Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Difficult to Deliver

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Difficult to Deliver

Article excerpt

Our youngest child is fixated on Postman Pat - we're currently averaging five episodes a day. Although I'm an ardent fan of the cheery Royal Mail employee and his feline sidekick, my husband and I agree that he is a rubbish postman. He is incapable of moving a small parcel from A to B without getting stuck up a tree or caught in a flood.

When it comes to providing value for money, he is an unmitigated disaster. The other day he needed a van, a snowmobile and a helicopter just to deliver one set of fairy lights. No wonder the price of stamps has rocketed. In any other job, Pat would have been given the boot long ago. His bosses, however, are clearly unconcerned by such incompetence and Pat remains blissfully free to chase pianos through fields of cows and allow opportunist magpies to make off with his special deliveries.

I wish I were Pat. It is performance management season at school and the headteacher's office has a steady stream of teachers entering with pulses racing and emerging with flushed cheeks. I don't disagree with performance management - I think it is fine to hold teachers accountable for their work - but I do take issue with the kinds of targets that managers consider reasonable.

For example, a senior colleague has been having problems with some disruptive boys in his class. He has been told that if there is one more outburst from any child in his class between now and July, he won't get a pay rise. Since his behaviour management skills are strong and the children in question have never exactly been angelic, this seems harsh to say the least. …

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