Another reason to strike on 28th March – Coming to a school near you from September – Michael Gove wants to put every teacher on Informal Capability – let’s tell him what we think next Weds outside the DFE – see below

Coming to your school in September – A Bullies’ Charter

In September the performance management and separate capability regulations that have been in place for a few years will be replaced by a new system of appraisal which joins them together. Now before you start thinking that appraisal sounds like something we used to do: professional/equal discussions about career progression/training etc. – this is not what the government is proposing.

They key changes are as follows:

a) Appraisal is proposed to be linked to capability – part A of the same document is Appraisal and part B is Capability – these areas have until now been rightly separated. Every appraisal interview (and there will be three a year will be linked to the threat of capability)
b) Under the guise of flexibility schools can potentially increase the number of performance management targets to an unlimited number
c) There can potentially be unlimited lesson observations of any length of duration – five minutes lesson observations anyone?
d) No informal capability stage is included and teachers (and headteachers) could go straight to Formal Capability where there are “concerns”
e) Teachers who have entered Formal Capability will have this reported to future employers – to avoid “recycling” weak teachers

What is the NUT view on this
a) This means that everyone is essentially in (informal) capability in September – having to prove themselves more than even now – every Appraisal is potentially a precursor to a capability discussion – with Formal Capability threats hanging over the process – therefore what teacher would admit to needing support/CPD/any weak areas?
b) Unlimited targets – Three for a class teacher/four for someone with responsibilities/five for headteachers seems fair in the NUT’s view
c) Unlimited observations – This already happens in some of our unhappiest schools, but is open to challenge as against the regulations. From September this could become the norm.
d/e) What could happen is that the appraisal interview and Formal Capability threats will trigger requests for resignations, since no-one would wish to fall into Formal Capability if this is to passed onto the next employer. This could also trigger many grievances from members.


What is the union doing?

Firstly we are all “the union” – officers and members together are the union and whilst branch and regional officials negotiate with the local authority members in schools will need to be vigilant in challenging schools that simply go with the government model policy – which is actually a model policy which can be adapted and not simply adopted in full.

Local/Regional officials are agreeing a model policy with LA – which we hope schools will agree, since they will need to re-consult if there is no agreement, in these meetings we are pushing our own policies (see foot of this article). Where schools decide to do something other than the locally agreed policy then they have to consult formally so we will be involved in this with the members in those schools. Where we are strong and the members up for it, in the face of intransigent management we will recommend action on a school level.

What you can do
*Hold a union meeting discuss these changes – get people united and find out what your school is planning. In schools where there has been/are lots of staff on capability – we anticipate that they will try and adopt the government model and not the locally agreed one – so they will need to consult and not impose Gove’s appraisal policy.
*We will send reps a copy of LA agreed policy – when agreed – you will need to monitor its compliance in schools where is has been adopted

Contrast:
Government model policy: http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/model%20policy%20january%202012%20pdf%20version.pdf
NUT policy: http://www.ntuc.org.uk/affiliates/NUT/workload/Lesson%20Observations%20Advice.pdf

Where we are strong and united we will win our policy or something that looks more like it than the government policy – so be strong and be united. Stand up against this together with fellow members in the school, backing up the school rep and our branch position on this or have this punitive government appraisal policy imposed on you

Michael Davern

Joint Secretary

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