Sick of the dog's dinner deal

15th October 2004 at 01:00
The scrapping of management allowances brings into even sharper focus how performance management has now evolved into an utter dog's dinner, as opposed to a curate's egg, to mix metaphors.

The original deal, conceived by David Blunkett, the then Education Secretary, was sold to teachers on the premise that it would reward good teachers for continued good work over an eight-year period. Some time would be spent in providing a portfolio of evidence, but this was not unreasonable, as teachers would have an incentive to remain in the classroom.

It very quickly metamorphosed into a bureaucratic mess once the Department for Education and Skills got its hands on the implementation. Like all heads, I was led through days of patronising "training" on phase 1 threshold training with the purple folders, dealt with page by page and totally "on message". Not trusting heads to implement the scheme we had external assessors (more hours taken up) earning very good money thank you to verify the applications.

As secretaries of state changed with the tides, the scheme became ever more confused and confusing and UPS3 has been the nadir. Charles Clarke said there would be no more money without ever more hoops to jump through, and when challenged on the grounds that this was not what we had all signed up to, pulled the plug on the deal and turned UPS4 and 5, into a rehashed set of excellence points, which themselves had been quietly dropped by the department because they hadn't worked.

We will now have heads and senior managers spending ever more time redrawing their school performance schemes to support their staff who work for their current allowances and teachers will be more confused and disgruntled during that process.

When will politicians learn that thinking a thing through is vital and that when dealing with professional people doing a difficult job increasingly well you cannot make it up as you go along.

Yet again an idea that might have had some merit has been botched and must go into the annals of the DfES which in this instance should be renamed the Department for Educational Stupidity!

Tony Roberts 144 Cop Lane Penwortham Preston

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