Performance pay pitfalls ahead, warns Woodhead

10 Feb 00
Chris Woodhead, the chief inspector for schools, has warned that performance-related pay will have little real impact on teachers' earnings, because one in ten head teachers are incapable of appraising staff performance.

11 February 2000

At the launch of Ofsted's annual report on February 8, Woodhead warned that a 'great deal of work' was still needed before performance-related pay could be effective.

The controversial scheme to reward high-flying teachers with an extra £2,000 a year is due to begin in September.

But, in what is being seen as a shot across the bows of the government, Woodhead warned that one in ten primary school head teachers and one in 12 secondary heads were too 'weak' and too 'preoccupied' to manage teachers' performance.

'It is rare for appraisal to be linked to the monitoring of a teachers' classroom performance,' Woodhead said. 'Worse, in many schools, appraisal of any kind has stalled.'

Head teachers' groups reacted with fury to Woodhead's comments, saying that poor funding has prevented them from appraising staff.

'Chris Woodhead is totally and utterly incorrect,' David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said. 'With time and adequate training, head teachers will manage the scheme adequately.'

But he did concede that the time scale for the scheme was 'too tight' and expected a 'great deal' from teachers.

Woodhead also launched a thinly veiled threat to local education authorities by calling for a review of school funding.

He said that there was far too much disparity between establishments, with some secondary schools reporting an income of £1,900 per pupil, compared with £3,000 in others.

'We do not have a transparent mechanism for the equitable devolution of resources to schools,' he said.

Woodhead's comments were immediately interpreted as a move towards stripping LEAs of funding control, and appear timed to coincide with the government's review of finance.

'Chris Woodhead is attempting to push the funding debate further,' Mike Grealy, deputy director of finance at the Local Government Association, said.

'Central funding would not be a panacea and despite Chris Woodhead's enthusiasm I don't think the government will support such a move.'

Although the chief inspector was critical of both head teachers and LEAs, Woodhead reported an improvement in teaching standards during 1998/99.

Primary schools in particular had progressed, with national literacy and numeracy strategies beginning to have an impact.

Secondary schools showed less improvement, with more than 6% of pupils leaving without any qualifications.


Did you enjoy this article?