Performance Management in Education: Improving Practice


Jenny Reeves, Christine Forde, Jim O'Brien, Pauline Smith & Harry Tomlinson

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  • Series Information

    Published in Association with the British Educational Leadership and Management Association

    This series of books published for BELMAS aims to be directly relevant to the concerns and professional development needs of emergent leaders and experienced leaders in schools. The series editors are Professor Harry Tomlinson, and Dr Hugh Busher, School of Education, University of Leicester.

    Titles include:

    Performance Management in Education: Improving Practice (2002) By Jenny Reeves, Christine Forde, Jim O'Brien, Pauline Smith and Harry Tomlinson

    Strategic Management for School Development: Leading your schools improvement strategy (2002)

    By Brian Fidler

    Subject Leadership and School Improvement (2000)

    By Hugh Busher and Alma Harris with Christine Wise

    School Improvement After Inspection? School and LEA responses Edited by Peter Earley

    Living Headship: voices, values and vision (1999)

    Edited by Harry Tomlinson

    School Culture (1999)

    Edited by Jon Prosser

    Policy, Leadership and Professional Knowledge in Education (1998)

    Edited by Michael Strain, Bill Dennison, Janet Ousten and Valerie Hall

    Managing Continuous Professional Development in Schools (1997)

    Edited by Harry Tomlinson

    Choices for Self-managing schools: autonomy and accountability (1997)

    Edited by Brian Fidler


    View Copyright Page

    Series Editor's Preface

    This exciting and timely book explores the development and developing understandings of performance in England and Wales and Scotland. This use of two of the administrative units within the British Isles allows authors and readers to draw comparison between two different approaches to education – the Scottish system of education has been independent of that of England and Wales for many years. In doing so they raise a critical debate about central government and other authorities search for ‘best practice’ models that will somehow be able to fit all situations and locations, by pointing out that successful practice may take many forms depending on what values policy-makers privilege. They also importantly argue that performance management need not necessarily be linked to pay and point out how Scottish and English and Welsh policy diverge on this issue.

    Early in the book the authors acknowledge the differences of approach between managerial and professional perspectives on performance management. They make it clear that although they understand the values that have driven the introduction of managerialist perspectives of performance management to education, they consider that professional approaches allow for equal rigour of accountability and have the advantage of encouraging teachers to be personally professionally engaged with constantly monitoring their standards of work. In this testing regime of action learning they perceive mentors having a key role in supporting teachers and helping them review critically their working practices.

    The book focuses on what is essentially a modernist project, rather than a post modern or post structural one. The authors focus on the growth of social structures to promote professional development, pointing out how difficult it is for teachers to sustain personal development if there is insufficient formal and informal support for it. Helpfully, one chapter traces the development of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) provision in England and Wales and Scotland, setting an important policy context in which, and sometimes against which, teachers have struggled to improve the quality of their performance. It leads the authors into a discussion of the importance of competence-based or standards-based approaches to defining teacher performance. While they acknowledge that such approaches risk being narrow and behaviourist they indicate how they can be broadened to incorporate understandings of values and indicate that such approaches can bring greater coherence to planning and managing the improvement of teachers' performance. So do views that teachers can successfully and rigorously exercise control of their professional practices and development elide noiselessly into concern for the effective if subtle management or control of teachers through ‘soft’ human resources development, a system that, of course, stands in contradiction to professional autonomy.

    However, the modernist project of performance management is attenuated, as the authors acknowledge. They note the recent renewed interest in and sponsorship by the English and Welsh central government of teachers' engagement in research to explore good practice in schools, and argue that it is further emphasis on work-based learning that is the key to the full potential value of CPD for teachers. If the parameters against which to make judgements of what constitutes good practice for teachers, and senior and middle level leaders and managers in schools too, are now set by central government through its agencies, the processes of collecting evidence of practice rigorously through observation and other methods, giving feedback by observer to practitioner, and discussion of performance and how to improve it allows teachers of all qualities at a local level to re-assert professional control over their development. It is how practitioners make sense of their experiences and engage with professionally held and developed understandings of effective practice, including processes of change and the modifications in practice that they implement, that ultimately leads to sustained change, whatever intrinsic and extrinsic motivation spurs them to undertake professional development in the first place.

    As well as reviewing the key issues and concepts underpinning the tensions inherent in successful professional development, the authors also set out a clear programme for implementing effective performance management, while noting that the transplantation of practice from commercial sector businesses to public sector services is neither straightforward nor as easy to achieve successfully as is sometimes naively proclaimed. Nonetheless they argue the importance of trying to manage teacher professional development successfully to improve students' opportunities for learning. To achieve this, they suggest senior and middle leaders in schools need to foster a culture of learning, amongst staff as well as among students, and build teachers' capacity to carry out effective professional development. The professional development itself needs to focus actively and rigorously on the evaluation and improvement of practice. However, unless the social and organisational systems in schools and local authorities, and central government policy and funding also enable such approaches to performance management these will not be successful.

    So the book moves back and forth, as a successful book on education leadership and management should, between the macro external policy contexts and the micro internal organisational processes of leadership, management and practice and reflections on practice by individual practitioners, showing how these different levels of action and sense making by participants in the action are interconnected. The success of teacher professional development cannot be divorced from its organisational contexts, and the impact of performance management has to be understood in both its policy contexts and those of the individual practitioners' perceptions of it. Similarly the purposes of performance management through professional development have to be understood within two frameworks, that of control and accountability – ensuring that teachers and school leaders perform adequately to support effective and inclusive student learning, and that of adaptability – empowering school leaders and teachers to respond flexibly to changing situations and students' needs while maintaining successful approaches to effective learning.

    HughBusher, University of Leicester, School of Education.


    This book has grown from research and development work associated with the design and implementation of the Scottish Qualification for Headship (SQH). The development of this national professional qualification for those aspiring to headship in Scotland was funded by the SOEID (Scottish Office Education and Industry Department). Throughout the development of the qualification those involved have grappled with the issue of how to provide a programme of development that would enable those candidates pursuing it to acquire and demonstrate sound practice in school leadership and management.

    Within the current political climate that demands schools demonstrate continual improvement, there is an increasing emphasis on enhancing the quality of the work of teachers and school leaders. Resulting interventions to support performance management raise questions about what it means to be a teacher, a school manager, a professional and, ultimately, about the nature of schools themselves.

    The improvement of performance is a more complex and demanding process than some simplistic performance management models would suggest. Key to improvement is the developmental process, and staff development (CPD) is now seen as a major strategic tool in building the capability of staff to deliver a curriculum that supports the achievement of all pupils. However, what form this staff development should take is problematic. There is often a lack of clarity on the part of those who commission and provide professional development opportunities as to both the purposes and the processes of teacher learning. What this book seeks to explore is how CPD can have a positive impact on the performance of individual staff members within a school.

    We begin by considering the increasing political emphasis on performance management in the public services and outline the current policy position in the UK in relation to teachers, including performance-related and progression-related pay. In presenting these current initiatives, however, we take a critical stance. The major thrust of the book is to explore work-based learning as a pivotal component in any developmental initiative that seeks to improve performance. Our object is to conceptualise the process of work-based learning and to consider the implications this has for establishing and using these methodologies to support the development of practice in schools. We then use our own and others' experience of the implementation of the Scottish Qualification for Headship (SQH) to exemplify the preceding discussions.



    This book would not have been possible if it had not been for the work, energy and enthusiasm of all those involved in the pilot and launch of the SQH programme, particularly the candidates on the standard and accelerated routes, the local authority co-ordinators, tutors and field assessors. The many hours of debate and reflection that were part of the piloting process helped in shaping the ideas we have explored in this book.

    The authors would also like to thank SEED (Scottish Executive Education Department) for their support of the project and Viv Casteel, who shared the task of leading the project as national development officer.

    List of Contributors

    Jim O'Brien is Vice Dean of the Faculty of Education in the University of Edinburgh. He has been a teacher, lecturer in guidance and pastoral care, and director of In-Service with responsibility for teacher CPD. He has contributed to several national development programmes in Scotland including appraisal and review, the Scottish Qualification for Headship and currently the development of the Standard for Chartered Teacher. He has published in the fields of CPD, leadership and management and school improvement. A current focus is on multi-media CPD resources for teachers and he has co-authored a number of CDRoms including Dealing with Disruption (SEED, 2001); Issues in School Improvement (Hong Kong Department of Education, 2002); Raising the Standard: Study Support (Prince's Trust, 1999).

    Pauline Smith is a senior education adviser with the DfES, working in the Standards and Effectiveness Unit and Teachers' Professional Development division. She worked previously at the Crewe School of Education, Manchester Metropolitan University, where she was head of CPD, managing large-scale modular inservice programmes for teachers and lecturing in education management at postgraduate level. Pauline has also worked for the OU for the past ten years and is an experienced external examiner of English, Welsh and Scottish education management programmes, including the SQH. She has also worked as a LEA adviser, NPQH lead assessor, OFSTED inspector and performance management consultant developing a keen interest in the management of school-based training and assessment. Pauline has published in the fields of mentoring, CPD, leadership and management; recent publications include Living Headship with Tomlinson and Gunter.

    Harry Tomlinson is a professor at Leeds Metropolitan University where he was responsible for the MBA in Educational Leadership. He is Centre Manager for the Yorkshire and Humber Region for two major contracts, the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) for the National College for School Leadership (NCSL) and Performance Management for the DfES. He is also Project Director for one of the seven consortia delivering the Leadership Programme for Serving Headteachers (LPSH) for the NCSL. After 18 years in secondary headship his main interests are school leadership and school performance as evidenced in books Performance Related Pay in Education, The Search for Standards, Managing Continuing Professional Development in Schools, and with Helen Gunter and Pauline Smith ‘Living Headship: Voices, Values and Vision’.

    Christine Forde is Head of the Department of Educational Studies in the Faculty of Education at Glasgow University. She is the SQH Programme Co-ordinator within the faculty and was involved in the piloting of the SQH as an author and tutor. She has worked in teacher education for a number of years specialising initially in primary education and, more recently, in educational leadership and management and the continuing development of teachers. She has worked as a local authority adviser as a member of the Staff College team in Strathclyde Regional Council and as a primary teacher. Her recent publications have been concerned with the development of the Scottish Qualification for Headship and with the area of teacher education.

    Jenny Reeves is Director of Continuing Professional Development at the Institute of Education at the University of Stirling. From 1997 to 2000 she worked with Viv Casteel as National Development Officer for the Scottish Qualification for Headship. Prior to this she was involved in designing and delivering management development as a member of Staff College team for Strathclyde Regional Council. Her publications include a series of articles on the development and impact of the Scottish Qualification for Headship that focuses on work-based approaches to management development for aspiring headteachers and other work on headteacher development, including chapters in MacBeath, J. (ed.) (1998) Effective School Leadership: Responding to Change.

    List of Abbreviations

    CCSSCouncil of Chief State School Officers
    CERICentre for Educational Research and Innovation
    CPDcontinuing professional development
    CPREConsortium for Policy Research in Education
    CTChartered Teacher
    DfEEDepartment for Education and Employment
    EAZEducation Action Zone
    EICExcellence in Cities
    ERAEducation Reform Act 1988
    ETSEducational Testing Service
    GRIDSGuidelines for Review and Internal Development
    GTCGeneral Teaching Council
    HEIhigher education institute
    HRMhuman resources management
    ICTinformation communication technology
    IIEIndustry in Education
    ILEAInner London Education Authority
    INSETin-service education and training
    INTASCInterstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium
    IPDInstitute of Personnel and Development
    ISIPInternational School Improvement Project
    ITEinitial teacher education
    LEAlocal education authority
    LPSHLeadership Programme for Serving Headteachers
    NBPTSNational Board for Professional Teaching Standards
    NCITTNational Committee on the In-service Training of Teachers
    NCSLNational College for School Leadership
    NPQHNational Professional Qualification for Headship
    NQTnewly qualified teacher
    ODorganisational development
    OECDOrganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
    OfSTEDOffice for Standards in Education
    PRPperformance-related pay
    QTS Qualified Teacher Status
    SBPASchool-Based Performance Awards
    SEEDScottish Executive Education Department
    SHSStandard for Headship
    SMTsenior management team
    SOEIDScottish Office Education and Industry Department
    SQHScottish Qualification for Headship
    STRBSchool Teachers Review Body
    TEIteacher education institute
    TQMtotal quality management
    TTATeacher Training Agency
    WBLwork-based learning
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