Working paper 01/044 - Abstract

The Implementation of the Performance Threshold in UK Secondary Schools

Bronwyn Croxson and Adele Atkinson

This paper reports the results of interviews with head teachers of 25 English secondary schools, designed to gain information about how the Performance Threshold was operationalised in schools. The results show that most heads found their training to be unhelpful and of poor quality. The process by which the Threshold was operationalised varied between schools, in terms of how heads conducted internal training days and how they organised the process by which staff made applications. In some schools it was organised at departmental level, with departments submitting applications following a standard format. Most of the schools in our sample were able to give teachers value added information as the basis for reporting pupil progress, although a number of heads felt that this was not a valid measure of success in all subjects. Most of the staff eligible to apply for the Threshold did so, and most passed. When asssessing applications, heads generally assessed the teacher rather than the form, and were keen to ensure that the assessment process did not undermine internal relations within the school. Heads were divided in their views over whether external assessors would provide effective quality control, modernisation, and a place for the 'buck to stop'. Heads were also divided about the impact of the Threshold in their school: some identified benefits, others however, believed that it had been a stressful and time-consuming process.

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