Look back in anger at this pay fiasco

21st July 2000 at 01:00
I ARRIVED home late last Friday night after another shattering week to be faced with the news that all my hours spent on the performance pay process could be thrown away.

I was angry. Indeed, I was seething at the incompetence and arrogance of those responsible for drafting these measures. I was equally furious at the stupidity of the National Union of Teachers. I need to explain my anger. I am sure that neither David Blunkett nor the NUT fully understand just how much damage they have caused in most good schools across the country.

I wanted the threshold system to work because, if done properly, it was an innovative way of giving good teachers the pay boost they deserved.

It has taken me more than 30 hours to process the applications from my staff. Add on the time for training, administration and, of course, the time spent by individual teachers completing the forms and I have conservatively calculated that, in my college, it has cost more than pound;500 in time per applicant before a single extra penny is paid to them.

This suggests that nationally the cost of the exercise has been 200,000 x pound;500, or pound;100 million, before taking onto account the neglect of other duties during the process. The cost must be more than pound;50m at the very least.

Has any adviser actually informed the Secretary of State of the real cost of this exercise, now blown apart through incompetence at the Department for Education and Employment and the crass stupidity of the NUT in the way the challenge was made? What other professional duties have been neglected and put at risk because of this huge, faulty exercise? We will never know.

What is certain is that I have colleagues who are on their knees partly because of this fiasco. Well done the DFEE! Congratulaions to the NUT for delaying a pay rise for their members and others! Parties in breweries spring to mind.

As for my own commitment, I have completed all of the threshold assessments for this college at considerable cost to my family life and at a great cost to other professional duties and opportunities. I wonder where I should deposit all of this work, all of these completed and annotated application forms?

Can the DFEE or the NUT suggest how I now encourage my excellent working colleagues, here in this school, to persevere with self-assessment and self-review?

The language I now expect to be used in this staffroom as teachers look back on this exercise will not be very professional but it will be well-constructed and exceptionally clear and precise. It will be aimed at the Secretary of State, at the incompetent advisers at the DFEE and it will be aimed at the NUT. Unfortunately it will also be aimed at me and at the service in general.

What would be my personal advice as a less-than-humbled head in a good school?

To the Government - learn what governance actually means;

to the DFEE - learn to use the law;

to the NUT - remember who your members are; and

to headteachers - think long and hard about implementing policy until it is proved to be right.

Personally, I have no intention whatsoever of repeating my time commitment to this process regardless of any revised "instructions". This head has done his whack over threshold assessment!

And what of the NUT? We try to teach our students about rights and responsibilities; perhaps we should try to teach this antediluvian organisation the same.

Over to you, www.tes.co.uk

Brian Hartley is head of Robertsbridge Community College, East Sussex

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