Passion - that’s all it takes to teach, apparently

Janet Downs's picture
 35
There’s no need for proper training to become a teacher, implies Michael Gove and backed up by the head of a highly-selective independent school. All that’s needed is passion - charismatic tutors holding court in classrooms full of bright-eyed pupils eager to receive the flame of knowledge. So every day, lesson after lesson, week after week, term after term, children will be carried on waves of passion: passion in English; passion in Maths; passion in history, geography and RE; passion in French (“Oui, je t’aime…”); passion in Science (“Sir, Miss Bunsen-Burner has blown up the lab again!”); passion in sex education (perhaps not)…

Enough! Passion is a powerful tool but needs to be used sparingly or it loses its effect. Too much can be too intense. Too much leads to over-stimulation, exhaustion and teacher burn-out. And it’s hard to keep passion alive on a wet Friday afternoon at the end of term.

Yes, teachers should be inspirational but effective teaching is more than lighting the fire. It takes extended effort in pumping the bellows.

Passion alone is not enough. Teachers need a range of strategies to use when appropriate and that’s why teachers need proper training. Teaching isn’t just a craft which can be picked up by watching Miss Jean Brodie (a warning, if one is needed, of the dangers posed by a charismatic teacher).

Sixth-form college Maths teacher, Jonny Griffiths, writing in TES, tells the story of maths genius Srinivasa Ramanujan. His teaching of highly-gifted students was inspirational but those who struggled with maths and were meeting concepts for the first time found his improvisatory approach unsatisfactory. Griffiths calls this passion, “surprise” and concludes, “I do believe in surprise, but my responsibility as a teacher is to manage it a little.”

In Shakespeare’s Henry V, the young King inspires his followers with a passionate speech at the siege of Harfleur, “Cry God for Harry, England and St George!” Later, he makes a second speech before the Battle of Agincourt. The tone is sober, reflective: “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers, For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother”. Henry knew which strategy was required and when.

And so it is with teaching, as it is with nursing, in hospitals and general practice, in lawyers’ offices and in Court. Subject knowledge plus a thorough grounding in methodology plus judgement to decide which method is most appropriate – that is what parents and children have a right to expect. That's what is expected in Finland, a country whose teacher training Mr Gove says he admires.  Passion alone is not enough.

 
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Ricky-Tarr's picture
Sat, 04/08/2012 - 16:43

This post would be a welcome and necessary corrective if Michael Gove had ever said "all that’s needed is passion".

But Gove has never said that. Never implied it. Never said anything remotely like it.

Yet another Aunt Sally.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Sat, 04/08/2012 - 17:02

......ah, I see now where the 'passion' came from The Headmaster of Wellington mentioned it...... in passing..... as one of a list of traits:

What I do look at is whether someone has the human qualities to make a great teacher. They need energy, passion for their subjects and for teaching, a readiness to learn, an altruistic nature, integrity and intelligence.

Passion alone is not enough insists Janet.

Indeed, Mr Seldon agrees. You need energy, a readiness to learn, an altruistic nature, integrity, intelligence. All of which are much more valuable and important than a certificate showing you've done some training.

leonard james's picture
Sun, 05/08/2012 - 07:04

Perhaps we should apply your logic to other professions, say, medicine. Is training lesd important than being admired by Seldon here?

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 05/08/2012 - 07:59

Thanks, Leonard, for pointing out that the human qualities much admired by Seldon, important though they are, are insufficient. If this were true, then anyone who had these qualities could enter any profession they fancied. "I think I'd made a great surgeon/midwife/dentist/lawyer/judge/GP/vet because I've got passion, energy ...". Actually, if anyone suggested vets didn't need a certificate showing they'd done some training there would be an outcry from millions of British pet lovers - it's strange, then, that so many politicians, commentators and even people who are supposed to be responsible for children's education think that proper training shouldn't be compulsory.

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 05/08/2012 - 08:18

Leonard - The whole tone of the DfE press release (presumably endorsed by Gove) is that QTS isn't necessary and that there are "brilliant" but untrained people who can do the job just as well. This view is endorsed in the press release by untrained heads of highly-selective independent schools but these heads would say that wouldn't that? They wouldn't have even been employed in the state sector where higher standards apply.

Perhaps it's time to remind self-satisfied heads of independent schools that when socio-economic background is taken into account UK state schools outperform UK private ones by a wider margin than in any other OECD country (see OECD link below), that the Institute of Fiscal Studies (2011) found that a school's intake governs academic performance and, finally, Ofsted found that in Ofsted-inspected independent schools that "while teaching was at least good in two thirds of the schools, it was outstanding in only 7% – an indication that in these schools teaching is often well planned but seldom inspiring."

http://www.education.gov.uk/inthenews/inthenews/a00212396/academies-to-h...

http://www.oecd.org/pisa/46624007.pdf

http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2011/08/school-intake-governs-acad...

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/annualreport1011

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9033319/Ofsted-warns-...

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Sun, 05/08/2012 - 10:03

Leonard

I always smile at the extraordinary pretension of teaches comparing their work to that of neurosurgeons or airline pilots.

The fact is that any graduate with a 2.2 or better can get a teaching qualification if they are prepared to devote the time and money to getting it. The course itself imparts very little by way of specialist or esoteric knowledge and most of the valuable lessons of teacher training are learned on the job.

That immediately raises the question whether an unqualified teacher who has been teaching for four years, has been observed by their SLT and Ofsted, and has earned the confidence of their head is really any less practically or morally 'qualified' to teach than a newbie who's just done a PGT?

Fortunately, there is no existing pool of unqualified doctors at large. But there are many UQTs - not just in the independent sector, but on the staff of state-funded schools too - and some of them undoubtedly have more expertise and experience than many of those with QTS. They are however, very often exploited - kept on short contracts and sometimes lower pay because of the restrictive practices hitherto in force.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Sun, 05/08/2012 - 10:25

Janet

when socio-economic background is taken into account UK state schools outperform UK private ones

You often quote this, but only with reference to OECD documents that make this point as an assertion and never give chapter and verse as to precisely how socio-economic background has (or can be) 'taken into account'. What does it mean? Does it mean that the children of people who are rich enough to go private but who send their children to state schools (comedians, Guardian journalists, left-wing millionaires) get better exam results than many of their peers their peers at independent schools (children of Indian corner-shop proprietors, minicab drivers, right-wing millionaires)?
If so, does that tell us anything about the teaching in either state or independent sector? And does this effect manifest itself across the board..... or would it disappear entirely if selective grammar schools were taken out of the picture? I'd be prepared to bet that if those independent secondaries that are members of the Headmasters Conference were matched up against the top three hundred maintained comprehensives, no such effect would be evident.


the Institute of Fiscal Studies (2011) found that a school’s intake governs academic performance

Not entirely. The "school effect" is around 7% according to Dylan Winter, the intake accounts for 93%.

Of course, that's nothing to be pleased about. It means schools are having little effect. But we know that the quality of teaching does have an effect - again, according to Dylan Winter, the difference between being taught by the best and worst teachers is equivalent to two-years learning, then the lack of any great school effect means either that good and bad teachers are equally distributed (unlikely) or that teaching needs to improve (more likely).

howard's picture
Sun, 05/08/2012 - 12:46

"The course itself imparts very little by way of specialist or esoteric knowledge and most of the valuable lessons of teacher training are learned on the job."
Could you tell me on what basis you make this statement? Have you undertaken it yourself?

Leonard James's picture
Mon, 06/08/2012 - 11:32

Ricky,

"I always smile at the extraordinary pretension of teaches comparing their work to that of neurosurgeons or airline pilots."

Strawman. I am not comparing my work to a neurosurgeon or an airline pilot - my argument is that starting professionals (even those admired by Seldon) should be obliged to undertake some form of training. QTS is evidence of training.

"The fact is that any graduate with a 2.2 or better can get a teaching qualification if they are prepared to devote the time and money to getting it. The course itself imparts very little by way of specialist or esoteric knowledge and most of the valuable lessons of teacher training are learned on the job."

Strawman. I am not arguing about the quality of Post graduate courses. My argument is that prospective teachers should be obliged to get some training. QTS is evidence of training and you don't need to complete a teaching qualification in order to get it.

That immediately raises the question whether an unqualified teacher who has been teaching for four years, has been observed by their SLT and Ofsted, and has earned the confidence of their head is really any less practically or morally ‘qualified’ to teach than a newbie who’s just done a PGT?

This is special pleading. You are creating an exceptional situation in an attempt to prove that it isn't necessary for all teachers to be trained. Besides a newbie who has completed PGT doesn't have QTS although well run PGT courses provide valuable assistance in meeting the QTS standards.

"Fortunately, there is no existing pool of unqualified doctors at large. But there are many UQTs – not just in the independent sector, but on the staff of state-funded schools too – and some of them undoubtedly have more expertise and experience than many of those with QTS. They are however, very often exploited – kept on short contracts and sometimes lower pay because of the restrictive practices hitherto in force."

Slippery slope. You are assuming that by removing the obligation for academy heads to ensure their teachers are trained then these 'exploited' workers will get better terms and conditions. Academy heads already have considerable freedom over terms and conditions - why haven't they used these freedoms for the benefit of their non QTS workers already?

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Mon, 06/08/2012 - 12:01

Leonard

This is special pleading. You are creating an exceptional situation in an attempt to prove that it isn’t necessary for all teachers to be trained.

But the whole point of this new policy is to allow schools to cope with exceptional situations. No one is arguing that no teachers should be formally trained and qualified. Indeed, the DfE announcement explicitly said that the overwhelming majority of new teachers would continue to have QTS. The new policy allows for exceptions to be made where it makes sense for a school to hire an unqualified teacher so long as the school is satisfied that she/he is in some other way 'suitably qualified'. The norm will remain, but schools will have some discretion at the margin.

You appear to be arguing for an inflexible rule that makes no exceptions and no concessions either to natural justice or to common sense.

Ben Taylor's picture
Sun, 05/08/2012 - 21:38

Wasn't he making a point that passion is a rock to build great teaching practice on? It certainly is not sufficient on its own. Provided that a teacher has certain academic, social, character etc. traits which form part of being competent then passion is a super trait to make the whole performance work.

The cat out of the bag is that we have a sizeable body of teachers (not all) coasting in the profession. I have had it said to me by teachers that they have colleagues admitting that they are only in the profession for the long holidays and secure employment. Only anecdotal but I suspect quite a big problem.

It has some origin in the pseudo professional status of teaching where union membership, state employment and government inspection are seen as the same thing as being a proper profession with character and accountability.

agov's picture
Mon, 06/08/2012 - 06:41

"we have a sizeable body of teachers (not all) coasting in the profession"

You know that how, exactly?


"I have had it said to me by teachers that they have colleagues admitting that they are only in the profession for the long holidays and secure employment"


So what? Even if true, why does that affect their performance? And how would you know?


"union membership, state employment and government inspection are seen as the same thing as being a proper profession "


More homespun wisdom from the saloon bar down the Conservative Club?

Leonard James's picture
Mon, 06/08/2012 - 12:16

Ben,

"Wasn’t he making a point that passion is a rock to build great teaching practice on? It certainly is not sufficient on its own. Provided that a teacher has certain academic, social, character etc. traits which form part of being competent then passion is a super trait to make the whole performance work."

Why does a good CV and coming across well at interview remove the obligation for heads to ensure these individuals are trained to do the job?

"The cat out of the bag is that we have a sizeable body of teachers (not all) coasting in the profession. I have had it said to me by teachers that they have colleagues admitting that they are only in the profession for the long holidays and secure employment. Only anecdotal but I suspect quite a big problem."

You've acknowledged that this is anecdotal evidence yet used it anyway. There is also a false cause here - is it only coasting teachers who are motivated by holidays and secure employment? Would removing holidays and job security lead to a better workforce overall?

"It has some origin in the pseudo professional status of teaching where union membership, state employment and government inspection are seen as the same thing as being a proper profession with character and accountability."

Ah and now we have an appeal to purity where arguments for QTS are invalidated because teaching isn't actually a real profession.

Ben Taylor's picture
Mon, 06/08/2012 - 21:01

I put a condition on my suggestion, "Only anecdotal but I suspect quite a big problem".

Looking back I was lucky, had a majority of good teachers, many I remember who were passionate and obviously committed. I also had a few who probably should not have been doing it. Some of them just didn’t like children or had used up their emotional resources. I and they would have been better off with them doing something else.

As recently as a couple of years ago I saw a teacher looking forward to dumping a class of secondary school kinds in front of PCs for an hour to do their project. Some of them were really struggling to get on and the teacher was not helping. I looked in to that person’s soul and saw someone who was not really involved in their job, and could not muster the energy to perform even when it was a duty.

Other teachers see colleagues like this. It is better for both the child and the teacher who is in this state for the teacher to do something else.

Ben Taylor's picture
Mon, 06/08/2012 - 21:07

There is a very simple solution to all these problems. Let children and parents value the labour of their teachers. Start trusting the public. They can spot the people with heart, soul and competence. If they choose that they value a particular teacher's worth as zero stop making them use them. That is professional status and accountability.

agov's picture
Tue, 07/08/2012 - 07:57

"Let children and parents value the labour of their teachers."

Seems like most already do. Just a few ideologues who like to claim teachers are rubbish. Especially when they can see a chance to make some dosh.

"Start trusting the public."

But not on whether they want community schools; they just have to be made to have academies and 'free' schools.

"They can spot the people with heart, soul and competence."

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sadly it's not unknown for parents to value staff whose main talent is fawning to parents but spend most of the rest of their time doing as little as possible. Then the parents wonder why their little favourite stops being employed at the school.

"If they choose that they value a particular teacher’s worth as zero stop making them use them."

Absolutely, let's get rid of all the teachers producing excellent results just because a parent doesn't like them.

"That is professional status and accountability."

No, professional status comes from specialised knowledge and being judged competent by people who know what they are talking about.


"There is a very simple solution to all these problems."


What problems?

Leonard James's picture
Wed, 08/08/2012 - 12:20

Ben you appear to have introduced a new line of argument instead of addressing concerns about the validity of your earlier one.

Leonard James's picture
Wed, 08/08/2012 - 12:34

Ben

You seem to understand the problems with anecdotal evidence yet persist in using it anyway - perhaps you can find something a bit more valid to back up your claims? I'm also rather uncomfortable with the idea of people looking 'into an individuals soul' to see whether they are doing a good job - this method seems extremely unreliable and worryingly lends itself to special pleading on the part of the observer.

In my opinion one of the most useful conversations that educational heirachy can have with teachers revolves around workload. For most teachers there simply isn't time to do everything that is asked of them to a decent standard - analysing the system that teachers work in and fixing that system seems a far more equitable way forward than looking into souls and stigmatising teachers for enjoying the genuine benefits of the work.

Ben Taylor's picture
Wed, 08/08/2012 - 22:01

I think Gove has tried to do that. He has made teachers and the school the building block. All the layers above that which use authority and power are often just overhead and free riders.

I am not against professionals. I wish teachers were more professional. They are missing the bit where they get the consent of their clients. I don't care how good anyone is at what they do, they still need their punter to want to buy.

They should as a body be picking their battles with the government, but corporately they keep making the wrong choices. I hardly hear anything from the unions about protecting their members from children physically attacking them, even raping them and lying about them to the extent of driving people to suicide, then I have to listen to drivel about privatisation of schools from megabucks union leaders who are essentially themselves private enforcers. A closed shop and a state cartel paid from a system of extortion, where the poor get the worst of it.

Yes a lot of passion for all the wrong ideas, instead of making employment really secure by being good at what you do and so attracting your users, rather than misusing authority.

Leonard James's picture
Mon, 06/08/2012 - 13:01

Ricky,

"The norm will remain, but schools will have some discretion at the margin."

This is a slippery slope. Given your claim that non QTS workers are already being 'exploited' in some state schools why should we assume that the removal of a schools obligations will not lead to, say, more exploitation of staff?

"You appear to be arguing for an inflexible rule that makes no exceptions and no concessions either to natural justice or to common sense."

This is an ambiguous representation of my argument. We had a set of national standards for teachers and we should be inflexible in our requirement that all teachers work towards demonstrating these standards - QTS is evidence of such endeavour. We were flexible in that there are several ways (including on the job training) in which prospective teachers can work towards QTS and I have no problem with this. Now if your 'exceptional' candidates are that amazing then they should have no problem, like many supposedly less worthy NQTs, in demonstrating the standards during their first year in the classroom.

Andy's picture
Thu, 09/08/2012 - 15:28

From my perspective QTS is at best a filter that has an inconsistent track record. I believe it is necessary but is need of a much needed increase in rigour and creditbility. This needs to be backed up an equally robust NQT year and thence effective year on year targeted performance objectives focused on student/class results and teaching and learning, with a third on personal professional development.

Even if the unqualified teacher status persists then the first year in role and performance management are even more essential (never optional).

The fee-paying sector may do as they wish but the state sector must, must, must be thoroughly professional and highly effective.

Leonard James's picture
Thu, 09/08/2012 - 19:03

I agree with most of this except the bit about 'targeted performance objectives' which I feel encourages managers to behave like Ofsted inspectors instead of actually managing.

Leonard James's picture
Thu, 09/08/2012 - 18:58

Ben

"I think Gove has tried to do that. He has made teachers and the school the building block."

I presume you must know something I don't here. I can't recall any reporting of Gove actually engaging with classroom teachers, he only seems to listen to SLT or people who don't actually work in a school. That Gove considers Micheal 'my staff work sixteen hour days' Wilshaw a hero suggests a lack of understanding or apathy towards teacher workload.

Rather than address the issues raised in the debate so far you seem to have used the rest of the post to introduce yet another reason why teaching is not a profession and to throw more dirt at the unions.

Ben Taylor's picture
Thu, 09/08/2012 - 21:34

I don't look forward to an unprofessional teaching body. I would suggest unqualified teachers are a potential resource that decent schools can use to add new teachers. There are aleady many professions where it is possible to start in "pre professional" mode and progress to professional status whilst doing the job under supervision of professionals. It has already happened with programs like SCITT.

No serious school is going to be able to employ a large percentage of unqualified teachers, especially when children and parents are free to not use that school.

It's only because of the authoritarian mindset of silos of allocated children that this is seen as a problem.

Gove has enaged with teachers. Look what happens to them when they do viz Birbalsingh. The goons are wheeled out.

Leonard James's picture
Fri, 10/08/2012 - 06:17

"I don’t look forward to an unprofessional teaching body."

Earlier on you were saying that teaching is merely quasi professional. Are you retracting that argument?

"I would suggest unqualified teachers are a potential resource that decent schools can use to add new teachers. There are aleady many professions where it is possible to start in “pre professional” mode and progress to professional status whilst doing the job under supervision of professionals. It has already happened with programs like SCITT."

This is a strawman. No one is arguing that prospective teachers shouldn't be allowed to train on the job. The argument surrounds QTS and the removal of academy heads obligations to ensure prospective teachers work towards it.

"No serious school is going to be able to employ a large percentage of unqualified teachers, especially when children and parents are free to not use that school."

It is academy heads that now get to decide whether a prospective teacher is suitably qualified or not. I think much depends on how well informed parents are and what the whole package on offer is like. For some parents a free uniform or laptop is more important than the professional status of the staff.

"It’s only because of the authoritarian mindset of silos of allocated children that this is seen as a problem."

If one accepts the slippery slope argument that removing the obligation for state school teachers to obtain QTS will lead to a few experts and experienced independents teaching in state schools rather than an assault on pay and conditions and jobs for the boys then this ad hominem might be justified.

"Gove has enaged with teachers."

When?

agov's picture
Fri, 10/08/2012 - 10:18

"I would suggest unqualified teachers are a potential resource that decent schools can use to add new teachers."

As they do. As I believe has been explained to you several times.


"No serious school is going to be able to employ a large percentage of unqualified teachers, especially when children and parents are free to not use that school."

Like now, you mean.


"Gove has enaged with teachers."

But only a teeny number of weidos and buffoons.

"Look what happens to them when they do viz Birbalsingh"

What was that? She chose to leave the job she had only recently been appointed to to try her luck elsewhere. Did it not work out for her? Should taxpayers 'compensate' her?

"The goons are wheeled out."

You referring to people who have no idea of what they are talking about? So just make up claims and slurs as they go along?


Where are you now with your claims? What were they again?

Andy's picture
Thu, 09/08/2012 - 19:20

Leonard, Its not just about managing people amongst other things its about leading, managing, focusing and honing colleagues to ensure accountability, sustainability/improvement and development. Performance objectives are discussed, negotiated and agreed as opposed to arbitrarily imposed. Hence they should targeted in terms of tailored to the strengths and ongoing development of colleagues, which also means that the learning profile of each student and class group is taken into account when agreeing attainment targets.

This, I would suggest, is in no way, the same as Ofsted scrutinisng and assessing based on student progress and attainment (e.g. public exams and Jesson progression graphs)..

Leonard James's picture
Fri, 10/08/2012 - 06:31

It doesn't matter how you spin target culture I'm never going to agree with it for the reasons outlined in this excellent article.

http://www.thesystemsthinkingreview.co.uk/index.php?pg=18&utwkstoryid=187

Andy's picture
Fri, 10/08/2012 - 08:07

Leonard, please don't resort to unnecessary slurs in the form of accusing me of "spin". There will always be a need for performance management and review of employees within the overall leadership and management of schools (and organisations generally, whether in the public or private sectors).

Having had a quick look at the link you provided it seems to me that what it being proposed here is an alternative mentodology for the systematic organisation and management of an whole organisation, which is somewhat different and much larger in scope than performance management and review of employees - although I've no doubt that if I had the time to wade through all of it this would crop up somewhere.

Leonard James's picture
Sat, 11/08/2012 - 12:27

Andy,

"Leonard, please don’t resort to unnecessary slurs in the form of accusing me of “spin”."

But your response portrayed SLT as having a nicer approach towards targets than Ofsted instead of addressing the issue of whether targets work. Managers using targets to PM teachers is wrong no matter how reasonably the process is portrayed - spin is all about the provision of a positive or negative interpretation of something in order to influence opinion.

"There will always be a need for performance management and review of employees within the overall leadership and management of schools (and organisations generally, whether in the public or private sectors)."

This addresses a strawman argument. My issue is with 'year on year targeted performance objectives focused on student/class results and teaching and learning' not performance management.

"Having had a quick look at the link you provided it seems to me that what it being proposed here is an alternative mentodology for the systematic organisation and management of an whole organisation, which is somewhat different and much larger in scope than performance management and review of employees – although I’ve no doubt that if I had the time to wade through all of it this would crop up somewhere."

The 'systems perspective of performance' section describes the negative impact of setting targets for individuals as well as teams etc.

Andy's picture
Sat, 11/08/2012 - 13:42

Leonard, irrespective of your attraction to the Vanguard approach this does excuse your perchant for using slurs.

I have read the performance section and have to say that the system of which you are clearly so enamoured does not lend itself to a direct read across from the customer related workplace - private or public - to schools. I suggest this because companies and public sector organisations have a clear cut set of distinctions/descriptors to differentiate between the employee, customer and mission, service/product outcomes. Whereas in schools the customer is the pupil/student and the service/product outcomes are primarily measured through the lens of achievement in public examinations/qualifications. Thus there is a direct relationship between an indivudual student's and classgroups results and their teachers.

"There can be few things that provoke more emotive responses in public sector workers than the subject of targets. Centrally imposed targets ..." Performance management objectives in schools are not centrally imposed but negotiated between colleague and line manager.

"Perhaps what this brings us back to is the fact that if leaders want to be effective, they must be able to accept that the command and control paradigm never really delivered. It means that leaders and their services were always dislocated from the work, and only ever connected by an illusion of control." This is simply not the case in schools. What it is closer to is the setting of targets by central government i.e. floor targets that have no connection with the specific to student ability/potential/predictions. The former means government is making schools jump through artificial hoops bu the latter is personal to each student (the customer) and leads to variable year on year school outcomes based on each years cohort.

"Does this mean that using the correct measures, and then using a target would lead to a better outcome? Well no. It is because all targets (and standards, etc) are arbitrary. They are a figure plucked-out of the air. Even workers setting themselves targets do not know the true potential for improvement in a system." This quote demonstrates just how a one-size-fits-all Vanguard read across jars with the school scenario. Student and classgroup targets are not arbitrary, they can be derived from any number of evidence based prior outcomes e.g. SATS, CATS, FFT, Jesson. Thus sitting down with a colleague and negotiating a target based on the latter is realistic but is also framed within the knowledge that student performance can be affected by many factors beyond the control of teachers/schools and these must be factored in when assessing performance at the end the year. By the same token some student exceed predictions and the reasons for this can also be manifold (including good/excellent teaching).

I trust that you can recognise that the prevailing performance management in schools is flexible and tailored to support the achievement of students, contributions to the wider school community (e.g. within departments, faculty, extra curricular), continuing professional development (e.g. subject knowledge/expertise, teaching and learning, subject/departmental leadership). The breadth covered by performance objectives negotiated between the colleague and line manager (not dictated to by the SLT) is sufficient to support sustained performance in the classroom set against results and known specific to student issues, ensure continuing professional development, and draw colleagues into the wider activities of the school community.

What is good in the NHS, Local Authorities and Charities etc is not always good for everyone. What Vanguard rightly identifies is that arbitrary external targets are all too often destructive. For schools this is pertinent to centrally set floor targets as opposed to internally negotiated objectives. If performance management and obective setting is to be effective it has to be flexible and diverse in its approaches.

Your correlation between Ofsted and internal school Performance Management simply doesn't stand up to scrutiny. They are not like for like activities. The latter focuses on accountability for student learning alongside developing professional abilities/skills and contributing to the wider school. Ofsted is somewhat narrower than that.

Leonard James's picture
Sat, 11/08/2012 - 16:23

Andy,

"Leonard, irrespective of your attraction to the Vanguard approach this does excuse your perchant for using slurs."

Unfortunately the identification of poor reasoning does involve disparagement. It also has nothing to do with my attraction to the Vanguard approach - I've no idea why you even mentioned that here aside from ad hominem.

"Performance management objectives in schools are not centrally imposed but negotiated between colleague and line manager."

You still keep persisting with this idea that a target that is negotiated is some how a better target - is it not obvious that the better negotiator will get a target that is advantageous to them - in other words the bar will be set below or above what the students can actually achieve.

"Thus there is a direct relationship between an indivudual student’s and classgroups results and their teachers."

There is a direct relationship between an individual student's and classgroups results and many other things as well. Given a lot of these things are beyond the teachers control it seems utter folly to set them are target for it.

"This is simply not the case in schools. What it is closer to is the setting of targets by central government i.e. floor targets that have no connection with the specific to student ability/potential/predictions. The former means government is making schools jump through artificial hoops bu the latter is personal to each student (the customer) and leads to variable year on year school outcomes based on each years cohort."

The assumption here is that only the educational establishment are disconnected from a schools work - a school manager who doesn't teach and spends longer in their office than the rest of the school is disconnected from the work.

"This quote demonstrates just how a one-size-fits-all Vanguard read across jars with the school scenario. Student and classgroup targets are not arbitrary, they can be derived from any number of evidence based prior outcomes e.g. SATS, CATS, FFT, Jesson. Thus sitting down with a colleague and negotiating a target based on the latter is realistic but is also framed within the knowledge that student performance can be affected by many factors beyond the control of teachers/schools and these must be factored in when assessing performance at the end the year. By the same token some student exceed predictions and the reasons for this can also be manifold (including good/excellent teaching)."

If you've got so many variables that you have to start factoring them in retrospectively then thinking that you have a 'realistic' target kind of illustrates the whole pointlessness of setting the target in the first place.

"I trust that you can recognise that the prevailing performance management in schools is flexible and tailored to support the achievement of students, contributions to the wider school community (e.g. within departments, faculty, extra curricular), continuing professional development (e.g. subject knowledge/expertise, teaching and learning, subject/departmental leadership). The breadth covered by performance objectives negotiated between the colleague and line manager (not dictated to by the SLT) is sufficient to support sustained performance in the classroom set against results and known specific to student issues, ensure continuing professional development, and draw colleagues into the wider activities of the school community."

I've already mentioned that my issue with ‘year on year targeted performance objectives focused on student/class results and teaching and learning’ not performance management. I've no idea why you are persisting to argue against a strawman.

"What is good in the NHS, Local Authorities and Charities etc is not always good for everyone."

Strawman. No one is arguing that this is the case.

"What Vanguard rightly identifies is that arbitrary external targets are all too often destructive. For schools this is pertinent to centrally set floor targets as opposed to internally negotiated objectives."

Again you seem to be persisting with the idea that a negotiated target is somehow a better target having already demonstrated that, in this case, it isn't.

"Your correlation between Ofsted and internal school Performance Management simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. They are not like for like activities. The latter focuses on accountability for student learning alongside developing professional abilities/skills and contributing to the wider school. Ofsted is somewhat narrower than that."

Strawman - I am not saying that all managers who conduct performance management behave like Ofsted. My argument is that the use of targets encourages said behaviour i.e. inspection and compliance instead of the good practice described by Vanguard;

"Ignore Targets and Change the System

Systems thinkers reject targets outright. All work is based upon knowledge and experimentation. Decisions about how the work should be done are placed back into the hands of the workers. The job of a manager becomes to remove the things that stand in the way of workers doing a good job. Doing the right thing is delivering what matters most to customers. Perfection is beyond the capability of the system, but progress towards it continues to be an aim, ensuring continual experimentation and improvement. Leaders spend time in the work, understanding the measures being used and gaining knowledge about how the system works. Vanguard argues that the true purpose of measures is to learn and improve. And targets don’t help learning."

Andy's picture
Sat, 11/08/2012 - 16:43

Leonard, you are clearly so intoxicated by the Vanguard system that you patently ignore the reasoned debate I've placed in front of you regarding the one-size-fits-all attitude reflected in your position. I agree that central targets from the government in the form of floor targets but you trun on this an criticize my agreement, which in turn means you are attacking the Vanguard system - puzzling to say the least.

You set up the strawman argument re school-based performance management and Ofsted inspections and when I highlight the serious and obvious flaws in your argument you turn the strawman argument on to me - more puzzlement at your thought processes.

Thereafter you throw up a wall of pure obfuscation and irrational flak to avoid the issues that my comments raise, which leads me to the position that your understanding of school leadsership and management and the crucial element of performance management is woefully misplaced and possibly bordering on non-existent.

For me this discussion is therefore a Norwegian Blue ...

Leonard James's picture
Sat, 11/08/2012 - 18:09

Andy,

"Leonard, you are clearly so intoxicated by the Vanguard system that you patently ignore the reasoned debate I’ve placed in front of you regarding the one-size-fits-all attitude reflected in your position."

I love it when people boast about their own debating prowess while committing a logical fallacy at the same time.

"I agree that central targets from the government in the form of floor targets but you trun on this an criticize my agreement, which in turn means you are attacking the Vanguard system – puzzling to say the least."

You have been making a distinction between PM targets and central targets from government. I think I've been quite clear in my objection to both and since Vanguard reject targets outright it isn't clear to me why you think I'm attacking them.

"You set up the strawman argument re school-based performance management and Ofsted inspections"

I said: "I agree with most of this except the bit about ‘targeted performance objectives’ which I feel encourages managers to behave like Ofsted inspectors instead of actually managing."

Can you not see that the 'bit about targeted performance objectives' does not mean 'school-based performance management'?

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 12/08/2012 - 07:59

TESpro editorial (10 August, not available online) discusses blaming teachers for their pupils' bad behaviour because their lessons were insufficiently "engaging" (ie they weren't demonstrating enough passion). He argues that there is a balance between "engagement" and "authoritarianism": teachers are not entertainers BUT neither can they ignore the fact that if pupils enjoy a lesson then they're more likely to remember it.

TESpro's editor, Michael Shaw, ends by saying that schools that have managed to keep the disengaged in schools (something that wouldn't concern the heads of independent schools) have used "strict monitoring systems to track pupils at risk of dropping out" while at the same time considering how to make the curriculum more appealing.

Ofsted found that when schools were successful they employed a range of strategies (see link below) - being "brilliant" is insufficient.

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