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Teachers’ Performance Reviews – One Year On

3 Jan

I        Background and Context

The link between the performance management of headteachers and deputy headteachers in England and the salaries they receive has been in existence since 2000.   However, it was only in September 2013 that all teachers became the subjects of annual performance reviews linked to pay.  Performance reviews go by the name of appraisals in the business world. For the purpose of this article, I will stay with “performance reviews”.

Autumn 2014 saw the end of the first cycle.  During the term, governors formally reviewed how the system worked or didn’t.    The researchers are busily beavering away to assess the success of teachers’ performance linked with pay.  However, it would be apposite to make a few observations based on first-hand experiences and anecdotal evidence, and signal health warnings to improve the process for teachers, school managers and, most important, the children.

In the autumn of 2013, teachers were made aware of the fact that, for the first time, they would not receive increases if they simply performed satisfactorily – or, to use the Ofsted terminology – required improvement.   Previously, a salary increase was withheld only if a teacher was the subject of the capability procedure.

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What can governors do to address teacher workload?

3 Jan

Many governors are keen to create conducive working conditions that attract quality teachers into the profession and their schools to provide a first-class education for the pupils in it.  Conditions of employment that go towards achieving this noble objective include leadership that nurtures learning and creates a positive, happy atmosphere which motivates the workforce to take initiatives which, in turn, motives pupils to work well, make good (if not outstanding) progress and attain high standards  Central to this is securing a work-life balance for these teachers.

Accordingly, one of governors’ default responsibilities is securing the well-being of all staff, most especially teachers, albeit this duty is mainly exercised through the headteacher.   The problem is that there are a number of factors outside the control of governors such as constant legislative changes vis-à-vis the curriculum, testing and examinations, league tables and, of course, the pressures emanating from Ofsted, the watchdog.   These factors increase the stress levels for teachers.

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Proposal to establish Royal College of Teaching develops head of steam

3 Jan

The College of Teachers has been garnering support from the great and the good to establish a Royal College of Teaching.   In mid-December 2014, the Secretary of State, Nicky Morgan, announced that government funding could be made available to get the project off the ground. According to the College’s web-post, the Royal College will be founded on a revamped Royal Charter updated to reflect the needs of a modern fit-for-purpose chartered professional association.

In 2012, all three main political parties supported the Education Selection Committee’s recommendation to establish a College of Teaching which would enhance the profession’s standing in society.   Were such a college established and have the royal tag to it, the body would be charged with setting high standards of practice, require the members to follow a professional code of practice, act ethically and, (this will please Tristam Hunt, the Shadow Education Secretary) possibly require teachers to take a Hippocratic-style oath.   (At present, teachers are more inclined to vent their spleens with other oaths given the pressures placed on them.)

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The School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) publishes 24th report

25 Aug

The School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), the government quango which examines and reports on school teachers’ pay and conditions making recommendations to the Secretary of State, published its 24th report on 10 June 2014 recommending how the average 1% public sector pay uplift should be applied to teachers’ pay.

The STRB mentioned in its report that the increasing demand for school places would require more and more teachers. As the economy recovered, it saw the pay between teaching graduates and other graduates widening, which could discourage people from entering the profession.

The STRB noted that schools had been given more freedom when making pay decisions, recognised that the system was in transition and took this into account in its recommendations. Its key recommendations were as follows.

(i)            A 1% pay rise should be applied to the minimum and maximum of all the pay ranges and allowances in the national framework.

(ii)           For those teachers on individual pay ranges (leadership posts or leading practitioners) it will be for the school to decide how to take account of uplifts in accordance with the sums in the leadership scale.

(iii)          The Department for Education (DfE) should increase discretionary reference points [included in the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) 2013 to aid schools in the transition to performance-related pay progression] by 1% for the September 2014 pay decisions, but then remove them from the document.

(iv)         The DfE should make clear that all schools should revise their pay policies for 2014-15 and set locally determined arrangements for performance-related progression.

(v)          The DfE should clarify in its advice to schools the scope for the most able teachers to progress rapidly through the main and upper pay ranges where justified.

(vi)        In a statement issued on the same day, the former Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, indicated that, subject to consultation, he intended to accept the recommendations. This has now been done.

£7.4 million to set aside to develop future primary school leaders

25 Aug

On 6 June 2014, David Laws, Minister of State for schools, announced a scheme, Teaching Leaders Primary, to help develop primary school leaders of the future. The scheme, which is being run by the charity, Teaching Leaders, will recruit primary teachers already working in challenging schools with the potential to become outstanding leaders. They will go through a two-year training programme intended to develop their skills and help them get the most from pupils.

Altogether, 160,000 primary-aged children from disadvantaged backgrounds will benefit over the next four years. In its first year, the programme will be open to 1,200 primary teachers in London, Manchester and Birmingham, and in specific areas of need – like Hull, Norfolk and Blackpool.

David Laws said, “This funding will allow Teaching Leaders to expand their success with promising teachers in secondary schools to those at primary level. Now primary teachers with the potential to be outstanding heads will get the support they need to become the best school leaders of tomorrow.”

Schools were invited to apply to enlist outstanding middle leaders and applications closed on 19 June 2014.  The programme began in August 2014.   (See here for more information).

All of us remember inspirational teachers – or do we?

24 Apr

I           Why Teach?

It is rarely the case that young people and mature folk decide to become teachers because of the monetary rewards.  Most do so to create a positive impact on future generations of youths and leave a permanent legacy. This is what attract recruits to the Teach First programme.   Jane, in George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman, must have been talking with tongue-in-cheek when she told Bob, who lamented that he was discouraged by his writing teacher who told him his novel was hopeless: “Those who can do; those who can’t teach!”

While teachers are quite well remunerated in this country, the teaching profession, per se is poorly rewarded.    Teachers work long hours.  Their salaries are not in line with those in the financial sector.   A survey carried out by the DfE in 2013 revealed that, on average, a primary teacher worked for 59 hours and 20 minutes every week and the average secondary teacher for almost 56 hours.  The 13 weeks’ holiday a year for which they are pilloried is well-deserved.  Continue reading