And the winner is...

10th October 1997 at 01:00
Judge for yourself if you've got what it takes to be a Super Teacher

Super Teachers? Jolly super. A reward for excellence. The chance to stay in the classroom and keep earning more, once the incremental points are all used up. Great.

Er. . . just a couple of questions. How will we know a Super Teacher when we find one? It can't be by results, can it? We've all seen heads of departments who grab the best classes and leave keen newcomers with the worst ones, haven't we? Perks of office, they call it. So you could be a better teacher just to survive with some tough youngsters, but those bright ones will get the best results no matter who teaches them, so that's not fair, is it?

Then there are differences in subjects. Never mind whether or not a subject is difficult or easy, which is a matter of opinion, different subjects get different treatment in the timetable. Some subjects get five lessons a week, and others only three; English language and literature are usually taught together at GCSE, but they seldom get double the time of any other subject. Will that be taken into account when your results are judged?

And what about where those lessons fall in the timetable? How super can you be with a Year 11 in a double last thing on a Friday, after double games? Teachers who get prime slots in the timetable will have an obvious advantage.

And what about technological subjects that have restricted class sizes because of health and safety regulations - aren't they advantaged too? Even without safety considerations, there can be big differences in the number of pupils in classes. Would you be a Super Teacher if you only taught four people but they all got an A? Perhaps you couldn't be considered super if you only taught four pupils - though that wouldn't be fair, because you could still be absolutely super; it wouldn't necessarily be your fault that the subject was unpopular.

What will they do if your results are wonderful and they make you a Super Teacher, and then next year the results are really bad? Will they say, "Sorry, you're not super any more"? Changes in results can be a consequence of having a different group of pupils, but what if you really do change - go off the whole business, relax a bit - would they strip you of your title? They'd have to, wouldn't they? It's not like a promotion to head of department, more like a prize for winning a race; if you don't win the race this year, you don't get the medal. A bit like the Oscars, in fact.

Of course, without an examination class, it's harder to get any kind of external marker for performance. So it'll have to be via appraisal, won't it? Targets and evaluation and all that, to see that you've done what you must to be super. It won't just be "The Boss thinks you're it", will it? And it couldn't be something stupid like one per school? I mean, it's a bit like the A*; once you establish the category, everyone should be aiming to be that good - though of course recognising an A* is easier than knowing a Super Teacher when you've got one, because you can have an exam for it.

But it would be lovely to stay in the classroom, teaching and earning more than the silly blighters who took the easy way out and got promoted. In fact, people might stop applying for promoted posts, in case it looked as if they weren't good enough to stay in the classrooms. It's going to be absolutely super sorting this lot out.

The writer is a senior teacher in an independent girls' school

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