Made to measure

9th March 2001 at 00:00
Lynne Taylor looks at how ICT has become an integral tool for performance management - with back-up Web materials Performance management has placed headteachers at the hub of yet another new initiative. It is they that set the whole ethos by which others in the school see the process. There will be a very small minority of heads that see performance management as just another piece of bureaucracy to add to the growing mountain of management duties. However, most will see it as a positive method by which to officially recognise the hard work and successes of their staff. It will allow them to focus training for staff professional development and to provide evidence for extra payments. But how does it affect headteachers and how can they use ICT to its full effect?

Roles and responsibilities Highlighting a head's responsibilities for implementing the school's performance management policy shows the essential part ICT must play. Heads' tasks checklist:

* Draft the policy for the governing body (Word processor) * Ensure that performance management reviews take place (Scheduler) * Check that team leaders carry out their responsibilities (Database and tracking software) * See that individual plans and standards are agreed for all teachers (Database and reports software) * Make sure that professional development is targeted (Analysis software) * Ensure that monitoring of teaching takes place (Database and hand-held computers) * Guarantee feedback is given to the teacher on performance (Database and reports software) * Monitor that teachers participate fully in discussions (Database and reports software) * Incorporate accounts of teachers' performance reviews in making recommendations to the governing body about teachers' pay (Database, reports and MIS software) * Support the whole process from above Is it any wonder that the head of one small school, Cummersdale Primary in Cumbria, had to write to apologise to parents because his own teaching had to be sidelined! How did he find performance management in his 69-pupil school with three full-time teachers?

"Disruptive!" said head Shaun Halfpenny. You can read Shaun's comments and those from other heads, from both very large and very small schools, about performance management on our website at www.tes.co.ukonlineperformit Going round in circles ICT must now permeate every part of school management, and I find the need to repeat advice I gave 12 month's ago in our Magic markbook series (www.tes.co.ukonlineassessit). I advised then that if a school focused on the specific needs of individual pupils, an overall improvement of stadards would result. Quality assessment data is a key indicator. Performance management cannot begin without this information. Heads must ensure that an assessment tracking policy is implemented first. It is very clear that the assessment cycle and the performance management cycle are one and the same.

If a whole school is "geared up" to objectively track pupil achievement, progress, attitude, attendance, etc using ICT, then performance management becomes a natural extension of this. To attempt to measure teachers without clear objective measuring of pupil performances is an enigma. Both processes are inseparable and thus should evolve together.

Are we still on our own?

In the many performance management documents and circulars I've found plenty of advice on "what to do" but none on "how to do it", especially relating to using ICT as a tool. Sound philosophies are fine as long as there are clear practical ways of implementation. Unfortunately, in education we suffer greatly from "Here's a great idea now you get on and do it". In the six months Made to measure has been running I've found few useful links to commercial software companies, New Opportunities Fund (NOF) trainers and performance management consultants (PMCs). There are now signs that this is changing at last. A realisation is emerging that perhaps NOF training should incorporate progress tracking and performance management. Software should be developed to save time and PMCs should become more au fait with these new developments. Better late than never.

You'll find some new links on Made to measure at www.tes.co.ukonlineperformit and the Magic markbook website at www.tes.co.ukonlineassessit To add to this, the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) is in the process of re-launching its planning and management site at www.becta.org.uk. This site will "provide up-to-date news items and links to useful management sites, and highlights DFEE and other initiatives which aim to reduce bureaucracy and help schools develop information strategies". You can find links directly to these pages and many more at www.tes.co.ukonlineperformit Share the experience I'm looking for some schools that wish to share their experiences of performance management (good or bad) with our readers of Made to measure. Please contact me at cogentcs@aol.com if you have any comments.

Lynne Taylor runs Cogent Computer Solutions, based in Kenilworth. Questions can be emailed to cogentcs@aol.com. Previous assessment materials can be accessed on the TES Online website www.tes.co.ukonlineperformit


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