Head teachers of poorly performing schools now face the prospect of losing their management roles.
The secondary school principals will be forced to pick up the chalk and dust up their books for routine teaching work like the rest of the staff.
The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) says heads who post a mean score of less than three for three consecutive years will be taken back to class to teach, design, administer and mark assignments. A circular by TSC seen by The Standard instructs that all heads whose institutions have recorded declining performance be redeployed.
“The commission directs that head teachers who record declining trends in academic performance should be cautioned in writing and appropriate action taken to address the gaps,” reads the November 29 circular to all the 47 county directors of education.
The document titled Deployment and Transfer of Head Teachers and signed by TSC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia makes reference to another directive issued in 2014 to county directors.
An earlier TSC internal memo seen by The Standard signed by the commission’s Director Teacher Management Mary Rotich set the minimum mean score each head teacher should post and instructed that weak performers be redeployed.
“During the Appointment Board of Post-Primary Teachers' meeting held on December 10, 2013 the commission decided that head teachers who had maintained a mean score of less than three be deployed to teach,” reads the memo signed in January 2014.
This means that a head teacher whose school posts a mean score of less than three for three consecutive years will be stripped off the headship and deployed to class. The highest school mean score is 12.
In the Memo, Ms Rotich instructed the county directors to write to the affected head teachers informing them of the directive.
But what must worry school heads now is the ‘reminder’ sent last month by Ms Macharia in which she enforces the earlier directive and warns of consequences to directors who fail to act.
“Action will be taken on any county director who fails to adhere to contents of this circular without any further reference to them,” said Macharia.
Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (KESSHA) acting chairman, Indimuli Kahi Wednesday said he was not aware of the circular.
“What I know is that it had been suspended but I need to see it before I can comment,” he explained.
Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET), which represents secondary school teachers, Wednesday rejected the directive.
“We are not going to accept academic performance as an indicator for promotions and determining the fate of heads,” said KUPPET Secretary General Akelo Misori.
He argued that many schools lack basic facilities that can inspire good grades.
“Poor staffing and infrastructure is the identity of most of the schools that post such weak grades and for us to enforce this, we must have a check list,” said Mr Misori.
It emerged that primary school heads will soon get their minimum performance benchmarks.
“For now, secondary schools are on the spot and weak heads are being deployed as stated. Primary schools benchmark will follow,” said a TSC insider.
Sources at the commission Wednesday hinted that a cloud of change is sweeping the education sector and weak school heads will be guided to improve.
The commission, however, denied this is a punishment for heads, saying it is aimed at improving their performance. The move is anchored on performance appraisals that teachers had initially resisted.
Early this year, the commission announced that all primary and secondary school staff, as well as those working in tertiary institutions must undergo performance assessment and setting up of annual targets.
In total, TSC rolled out a performance-based appraisal programme for all the teaching staff and 30,000 school heads.
TSC explained that the exercise was aimed at improving quality education by analysing teachers’ performance gaps to provide necessary development support.
And just two months ago, TSC conducted a one-week performance monitoring of public schools to push for quality education.
The exercise, which culminated into an open forum bringing together all education stakeholders to discuss the academic performance of the region and to chat the way forward on scaling up productivity.
TSC officials targeted two categories of primary and secondary schools during the monitoring week.
For Primary schools, the first category were institutions whose 2015 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations mean score was 240 and below with at least seven teachers.
The second Primary schools category were those whose 2015 KCPE mean score was 260 and above with at least two streams.
And for Secondary schools, the first category included institutions whose 2015 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination mean score was four points and below with at least seven teachers.
The second Secondary schools category was institutions with at least two streams. And Wednesday, TSC argued deployment of heads was not a punishment.
“Basically, this is identification of weak staff and helping them to improve on the weak areas,” said a senior official at the commission.
The official added that before deployment of the head teachers, the gaps would be identified.
“We shall establish the weak links of the teacher, Whether it is administrative weakness, personal or institutional. And the heads will be deployed accordingly,” he said.