Over the last few years, an increased emphasis on performance-related pay (PRP) and performance management has meant the focus on appraisal meetings for staff has become a significant part of school life.
Whether it’s for an annual appraisal or mid-year review, preparation is key; it takes time to consider objectives, assess performance and deliver specific evidence that has been captured throughout the year.
Here, Damien Roberts, business development director at SchooliP by Derventio, explains how to best prepare for a review meeting, as well as tips for both the staff member and the appraiser to ensure the process is as transparent and efficient as possible.
While the main priority for teachers will always be their students’ learning experience, to ensure this remains as effective as possible, they are responsible for evidencing their teaching throughout the year. As part of this process, they are required to undertake appraisals to review their performance.
The process should be a thorough review of a staff member’s objectives, providing the opportunity to assess whether they are on the right path to succeeding their targets and receiving pay progression.
There is no doubt that appraisals can be hard to attend and just as hard to deliver; however, they are essential in making sure that teachers have both the support and the skills needed to teach effectively.
Forming part of this is continuing professional development (CPD); CPD plays a significant role in the development of teachers. Therefore, it is essential that it is considered as part of the appraisal process to ensure all teachers are given the best opportunities to enhance their practice.
Despite the understanding that appraisal meetings provide the opportunity for both parties to feedback on performance – ensuring there are no surprises when it comes to expectations around performance-related pay – there still remains an air of dread among managers and staff.
This can be for a number of reasons, but here are some top tips to ensure your appraisal meetings are productive, successful and rewarding…
Preparation is key
Take the time to prepare for the appraisal; keeping on top of evidence and progress throughout the year will mean both the appraiser and staff member are able to easily look at the data and highlight any strengths as well as areas for improvement.
Make sure that a space is booked for the review to take place and allow enough time to talk through everything, including an overall review of performance and how this fits in to the whole school priorities. Use the meeting to also think about any areas for development, and consider potential CPD programmes that may help enhance performance.
Making it two-way
The meeting is an opportunity for both reviewer and reviewee to open up and deliver feedback. It isn’t a tick-box exercise; this is a chance for both parties to assess the progress made so far, and if applicable, amend objectives or share best practice to improve effectiveness. It’s a good way to understand expectations, and sets precedence for transparency, so consider using open-ended questions to encourage responses and feedback.
Taking a constructive approach
Despite many schools already demonstrating effective teaching and learning, there is always room for improvement. Therefore, the review should include a focus on the positives, as well as the areas that could be improved. This should be conducted in a way that is encouraging and supportive rather than overly critical, ensuring staff are able to continue to improve their professional practice and develop as teachers.
Going the extra mile
Holding these meetings provides a good opportunity to motivate and reward staff. Sometimes a simple “thank you” can be incredibly effective. Senior leaders and staff alike should never underestimate the power of recognition and praise. Showing thanks for the work that has been done, and the impact it has had on both the students and staff can be extremely valuable.
Continuing the conversation
One of the most important things is maintaining conversation throughout the year. Although face-to-face meetings are essential, it’s vital to ensure conversation between staff members and senior leaders fill the gaps. This is where online systems can play an effective role, creating a bridge for the times when face-to-face meetings aren’t able to take place but factors can still be discussed and assessed. Notifications can then also be incorporated to remind each member of staff to provide new evidence or information against their objectives when necessary.
Ultimately, the key to effectiveness is to embrace an appraisal as an open, two-way conversation, whereby expectations are set and suggestions, goals and aspirations are discussed. This way, both senior leaders and teachers can be confident in the knowledge that they are working towards the same goal of success.
Damien Roberts is the business development director for SchooliP by Derventio. Having earned his stripes in software development, Damien progressed to client management. With his in depth understanding of the education sector, development skills, and the potential that technology has to offer, he is able to translate the needs of and feedback from customers at both the initial development stages, and later to specify practical improvements.