachers from the classroom is problematic. Figures obtained by The Herald in 2010 revealed that just two of Scotland?s 52,000 teachers has been sacked for incompetence in the previous three years. Changes proposed by the GTCS in its draft Fitness to Teach and Appeals Rules 2012 include early hearings to determine the severity of cases. The report suggests that, where accusations against a teacher are seen to be serious from the beginning, a temporary suspension could be issued. Other moves to speed up the process include allowing a teacher to voluntarily accept disciplinary action without going to a full hearing. Hearings could be accelerated by relying less on witnesses appearing in person, with more evidence taken from written statements. The GTCS is also considering claiming back the cost of hearings from teachers if it is found that they have deliberately delayed or obstructed the process. In addition, the GTCS has published tougher guidelines on the use of the internet and social networking sites. The new code of conduct warns against teachers ?engaging in an in-appropriate way through the internet? with pupils or ?sending emails or text messages ... of an inappropriate nature?. ?Be mindful that the internet and social networking can quickly blur the professional boundary between teacher and pupil,? it adds. Last night, Drew Morrice, assistant secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, the country?s largest teaching union, said it was vital disciplinary procedures remained thorough. ?There is much we welcome in these suggestions, but the investigation of complaints and the subsequent disciplinary process has to be properly detailed and should not be speeded up just to satisfy public demand,? he said. Mr Morrice said the union had concerns over the threat to claim back costs from teachers deemed to be obstructive. ?We have difficulties with the GTCS deciding whether that was a factor. An independent party would need to be brought in to adjudicate,? he said. Anthony Finn, chief executive of the GTCS, said he was keen to have feedback on the proposed changes. ?We believe that real value will be gained from inviting members of the teaching profession, the educational community and the public generally to comment on the significant changes,? he said. ?These are important documents that offer guidance to teachers and aspiring teachers about expectations of them as professionals working in the classroom, and as teachers living in wider society.? Criticism over the length of time it takes for teachers to be struck off came after the case of a secondary school mathematics teacher, Janet Garner. Mrs Garner was removed from the teaching register after a hearing found her guilty of serious professional incompetence while working at Alva Academy and Alloa Academy in Clackmannanshire between 2003 and 2007, when she was sacked by the council. In its conclusion, the GTCS stated Mrs Garner was ?ineffective ... in relation to both discipline and teaching and learning. In blunt terms, she simply could not teach?.