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Appraisal will be voluntary

Plans for compulsory appraisal of teachers have been abruptly abandoned by Brian Wilson, the Education Minister. Unions and councils immediately welcomed the reversal.

Mr Wilson said on Wednesday: "I am happy to recognise the work that many education authorities have put into reviewing systems of appraisal inherited from the old regional councils and adapting them to the circumstances of unitary authorities. That is why I have instructed my officials to commence work on revising the Scottish Office's guidelines."

The review will be carried out by the National Co-ordinating Committee for the Staff Development of Teachers, chaired by Maggi Allan, director of education in South Lanarkshire. The committee was set up in 1991 but its recommendations were ignored by Michael Forsyth, the former Scottish Secretary, who pledged to enforce compulsory appraisal.

David Eaglesham, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, said he was "delighted at the minister's perspicacity". John Travers, director of education in North Ayrshire and president of the Association of Directors of Education, said councils had argued for local flexibility within national guidelines. The previous government's approach was "over-prescriptive".

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