- The importance of relating the appraisal objectives of teachers and leaders to “identified need”
- The importance of having differential expectations of teachers and leaders at different pay points – and ensuring these are met before pay progression is granted
- the importance of strategic governor involvement in receiving anonymised half-termly updates on the impact of support provided through appraisal for any teachers, leaders and significant groups of pupils who have been identified as underperforming.
1. Set clear expectations
Set clear expectations of the levels of professional performance expected of teachers and leaders at each pay point
a) Expectations for Teachers
It is vital that governors have clarified the levels of professional skill that they expect to see for each pay band or pay point in their structure and recorded this, after consultation, in their pay and/or appraisal policies. Our model Professional Skills Level Descriptors for teachers can be found here. They have been well received nationally and adopted by several complete local authorities as well as by hundreds of individual schools. They group the 9 teacher pay Points (M1-6 and UPS1-3) into three pay bands:
- Teacher (M1-3)
- Accomplished Teacher (M4-6), and
- Expert Teacher (UPS1 – 3)
They define the minimum levels of skill expected for each band in 6 key areas – Professional Practice, Professional Outcomes, Professional Relationships, Professional Development and Professional Conduct.
b) Expectations for Leaders
It is vital that governors have clarified the levels of professional skill that they expect to see for each pay band or pay point in their structure – and recorded this after consultation in their pay and/or appraisal policies.
Find our model Professional Skills Level Descriptors for Leaders by clicking here. They have been well received nationally and adopted by several complete local authorities as well as by hundreds of individual schools. They group leadership pay points into three bands: Leader, Accomplished Leader and Expert Leader. They define the minimum levels of skill the Governors expect from Accomplished Leaders in 6 key areas:
- Leading Colleagues & Building Teams
- Leading Teaching and Learning
- Leading Professional Development
- Acting on Evidence
- Handling Accountability
- Managing Resources.
The descriptors set out on the sheet have been developed with schools to be applicable to both middle and senior leaders at any level. It is our experience that some schools will also wish to provide further role specific detail in each of the six areas – eg for TLR1 holders, Assistant Heads or Deputies. The “Role Specific” area of the sheet can be expanded to include these definitions. Some schools also find it helpful to enable individual leaders to reflect on the priorities for them personally in each of these areas in the year ahead. The “Personal” area on the sheet is available for that purpose
Although these expectations will only formally be used to govern pay progression decisions for senior leaders, it is nevertheless reasonable to expect that TLR holders with many years experience should be working at “expert leader” level.
2. Assess performance
Make graded assessments of each teacher’s and leader’s performance against a range of “over time” descriptors to determine whether or not these expectations are being met
a) Making Graded Assessments of Teachers’ and Leaders’ Performance
The Assessment Process described below can either be completed online via Standards Tracker or as a paper exercise with the results entered into Standards Tracker.
The Assessment Process
Your school’s appraisal policy should explain how the audits are to be conducted and how members of staff can appeal against decisions they are dissatisfied with. To ensure consistency, it helps if final decisions on whether practice is “outstanding” “good” “requiring improvement” or “inadequate” (for teachers) or “emerging”, “accomplished” or “expert” (for leaders) are made by a small a group as possible – members of the senior leadership team for teachers and middle leaders, the headteacher for senior leaders and the Headteacher’s Appraisal Sub-committee (after advice from the External Adviser) for the headteacher.
The stages of the audit are as follows
- The teacher/leader/headteacher self-audits against the descriptors in the Teaching Over Time and/or Leadership Over Time Audits
- The self-assessment is reviewed by the appropriate leaders/governors to see whether they can accept the judgements in the self-audit.
- If leaders/governors feel that further discussion is needed about some of the judgements, the teacher/leaders should be told which ones and invited to attend (with reasonable notice) a meeting with the appropriate leader/governors. This should be set up as an evidence-based meeting. The teacher/leader will first have an opportunity to present the evidence that they relied upon as the basis of their self-assessment. The leader/governor will then present the written evidence (lesson observations/work scrutiny/incident logs etc) that leads them to question the self-assessment provided. There should be no surprises here. All evidence presented by leaders/governors should be in a written form and consist of documents which the teacher/leader has already seen and had the opportunity to comment on
- Following the meeting, the leader/governor considers the evidence on both side, makes a decision on the grading to be given by the school and informs the teacher/leader in writing
- Any teacher/leader dissatisfied with this decision should have the right to follow the school’s appeal procedures.
Further Notes on the Assessment Process – Teachers
Our overwhelming experience with schools is that they see the audit against the Ofsted Teaching Over Time criteria as the most vital task of all.
In terms of the Professional Skills Level Descripors for teachers at different stages of their career, it enables accurate judgements to be made about whether expectations in the areas of Professional Practice and Professional Outcomes are being met. The question now arises of how to make decisions about Professional Development, Professional Relationships and Professional Conduct. There are effectively three different options here – and Standards Tracker can be set up to cope with any one of them.
Before explaining the options, it is important to say a word about the National Standards for Teachers. Since these are the legal basis of a teacher’s capability to teach, it is important (as all our exemplar objectives do) to frame appraisal objectives in terms of national standards rather than Ofsted Teaching Over Time Descriptors.
The Teaching Over Time Assessment relates only to some of the bullet points across the whole list of national standards. The most useful everyday Standards Tracker screen shows colour-coded judgements about a teacher’s performance against the eleven descriptors. Some schools (see below) choose only to use this screen. There is no problem with this, but consideration also needs to be given to how decisions are being made about performance in the areas of Professional Development, Professional Relationships and Profesional Conduct. It is important to remember that a very small number of teachers will be performing at expected levels with regard to Professional Practice and Professional Outcomes but this will not be the case in one of the other three areas..
Standards Tracker can be used just to make judgements against the Ofsted Teaching Over Time criteria but it is set up in a way that allows schools, if they so wish, to make graded assessments against all national standards – and not just those related to inspections. Once the Teaching Over Time assessment process has been completed, Standards Tracker not only produces the Teaching over Time screen but also, separately, colour codes the relevant national standards the same colour. When this process is complete, approximately twenty national standards bullet points remain uncoloured (for example Standard 1.8.1 – “make a positive contribution to the wider life and ethos of the school”.) The issue for schools to decide is whether they wish to continue with the assessment process until they have made a graded assessment against the complete list. There is no right answer here – just a list of possibilities within Standards Tracker.
b) Assessment Process for Leaders
Unlike teachers, TLR Holders and senior leaders have no statutory national standards which can be used as the basis for deciding capability. Furthermore, the Ofsted Handbook still does not contain any detailed “leadership over time” descriptors to match those for “teaching over time.”
Because schools still need to assess quality of leadership performance to inform appraisal and pay progression decisions, we have developed our own audit against the 6 key descriptors, and schools have the opportunity to add additional information relating to different groups of leaders.
When it comes to auditing practice against these descriptors, heads have found it simplest just to use three judgement categories – “emerging”, “accomplished” or “expert”. This has the advantage of tying in with the 3 pay bands we recommend. Our skills level descriptors template models what “accomplished” leadership looks like against each of the key descriptors. With no national standards to define capability, the key document in this respect is an individual leader’s job description. We find it is very helpful if job descriptions, therefore, re-order existing responsibilities under the 6 key descriptors. A blank template for conducting this process is contained in the Leadership Skills Audit folder.
3. Set appraisal objectives
Set professional development and leadership & management appraisal objectives in the “weakest” areas identified by the audit
In terms of an “outstanding” Ofsted judgement, this is a key area to get right. The approach you need to follow with teachers and leaders identified as underperforming is discussed below. This section deals with setting objectives for the vast majority of teachers and leaders who are performing in line with or above the governors’ expectations. Indeed, most schools will contain considerable numbers of staff who are either “outsanding” or “good” in all areas of teaching over time. With them, the task should be to select a professional development objective which helps them turn a “good” into an “outstanding”.
The folder contains various examples of professional development objectives for both teachers and leaders for appraisers to refer to. Here are some key bits of advice
- Always try to name the pupils that the teacher will be focussing on. It makes it so much easier to identify robust impact measures. It is also very easy to do. Ask teachers to identify a “good” they’d like to make “outstanding”. The answer might be “Marking with Year 2 pupils”. Next question…. “Is it all Year 2 pupils, or are you thinking of a particular group?” Answer “No…it’s the most able I would like to target.” No problem now in naming the children
- In an example like this, it is highly unlikely that the teacher will want to work on this over a year. An assessment period or at the most a term is a much more likely timescale. There is nothing in any legislation which says an objective must last a year!
- With leaders, it is also often helpful to to try and measure impact via named pupils. You may want a UPS teacher to mentor an NQT – but the real success criteria is not just that the mentoring has occurred! It’s the effect it’s had on the learning of particular pupils.
Standards Tracker enables short-term objectives to be set in exactly this way. The area for development is specified – along with the linked national standard. Names of the target pupils and agreed impact assessment measures can be entered at the outset. As the mini-project developes, the teacher has the capacity to upload evidence of planning, pupils’ work, video etc. At the end, overall impact can be assessed. A great way of showing inspectors that you are relating appraisal objectives to identified need, providing appropriate support and assessing impact.
4. Make the link to pupil progress
Set rolling pupil progress objectives related to underperforming groups of pupils
These days, the obvious full year pupil progress objective for all teachers is that “all children should progress in line with school expectations”. What matters at the end of the day is not so much that every child does actually achieve that goal but rather you can explain the targeted work that has been done during the year to get as close as you possibly can.
Here too, there is a strong argument for action planning the pupil progress objective for each assessment period. Teachers enter assessment data, discuss it with senior colleagues, identify the children not progressing in line with expectations and choose one or more priority groups to focus on – with professional support – in the next appraisal period. An example of a rolling pupil progress objective can be found by clicking here.
Standards Tracker enables short-term objectives to be set in exactly this way. The area for development is specified – along with the linked national standard. Names of the target pupils and agreed impact assessment measures can be entered at the outset. As the mini-project develops, the teacher has the capacity to upload evidence of planning, pupils’ work, video etc. At the end, the overall impact can be assessed. A great way of showing inspectors that you are relating appraisal objectives to an identified need, providing appropriate support and assessing impact.
It is possible to work in this way with all teachers. With those identified as underperforming (see below) it will be advisable to have greater involvement in selecting the relevant target groups than it may be with colleagues performing at or above expectations.
Make performance-related pay progression recommendations for teachers and leaders
With clear performance expectations for each pay point and a decent assessment procedure to decide whether or not they are met, pay progression recommendations to governors become a simple matter.
Before any appraisal objectives for the year are set, it is important to be explicit about whether or not expectations both for this year’s pay point and for next year’s planned progression point are being met. Looked at this way, all teachers and leaders fall into one of two categories – they are either the right or the wrong side of the line.
For those the wrong side of the line, governors will be able to track their progress in anonymised format by using the records described below. They will obviously not expect to agree to pay progression if the person in question is still the wrong side of the line at the end of the appraisal year.
The vast majority, who are the right side of the line, will equally expect to receive pay progression unless they have been formally told their progress has dipped (and provided with support) or have clearly failed to engage with their appraisal objectives in a meaningful way.
Our model Planning and Appraisal Statement can be used to make all of this explicit and pave the way for a simple summary and pay recommendation at the end of the year.
5. Process for Teaching Assistants and other Support Staff
Make graded assessments (if desired) of the levels of performance of support staff – using national standards (where available) or your own descriptors (where not)
If you wish, Standards Tracker can be set up to enable you to make graded assessments of the levels of skill of your support staff as well as your teachers and leaders. Electronic versions of these audits are included in the Skills Audit Folders.
Where they exist, it obviously makes sense to use the relevant national standards. The folder contains national standards audits for
- The School Business Manager
- The SENCO (standards now look very out of date)
- The Caretaker
Where there are no national standards (eg for MTA’s, administrative staff and finance staff), you should consider developing your own skills level descriptors – very much as we have done for teachers. Once you have done this, the list can easily be entered into Standards Tracker and you can begin storing data and setting objectives online. There is a blank generic form for developing these expectations in the Skills Audit folder.
The Exemplar Objectives folder containe some examples of skills-related appraisal objectives for support staff for your appraisers to use.
6. Report to Governors
Report in anonymised format to governors on the short-term impact of support work carried out with teachers, leaders and groups of pupils identified as underperforming
(If you still need convincing of the importance of this, please read the “Re-engineering the Relationship with Governors document in the Briefing Papers folder!)
Which Governors Need to Receive this Information?
The right answer to ths question will very much depend on your school. In general terms we advise establishing an “Underperformance Monitoring Committee” made up of 3 or 4 key governors. There is often no need for this committee to meet every half term once it gets used to receiving its 3 regular half termly reports, none of which are very long. Any obvious questions that arise can often be dealt with by ‘phone and email.
How do I get the information I need to complete the reports?
- Once the assessment process has been completed for all teachers, the detailed picture of their agreed levels of professional skill can be set against the expectations for their pay point set out in the school’s pay and appraisal policy. This makes it possible to determine whether a teacher is working in line with the governors’ expectations or underperforming. It also makes it possible to decide whether there is any gap that teachers need to make up if they are to meet the criteria for the pay point they hope to move to in a year’s time. Anonymised information on all teachers identified as underperforming in either of these ways can now be sent to the relevant governors using the file in the Reports to Governors folder. This report will be updated at the end of each assessment period to show the impact of the support provided through appraisal so that governors have a complete and accurate picture at all times.
- Once the audit has been completed for all leaders, the detailed picture of their agreed levels of professional skill can be set against the expectations for their pay point set out in the school’s pay and appraisal policy. This makes it possible to determine whether a leader is working in line with the governors’ expectations or underperforming. It also makes it possible to decide whether there is any gap that leaders need to make up if they are to meet the criteria for the pay point they hope to move to in a year’s time. Anonymised information on all leaders identified as underperforming in either of these ways can now be sent to the relevant governors using the file in the Reports to Governors folder. This report will be updated at the end of each assessment period to show the impact of the support provided through appraisal so that governors have a complete and accurate picture at all times.
- The fact STRB virtually ignored middle leadership pay and pay progression in its report makes things more complicated for TLR holders – but, in broad terms, it is fair to expect that a TLR holder’s performance improves with experience. Thus, for example, a TLR holder with 6 years experience whose performance in some areas of Leadership Over Time still requires improvement could fairly be identified as “underperforming” for the purposes of reporting to governors and setting appraisal objectives.
Underperforming Groups of Pupils
Using the Pupil/Student Performance Report Card
The Pupil/Student Report Card enables leaders to keep governors informed of the progress being made, throughout the year, by the significant groups in the school. The column on the left begins the list of student groups. To this schools will have to add the groups specific to them, and contained in each cohort. The list of all ethnic and heritage groups, reported on in Analyse School Performance, is long, and a copy accompanies the Report Card pro formas. It would be expected most schools would identify White British, and then add the significant groups in their cohort. The targets for expected progress, for each group, will be in the School Improvement Plan, and have been agreed by the governing body. Senior Leadership will be reporting, using the proforma, at least termly, if not half termly, progress against these targets, enabling governors to assure themselves that underperformance of any group is being identified early. Leaders and governors may wish to agree a protocol for RAG rating underperforming groups according to the time of the year and the urgency of the problem. Priority groups for each reporting cycle can then be identified and the impact of planned interventions recorded on the Rolling Report to Governors for Underperforming Pupil Groups – enabling governors to satisfy themselves that interventions are in place to address gaps in performance and to check progress regularly. As an academic year progresses it is to be expected that the percentages on the card get closer to the targets which have been agreed. Retrospectively, the report card can be compared with the evidence of Raiseonline. This will give the governing body additional evidence about the accuracy of data and the quality of assessment in the school.
The areas being reported can be added to, depending on the needs of the school, along the top of the grid. The basic reporting areas are on both report cards, but Senior Leadership may want to add areas of the curriculum depending on the year group of the cohort; EBacc subjects are likely to be included for Years 10 and 11 for example, in secondary schools and SPAG in primary schools. In addition, during the current reporting regime, schools may want to include the percentage of Level 4s combined, or 5A*-C grades, including English and Mathematics. ForEYFS there would be no entry under Reading, Writing and Mathematics but columns could be added for Phonics and GLD. The beauty, and simplicity of this tool, is that it is easily adapted to the current profile and circumstances of the school.
Members of the governing body, who are charged with meeting Ofsted during an inspection, will have a simple, current overview of the progress being made by pupils and students. The use of this, over time, should support the confidence of the governing body in the work they do.