Why schools do not remove under-performing teachers

From September 2012, schools will be given the powers to performance manage teaching staff more effectively and to remove poorly performing teachers in ‘about a term’ – according to the Department for Education website.

Currently, it can take up to a year to remove poorly performing teachers. But why does the process take so long?

The current process for performance management involves a number of key elements, time for additional observations, evidence gathering and a number of meetings with Union Representatives and members of the Local Authority. All of which have their input in to the outcomes. Then there is the issue some school face of absence due to work related stress. And finally, once all of the information is gathered, arranging a governing body meeting, all of which take time.

Schools can be concerned with litigation when looking at the capability of staff. Negative press or staff morale are factors to consider, as is the confrontation that can occur with unions.  It is easy to get lost in the mounds of paperwork that has to be completed. Relationships may have been built with long serving staff and therefore underperformance may have gone unrecognised or unmanaged.

But would this happen in business? Would an underperforming professional be allowed to underperform for up to a year, whist on top earnings and being responsible for our next generation? Having worked in business, I would say not.

Performance Management in business can be structured, with clear key performance indicators and monitoring tools and this reform does seem to bring performance management practises more in line with how business are run.

There are, of cause, great positives to performance management, if managed well. Some staff need feedback on their performance, an understanding of how to improve or praise for what they are doing well. Some people simply need to reignite their passion for their profession.

From a School Business Management point of view, it is important to understand how the changes in Teaching Performance Management will affect us –there is likely to be more paperwork!

My role as SBM has developed to such that I am inevitably involved in teacher performance somewhere down the line. Supporting the Senior Leadership Team and Governors in performance management of staff is not a new thing for SBMs. Understanding the new framework, the new human resources policies and procedures is vital to the successful introduction of this reform and SBM’s are well placed to provide support in the process.

Reforms are an opportunity for outcomes and expectations to be made clear again. Anything to help support the school, pupils and the teacher should surly be welcomed?

Please submit your comments below.

Grahame Colclough is a School Business Manager in a large Primary School in Stoke on Trent. Before working in schools, Grahame worked in Customer Service Management in Telecoms, HR for a large Manufacturing Company and in an Online Bingo Call Centre.

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