Stress of splitting achievement cash

The allocation of achievement award cash to members of staff has probably caused more aggravation than most other matters during my 14 years as a headteacher.

This school received an achievement award for 2002 in recognition of a steady improvement in national test scores. The total was just over pound;6,400.

Trying to ensure that proportional shares are given, weighting the money on time worked rather than contribution made, the time and effort to sort out all the details - without doubt, all of this is a recipe for long-term headaches.

I am in no way being critical of my governors who set up a sub-committee of three and followed Department for Education advice to the letter. I do however have considerable professional reservations about the principle of this award and the manner in which a school is recognised for its achievements.

Once again, the scores achieved by pupils through statutory assessment are taken as the measure of a school's success.

However, if the Government persists in its wish to measure success in this narrow way and then give financial reward to schools that meet the criteria, the manner in which the award is distributed within the school should be left to the sole discretion of the governors, working with the professional advice of the headteacher and not prescribed by the department in the way it is at present.

The anomalies thrown up by the present system serve only to demotivate staff rather than reward them.

At a time of growing teacher shortage I would suggest that this is not the best way to recognise the collegiality of the staffroom. Nor is it the best way to measure the educational success of a school.

The broader picture is being lost in the narrow tunnel of a data-led argument, which is a pity.

Chris McDonnell

Headteacher

Fulfen primary school

Burntwood, Staffordshire

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