Made to measure

8th September 2000 at 01:00
Lynne Taylor's latest guide to performance management is backed up with invaluable free materials on our website Can we help?

If there was ever a case of being in the right place at the right time my association with The TES was it. Many teachers have found our Magic markbook (TES Online January 2000 - June 2000) an invaluable resource to support initiatives related to tracking pupil progress. If you have not visited you won't know what you're missing. And this material is currently being developed as a TES online resource Magic markbook was devised in response to calls for help from teachers who wanted to draw together objective information about the teaching and learning that takes place in their classroom, to help them improve their teaching. Magic markbook addresses issues fundamental and essential to objective performance tracking. My new series, Made to measure, "steps up" a level to whole-school pupil tracking and performance management. The latter will quickly founder unless a structured pupil tracking system is in place.

During the coming months, Made to measure will include topics and problems occurring during schools' performance management implementation and will focus where ICT may be used effectively. I hope becomes a valuable meeting place for all involved.

Throughout this academic year I will illustrate examples of good practice, methods of using data with instructions that are simple to follow and demonstrate procedures that are realistic to execute. Our materials will be freely available to all, with instructions, documents and templates available to download. I hope to save schools valuable time and allow them to get on with the key processes within performance management. As with Magic markbook, I cannot offer a complete solution but, by sharing ideas, everyone should feel easier using ICT for management purposes.

What's coming up?

Made to measure will cover:

October Governors

November Planning

January Monitoring

February Reviewing

March Head's overview

April Team leader's overview

May Teacher's overview

June Effective practice

More details can be found at As performance management unfolds in schools I will adapt and evolve these topics to meet the needs of our readers.

Isn't it all on the DfEE website?

The DfEE website is packed with useful information, downloadable files and invaluable links. However, there is an assumption that all teachers are familiar with Web stanards. For example, does everyone know the difference between "pdf" and "Word" files and ways of transferring text from a pdf file to Word? My starting point will be to make no such presumptions and offer step-by-step, "idiot-proof" help for even the simplest of steps. At you will find easy-to-follow instructions for these Web standard processes.

Let's clarify and simplify the principal issues. On the website I have simplified and summarised the tasks ahead for the implementation of performance management in schools. Where appropriate, I have suggested how ICT may be used to help carry out tasks, to be more effective and less burdensome.

What tools are needed?

There are hardware and software tools that can now be regarded as an essential part of a modern office system. Yet with careful consideration and a few extra purchases school managers could substantially reduce the burden of bureaucracy. The basic Microsoft Office package has, until now, probably had enough capability with just Word and Excel. Yet by upgrading to one of the more advanced packages you will have Access, PowerPoint and FrontPage. These very powerful software packages will become invaluable in the future to produce your in-school training and presentation materials.

Have you ever tried VRS (voice recognition software)? If the answer is "Yes, but more than six months ago," then try again. The packages are amazingly accurate now. Speaking to a machine that writes down everything you say is everyone's dream. Shame the kids don't do the same! And how about a large display directly from the PC? Too expensive? You may well be surprised.

Let's share good practice

I am no infallible expert in the performance management field, as I believe no one else can be. We invite you to share your successes (and failures) in this field. We can all learn together to raise standards in schools through common sense and sound reasoning, not just because we have been directed to do so.

What to do next

Things to do before the next edition:

* Visit the website

* Download our latest files

* Access and download documents from the DfEE website.

Next month we will show you how to make a "slick" PowerPoint presentation to the staff andor your governing body, Teachers may also wish to use it in the classroom.

Lynne Taylor runs Cogent Computer Solutions, based in Kenilworth. Questions can be emailed tocogentcs@aol.comPrevious assessment materials can be accessed on the TES Online website

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