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Addressing the teacher appraisal and pay agenda

Educate’s advice and key references

This document outlines our advice in relation to the DfE’s appraisal and pay agenda and is aimed at helping your school continue to improve.


Tip 1: Focus on teaching over time rather than overall lesson observation grades

Schools are moving away from giving an overall grade for a lesson; preferring instead to give graded feedback on the quality of the individual components of professional practice seen – marking, differentiation, assessment, use of learning assistants etc.

“Since 2009, inspectors have been instructed not to grade the overall quality of a lesson they visit. The box for a graded ‘judgement on the overall quality of the lesson’ has been removed and replaced by a box to grade quality of teaching and it is here that much of the confusion lies. Inspectors may use this box to record judgements gathered from a wide variety of sources – not just lesson observations – for example, when looking at pupils’ work or when looking at marking.”

“I was speaking to a colleague today, one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors. He reminded me it is all about outcomes and that it does work both ways. In a classroom he was in recently, a teacher produced, literally, an all-singing, all-dancing lesson. There was music, comedy, costumes, games, ‘thinking hats’, and all with clear objectives on the whiteboard. He recorded a teaching quality grade of inadequate. Not because of the ‘performance’ on the day but because students’ graffiti-strewn books hadn’t been marked for six months and work was shoddy or incomplete. In contrast, he graded teaching as outstanding in a classroom where students sat reading in silence because of the exceptional quality of students’ work and the teacher’s marking in exercise books. He told both teachers what his conclusions were.”

“Teachers need to understand this too, as they often clamour to know what “grade” they got. I understand why they want to know and it can be difficult to differentiate between a grade for teaching and a grade for the teacher. I accept that we may need to do more.”

All extracts from “Why do Ofsted Inspectors observe individual lessons and how do they evaluate teaching in schools?”, Ofsted February 2014


What the Ofsted Inspection Handbook (2018) has to say on Lesson Observations:

·         Ofsted does not require schools to undertake a specified amount of lesson observation.

·         Ofsted does not expect schools to provide specific details of the pay grade of individual teachers who are observed during inspection.

Ofsted does not expect schools to use the Ofsted evaluation schedule to grade teaching or individual lessons.


TIP 2:  Frame professional development objectives in a way that generates clear evidence of classroom impact

We have found that an audit against the Ofsted Teaching over Time descriptors helps schools to come up with a very precise definition of a teacher’s professional development priorities. For example, if the priority area is “Is work challenging enough for pupils? Does it meet their individual needs?” identifying the key group of target pupils (e.g. pupil premium) is usually a simple matter. This means that appraisal objectives can be written with regard to named pupils – and makes it much simpler to agree on how impact will be assessed.


 “Until recently, the training that teachers receive has not focused well enough on the school’s priorities, including the progress of the most able pupils”

Ofsted Report, 2017

“Monitoring and evaluation by the leaders and governing body of federation have not focused sharply enough on the evidence of impact on teaching and learning in this school”

Ofsted Report, January 2019

“Sometimes, feedback is not focused enough to help individual staff to know exactly how to improve”

Ofsted Report, 2019


What the Law says about setting objectives:

The 2012 Appraisal Regulations (Para 5 (7)) highlight that:

“the objectives must be such that, if they are achieved, they will contribute to improving the education of pupils in the school and to the implementation of any plan of the governing body designed to improve that school’s educational provision and performance”.


What the Inspection Handbook has to say on setting objectives:

  • Inspectors do not expect school leaders to set teacher performance targets based on commercially produced predictions of pupil achievement, or any other data set, from which they would then hold teachers to account.
  • Ofsted does not expect headteacher performance objectives to include targets relating to the proportion of good or better teaching.
  • Ofsted does not have specific expectations about the content of, or approach to, headteacher performance management.

TIP 3:  Adopt clear expectations for different pay points

It is impossible to make performance-related pay decisions without having adopted a clear set of expectations for each pay point. This highly simplified version of the Educate Professional Skills Level Descriptors shows the importance of having accurate knowledge of the level of each teacher’s performance against the Ofsted Teaching Over Time Descriptors.

TeacherM1-M3 Most aspects of teaching over time good; some require improvement.

Accomplished Teacher M4-M6 All aspects of teaching over time good.

Expert TeacherUPS 1-3 Many aspects of teaching over time
outstanding.

“Headteachers (or appraisers) will assess qualified teachers against the standards to a level consistent with what could reasonably be expected of a teacher in the relevant role and at the relevant stage of their career (whether NQT, mid-career teacher or a more experienced practitioner). The professional judgement of Headteachers and appraisers will therefore be central to the appraisal against these standards.”

Teachers’ Standards Para 6, February 2012.

“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 school. For instance, the policy should be clear about the circumstances in which an increase may not be merited and the way in which “good” and “exceptional” performers will be differentiated and should be set out at the start, not the end, of the appraisal period.”

Department for Education: Departmental Guidance, September 2018, revised in March 2019.


TIP 4:  Help Governors to support and challenge

We recommend that key governors receive half termly anonymised reports identifying the impact of work recently undertaken to support underperforming teachers, leaders and students. They should be able to explain how they have set appraisal objectives for the Headteacher related to “identified need” and arrived at pay progression decisions based on appraisal outcomes.

  • The governance board must assure that appropriate arrangements for linking appraisal to pay are in place and that these arrangements can be applied consistently; ensure that pay decisions can be objectively justified.
  • Monitor the outcome of pay decisions, including the extent to which different groups of teachers may progress at different rates. Check that processes operate fairly.”
  • Headteachers need to ensure moderation of initial recommendations with a view to putting individual pay progression recommendations to the governance board for agreement and to account to them overall for the effective operation of links between pay and performance
  • Moderate appraisal outcomes and put pay recommendations to the governance board and ensure that they have sufficient information upon which to make their decisions

DfE Implementing your school’s approach to pay, September 2018 (revised in March 2019)

Governors must, before or as soon as practically possible after the start of each appraisal period

  • Inform the Headteacher of the standards against which the Headteacher’s performance in that appraisal period will be assessed.
  • Set objectives for the Headteacher in respect of that period

Appraisal Regulations Para 4, 2012.

“Governors’ oversight of the school’s work has not focused closely enough on raising the quality of teaching and pupils’ achievement”

Ofsted Report, October 2018