Heads outraged at 'patronising, poorly-planned' sessions on assessing pay threshold applicants. Nicolas Barnard reports
TRAINING for headteachers on the Government's new performance pay system has been changed at the last minute, following furious complaints.
Materials have been rewritten and sent out by courier to hundreds of trainers around the country after both headteachers' unions protested to the Department for Education and Employment. Some trainers are understood to have been dropped.
But, with a third of heads already having taken the training, the National Association of Head Teachers warned that ministers risked missing the deadline to implement the new pay structure.
The association is pressing for repeat sessions for those dissatisfied with their day.
Heads around the country bombarded The TES's website this week with complaints about their one-day training sessions on the assessment of staff who want to move to a higher pay scale.
Parts were "wholly inadequate", they said, with trainers reading from scripts, too little discussion of how the scheme would work in practice and too many unanswered questions. Some were told to put their queries on "post-it" notes for DFEE staff to take away.
Heads felt the section on assessing the progress of applicants' pupils caused the most problems.
Paul Patrick, head of Cardinal Wiseman school in Greenford, Middlesex, said his training was "patronising, poorly-planned and felt like a slow readers' group".
Richard Carter, head of Beacon community junior school in Falmouth, Cornwall, said his trainer read out "crib sheets" - "then we ended up copying what he said ecause there were no copies for delegates".
David Hart, general secretary of the NAHT, said: "The whole thing is indicative of the ridiculous timetable the Government is working to."
A DFEE spokesman said that feedback from the first 7,500 heads to be trained showed the numbers judging the course to have met its objectives had risen from 75 per cent to 88 per cent.
The department has set up a question-and-answer page on its website - www.dfee.gov.ukteachingreforms - while heads can e-mail questions direct to firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile, research by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers suggests that three-quarters of class teachers still feel uninformed about the new system - under which staff at the top of the existing pay scale get an immediate pound;2,000 rise and cross a threshold to a higher scale, if they meet eight performance standards.
The phone survey of 500 ATL members found one in five unsure if they were eligible to apply - and in a follow-up question discovered 90 per cent of them were.
The ATL has set up a website - www.askatl.org.uk - to help members with applications while the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers has printed 200,000 booklets to send to members.
The National Union of Teachers expects a judicial review concerning a new legal duty for teachers to co-operate with their head on threshold assessments to be heard next Wednesday at the High Court. It claims consultation is required before the duty is written into staff contracts. The union is surveying members on holding a one-day strike over the new pay scheme.