The performance management scheme that has been operating in English schools since 2000 gives considerable responsibilities to the school’s governing body. These include responsibility for the appraisal of the headteacher’s overall performance as a school leader and manager. Governing bodies are assisted in this task by government appointed external advisers. Drawing on research, this article outlines the role of the external adviser in headteacher appraisal and what we know about how it is working in practice. Some of the key issues are explored and questions raised for further research. External Advisers were very clear that their primary role was as advisers and supporters to the governors but they also put considerable emphasis on the support that they provided for headteachers. They understood, however, that the ultimate responsibility for the performance management of the head lay with the governing body. They also saw themselves as counsellors, facilitators, mentors, honest brokers, coaches and governor trainers. The key to their role was the fact that they were outsiders, with no axe to grind and with no connection to either the LEA or to the national inspection agency (Ofsted)
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