Damien Roberts: performance appraisals and pay progression

Damien Roberts, business development director at Derventio Solutions, performance appraisals and pay progression

Throughout the year school staff are expected to assess their performance and collect evidence to support their annual objectives. To ensure this is a smooth process it’s necessary to carry out a mid-year review. This is an opportunity to reflect on progress, identify areas of strength and improvement and explore options for professional development. Here, Damien Roberts, business development director at Derventio Solutions, explains how to best prepare for the mid-year review

 

Following the introduction of the revised performance management process Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said, “Workforce reform has changed teachers’ working lives, enabling them to concentrate on their role of teaching and raising standards in schools. The revised performance management arrangements are another building block to a confident, empowered teaching profession.” Since then there has been a greater focus on appraisal meetings to ensure each staff member is able to reach or exceed their objectives and positively contribute to a school’s overall priorities.

Reaching the mid-way point

After objectives have been set at the beginning of the year it’s the individual teacher’s responsibility to address them. Checking in mid-way through the year means that school leaders are able to sit down with staff to review and record progress against these objectives.

Rather than treating it as a tick-box exercise this is an opportunity for staff and senior leaders to evaluate their goals, allowing enough time for any targets to be adjusted before the end of the year. If it’s looking unlikely that a target is going to be met, further/new actions can be fixed upon and implemented to support professional development.

This is an opportunity for staff and senior leaders to evaluate their goals, allowing enough time for any targets to be adjusted before the end of the year

The key to effective pedagogy is ensuring that staff are given the opportunity to feedback on a regular basis and reviews are the most efficient way of doing this. Although both staff and senior leaders understand the importance of the appraisal process this doesn’t eliminate an element of dread. There can be various reasons for this but easing the pressure can help to ensure appraisal meetings are productive, successful and rewarding.

Here are my top tips:

Be prepared Preparing for a review is essential. Appraisals can be hard to attend – and just as hard to deliver – so, rather than waiting for a review, it’s best to monitor objectives and performance throughout the year as this will help both appraiser and appraisee to prepare efficiently. It will also make it a lot simpler to highlight strengths and areas for improvement immediately so that the rest of the review meeting can be used to identify what needs to be done to support the teacher further and to ensure objectives can be reached by the end of the year.

Be sure to allow enough time to talk everything through and use the meeting to consider any CPD opportunities that may aid performance and take note of particularly effective strategies to share as best practice for other colleagues or staff members.

Talking about the areas for development can sometimes be sensitive so this should be conducted in a way that is encouraging and supportive

Opening up and feedback The mid-year review should be two-way; it’s a chance for both the senior leader and staff member to open up and provide feedback. It should provide a safe environment for both parties to be honest with one another in order to set and understand expectations. It’s useful to use open-ended questions to encourage responses and feedback to really get the most out of the mid-year review. Having an open environment that invites all kinds of feedback is important; however, it’s vital to not be overly negative even if there are areas for improvement, which leads me onto my next point…

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Be constructive, not critical Although many teachers are already demonstrating effective teaching practices, there is always more that can be learnt and so the review should take the ‘feedback sandwich’ approach of ‘praise, improvement, praise’. Talking about the areas for development can sometimes be sensitive so this should be conducted in a way that is encouraging and supportive, rather than overly critical, to make sure staff are given the support needed to improve their professional practice and develop as teachers. This also applies to support staff. It’s wise to ensure that you are aware of your staffs key skills as well as their aspirations; consider how you can help your team grow and develop individually.

The conversation shouldn’t end there; although face-to-face meetings may only be able to take place at the start, middle and end of the year it’s important to keep in touch

A simple thanks The mid-year review is a good opportunity to motivate and reward staff and this doesn’t necessarily have to be financial. Simply showing gratitude and appreciation for all the hard work that has been carried out so far can be incredibly effective. Praise the work that has been done and acknowledge the impact this has had on both the students and the school. Never underestimate the power of recognition and praise – after all, who doesn’t feel good after being applauded?

Stay in touch The mid-year review is over…now what? The conversation shouldn’t end there; although face-to-face meetings may only be able to take place at the start, middle and end of the year it’s important to keep in touch and maintain conversation all year round to ensure staff remain on track to achieve or exceed their objectives. Online systems can be introduced to make sure this happens, so that conversations can continue when face-to-face meetings aren’t possible. Alerts can also be incorporated to notify each member of staff when actions need to be carried out, or certain things need to be flagged.

While all these tips will help to ensure a successful process, ultimately, both senior leaders and staff members need to be on board and embrace appraisals as an opportunity to enhance teaching and learning, share best practice and reach overall goals.

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