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Adam Reed

Director of School Improvement

  • Experienced Middle & Senior Leader
  • Specialises in data, curriculum and leadership training
  • Also available as a keynote speaker

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Performance Management in schools: monitoring, management or movement?

As a school leader, what is your most useful, significant and precious resource? Is it your classroom displays? Your Pupil Premium budget? Your books and worksheets? Your toys and games? I know many teachers who would put up a strong argument for smart boards, iPads and/or the Comic Sans font…not necessarily in that order. Is this what it’s all about?


No. Of course not. In our heart of hearts, I think we all know that a school sinks or floats on the strength of its staff. Your staff is your most precious resource. Therefore, your staff’s performance management (i.e. the means by which you ensure that they are progressing, succeeding and being supported) is by far one of the most significant factors in your school’s improvement. However, the question of what effective performance management actually looks like is still one that many leaders struggle with.


In his book, The Emotionally Intelligent Workplace, Daniel Goleman hypothesises that “good performance management is training”. So what does this mean for us in schools? The question we, at TT Education, would encourage you to ask yourselves, as a school, as a leadership team and as an educational community, is: are we focused more on performance monitoring, performance management, or performance movement?


What is performance monitoring?

This is the act of monitoring / testing / observing the ‘performance’ of a teacher, using a variety of measures. These might include book scrutinies, learning walks, peer observations, pupil reviews etc. The monitoring tells us what ‘the picture’ looks like in any given teacher’s classroom.


What is performance management?

This is the system by which we, as leaders, regulate, administer and strategically orchestrate the performance management system across an academic year and across a school. It relies on systems, processes, calendars, meetings, paperwork and the carrying-out of the monitoring activities outlined above.


So, what is performance movement?

This is using the two elements outlined above BUT doing so in a way that ensures that there is real, tangible impact on our staff and therefore our pupils. We are not ‘doing’ performance management – rather, like Mr Goleman suggests, we are using our systems and our measurements to pinpoint what support each teacher needs to improve his or her practice to the benefit of our pupils.


Sound familiar? It should, because performance movement is exactly what good teachers do to ensure each individual child in their class improves; focused, bespoke activities to fill gaps, informed strategies to challenge and stretch, supportive coaching language to reinforce, motivate and embed learning. This is also exactly what we see in the schools who are best at doing performance movement for their staff.


Our Effective Performance Management course addresses these three key areas, as well as many other key issues surrounding the issue of how to improve outcomes for our pupils. It’s worth taking a moment to reflect and consider which one most closely resonates with your school.


So, as you start to plan for this coming year’s cycle of ‘performance management’, what are you going to focus on? Performance Measurement, Performance Management, or Performance Movement?