(function(w,d,s,l,i){w[l]=w[l]||[];w[l].push({'gtm.start': new Date().getTime(),event:'gtm.js'});var f=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0], j=d.createElement(s),dl=l!='dataLayer'?'&l='+l:'';j.async=true;j.data-privacy-src= 'https://www.googletagmanager.com/gtm.js?id='+i+dl;f.parentNode.insertBefore(j,f); })(window,document,'script','dataLayer','GTM-PDJPJSW');

Enabling recovery, supporting growth

Approaching performance management during COVID-19 and beyond

Putting the conversation about professional development at the centre of the appraisal process will help both staff and school to weather these challenging times, says BlueSky MD Denise Inwood. 

In a time of uncertainty and when every aspect of school life seems susceptible to change, there are some key anchors that can help to give staff clear direction and focus.

At this time of year, Senior Leaders are working with their staff to share priorities and central themes of school improvement plans, helping to give direction and purpose to everything that colleagues will be engaging with in the months ahead.

So it is the perfect opportunity to move forward on the outcomes and impact of the last six months. This year two central themes in many schools relate to the intended versus the received curriculum and how curriculum recovery will be best achieved. The professional development of staff will be central is building capacity to achieve this.

The appraisal process is an important lever for engaging staff in the dialogue that will enable recovery and growth as well as in supporting staff with clarity on the focus and direction for the school. Shifting the dialogue to professional development builds capacity and supports staff well-being.

The climate, environment and data may be different because of COVID-19 but skipping appraisal is a missed opportunity to provide structure to the support you’re providing to your staff in these extremely challenging times.

Enabling recovery, supporting growth

Moving away from data-driven objectives

Many schools have already moved away from setting data-driven objectives and now is a good moment to consider making this a permanent change. Circumstances in schools are not comparable and so assessing progress against national standards is unfair. There is also much uncertainty and inconsistency across subjects in terms of what examinations will look like and this is fluid as we face changing circumstances regionally and nationally.

Instead, focus on where the school was in March 2020 and where you are now and where you want the school to be in September 2021.

It might be helpful to consider the teacher standards that are applicable whatever the learning environment and how these might form a backdrop to conversations about expectation.

A good example is Standard 2: Promote good progress and outcomes for pupils.

Consider the following:

  • Be aware of pupils’ capabilities and prior knowledge and plan teaching to build on these
  • Guide pupils to reflect on the progress they have made and their emerging needs
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how pupils learn and how this impacts on teaching
  • Encourage pupils to take a responsible and conscientious attitude to their own work and study

Think deeply about your own circumstance. Evidence from NFER indicates the average pupil is at least three months behind and it is estimated that only 66% of the intended curriculum was actually delivered during the period of lockdown (this does not, of course, take into account the curriculum received by individual pupils).

Considering objectives that are linked to team priorities, focusing on identifying and closing the knowledge gaps, and building a recovery curriculum will ensure all of your staff are focused on the strategic priorities for this academic year. Building professional development around these needs will be critical in meeting these objectives.

Key elements will be ensuring staff understand cognitive load theory, how to use priory knowledge, how to work with misconceptions, and sequencing learning, alongside knowing how to support and develop pupil well-being and resilience.

A staff-centric conversation

We should place professional development at the very core of our recovery and the future growth of our profession. A commitment to appraisal as a staff-centric conversation about mutual goals will give staff confidence in their purpose and commitment to their delivery, provided those goals are tied closely to supporting the professional to adapt and modify their own practice.

Schools are collaborative communities and staff want to feel their contribution is recognised and valued and they are also intrinsically motivated.

Giving them the opportunity for professional growth is the key to driving recovery and change.

There is more on performance management and how to manage it in these challenging times in this briefing paper: Performance Management – The Changed Landscape, featuring Denise Inwood and Craig Vincent, Partner and Head of HR Consultancy Services at Stone King.

Read The Emerging Revolution Research Report to learn about changing processes in performance management and appraisal.

Tamsin Denley

Author: Denise Inwood
CEO and Founder, BlueSky Education

Share this article

Register for our newsletter to receive the latest BlueSky updates

Go to Top