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Why it’s vital to harmonise appraisal and performance management policies across multi-academy trusts

Why it’s vital to harmonise appraisal and performance management policies across multi-academy trusts

6 February 2018

Sara Ford is Pay, Conditions and Employment Specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) where she leads on related policy issues and negotiates with the Department for Education, the School Teacher's Review Body and academy chains on behalf of members. In this guest blog for BlueSky, she discusses the importance of introducing robust performance management processes across multi-academy trusts

Why it's vital to harmonise appraisal and performance management policies across multi-academy trusts

Revisiting policy and practice

When a multi academy trust is formed one of the first things it must do as a single employer is to harmonise policies across its schools. Whilst there are often problems in doing this - associated with the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations 2006 (TUPE) - one of the first areas that should be tackled is the appraisal/performance management system. This will ensure a robust process is in place to help drive forward improved performance.

Statutory appraisal arrangements are set out in the Education (School Teachers' Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2012. Whilst academies are not bound by these regulations, it is good practice to follow the principles outlined within them.

The appraisal policy

The appraisal policy should complement the school's pay and capability policies and should cover the following headings:

  • The appraisal period;
  • The appointment of appraisers;
  • How objectives will be set;
  • Lesson observation protocol or approach to observations;
  • The school's approach to development and support;
  • The feedback and process and transition to capability arrangements; and
  • The annual assessment process.

There is no need for an appeals process to be included here as this should be covered in the complementary pay policy.

If not addressed in the pay policy, the appraisal policy should cover how the performance management process will be managed for those on maternity and sickness leave.

Employers should ensure that they have a clear timeline for the completion of the performance management/ appraisal process in the annual cycle, and that this supports the timeline for making pay decisions.

In both England and Wales, teachers' performance is assessed against the relevant standards, as well as against their objectives. Employers will need to set out in the relevant policy what it is they will take into account in making judgements about whether teachers have met their objectives and the relevant standards.

This might include:

  • The impact on pupil progress;
  • The impact on wider outcomes for pupils;
  • Improvements in specific elements of practice, such as behaviour management or lesson planning;
  • The impact on effectiveness of teachers or other staff; and/or
  • The wider contribution to the work of the school.

Objectives

Objectives are the focus for the performance management review as they are a key component of the appraisal process.

The objectives set for each teacher should contribute to the plans for improving the Trust's/school's educational provision and performance and for improving the education of pupils at that Trust/school.

Objectives should be relevant, appropriately challenging for individual teachers and SMART ID:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-limited
  • Show impact
  • Differentiated

They should be set appropriately for different categories of staff, be consistent with the Trust/school improvement plan and be written in such a way that measuring success can be done objectively.

Assessing performance and awarding performance-related pay

Fulfilment of objectives provides an important basis for assessing performance, but is not the only consideration and doesn't necessarily mean that a teacher is awarded pay progression. An employer might consider that a teacher who has made good progress towards, but not quite achieved, a very challenging objective, has performed better and made a more significant contribution, than a teacher who met a less stretching objective in full.

Since September 2014 the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document has required schools and local authorities (in relation to unattached teachers) to have a pay policy in place which sets out the basis on which they determine teachers' pay and to establish procedures for determining appeals.

Employers need to review their pay policies on a regular basis to set out how appraisal outcomes are linked to pay decisions.

The pay policy should set out how all pay decisions will be made, with sufficient detail for an individual to understand the basis upon which pay decisions will be made in their particular Trust/school.

Employers must not directly discriminate against anyone because of a relevant protected characteristic. For example, if an employer chooses not to give a female teacher a pay rise because she is pregnant, that is unlawful. Indirect discrimination is also potentially unlawful where, for example, a pay policy, though applied equally to all, might disadvantage a particular group. Employers should also ensure that part-time teachers and fixed-term teachers are not treated less favourably.

Statutory Duties and Consultation

The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 require schools to prepare and publish equality objectives and publish information to demonstrate that they are meeting their statutory duties. Employers should therefore be breaking down who did and didn't receive pay progression by protected characteristic to ensure that no discrimination is taking place.

Employers should also consult staff and their professional associations on their appraisal, pay and capability policies.

A sound policy that has been thoroughly consulted on will stand employers in good stead as they tackle any areas of underperformance but equally will allow them to develop staff because they will have confidence in the process.