Union fearful of governor power

22nd October 1999 at 01:00
MOVES TO extend governors' role in assessing headteachers' performance will make running schools even less attractive than at present, Britain's biggest classroom union has warned.

Under ministers' drive to link pay with performance, governing bodies must agree targets with heads. But from now on if there is no agreement they can impose them. Heads will not get additional pay increments unless they are assessed by their governors against these objectives.

The National Union of Teachers says this is a dangerous extension of governors' power. "This will shift the role of governors from laying down policy into the actual management of schools," said general secretary Doug McAvoy. "To move further down the road of undermining the status of headteachers in this way will further damage the prospects of their recruitment."

New figures published by the National Association of Head Teachers show that schools are still struggling to find new heads and have to re-advertise a fifth of all vacant posts.

Headteachers' associations are already advising members to seek advice if targets are imposed on them. "It is our view that (this power) should only be used in the most extreme of circumstances and should be subject to appeal.

"We are concerned that (governing) bodies may seek to impose objectives without first having made appropriate efforts to reach agreement. We stress that we do not expect (governing) bodies to impose objectives," says the NAHT.

However Pat Petch, chairwoman of the National Governors' Council, played down the potential for conflict. She believes that an agreement on performance objectives should be possible in most cases, as many schools are already involved in performance management.

There are also concerns that heads who hit their targets may still miss out on pay rises because of budgetary constraints within their individual schools.

"If the money is not in the budget, you are in the situation where for most schools it's extremely difficult to cut back on anything except staffing," said Mrs Petch.

Reviewing performance and pay of heads and deputy heads: guidance for governors, (reference GGHP), is available free from DFEE publications by telephoning 0845 6022260, email dfee@prologistics.co.uk, or on the DFEE website at www.dfee.gov.ukexcellheads

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