The changing shape of performance management

Written by: Louise Hatswell | Published:
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Decoupling performance and pay does not mean a less robust appraisal system, in fact it can mean quite the opposite. Pay specialist Louise Hatswell advises

Performance management, or appraisal, is a mandatory requirement for teachers employed under the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD). This is set out in law in the Education (School Teachers’ Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2012.

The regulations set out the requirements that schools must put in place in relation to the appraisal of teachers, including headteachers.

The STPCD also requires that pay decisions for teachers must be linked to performance: “The decision whether or not to award pay progression must be related to the teacher’s performance, as assessed through the school or authority’s appraisal arrangements in accordance with the 2012 Regulations.”

Time to say goodbye to PRP?

As a statutory consultee to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), the Association of School and College Leaders, along with other teaching unions, has called for the removal of performance-related pay (PRP) from the STPCD.

We believe that there is no evidence that it improves outcomes for pupils, and there is growing evidence that is has a negative impact on retention of teachers and workload – for both appraisers and appraisees.

In its 32nd report, published in July, the STRB identified a number of matters affecting recruitment, retention and morale that it considers to be priority areas for further review. One of the most pressing is a review of pay progression, including the appropriate use of performance or capability-related pay. This is a very welcome, albeit overdue, recommendation which we hope the government will act upon.

Breaking the link

Decoupling performance and pay does not mean a less robust appraisal system, in fact it can mean quite the opposite. Staff can feel more empowered to engage with a system which they feel is fairer and not linked to circumstances outside their control.

Although maintained schools are bound by the STPCD, academies are not. In recent years, we have seen trusts start to decouple performance from pay, and this trend is increasing. This is particularly due to the impact of the pandemic, when many trusts temporarily moved to automatic pay progression for all teachers, except where formal capability procedures were in place. A lot have chosen to continue with that rather than return to PRP.

This approach has also been adopted in Wales, where PRP has been removed from the STPC(W)D since September 2020.

The Making data work report, commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE, 2018), was the output from the Teacher Workload Advisory Group and resulted in a summary of recommendations to the DfE, Ofsted and other organisations with a summary of advice for schools.

Many of the recommendations related to performance management and PRP. As a result, the DfE model appraisal policy and guidance document Implementing your school’s approach to pay was updated in March 2019. The updated guidance made clear that pay decisions should not be based on data targets or assessment data for a single group of students. The disruption to exams and external assessments since 2020 makes this an even more important point.

Moving to a more supportive and developmental approach, often involving a coaching model, can reduce workload and be a more effective way to improve practice and ultimately performance.

Although maintained schools are still required to make decisions on pay based on performance, this does not mean that they cannot adopt a different approach to performance management or appraisal.

Provided that any system used to assess staff performance is robust, and that you are assessing performance based on fair and reasonable measures, then the assessment can be made regardless of whether it is linked to pay or not.

Evidence and workload

Another outcome of the Making data work report was the issue of workload in relation to the evidence used in performance management or appraisal systems. I am sure we have all heard tales of staff having to collate huge folders of paper evidence to show that they were meeting the Teachers’ Standards, or that they had achieved their objectives – or both! This is not appropriate or necessary.

The DfE guidance states: “The collection of evidence should be proportionate and not increase workload for teachers (for example, teachers should not be asked to produce written evidence against each of the Teachers’ Standards).”

When setting objectives, the evidence used to assess whether they have been achieved should be agreed and should be readily available from day-to-day practice. Staff should not be expected or required to create additional information.

Online or electronic performance management systems can help reduce workload in this way, allowing staff to link or upload documents, videos or other evidence throughout the year as they work towards achieving their objectives.

Any evidence to be considered should be detailed in the school or trust’s appraisal policy and pay policy which should be consulted on with recognised trade unions.

CPD and coaching

Performance management and appraisal should be closely linked to CPD. This includes the provision of sufficient resources. It can be easy to think that this just means providing a training budget and cover for staff when they go out on training courses or to conferences. But it’s much more and should allow for a blended approach.

External events are important and can provide lots of valuable learning and pertinent information, particularly on curriculum and exams, as well as statutory and regulatory changes.

Provision of resources should incorporate all training and development needs – coaching, research, peer observations and many other elements. A CPD library with books, access to research, subscriptions to useful websites, allows staff to engage with research and professional development in whatever way suits them best.

External training can be complemented by sharing good practice and in-house delivery of CPD, this can also be done across a trust or group of schools. Elsewhere, webinars and podcasts allow access to a wide range of topics that can be attended live, or recordings can be used in groups or by individuals.

But one of the most important and often overlooked elements is the provision of time to engage with the chosen activity. This may mean time to attend a training course, but also time to reflect and implement any changes to practice or to share information and learning with relevant colleagues.

Follow up evaluation and reflection time is important too, to allow staff to assess if what they have implemented has worked and whether it needs to be embedded further or adapted. It may be that it has not worked and they need to consider other approaches. All of this requires time.

  • Louise Hatswell is pay specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders.

Information paper

  • ASCL and BlueSky Education have written an information paper entitled Changing approaches to performance management and appraisal which will be available via the ASCL website in mid-September. This will be followed in October 2022 with a joint guidance paper on how to find the right approach for your school or trust.

Further information & resources

  • DfE: Making data work: Report of the Teacher Workload Advisory Group, November 2018:
  • DfE: Implementing your school’s approach to pay: Advice for maintained schools, academies and local authorities, revised March 2019:
  • DfE: Statutory guidance: School teachers’ pay and conditions document, last updated October 2021:
  • STRB: School Teachers’ Review Body 32nd report, July 2022:

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