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Snub for ministers' task force

The Government's recently announced task force to improve schools' performance has no role, the director of education in the largest new authority stated last week.

Ken Corsar, who assumes responsibility on Monday for schools in Glasgow, had other Government shibboleths in his sights when he addressed the 60th annual conference in Edinburgh of the Headteachers' Association of Scotland. Mr Corsar took issue with the official line on appraisal, the role of the Inspectorate and Higher Still.

There was already ample research into school effectiveness, Mr Corsar said. Collaborative ventures in Glasgow involving schools, the education authority, university staff and HMIs were trying to turn aspiration into reality.

But he warned that councils must not be seen to be burdening schools with their own curricular priorities in addition to those of the Government. "If schools don't see added value being offered by the education authority, the relevance of the link will sooner or later be questioned," Mr Corsar said.

Appraisal of staff had not been successful because it had not impacted on the processes of teaching and learning. Within appraisal schemes, staff development had been largely forgotten. The result was that "they are bound to be barren, pointless and demotivating".

In his authority there was no place for what he called the "Glasgow syndrome", the excuse for poor performance on the grounds that "it's Glasgow, what else do you expect?" Mr Corsar was also critical of the Inspectorate's attitude to school development plans, which he argued should be at the heart of headteachers' work. The role of inspectors should be to help schools implement the plans they had laid down for themselves instead of asking for them to be rewritten.

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