Saturday, 13 July 2013

Accountability and The Problems Line Managers Cause

I am accountable to myself and I like it.

In my current school I have not had a performance management meeting, targets or a even mentor assigned to me.

I have no direct line manager: I am accountable to as an individual as far as I can tell. As I am a curriculum leader I deal with the assistant head teacher for teaching and learning related issues and the director of studies (who is also the deputy head), for matters involving students. I don't find this a negative, these two members of management are accountable for all the exam results and as a result can be fair when dealing with individual subjects. They are also very understanding and supportive.

I am solely responsible for science, so I don't have someone who doesn't understand what is involved teaching science, or even what is involved in running a faculty, trying to effect the decisions I am making about the running of the faculty.

I have been in post 14 months now and for the first few I was waiting for others to tell me what to do. Nervous that if I made a change I should run it by someone else first. That someone would want to know what I was doing and why I was doing it and then ask me to submit forms. Don't get me wrong there's paper work to do, but I feel that I have autonomy that I have never experienced before.

Another head of science colleague of mine told me about her previous line manager. The manager was quite determined to make decisions that wold help improve Science, but these changes were structural or curriculum based and didn't move the department forwards. Her line manager was constantly asking her to change the make up the groups, mixed ability to setted and back again, change the timetables so new staff were teaching groups, move students from BTEC to GCSE and vice versa and enter students for exams, do mock exams, withdraw students from exams, change the way she was going to do controlled assessment and a variety of other hands-on decisions. Meanwhile the head of science was left spending her time making changes she didn't believe in rather than doing what needed to be done to improve the teaching skills of the teachers.

It is possible to argue that my colleague was not managed correctly. I would agree. But I also can understand why the manager would be so desperate to interfere as she too was accountable for the science department and being able to show the head what was done is always preferable on a personal level to saying we did nothing and we still got the same outcome.

I found the line managers in my previous school frustrating to some degree, but not to the same extent as my colleague.

As Head of Physics my line manager was the Head of Science and also an Assistant Principal. He struggled to balance the two jobs. Having no line manger himself he put in pace crazy schemes and methods of teaching. We rearranged the key stage 3 curriculum into nonsensical order and called it "innovative". The knock on when those students reached year 10 was a halving of the numbers doing triple science. We scrapped Core and Additional GCSE pathway, forcing all students who want to do art or media to choose BTEC, in the end a student was unable to get into her Primary education course because she didn't have GCSE science. Those are examples that spring to mind, there were an awful lot more. Most were not instigated by the Head of Science/Assistant Principal, but by a strong head of biology/key stage 3 coordinator who left before the damage was discovered; however the Head of Science/Assistant Principal tried to make the bad ideas work to save face.

In the school prior to that we all lived in constant fear of our line managers. Bullying was a problem from the very top of the school. I say we all live in fear, when we got a new head of faculty he took a much more relaxed view and was very honest and empathetic with the teachers and post holders in the faculty. He managed by not managing. He let us run with ideas and see where they took us. I imagine he took at lot of flack for not having us on a tight leash.

I appreciate that I am the expert on science education in my school and I am trusted to do my job.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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