Education Bill

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Mr. Willis: I beg to move amendment No. 516, in page 78, line 30, at the end insert

    'otherwise than a function relating to remuneration.'

The Chairman: With this we may take amendment No. 517, in page 78, line 34, leave out subsection (5) and insert—

    (5) A report of relevant matters arising from the results of an appraisal may, with the consent of the teacher to whom the appraisal relates, be used in determining a teacher's remuneration.'.

3.15 pm

Mr. Willis: These are two important probing amendments, which I shall treat separately.

I was a practising head teacher—well, I was a head teacher, what I practised is another matter--when the Education Act 1986 was passed. Section 49 of that Act dealt with appraisal. I know that the hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) was a member of a senior management team at that time—no, he was probably still at school then. Appraisal caused a great hullabaloo in the 1980s, and what transpired was a farce.

As a head teacher, I could choose my appraiser, who had to be a critical friend. A member of the local advisory staff came in, and I can recall that he was worried about his future. I virtually wrote my own appraisal, submitted it and—surprise, surprise—everyone agreed that I was doing a wonderful job. In reality I probably was not, though I am sure members of the Committee will find that impossible to visualise. I hope that this does not become another diary piece, but drawing from one's own experience is often the best way of illustrating an issue.

It is crucial for appraisal to lie at the heart of school improvement. Without quality appraisal it is impossible to move forward. The sad thing about the Government's introduction of performance management—particularly thresholds—was that it involved two different issues, which the amendment picks up on. One was appraisal; the other was performance-related pay. I believe that they are fundamentally different.

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Many of the world's top blue chip companies have abandoned performance-related pay in favour of a total quality management methodology, which is about achieving constant incremental improvement in performance. None of the teaching unions and no one I have met—apart from some people on the extremes—fail to understand that constant appraisal aimed at securing small improvements must be at the heart of what we are trying to achieve.

In some of our most demanding schools—sadly, the Government call them failing schools—the challenges are massive, so small incremental steps are often massive. We sometimes do not recognise how difficult it is to get the ship to move at all. One of the worries I have about the Bill is that the Government appear to believe that performance-related pay can be used as a lever to drive up standards. Perhaps the Minister will explain whether that is true. If that is their belief, they will fail.

If the Government want hard appraisal, Ofsted and audit facilities are part and parcel of school culture. Mike Tomlinson deserves enormous praise for turning round the attitude of Ofsted, and I wish the new chief inspector well. Teachers recognise that they are accountable for what they do in the classroom, and that they cannot close the door, declare the classroom their kingdom and forbid anyone entrance. I want to build on that.

We are in danger of losing the best elements of appraisal by linking it with performance-related pay. In the Minister's Department, I suspect the best work goes on when people admit that they are not achieving something and systems can be put in place to support them. My greatest difficulty as a head was getting staff to tell me when they were not coping and needed help. Good appraisal is about allowing that to happen. The problem with linking it to performance-related pay is that people are less likely to admit to deficiencies.

Through the amendments, I want to probe the Minister on what will happen to the appraisal documents. Clearly, the head teacher or line manager should be part of the appraisal system. At the moment, a governor can ask to see the appraisal documentation for any teacher in the school. That is not acceptable, and I want to hear the Government's view on that. If there were a post in a school as head of the maths department and a teacher from the school applied, the governors could ask at the interview for the appraisal documentation, whereas the person from 3Es that the hon. Member for Isle of Wight recommended would not have to reveal that information. That is grossly unfair. The Government have to determine who has access to the documentation and for what purpose.

Amendment No. 517 goes further. It would insert the provision:

    ''A report of relevant matters arising from the results of an appraisal may, with the consent of the teacher to whom the appraisal relates, be used in determining a teacher's remuneration.''

That would establish whether the appraisal document could be used as substantive evidence in determining whether a teacher should receive extra pay. One of my concerns about the clause is that teaching is not an individual activity. It depends enormously on the

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corporate activities in the school. One cannot divorce what happens to a group of young people from the actions of other teachers and other young people. I hope that the Minister will give us some reassurance, and will let us know the Government's thinking on performance management and how far the Government intend to go with performance-related pay.

Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell): I listened with interest to the comments made by the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough. Although I share many of his concerns about the somewhat clumsy way that the Government have introduced performance-related pay and some of the difficulties that have been created within schools, I do not think that these two amendments would enhance the legislation. In many ways, they would create complications for the workings of individual classrooms. I have to take issue with his comment about a number of major international organisations having moved away from performance-related pay. That may be true in individual cases, but it is certainly not the case that top commercial organisations have moved away from the principle of reward for excellent performance.

I shall explain why I am concerned about the two amendments, and I will take them in reverse order. Amendment No. 517 creates an almost impossible situation for a head teacher, and I am sure that that was not intended. The amendment states:

    ''A report of relevant matters arising from the results of an appraisal may, with the consent of the teacher to whom the appraisal relates, be used in determining a teacher's remuneration''

The literal meaning of the amendment would be that, had the hon. Gentleman, when he was a head teacher, carried out an appraisal on a teacher whom he decided was under-performing and should not be recommended for a salary advancement that year, that teacher's consent would have to be sought before that decision could be taken.

The amendment would create an impossible position for a head teacher who would have to take a decision for negative rather than positive performers. I appreciate that this would not be a problem in the reverse situation, where there was a proposal to enhance a teacher's salary, particularly for excellent performance. In instances where it might be necessary to say, ''You are not doing a good enough job, and I want to see more improvement before I am willing to see your salary rise.'' the this amendment would constrain the head teacher from taking that step.

Amendment No. 516 would insert the words:

    ''otherwise than a function related to remuneration''.

I can understand that in principle, but in reality, within a large school, there would inevitably be some delegation within the appraisal process. The delegation may go to the extremes that the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough described, but to legislate against delegation—the ability of a departmental head to ask his deputy to carry out the appraisal for a new member of staff—would have a negative effect on the workings of the school. Although I understand and agree that, in a

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good management environment, it might not be desirable to delegate an appraisal, there are occasions in every organisation—whether in education, the private sector or the public sector—when it is unavoidable. I would anxious legislating to prevent that.

Mr. Ivan Lewis: As the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough has said, there is a legitimate debate about the link between performance-related pay and appraisals. However, I am not sure that his contribution to the debate was consistent with the outcome and effect of his amendments. I shall discuss the general issue.

In my view, if we are to have a credible performance-related pay system that is transparent, and that people feel is fair—for those who do not accept that performance-related pay is a good thing, this is an entirely different debate—then surely there must be a reasonable and evidential base for decisions. In those circumstances, it would be ludicrous to divorce decisions about the level of pay linked to performance from a strategic, credible and school-wide approach to appraisal. Both processes must be carried out on a relatively consistent basis.

The hon. Gentleman referred to schools that have particular difficulties or are in difficult circumstances, and the performance of their teachers. We would all accept that, despite the fact that performance indicators such as exam results sometimes take time to improve in those schools, many of their teachers do an extremely good job daily. Some teachers will do a better job than others; that is the nature of any workplace. However, the hon. Gentleman implied that in those schools, it would not be recognised that teachers were offering a value-added service to their students and that there would not be the flexibility to recognise that through appraisal and, consequently, performance-related pay.

3.30 pm

That does not accurately reflect what happens. There are particularly difficult circumstances in those schools and teachers work extremely hard to raise standards to the level that we would expect. Under the appraisal and performance-related pay system, there is the flexibility to recognise the contributions of individual teachers in those settings.

Performance-related pay is one legitimate lever to raise standards in our schools generally and in individual schools, although it is not the only or the predominant one. As I understand it, there is a considerable amount of flexibility and discretion for head teachers in making decisions about individual teachers' performances. I think that two particular objectives are set: one relates to pupil performance and the other relates to professional development and commitment to personal development and training.

The hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough described his early experiences of performance management and said that it had been introduced in a cack-handed, amateur and

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unfortunate way, but the education system and other public services have moved on. There is a far greater understanding by professional leadership about how to put in place sensitively and professionally a performance-management framework that works, is seen to be fair, and recognises individual teachers' contributions.

Amendment No. 517 refers to

    ''the consent of the teacher''.

The hon. Gentleman talked about a critical friend coming into the school, how everything was very cosy and that the appraisal said that he was doing a brilliant job. If the arrangements were voluntary, it is difficult to imagine that most teachers who had not received a particularly good appraisal—[Interruption.] We must accept that during an appraisal, there are often significant differences of opinion. We all know that that applies to occasions on which head teachers or anyone in a leadership position has to make judgments about someone. At the end of the process, the individual concerned does not always entirely agree with the conclusion. However, as the hon. Gentleman often reminds us, we must respect the professionalism of teachers and head teachers. Head teachers are paid to be managers and leaders, which partly involves undertaking appraisals, putting in place a proper performance-management system and doing a variety of things that ultimately contribute towards raising standards in the school. Therefore, the two amendments cannot be accepted.

I do not see how we can run performance-related and appraisal systems without linking the two. It would undermine their credibility. The appraisal process is in some ways the only formal, strategic way in which a head teacher can use evidence, rather than a whim or other criteria, to make judgements about individuals. Having to go through the appraisal process requires certain disciplines, including objectivity, transparency and an understanding of how one will be judged and the process that will be used, so there is every justification and logic for linking it to performance-related pay. On that basis, I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the amendment.

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