Governors urged to scrutinise teachers' performance

Lesson in progress The government wants school governors to be more rigorous in their scrutiny of teacher performance

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School governors in England are being urged to keep a close eye on individual teachers' performance records.

In a response to a report by MPs the government said confidentiality should not override the need for governors to scrutinise teaching standards.

The response says governors have too often been denied access to performance data on grounds of confidentiality.

Graham Stuart, chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee said he welcomed the move.

"Otherwise you risk having the head as sole arbiter of performance within the school," said Mr Stuart.

The performance of each individual teacher is appraised each year by members of every school's senior management team.

Senior staff are themselves appraised by the head and the head is appraised by the governing body.

Rigorous scrutiny

School governing bodies are entitled to information about the outcome of appraisals so that they can scrutinise the performance of the school and its staff - but the amount of detail given to governors varies between schools.

In a report published in May the commons education committee said school governors should be encouraged to be rigorous in their scrutiny of performance management in schools.

The report, Great Teachers: Attracting, Training and Retaining the Best, recommended that the Department for Education "provide additional information to governing bodies following inspections, aiding them better to hold head teachers to account for performance management arrangements."

In its response the government said: "We understand that under the current performance management arrangements, governors have often been denied access to information about the performance of individual teachers, on grounds of confidentiality."

New appraisal regulations for schools in England are due to come into force in September.

The government has published a model appraisal policy for schools which states that while appraisal processes will be treated with confidentiality: "The desire for confidentiality does not override the need for the head teacher and governing body to quality-assure the operation and effectiveness of the appraisal system."

Christine Blower of the National Union of Teachers said: "Whilst acknowledging the oversight role which falls to governors, it would however be inappropriate for governors to receive the full details of every teacher's appraisal."

Gillian Allcroft of the National Governors' Association said governing bodies needed an overview of how staff were performing rather than details on individuals - but she told BBC News that in some schools appraisal reports to governors had lacked detail.

"There are cases where governors do not have all the information that they need. It's really important that governors have rigorous performance scrutiny."

However she said that too much detailed information to governors could undermine the purpose of appraisals which are meant to be an honest conversation about individual teachers' performance and development.

She said that in most schools an overview of the performance of the teaching body as a whole should be enough.

Mr Stuart said that strong scrutiny from governors was important, particularly in schools that were performing well overall.

"The governors' job is to ensure that the head is running a robust performance management system.

"It is said that some heads keep the information from governors that would enable them to scrutinise the head.

"If a school is overall above the performance benchmarks it is possible for low-performing teachers to remain unchallenged."

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