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.