Model teachers offer 'blueprint'

A study of the best classroom practice has excited on-line interest but divided the unions, reports Nicolas Barnard.

THE findings of a pound;4 million study into effective teaching were dismissed this week by teachers' leaders as costly and predictable.

But a summary of them on a union website has attracted an "incredible" number of hits, and the report by HayMcBer has won praise from members of the National Association of Head Teachers.

David Hart, its general secretary, called it a blueprint for the future of the teaching profession.

The 234-page report sets out the professional attributes and practical skills shown by effective teachers. It is based on detailed interviews and lengthy observation of teachers considered good or outstanding by their heads. A study of their pupils' results validates their skills.

Ministers believe it will be a practical tool for teachers and their heads when performance management - the new appraisal system - is introduced in September.

Unions could not find fault with the report, which concluded that qualities such as high expectations and teamworking were hallmarks of good teachers.

But the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers said it could have given the same advice for nothing. "Is it worthwhile spending millions of pounds describing the same old truths?" asked general secretary, Nigel de Gruchy.

He also criticised the Deparment for Education and Employment's refusal to reveal how much it paid Hay McBer. The DFEE says the sum is commercially sensitive, but it is believed to be around pound;4m.

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "The Government could have saved the cost of this research and all the time and money it has wasted on systems to implement performance pay by awarding all teachers a pound;2,000 increase."

But he said: "There is value in commissioning consultants, even if they do little more than confirm what is already known."

The union, which has hired Hay McBer itself in the past, put a large section of an early draft on its website earlier this year, where it received an "incredible" number of hits.

The Secondary Heads Association dismissed the report as "threatening to reduce the profession to a set of competences".But the NAHT said the findingsemphasised the importance of relationships with pupils and outlined the variety of ways in which good teachers were effective.

"The key thing about the research is that it's a long-term blueprint for the development of the profession," Mr Hart said. "Whenever I have heard Hay McBer's people speak to headteachers, the heads have come away saying that, at last, this provides the opportunity to plan the professional development of their staff."

Leader, 16

Ideal teacher Special, 21-25

Feature, Friday magazine, 29

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