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'Robust' appraisal looms

'Targets, targets, targets' appears to be the Government's new mantra. In a three-page report The TES examines David Blunkett's grand plan which was unveiled earlier this week.

Teachers' promotion and pay is to be more directly linked to performance targets and their career progression will be monitored by a "fair and robust" appraisal system.

The White Paper proposes a radical overhaul of teachers' career structure, setting up a new grade of "advanced skills" teacher (AST) and fast-track routes to headships and school management. Dismissal procedures are to be speeded up to remove failing teachers.

Termly scholarships will be offered to "outstandingly successful teachers" who will be expected to share their expertise with other schools. These scholarships may be sponsored.

There will be a limited number of advanced skills posts, for the "very best" teachers who will be given extra responsibilities and pay. The Government will urge higher education institutions to make ASTs associate fellows or professors and they will be expected to participate in initial teacher training.

ASTs will also be used as troubleshooters in failing schools and education action zones. The School Teachers' Review Body has been asked to consider the precise role of ASTs and how they will be selected. But, as last year's review body report points out, many teachers avoid promotion to deputy head or head because the extra money involved does not compensate for the extra work.

The White Paper proposes that candidates for the fast-track route to headship be chosen by a mixture of self-assessment and recommendations from the authority, headteachers and the Office for Standards in Education. A qualification for new headteachers will be compulsory.

Qualified Teacher Status will be awarded only after a year's successful induction.

Appraisal of teachers' performance will be based upon classroom observation, assessment of pupils' results and an annual performance review linked to targets for enhanced pupil performance.

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