Setting appraisal objectives – five top tips

Written by: Educate | Published:

As school leaders begin to think about setting appraisal objectives for the year ahead, Educate offers five top tips to ensure the whole process runs as smoothly as possible

It’s the time of year when school leaders are setting appraisal objectives for the year ahead. This is a fantastic opportunity to focus on developing your staff and raising teaching standards in your school, but we’re very aware it can also be a stressful process.

Here at Educate we have advised more than 4,000 schools over the past 15 years on appraisal and performance management, so we have put together five top tips for helping this year’s appraisal process run smoothly.

We’ve even developed Standards Tracker, an online performance management system, to help.

Break your staff appraisal objectives down into smaller chunks

Increasingly we are finding that it makes good sense for schools to break appraisal objectives down into assessment period long segments – rather than setting them to run over a whole year.

Working in this way makes it much easier to capture evidence of the impact of appraisal in the classroom – and can actually result in a lighter workload for teachers because it links in more closely with teachers’ everyday priorities.

We find this makes for a much more productive appraisal cycle – as a headteacher, you can easily track the development points of each member of staff and see improvement, and your staff will find this more manageable and achievable.

How Standards Tracker helps: Standards Tracker is specifically set up to enable objectives to be recorded in this way and allows teachers to upload evidence from their planning and pupils’ work as they go.

Work together and make performance management an open, transparent process

Ensuring all your staff feel they are working together to improve teaching standards in your school is critical to a successful appraisal process. Engaging in ongoing dialogue with your staff about their progress towards fulfilling their objectives, will help motivate them to improve and there will be no negative surprises!

The introduction of performance-related-pay has made it more important than ever to make fair, evidence-based pay progression decisions. If your teachers and leaders know what to expect at their next review you are unlikely to face a challenge and the process can be more smoothly managed.

How Standards Tracker helps: Standards Tracker is an open two-way process. Both the appraiser and appraisee can upload evidence to show how particular standards are being met, and both can request a change in a recorded level of skill – i.e. a move from Good to Outstanding against a particular Teaching Standard. Whether a teacher has achieved the required level of skill for a pay progression will become self-evident.

Keep all documents in a central location

With the introduction of performance-related pay for teachers and school leaders and the much sharper Ofsted focus on appraisal and pay progression, we have found that schools need a simple way of holding up-to-date information electronically about levels of staff performance against a range of “over time” descriptors.

By keeping everything together, you can avoid the mad scramble before staff performance reviews trying to find the relevant paperwork and evidence to make a fair judgement of a member of staff’s development.

Even better, keeping everything centralised means that when Ofsted comes in, you can relax in the knowledge that you will be able to instantaneously produce the relevant information to show the quality of teaching in your school.

How Standards Tracker helps: With Standards Tracker, all objectives, evidence and reports are stored in a secure online “briefcase” that can be accessed immediately at any time and from any place. Gone are the days of rooting around in your paper files for those critical lesson observations!

Be prepared to report to governors and inspectors on the outcomes of performance management

When Ofsted arrives in your school it is important to be able to highlight areas of strength in your teaching staff and swiftly demonstrate the actions being taken to address any areas of weakness. This shows you are on top of performance management and have everything in hand.

Moreover, Ofsted are putting a more rigorous focus on Governors’ role to oversee progress in the school.

Many previously good and outstanding schools have been placed in a category in their most recent inspections because the governors do not have a sharp enough knowledge of the impact of work done to address underperforming teachers and leaders.

How Standards Tracker helps: With Standards Tracker you can generate anonymised reports in seconds for Governors and Inspectors. Reports that would traditionally take hours to compile can be accessed at the click of a mouse.

Use a ‘whole-staff’ approach

Appraise everyone in the same way In our experience we have found that an inclusive approach like this not only makes everyone feel like they are “in it together”, it makes it very easy for the headteacher to see what is happening across the whole school at a glance.

How Standards Tracker helps: The simplicity of the Standards Tracker software means that schools now use it to judge the performance of (and set appraisal objectives for) support and facilities staff.

It is possible to set the system up so that graded assessments are made against national standards (if they exist), or specific descriptors that your school want to upload.

Further information

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