Reject targets, heads advised

HEADTEACHERS are being advised to ignore performance management targets including pupil attendance as well as lower staff sickness levels.

From September, heads and teachers face new performance management systems. Headteachers' objectives will be set by governors, with input from an external adviser.

Both heads' unions will oppose targets binding members' pay to specific achievements. Government guidelines demand fixed percentage improvements in areas such as pupil attendance, national curriculum tests, GCSEs and staff absenteeism.

David Hart, National Association of Head Teachers' general secretary, said:

"Measuring... performance by number-crunching on pupils' progress, attainment or exclusions leaves us cold."

He said one of the Government guidelines, which sets a target of improving staff morale, thereby reducing absenteeism by 3 per cent, was "completely irrational".

Cambridge Education Associates has been appointed to act as external monitors of the system.

Mr Hart said there was a suspicion that advisers would be dancing to the tune of the Government's stndard-raising agenda, and that governors would feel unable to resist.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers and Secondary Heads Association joint guidelines and separate advice by the National Union of Teachers on teachers' performance management targets have been sent out this week. They recommend a maximum of three professional development objectives, as opposed to the Department for Education and Employment's maximum of seven, from a classroom observation checklist. This covers lesson planning, subject area, teaching, pupil assessment, behaviour management, pupil objectives, classroom organisation and homework.

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said:

"Performance management policy is being imposed on the profession. In its application within schools, however, there is provision for the involvement and agreement of teachers which we must make full use of.

"We are also determined to reduce to a minimum the bureaucratic burdens and excessive workloads which will stem from its implementation," said Mr McAvoy.

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