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Teacher performance reviews

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 30 August 2014
  • A version of the following letter was published in The Courier-Mail of Thursday 28 August 2014 with the underlined words deleted. Some changes were also made to the location of paragraph breaks. The paper's heading for a collection of three letters, of which this was the first, was "Feedback on teaching needs to go both ways'.

Your editorial commenting on the new system of performance reviews for state school teachers extols the achievement of Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek (“Performance reviews key to quality teaching”, 27/8).

But presumably the initial proposals for this scheme would have been approved by the Minister. If they had been more sensible, it would not have taken months of negotiations to reach agreement with the Queensland Teachers’ Union.

Properly managed, feedback can be very useful. Poorly conducted, it can be quite destructive.

You are correct to point out that performance review systems are common in many organisations. But it is also true that a chunk of the management literature suggests that such systems do more harm than good.

It is to be hoped that the system implemented in Education Queensland will indeed produce a net benefit and not become a bureaucratic compliance exercise that takes valuable time and effort away from the core business of teaching and learning.

Properly informed feedback would also help principals improve.

To this end, it would be wise to expand the system to include panels of experienced, senior teachers in schools providing formal evaluation and feedback on the job performance of principals.

Senior officers who spend their working days in regional or head offices can’t really know what is going on in schools until things have badly gone off the rails.

In a cooperative enterprise like education, feedback should not only be top down.

Garry Collins

Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past PresidentAuthor:Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President
About: Garry Collins was ETAQ President from mid July 2005 to 15 March 2014. He taught English in state high schools for around 35 years and now tutors in English curriculum courses in the School of Education at the University of Queensland.
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