When it comes to setting annual (and short-term or agile) teacher appraisal objectives this term, are your staff linking their targets to the school’s wider objectives? Not if the school strategic plan is not shared with staff and sits gathering dust in a file somewhere!

Research from Gartner finds that “when employee goals are aligned with organisational priorities and help employees meet changing needs, coordinate with peers and hold themselves accountable, employee performance increases by up to 22%.” 

So what would be the outcome if individual teacher and staff appraisal objectives are aligned with the school or trust strategic plan?

The Golden Thread aligning organisation priorities with appraisal objectives

BlueSky Education client Advance Learning Partnership trust has implemented a trust-wide approach to performance management that aligns the appraisal objectives of nearly 700 staff with trust priorities.

“Our objectives are used consistently across our trust and they are documented in BlueSky. We have a comprehensive overview of how our objectives are linked to the teachers’ standards and headteachers’ standards and share performance criteria across all of our schools to support our staff in securing continual improvement in the quality of teaching and learning” – Catherine Taylor, School Improvement Partner, Advance Learning Partnership

The School Improvement team also uses the powerful reporting tools in BlueSky to identify areas for development, so they can provide CPD where it is needed, and afterwards they can assess the impact of training or mentoring on staff capabilities, and ultimately the trust’s improvement objectives. The diagram on the right offers a model of how the process of setting professional development objectives for teachers, linked to school priorities, could work:

Image: Teacher Appraisal Objectives and School Priorities

 Graphic: Copyright © BlueSky Education 2022

Aligning individual objectives with strategic plans does not imply a top-down or one-size-fits all approach. As we’ve covered previously, teachers need agency – autonomy within the framework of the strategic plan – to define their own career objectives, by setting professional development goals that help them to enhance their skills as a practitioner and improve subject knowledge, as well as being able to access training that is relevant to the context of their role and the needs of students. Involving staff in conversations about their own performance and professional growth is crucial for creating a sense of purpose and demonstrating their value to the school. 

“Staff have to base their individual targets, or year group or department targets, on the school development plan. Now it is in BlueSky – the place where you are thinking about setting objectives – it is much easier to make that link.” – Chris Whishaw, Watford Girls Grammar School

This approach is underpinned by an operational strategy that ensures the organisation’s strategic plan is shared transparently with all staff across the organisation, and linked to clear performance criteria for every individual, from Executive Leader to ECT. Providing team leaders with a clear overview of the organisations’ strategy and how it relates to different staff roles, allows them to guide their staff to develop individual objectives that translate into specific actionable goals. This helps staff to understand how their work contributes to the wider school or trust strategy.

“Bringing meaningful purpose, practical strategies, and goals together makes an organization’s aspirations more credible —and more likely to be achieved” – Naudin (2014)

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. Mapping individual teacher appraisal objectives to the school improvement plan encourages staff to buy into a shared vision, values and ethos, and understand the purpose of the role in the organisation. This in turn enhances staff well-being, retention and recruitment. The first step to engaging staff in the strategic plan is to ensure that the objectives and activity plans are shared throughout your organisation. This makes it easier for all staff to link their own objectives with activities that will contribute to wider school improvement.


[1]Baker, M. (2022). 3 Ways to Set Effective Performance Goals. [online] Gartner.

[2] Van den Brande, J. and Worth, J. (2020). Teacher autonomy: how does it relate to job satisfaction and retention? [online] NFER.

[3] Knowledge Brief. The Golden Thread – What is it? Definition, Examples and More. [online] Knowledge Brief

Want to learn more about this topic?

Download our free ebook guide ‘Essential steps to effective school appraisal’, which explores how school leaders can use teacher appraisal to link objectives to professional development and encourage your staff to engage with school improvement priorities.

effective teacher appraisal, Performance Reviews
Tamsin Denley

Author: Tamsin Denley,
Head of Marketing and Partnerships

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