Made to measure

8th June 2001 at 01:00
Lynne Taylor's final column focuses on the importance of electronic record-keeping.

When I started this series last September I naively thought I could extend my experience for pupil-tracking and target-setting, illustrated in Magic markbook (www.tes.co.ukonlineassessit), to using ICT in the performance management cycle. I didn't realise the complexity and extent of the unpublished processes and initiatives that would unfold. Having upturned the pieces of the jigsaw, the obvious bits fit together, but there are still pieces needed to complete the picture. I've always believed ICT should be the principal tool for pupil and staff record-keeping, and evaluation. Now I know for sure that there is no alternative. I conclude the Made to Measure series by looking forward to a time when teachers are valued for what they do, not how well they complete forms.

A career structure for teachers

When I started teaching, you started at scale one, moved forward to perhaps scale five, then became deputy and maybe headteacher. Primitive, but simple. Am I missing something or is this really the new career structure?

* You begin as a newly qualified teacher, with qualified teacher status (QTS), needing membership to the General Teaching Council;

* Then you may be fast-tracked;

* Later you possibly become an advanced skills teacher;

* After seven years you may pass the threshold;

* At some point there may be more money if you become involved in management or recruitment and retention, or special education needs;

* This may be followed by membership to the leadership group;

* And maybe you aspire to achieve the National Professional Qualifications for Headship (NPQH);

* After this you hopefully become a headteacher and join in the Headteachers' Leadership and Management Programmes, and the Leadership Programme for Serving Headteachers;

* You can apply for extra money from Best Practice Research Scholarships;

* In some LEAs there are bursaries to help with professional development.

Clear it isn't. The teaching unions have good Web pages for career development. We have links to sites catering for every step in your career at www.tes.co.ukonlineperformit Reducing bureaucracy

For each jump on the teaching ladder, as well as the annual performance management cycle (not forgetting Ofsted or other inspections), teachers have to fill in the same details on similarly styled forms. If you are applying for a new job there are even more forms. Can't we have a system that records this data securely and then exports the details when and to where it is needed? At www.tes.co.ukonlineperformit we have an electronic template - a teaching career audit - as an initial step to illustrate this.

Performance management

New regulations that extend performance management to non-static and non-mainstrem teachers are in their consultancy phase. Does a peripatetic teacher who visits 10 schools in a week get 10 different inputs to their review? How will this information be collated? What happens when there are opposite views? How can anyone think of any system other than a computer-based approach? Perhaps the consultation team should view our website.

Threshold

The second round of threshold assessment is also upon us. The deadline for teachers to apply for this extra money is October 29. We are told that nothing has changed in the standards and assessment processes since threshold was introduced last year. I hope this is not the case. Last time teachers spent most of their spring half-term holiday preparing their applications. This year, threshold applications will again need to include assessment evidence for the sections on teaching and assessment, and pupil progress. Those familiar with the processes suggested in Magic markbook will find these sections easier to complete. For online help and support for this process visit www.tes.co.ukonlineassessit

Teacher training and professional development

New teachers are expected to reach the same national standards in their teacher training for QTS. The criteria specified by the Teacher Training Agency for teaching and class management demands the use of ICT. Yet in the section on monitoring, assessment, recording, reporting and accountability there is no mention of using ICT. Data management using ICT is part of everyday teaching and school management. It is imperative that this becomes a part of teacher training. I am delighted that several teaching training establishments use our TES Online series as part of their courses. Trainers may contact me for more details at cogentcs@aol.com

Even though I believe teachers' career structure is complicated and there are too many forms to fill in, I applaud the many initiatives for professional development. In addition to annual performance reviews for everyone, Advanced Skills Teachers have a process to celebrate their skills. In the future, all new heads will have been prepared for headship through the NPQH, and New Opportunities Fund training will improve teachers' ICT skills. If teachers benefit from these initiatives, so will the children they teach.

ICT at the hub of the future

In any element of a teacher's day, if there is something to find, change, send out, evaluate or just look at, there's an ICT solution. However, ICT will never replace that special "something" between you and your pupils that makes our profession unique. Please continue emailing me with your questions and 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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