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Teaching is, by its nature, a collaborative and developmental profession. Ensuring that staff and not just students have the opportunity to develop is, as we all know, essential for continuous school improvement. Involving staff in conversation about their own performance and professional growth is crucial for creating a sense of purpose and demonstrating their value to the school.
So what do senior leadership teams need to get right when it comes to performance management?
Standardising processes across your school or MAT is the first step to implementing effective performance management. Ensuring that reviews are assessed against the same criteria, with explicit expectation on routes to promotion and pay increases, will help you to get your staff on board. This will also be hugely beneficial for middle leaders who are at the sharp-end of the review process. Clarifying how reviews should be conducted and the criteria used to agree outcomes and the next steps will simplify and speed up the process, save time and reduce workload.
Objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (SMART), however consider SMART- ID (ID stands for Impact and Differentiate). How will the target impact on outcomes to ensure they are differentiated to meet the individual need? Ask your staff to propose their own SMART-ID objectives - which further to discussion at their review - will help to put them in charge of their own development and empower them to meet their goals.
Remember too that support staff - essential to the smooth running of the school – also have an important role to play in the school improvement process. Adopt the same approach as you do with teaching staff and present them with opportunities for training and CPD.
Objectives and success criteria for them should also feed into the overall plan for school improvement, so demonstrate to them exactly how you expect them to contribute. For example, if one of the school's objectives is to improve teaching and learning in maths, support staff can play a vital role in collating data, identifying areas for improvement and ensuring adequate resources are allocated.
The biggest commodity in schools is time, so implementing an online system for performance management can drive efficiency and save middle leaders up to five hours a week, 20 hours a month and approximately 780 hours a year. By embedding performance management into the normal school day and encouraging staff to access the system and record their reflections as and when things happen, you can prevent it from becoming a burden and free up their time to focus on teaching and their own development. By taking performance management and staff reviews online you can instantly evaluate progress to date and eliminate many of the headaches associated with paper-based processes such as the tracking down and location of lost forms.
Paul Cross, Headteacher at Hempstead Junior School in Gillingham, Kent, commented on the impact BlueSky has had across his school, "BlueSky's Projects and Observations modules now play an instrumental role in our Talk4Teaching Initiative which consists of Learning Walks – a more informal style of lesson observation – and Lesson Reflection, where a team visits a class for a whole lesson. BlueSky allows us to record the findings against a proforma, which can then be used for wider school improvement.
"All staff use the Objectives tool, including TAs and administration staff. However, it really comes into its own for teachers as objectives can be linked to self-reviews. The facility to link objectives to school development priorities and relevant standards is also brilliant."
To find out more about how Hempstead Junior School used BlueSky to fulfil its school improvement plan, take a look at their case study.
Stuart Gardiner, CEO of The Thinking Schools Academy Trust (TSAT) also commented on how BlueSky has supported a high-performing large trust to standardise performance management. "We began using BlueSky purely as a performance management tool to help ensure our processes were aligned across all our schools. BlueSky has helped us to achieve this and is now an important aspect of school life".
To find out more about TSAT, take a look at their case study.
To book a free, no strings attached demonstration of BlueSky, fill out our contact form or call 01483 880004.