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The Impact of the Modernisation Agenda in Education: Performance Management in Sixth Form Colleges

International Journal of Applied Management Education and Development (ISSN: 1742-2639) Volume 1 Issue 2

Martyn Lowe

January 2004

Abstract

Sixth form colleges have been identified by the Learning and Skills Council as an important provider within the field of further education. Unlike colleges of further education sixth form colleges focus on academic, not vocational, subjects and attempt to prepare students for university rather than the employment market.

Sixth form colleges have recently implemented a performance management system which determines the pay progression of teachers and academic managers through a system of appraisal and successful attainment of targets.

This implementation was intended to produce a change in the culture of sixth form colleges. This cultural change was intended to ensure that individual performance was monitored and that the appropriate reward was provided for good performance. Criteria were set for assessing the performance of teachers and managers with targets being set through annual appraisal. Many of these assessment criterion were similar to those in other performance pay systems introduced under the modernisation agenda such as the health services Agenda for Change initiative and the peformance pay system in secondary schools.

Introduction – The Modernisation Agenda in Sixth Form Colleges

The incorporation of sixth form colleges following the Further Education Act (1992) created these institutions as self managed establishments with their own management structures distinct and separate from the local education authority (Simkins, 2000). The senior management structure developed a managerialist approach and a more oppressive and competition driven approach to the deployment of their professional teaching staff (Gleeson, 2001). Middle managers, Faculty or Curriculum Heads, have retained their focus on teaching and learning and also maintained a vital communication bridge between senior post-holders and front-line teaching staff (Briggs, 2001). In this role the middle manager is important in motivating teaching staff to higher performance to ensure that if the Government’s plans to increase progression and widen access to higher education are successful (DfES, 2002). The new planning and funding arrangements for sixth form colleges introduced by the Learning and Skills Act 2000 and the Education Act 2002, are part of the changes that will help colleges meet the Government’s objectives together with the new performance framework for sixth form college teachers and managers (Lumby and Briggs et. al, 2002). The principles of the Success for All reforms will make sixth form colleges become part of an integrated learning and skills further education sector which will change the way in which the post-16 education sector is organised (DfES, 2002). The modernisation agenda will mean that over the next five years the staff who work for sixth form colleges will require a different attitude to teaching and learning and their own skills maintenance and development (DfES, 2002). Firstly, however these changes have to be accepted by the teacher workforce. Before the new agenda can be adopted by teachers they must pass through a process whereby teachers review the proposed changes. The outcome of this review will be a range of different strategies or adaptations in the teacher workforce that range from willing compliance with the new agenda and work conditions to their rejection (Troman 1996).

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