New Capability Procedures For Teachers Starting 1st Sept 2012

Everybody knows there are new capability procedures coming into force from 1st Sept 2012, and that they are designed to give headteachers more freedom to come down on teachers harder and faster.

This is a prime example of the completely unfounded fear that there are hundreds of completely incapable teachers doing a rubbish job and getting away with it because headteachers’ hands are tied. It’s reached the point of actually forming new legislation now.

Here’s a bulleted list of the main changes, which can be read about in more detail via the links at the bottom of this post:
  • The ‘3 hour’ observation rule has been scrapped. You can now be observed for as long as your SMT want to observe you during the course of the academic year.
  • There is now no informal capability stage: there is just an annual appraisal cycle, followed by capability.
  • New employers will know if you've been put on capability previously.
  • Schools are free to design their own policy completely, there are merely ‘recommendations’ that don’t have to be followed.
  • One of these recommendations is that the review time is between 4-10 weeks, not 20 weeks as recommended previously.
  • NQTs should still not be subject to this procedure, they have their own separate assessment procedure, as should be the case now
Of course, this is bad news. SMT are now more free to take an instant dislike to you and threaten you with a quickie capability and dismissal. This new legislation is much more open to manipulation and is easier to use as part of a bullying campaign.

I have several concerns about what is coming over the next academic year in relation to these updates:
  • You can be observed to death, if that’s what SMT want. Repeatedly measuring something has no effect on the quality of what you are measuring, and repeatedly criticising something in the same way does not count as support. The stress and pressure of excessive observations, that are based on tacit opinion only and are open to manipulation of their results is a form of bullying.
  • Just being put on capability, even if it is dismissed as being groundless, is a way of marking your card forever because all future employers will know about it. There are already underhand off the record ways of finding this information out, and many teachers complain of having their card marked already, but it is now a formal requirement. A head who has it in for you now has the absolute power to not just take away your job, but your whole career.
  • You can be out the door in 4 weeks. The suggestion is that there needs to be a reasonable amount of time to improve, but who decides what’s reasonable? It’s the head, who is free to use an unreasonably short amount of time to improve as a form of bullying. Your career could literally be over forever in less than a month.
  • There is even more scope and freedom for SMT to partake in practices that we all know happen too often already, because they are designing the process themselves: manipulation of appraisals, manufacturing of evidence and being unreasonable yet insisting it’s reasonable.
  • Some NQTs end up on capability now, even though they’re not supposed to be. I was. This will continue, and if the school is designing the process themselves, can all be made to be above board. You could theoretically have a career that lasts 4 weeks now.
  • The suggestion is that you can still go through capability while on long term sickness, so that teachers with mental health issues can still have the boot stuck in while they are at their lowest ebb. I don’t want to think about the implications of this on suicide.

What are your concerns about the capability procedures in the new academic year? Are you anxious about being treated like a criminal and finding yourself without a career? What are your school planning for their new self-designed appraisal policy? Please comment below or email me with your thoughts.


Anonymous said...

This is why I have left the state education sector in less than a year after achieving my PGCE, and I wasn't even trained in teaching in secondary only in post 16 sector.

The micro-management culture is, in the long run, counter productive. Or, as I found in the post-16 sector, its non-existent except when they perceive you not following the rules. Instead of any of the above, you just get given sessional work instead (zero hours contract!).

Wouldn't it be nice if the same effort was put into ensuring that pupils and students behaved? If they misbehave in school or college at present, they have every single chance given to them and more. There are never any unpleasant consequences for them.

The Edudicator said...

Thanks for reading and commenting!

That's one I don't hear of very often, getting a zero hours contract and the amount of hours you end up getting being based on how in favour you are with management. Thanks for the insight!

I often wonder what management are really trying to achieve by making the working conditions so poor. The only real reasons I have found is that they perceive it to be a way of reducing costs, but I think it's more likely that they are just natural bullies and there is nothing in place to stop them.

Raymond Terrific said...

This is awful. How have teachers let this happen? I got out of full-time secondary teaching after becoming totally disillusioned with so many things - the ineffectiveness and complete supplication of teachers as a body was just one of them. Absolutely spineless. The lack of professionalism in allowing this sort of thing is bewildering, and frankly any teachers who allow it in their schools, deserve it.

The Edudicator said...

I agree with you that teachers need to stand up to this more. I think there are too many teachers who are siding with schemes like this in order to look good and to gain favour, but the reality is that they're not untouchable. I'm working on a campaign to unite teachers in action that will hopefully make more of a difference.

Anonymous said...

I am very worried that the new capability procedures are likely to be abused by unscrupulous senior managers to bully staff they don't like out of their jobs. There's currently a petition which I'm hoping as many people as possible will sign to make it clear that bullying of adults by other adults in schools is not acceptable.

The Edudicator said...

Yes I've clearly shown how this can be used to bully, and I've already linked to and signed your petition. Looking forward to seeing how far you get with this!

Anonymous said...

I'm taking currently going through grievance against my employer for the unfair application of capability procedure. It was announced last November that i was on stage two (not sure what happened to stage 1). They then tried t disguise the fact that it was bullying by putting two of my NQT colleagues on capabilities as well. Spent time off sick.. but back in now to fight my corner.

The Edudicator said...

Thankyou for sharing your experience. The procedures are absolutely misused all the time and are now a tool to bully teachers with. I hope it works out well for you, and let me know if I can help you suss out what they are doing to you.

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