Tougher appraisal planned

6th February 1998 at 00:00
Teachers are to face more rigorous appraisals linked to pupil performance and target setting in plans unveiled by schools minister Estelle Morris this week.

Appraisals would be carried out annually rather than every two years and school governors would play a leading part in appraising headteachers.

The Government's proposals led to claims that the system will be unworkable without more cash. There are also fears that governors are not the right people for the job.

Ms Morris said: "The new arrangements draw on extensive research and consultation, as well as building on existing good practice."

Brian Clegg of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers said: "The old system didn't work because it didn't have the resources. Now they're saying we're going to double the process and do it properly without an increase in expenditure."

David Hart of the National Association of Headteachers said: "The Government's proposed changes are in danger of falling on stony ground unless they recognise that appraisal must support the career and professional development needs of the profession. It must also be fully funded. The failure to fund the present scheme properly has led to it falling into disrepute."

At least one of the criteria for appraisal must now be linked to the achievement of school targets for pupil performance. Teachers will also be observed in the classroom as part of the system.

Although Ms Morris stopped short of linking pay with appraisal she suggested that heads and local authorities may want to take account of appraisal information and the achievement of these targets when deciding on pay.

Ms Morris said she believed that appraisal should identify teacher's professional development needs and these should be catered for by schools and LEAs.

The Office for Standards in Education found only 20 per cent of schools visited showed discernible improvements in teaching following appraisal - and then only minor ones.

The Teacher Training Agency and OFSTED had called for governors to be appraising headteachers. Now they will work with LEAs in considering heads' performance.

This proposal has raised anxieties among a number of local authorities who are not convinced that governors should appraise headteachers.

"There is a concern about the ability of governors to operate as appraisers, which is considered a skilled role, and I think there will be a degree of reluctance on the part of the head to open up to someone who they're supposed to be accountable to," said Derek Blackman, of Nottinghamshire's Appraisal Services.

The DFEE will be carrying out a wide-ranging consultation before the regulations are introduced in September 1999. Consortia of schools are also being invited to bid to develop an appraisal handbook which will reflect developments.

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