Back to the drawing board;Briefing;Governors;Green Paper

19th March 1999 at 00:00
The Green Paper proposes radical changes in how teachers' pay is determined. But how will governing bodies manage their part in the wide-ranging reforms - and how do they see that role?

Jane Phillips argues that the proposed pay structures are bound to fail because ministers have ignored basic management principles

Yet again, governors are being asked to do the impossible. We will be expected to implement changes in pay and appraisal in the certain knowledge that they will not work. And Prime Minister Tony Blair has stated publicly that he is interested in "what works".

Changing the culture of an entire profession is rather more difficult than the Green Paper implies. It will fail because the authors haven't understood the basic tenets of change management, that is, understand the history, start from where people are and carry them with you.

Teachers are wary of change: unsurprisingly since there is a history within education of such change being bungled. The national curriculum, national tests, Office for Standards in Education: which of these has worked in its initial form?

Teachers are under-confident. In general, their confidence is a greater problem than their competence. Their competence outweighs their confidence. Annabelle Broome has worked extensively implementing change in the National Health Service her view is that neither those who are highly secure nor those who are insecure perform at optimum level in their job. The highly secure need need challenge; the insecure need support.

Teachers will be ill-equipped to "meet the challenge of change" until politicians have a track record which encourages their trust and sufficient support can build their confidence to match their competence.

The road to successful change has certain well-documented characteristics. Management guru Walter Sykes has spent the last 25 years effecting change in organisations. For change to be successful, he says these factors must be understood:

* Diagnosis is the key - understand the system before you try to change it.

2 All change takes place in systems - understand the impact on the entire system or there will be unwanted and unpredicted side-effects.

3 Change generates discomfort - and people perceive this discomfort as punishment.

4 People are reluctant to undergo temporary discomfort for long-term gain - they must beprovided with support and motivation during the "painful" early stages.

5 Change generates stress - changes that we feel we cannot control are the most stressful.

6 Participation reduces resistance. Those with the most power must be willing to share at least some of that power.

7 Change comes in small steps. Adequate time must be allowed for changes to take place.

My reading of the Green Paper suggests that none of these has featured in the thought processes of its authors. Their centralised "top-down" approach just does not accord with current business thinking about the management of change.

For purely pragmatic reasons, my very serious suggestion is that the best way forward is to take this document right back to the drawing board. There is a deal more thinking to be done before its successor sees the light of day.

References: A K Broome. Managing Change. Macmillan (1990); Walter Sykes: Some principles of personal and organisational change, in Organisation Development - Theory, Practice and Research, eds. French, Bell and Zawacki (1989) BPI Irwin, Homewood, Illinois. Jane Phillips is an occupational psychologist, a governor of two schools and member of the National Association of Governors and Managers executive committee. NAGM will be sending a full response to this consultation

* The green paper proposals in brief

Performance-related pay

*For heads: high-level fixed-term contracts for successful heads in tough jobs * National College for School Leadership, qualifications for heads and deputies * Outside support for governing bodies in appraising heads * A fixed pay scale for classroom teachers leading to performance threshold with annual appraisal against targets. Beyond threshold, higher pay matched with more responsibilities and "high and sustained levels of competence" for advanced skills * New school performance award each year to reward numbers of whole schools * To run the system, new training for heads, teachers and governors, with technical document setting out roles, responsibilities, monitoring and accountability * All governing bodies to adopt a performance management policy, by law Teacher training * Higher standards in initial training for numeracy, literacy and information technology * Heavy focus on professional development including a national code of practice for training providers and inspection of training * Induction year for new teachers * More training out of school-hours * Contractual duty for all teachers to keep skills up to date * National fast-track scheme "to move outstanding teachers quickly through the profession" gaining additional training in return for supplementary contracts, longer working years, more mobility * Individual learning accounts for all school staff * More teaching assistants, who will be enabled to move on to teacher training

Better working conditions

* Staffroom refurbishment

* Money for equipment

Administration and bureaucracy

* More ICT investment

* Small school support fund to encourage small schools to work together

Consultation ends on March 31

on March 31

The consultation ends on March 31

The Minister's view

Speaking at the Conference for Governors from the Business Sector on March 1, schools minister Charles Clarke said: "Governors play a vital role in education. They are the unsung heroes, giving up their free time and assuming considerable responsibilities without financial reward. The Teachers Green Paper acknowledges the pressures they have faced in the past and proposes cash for better training and expert advice.

"Governors have a key role in ensuring that our pay plans translate into real rewards for their heads and teachers. We will support their role in the appraisal of headteachers with expert advisers and advice on good practice.

"I am grateful to all the governors from the business sector who bring skills from their professional lives to bear upon the lives of the schools they serve. I want to see many more coming forward - and we will be looking at practical ways to link those from business who want to be governors to schools seeking more such support."

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