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Why compulsion failed in England

Compulsory appraisal south of the border has failed to live up to expectations since it was introduced in 1991, the Office for Standards in Education has concluded. The Pounds 50 million scheme has improved teaching in only a fifth of the 300 schools visited, according to a study published last April.

The report said that targets for teachers identified during appraisal should be more sharply focused on attainable improvements in classroom practice. "There is too little evidence that appraisal is contributing as much as it should to raising pupils' standards of achievement and to improving teachers' levels of performance," it stated.

An independent survey of 1,100 teachers and appraisers by Professor Ted Wragg of Exeter University found that only half of teachers said the review had made a difference to their teaching methods. However, 70 per cent felt they had derived some benefit.

Many teachers felt appraisers were inadequately trained and nearly a third were observed only once, instead of twice as Government guidelines require. The overwhelming majority of teachers saw the process as a means of professional development and opposed linking pay with appraisal.

"What came out of the findings is that people are most likely to change when there are good relationships and respect between appraiser and teacher, " Professor Wragg said. With more than six out of 10 teachers aged over 40, successful appraisals addressed deep-seated teaching habits, he added.

His report, published last May, advised that more time and money was needed, particularly to identify training and professional development needs.

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