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Performance management won't last. It's just an initiative. There'll be another one along in five minutes

How's performance management then? Shaping up? Lots of meetings with willing teachers as they reflect on their achievements and tease out fresh targets? Finding it blindingly exciting and a sure-fire method for moving your school onwards and upwards? No? I thought not. But help is at hand with Mike's Bluffers' Guide to Performance Management. If you're an overworked head, this is for you. If you're not, slip it on to your head's desk. It's designed to allow teachers to do what they're employed to do. Teach. Here we goI Impressing the inspectorate. Ofsted teams and local inspectors (or, using current terminology, school improvement advisers) often forget what children are, so you'll need the numbers and percentages routine to impress them. Gather some well chosen phrases and learn them by heart. Try: "Yep, PM has certainly shifted our percentiles. Did you know that the mean averages of our upper quadrant have shot up by 0.2 of 3 per cent in attainment target 3 for children with ADS? Shows what selective targeting can do, eh Brian? Got a few hours to study the graphs?" Brian will nod wisely, thank you for tea, and tell you he's late for his next appointment. He won't visit for at least six months.

Impressing the governors. Most governors are public-spirited folk with a desire to help. They also appreciate how Canute felt, as they try to stem a flood (paperwork, in this case) that they don't understand and can't control. And when they do spend a late night wading through an initiative, another one arrives in the post the next day. They decide the best thing is to leave it to the head (since he's sorting out this stuff every waking hour) and nod knowledgeably at the next meeting.

The tactic is to show the governors the huge model performance management document devised by the DfES, watch their faces as they realise they might have to read it, and then show them the new, improved version you devised with your deputy. It'll only be four pages, but it'll contain all the legally required stuff. The governors will congratulate you and go home happy.

Impressing the parents. Parents' requirements are simple; they want their offspring to develop a love of learning in a friendly, safe environment with teachers they trust and respect. If they can contribute to their children's success, they see that as a bonus. The Government, of course, takes every opportunity to broadcast the wealth of initiatives being put in place to get teachers off their bottoms and shake up the schools, performance management being one of them.

As you smile at Cynthia bouncing out of reception, her mother might ask you what performance management is all about. Bring out the huge DfES document, show her how complex it is, and complain that Cynthia's teacher could spend more time hearing her read if she wasn't spending hours filling out this garbage. Cynthia's mother will agree, and tell you she wouldn't have your job for all the tea in China.

Impressing the teachers. This is important. Your teachers are a dedicated, hardworking team, right? Ask them to write down three personal objectives for the year on the last page of your revised document. Collect them, photocopy them three times to make a huge wad of paper, put it in a prettily labelled binder, and file it with the others. Then let your staff get back to what makes teaching the most fascinating job in the worldI creating an exciting, stimulating classroom that children love being part of.

During the course of the year, visit them a lot. Talk to them about their careers, their interests, their futures. Make sure your door is always open. Let them choose courses to go on, but never push them unnecessarily. Give them your time, and encourage them constantly. Develop their enthusiasm and don't worry about their faults; you've got faults, too. Teachers are your most treasured resource, and if they love working in your school, the children will love it too. What they instil in the children will last a long time. Performance management won't. It's just an initiative. There'll be another one along in five minutes.

Mike Kent is head of Comber Grove primary school, Camberwell, south LondonEmail: mikejkent@aol.com

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