SCMP Wednesday, May 24, 2000


Teachers perturbed by bench-marking

I recently attended one of the sessions run by the Education Department to introduce Teachers of English and Putonghua to the bench-marking procedures being introduced. Apart from noting how surprised I was by the huge majority of teachers present who, when asked to indicate, showed that they were most definitely insulted, threatened and depressed by the proposed procedure, I want to comment on two aspects concerning the financing of this expensive operation.

There is no role in the bench-marking procedures for the school-based executive charged with the job of making sure teachers are up to the mark. This seems extraordinary given that these people are paid more than other teachers because they take on responsibility for ensuring that quality teaching is going on. Surely they should also have a major role in the bench-marking procedure (so justifying some of their extra salary and saving on the employment of some of the extra consultants).

Dr Peter Falvey (University of Hong Kong, School of Education) mentioned in answering some questions from the floor about teachers interest in undertaking the bench-marking, that his school had received numerous requests from teachers wanting to take part in courses to enhance their chances in the bench-marking procedures. Yet at the same time his institution was apparently involved in the formulation of the bench-marking procedures.

Perhaps I am naive, but I would have thought that any institution that had even a tenuous connection with the devising or administration of the bench-marking must have no connection whatsoever with teacher-training courses.