Teachers, we're watching you

27th April 2007 at 01:00
Cameras and one-way windows will be used to help top performers leapfrog up the pay scale

TEACHERS WILL need to improve their English, maths and science skills as a national priority, in a "radical new approach" to professional development that is expected to weed out bad teachers.

Schools will use more video cameras and one-way windows in classrooms to help teachers progress, said Graham Holley, chief executive of the Training and Development Agency for Schools.

Mr Holley this week published the new national priorities for continuing professional development. Training in individual subjects has been marginalised over the past few years, the new strategy says, particularly in primary schools.

The strategy is the final plank in the performance management structure that will allow young teachers to leapfrog up the pay scale and give those who perform less well a chance to take "a good, clear, cool look" at their future.

"An explicit part of professional standards is that teachers are ultimately accountable to parents and the community," said Mr Holley. "Whenever you have a workforce of 400,000 people, there will be some who need to leave."

From September, teachers will discuss their training needs with their headteacher or line manager at the start of each year and the head will ensure that these fit with the school's needs and the national priorities.

Teachers' progress will be measured against professional standards and agreed indicators, such as pupil attainment.

Teachers should not be scared of performance management, Mr Holley said, which has been used in the private sector for decades. "It's a proven tool," he said.

Jim Knight, the school standards minister, has asked the agency to prioritise teacher training in three areas: special educational needs; curriculum reform with the introduction of the 14-19 agenda; and subject knowledge in English, maths and science.

Meanwhile, the Government has poured cold water on a plan for a national database of teacher training providers, where teachers would give online user ratings.

With schools expected to purchase all their professional development on the open market, it was hoped the database would be a valuable indicator of quality training. The aim was to build up a register of approved providers in England and Wales, similar to that being set up in Scotland.

Mr Holley said the database would give schools important information about the training marketplace.

But Jim Knight, the schools minister, has told the TDA not to expect any further funding to develop the database. And ministers have been concerned that a training provider's inclusion on an official database might be seen by schools as an endorsement, meaning the school might seek compensation if the provider failed to deliver the goods.

John Bangs, the National Union of Teachers' head of education, said: "There is a crying need for a database. It is very important because there has been a history of schools paying high prices to providers for next to nothing."

Priorities Pedagogy: including behaviour management, subject knowledge and supporting curriculum change Personalisation: including equality and diversity, special educational needs and disability People: including working with other professionals and school leadership

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