Pay shake-up stumbles over threshold training

31st March 2000 at 01:00
FURIOUS heads have inundated their unions with complaints about training for the Government's new performance pay system.

Training sessions for heads began on Monday with reports of stormy scenes at several venues. Some heads walked out, saying trainers were inadequately prepared and unable to answer basic questions. Some trainers had completed their own three-day training only two days before.

Others said the one-day sessions - due to be taken by all heads - were uninformative and too short. The videos they were expected to take back to explain the system to teachers were criticised as "dull and patronising".

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "We've had heads complaining bitterly about the inadequacy of the training. Some have even walked out because they are so disgusted with the whole thing.

"I will certainly be taking it up with the Department for Education. This raises serious questions about whether we can stick to the Government's timetable."

One head called it "death by OHP" as trainers ploughed through between 50 and 60 overhead projector slides. Videos to help heads explain the system to their staff were described as "dull" and "patronising". At one London venue there were reports of trainers pulling out at the last minute, leaving some heads crammed into a class of 50 instead of 15.

"What seems to be being rovided is information, not training," said John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association. "Heads need more than this if they are to implement the system successfully."

The NAHT is to tell its members not to feel under pressure to meet the Government's deadlines.

Heads are supposed to rule on applications by July 31 - although those receiving more than 40 have until late October. The NAHT argues there is no penalty for missing these deadlines - especially as the pay rise for successful applicants will be backdated to September 1.

Meanwhile, the second-largest teachers' union, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, is urging members to refuse to cover for staff taking part in threshold assessments.

The Government has added a clause to teachers' contracts forcing them to help heads assess colleagues - prompting an application for a judicial review from the National Union of Teachers.

Now the NASUWT says supply teachers should be brought in to cover for any lessons, using the pound;20 million the Government is giving schools for the purpose.

Heads are being trained by external assessors from Cambridge Education Associates.

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Estelle Morris, 13

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