Secret ballots for pay by results?;News amp; Opinion

5th November 1999 at 00:00
Industry guru Sir John Harvey-Jones has been telling schools how they should go about their business, reports John Cairney

GOOD teachers could be rewarded with longer holidays or privileged access to training as well as extra pay, one of industry's most flamboyant figures told staff in North Lanarkshire last week.

Speaking at the council's fourth annual education conference, Sir John Harvey-Jones, former chairman of ICI and star of the BBC television series The Troubleshooter, said payment by results, strongly resisted by the teaching unions, is inevitable. He acknowledged, however, that there is evidence from the United States that it does not necessarily work.

But Sir John insisted that a system where everyone is paid the same is unfair to both the best and the weakest. "Payment by results is inevitable, because there is never going to be enough money to pay everyone well," he said. "The weakest are not protected by refusing to acknowledge the best."

He suggested that a school department or section could be given an amount of money to be awarded to "the most deserving" members of the team and these should be decided by secret ballot. Good performance could also be rewarded by extra holidays or access to training courses.

North Lanarkshire's "Raising Achievement" policies met with Sir John's approval. "The council's ethos is that of a supportive and encouraging, rather than a controlling, authority. This gives teachers the room to manoeuvre and not become passers of the buck."

Achievement, he suggested, is "the process of learning self-

esteem by finding out something at which you can win. The barriers to any form of achievement are self-induced and teachers are the alchemists in bringing down these barriers."

The only means by which schools should measure their success is on an international scale, Sir John said, but people should not be misled into thinking there is a "nirvana" at which point success has been achieved.

Sir John preferred to speak of leadership rather than management. " There is a need to look at the skills involved in leadership because badly led people give less than one third of their potential and well-led people give all of their potential. The key to effective leadership is to keep a finger on the pace. If the pace is faltering, the reason must be found."

He added: "Headteachers should be leaders, not administrative clerks. Leaders implicitly and explicitly codify the values of the organisation, respect individuals and tolerate differences, and there is no one leadership style."

Sir John also told his audience of heads, deputes and other senior managers that good leaders "cut out the layers". He never used a deputy, preferring to allocate specialist people to specialist jobs.

The other main speaker at the Motherwell conference was Jack Black, founder and course director of the Mindstore System, one of the world's leading personal development companies. His message was that schools should become more entrepreneurial but entrepreneurs would have to help schools get there.

"The future of the nation will be dictated by the degree to which we are entrepreneurial," Mr Black said. "If that is the way the economy is going, then somehow we have to prepare kids to be entrepreneurial and schools therefore have to be entrepreneurial models themselves."

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