Made to measure

5th January 2001 at 00:00
Lynne Taylor implores you to throw away that mountain of paper and move into the 21st century No more paper Since performance management is here to stay for the foreseeable future, no school should be considering its implementation without full consideration of the utilisation of all facets offered within ICT. A paper-based process should not be an option. How many times in the past have new education initiatives been thrown at us that have created mountains of paper? We mustn't let this happen for the performance management initiative. Yet looking at the PM brief, there is the potential here for using every tree on the planet!

I continue my Made to measure series with some ideas and support in using the technology of today (and maybe tomorrow) to help schools as they set up the monitoring section of the performance management cycle. You'll find much more by visiting What's on offer from the DFEE site?

Unless I have failed to locate it, you will find that the DFEE and associated bodies only offer advice for classroom observation in a way that uses a paper "interface". In the model performance management policy document you will find a section Annexe C - lesson observation. This is offered as a guidance of how classroom observation can be carried out and is divided into the following eight sections each with variable numbers of criteria (in brackets):

* The teacher plans effectively and sets clear objectives that are understood (5) * The teacher shows good subject knowledge and understanding (3) * The teaching methods used enable all pupils to learn effectively (7) * Pupils are well managed and high standards of behaviour are insisted upon (3) * Pupils' work is assessed thoroughly (3) * Pupils achieve productive outcomes (4) * The teacher makes effective use of time and resources (4) * Homework is used effectively to reinforce and extend learning (3).

For each criteria the following record is suggested: Excellent, Good, Satisfactory or Needed.

Argh!! I can already hear thousands of team leaders and teachers under observation asking: "What is the difference between 'Good' and 'Satisfactory'?" Teachers deserve better guidance than this. Clearly defined criteria are needed that not only guide a team leader to an impartial judgement, but also allow every teacher to carry out objective self-evaluation. During my preparation for Made to measure I felt certain that organisations such as the Teacher Training Agency or even Ofsted - as part of its observations and records of teacherstrainees in the classroom - would have effetive IT methods to do this. Apparently not, paper rules! I think in the 21st century we can do better than this. At I have started to put some ideas together of how this may be done.

How can we embrace new technology?

There is no doubt that we are at the dawn of a revolution in hardware, software and communications that will completely change the way we think and work. It is essential to keep an open mind and, in our planning, allow for the introduction of this new technology where and when appropriate.

I asked David Burrows, education group manager for Microsoft UK, how he saw the future for teachers to record information about themselves and their pupils. He replied: "Already the technology is in place to record data directly into handheld devices, tablet PCs and mobile phones. Entry may be conventional, by pen, voice; and even by gesture. The future is very exciting. Microsoft works very closely with British education suppliers to support them in every way to allow integration of these new forms of technology. Teachers that wish to further explore these exciting ideas should visit our stand at BETT."

The Microsoft Office package was previously highlighted in Made to measure as an essential tool to school managers. You'll find links to Microsoft and other very useful ICT tools at Handheld devices are now commonly used and must be high on the list for teachers to consider. What an exciting notion that teachers could carry out performance reviews and classroom observations using gestures!

Are there specific packages to help?

I am aware that software written specifically to aid the performance management process is already under development and is aimed at not only cutting the bureaucratic burden of the cycle but will add consistency across schools. Common criteria that are fully understood by every team leader is essential, particularly since future pay awards may depend on this. I wait to see the final products and will report on these at Keep writing to me

Thank you for the many emails offering suggestions and support for Made to measure and Magic markbook. Please keep sharing your experiences with us. If you come across any aspect of ICT that can help in assessment tracking or performance management please let me know.

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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