28th April 2000 at 01:00
Q I have 70 teachers eligible to pass through the threshold. A nearby school has 30. Will external assessors only take a sample of 10 from each, despite the difference in the number of applications? Can heads suggest to the external assessor who should be in the sample?

A Yes and no. The sample is there so that the assessor can verify that the head has applied the standards correctly, fairly and in line with national practice. In schools with more than 30 candidates, a sample of 10 forms is deemed to be sufficient. For obvious reasons, the head cannot choose the sample, but if there is a particular problem - for example, with the amount of evidence put forward by a particular candidate - the head can raise this issue during the assessor's initial visit and before the final sample is decided. By the same token, the assessor can extend the sample if there is any doubt about the aplication of the standards, or if the head requests it.

Q Our head is retiring in July. She has not yet been on any training about threshold pay and assessment. We are not going to receive any input about how to fill in the forms until the day before the half-term holiday - a week before the deadline. Is this fair, and what should we do about it?

A The head must give information about school performance and guidance about the threshold procedure (not about individual applications) to all eligibleteachers. Pre-scheduled training days have proved useful for this purpose, but the date of yours is certainly too late for comfort. If you can't persuade her to make other arrangements, an approach to your local adviser may be needed.

Michael Duffy E-mail your questions on pay to: Duffy regrets that he cannot enter into personalcorrespondence

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