As you know, this is the last school term that the National Union of Teachers will exist in its own right. From January 2019, rather than an NUT and an ATL rep, school will need an NEU rep.
So, now is the time to meet to elect a work place representative for your school. If you are an existing NUT Rep, call NUT and ATL members together for a meeting to elect a rep to serve from January. If your school doesn't currently have a rep, a local officer can come in and talk to members during a lunchtime or after school one day.
Most appraisals will be done during September and October, as local authority schools need to have completed the initial meetings by the end of October. Here's a quick checklist of things to make sure are happening in your school:
• Appraisals are developmental, supportive, and intended to foster professional dialogue.
• Appraisals take place during directed time, but not during PPA.
• Appraisals are done by qualified teachers with current or recent teaching experience.
• Teachers can object to a particular choice of appraiser, and where possible an alternative appraiser is offered.
• Appraisal objectives should be agreed, and teachers can register objections on the appraisal record if not.
• Objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound (SMART).
• Teachers' Standards cannot be used as a tick list for appraisal. The assumption must be made that teachers are already meeting the standards unless there is clear, compelling, written evidence otherwise.
• Appraisal objectives should not include raw numerical targets, i.e. data. However, if they are used, then it must be recognised that circumstances beyond the teacher's control may significantly affect success.
• Appraisal objectives must take account of an individual teacher's circumstances, including any disability, when being agreed.
• No more than 3 observations can be used for all purposes, including appraisal.
• Appraisal and capability are two separate processes (and policies!). If a teacher is experiencing difficulties, they should be supported and guided through the appraisal process with the aim of making improvements. This is informal support, and not part of any formal capability procedure.
• Teachers have the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or workplace colleague where concerns about their performance will be discussed.
• Eligible teachers will receive pay progression if they have met or made significant progress towards meeting their objectives. Remember, teachers have the right to appeal if denied pay progression.
You may have recently read in the media that some of the wire gauzes that are used with Bunsen burners asbestos have been found to contain asbestos. This is present in the white, ceramic material that is usually found in the centre of the gauze. As far as is known, the problem is limited to gauzes recently supplied by two companies. CLEAPSS has suggested that the problem could have been going on longer than this and therefore more gauzes could be affected, but this has not been confirmed. Neither the DfE nor the HSE have been willing to release the names of the companies who supplied the gauzes.