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Hart gives Blair seven out of ten;NAHT Conference

IN HIS half-term report, David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers has given the Govern-ment seven marks out of 10 for its education policies.

In the past two years, he believes it has proved its commitment to increasing the money spent on education and says Tony Blair has lived up to his early promise that his three priorities would be education, education, education. Mr Hart believes Labour has a real desire to raise standards and that its attention to social exclusion is critical.

He also detects, however, signs of disappointment among his members. He said: "I agree the balance has been tipped towards pressure rather than support. There will also have to be compromises made by the Government if it wants its proposals in the Green Paper to succeed.

"The method of funding must change. I would be able to give the Government 10 out of 10 if could ensure the majority of funding for education gets into school budgets. A national funding formula is essential and an end to the mish-mash of the Standards Fund, where pockets of money have to be bid for and in some cases matched."

In his conference speech, Mr Hart said the Government had lost a golden opportunity to sell the Green Paper. He said it assumed too many teachers are under-performing and too many pupils were under-achieving.

He said: "This is a gross injustice. The reality of life in schools today is somewhat different. The vast majority of teachers are producing very good results under quite unacceptable workload and pressure."

But having wrought a year's delay in the introduction of a new performance-related appraisal system, Mr Hart says his association - and the other teacher organisations - should get stuck in and negotiate a deal that will deliver a substantial pay hike to most of the teaching profession.

He says the pound;1 billion will not be enough.

"For a workable performance management system to be in place, there must be sufficient funding to train and run the system and money for training for the new appraisal process."

The issue of linking pupils' results to pay will be another sticking point. The Government has said it is non-negotiable although this week Mr Blair referred to progress rather than test scores.

Mr Hart said: "Heads should have regard to results when assessing their staff. We would be living in Cloud-cuckoo-land if we denied a link between a teacher's performance and test results, but it is quite wrong to pull it out as a headline criteria."

In his speech to delegates, he said: "The Green Paper, and all its associated plans, cannot be implemented without heads and deputies. Now is the time for you to punch your weight."

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