Personality tests for heads are guillotined

25th June 1999 at 01:00
GLASGOW has rejected personality testing of headteacher candidates after an inconclusive pilot scheme involving appointments to five schools.

Councillors threw out any further use of psychometric tests as part of formal interviews, although senior officials were keen to continue the experiment with the advent of the Scottish Qualification for Headship.

Bob Gray, education convener, said he had strong reservations about the tests' ability to achieve the results they sought.

Jim Mackechnie, Labour, who led the attack, accepted tests were used in the private and public sectors for senior appointments but it was a dangerous process.

"It involves an element of self-entrapment. Tests manipulate individuality and personality. There's a great deal of dubiety in how some tests are evaluated and I'm very troubled by this," he told the education committee.

Mr Mackechnie added it could be "destabilising" for some people if they were told their personalities did not fit.

George Gardner, depute director of education, said five heads had been appointed after voluntarily taking part in psychometric tests. Analysis confirmed the views of the interviewing panel about the heads' inter-personal skills.

The tests had never been a specific part of the selection process but provided additional information. Mr Gardner said other analytical tests could be used as part of the council's management development programme.

Ian Alexander, head of Hyndland Secondary, one of the five heads, who experienced the psychometric tests said he had no problem with the hour-long assessment. "It was interesting to see if you were being honest with yourself as you were going through. The feed-back was a fair picture," he said.

But Mr Alexander felt the tests would be better used as a management tool rather than part of a selection process.

Meanwhile, the Educational Institute of Scotland has criticised the city's plan to set up two pilot projects on extending devolved management. The "learning communities" scheme will go ahead in August, based on clusters around Eastbank and St Mungo's academies, and will aim to co-ordinate staffing, curriculum development and administration.

But Willie Hart, EIS Glasgow secretary, said there was considerable scepticism among teachers and hostility to the "bulldozing" of the initiative from gestation to reality within three months.

Mr Hart doubted whether services could all be delivered at local level as envisaged by the model. It was meant to be a cost-free initiative but could not be done without slimming budgets, he said.

Ken Corsar, director of education, said devolved management had been in place for about nine years and it was time to assess whether it could be extended. The focus in the service was more on children and families and less on different sectors.

Mr Corsar said the scheme would help primarysecondary liaison, cut teachers' administration and give them more teaching time, and provide a stronger structure for local quality assurance. Local managers would be more important.

Jim Dalziel and Tom Burnett, heads of Eastbank and St Mungo's, have been appointed as community principals to co-ordinate the pilots in their first year. Mr Hart said there was a suspicion among nursery and primary headteachers in the clusters they would not be appointed.

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