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Appraisal moves into high gear

Two more authorities have moved to step up their appraisal scheme for teachers, a further indication that the new councils are bowing to Scottish Office pressure to improve on what the Education Minister has condemned as "woefully slow progress".

Moray Council, which inherited a scheme that Grampian had already decided was "unsustainable" in the case of primary heads, has set up a working group to report by next month on a feasible approach which will be acceptable to heads and to the Scottish Office.

Grampian's efforts to square the circle led to a decision that career reviews of primary heads should be undertaken by area primary advisers and area special needs officers as well as by area primary education officers. Primary heads in Grampian had made clear that they would not countenance another head being involved, despite it being common practice in other authorities.

Grampian had told the Scottish Office that requiring local education officials to be involved in the appraisal of all primary heads in their areas imposed an impossible burden on council staff. The Scottish Office, for its part, told Grampian that any postponement resulting in staff being appraised every three years instead of two would be unacceptable.

Moray leaders have been left to pick up the pieces. A revised scheme, intended to operate from April last year to allow some schools to begin appraisal at a later date, has made little impact.

A report to councillors by Drew Todd, head of human resources in the education department, acknowledged that Moray "has a considerable distance to go in terms of meeting the targets". By the end of last session, only 12 per cent of the teaching force had a career review, against the Scottish Office target that all teachers should be appraised at least once by the end of June next year.

West Dunbartonshire Council says its position is also "far from satisfactory". Only 39 teachers have been appraised. A good number of primary heads had still to receive their first appraisal interview.

Ian McMurdo, the director of education, has reported that the lead-up to local government reform had seriously disrupted appraisal plans. He intends to reintroduce headteacher appraisal "at the earliest possible opportunity".

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