All schools need some kind of performance management process. But how can they make sure that the process of performance management doesn’t take precedent to its very purpose – the development of their teachers and staff?
I’m a big believer in process. I’m going to lay that out at the start. To me, it’s really important that, for the day-to-day running of a school (or any organisation), there are clear processes and procedures that everyone knows how to follow, in order to ensure clarity, transparency and, also, to support staff in feeling secure in what they’re doing. There’s nothing worse than feeling completely at sea, because you don’t know what the process or procedure is to handle a situation. Processes and procedures are how we implement and work towards our shared vision, as a school – they are a vital part of a teacher’s toolbox and they help to ensure the smooth running of the school, because everyone is pulling together.
So, when it comes to performance management, there needs to be a procedure, right? Right. Of course there does. However, this is where I get a bit twitchy! Procedure is important, of course, but it’s not the most important aspect of … well, anything. Let’s take an example: marking. All schools now have a marking policy. This is right and proper and I’m 100% on board with this. However, the most successful schools have scrapped the more complicated systems such as triple-impact marking, recognising that it simply is not useful. As Sean Harford, HMI National Director for Education puts it: “There is remarkably little high-quality, relevant research evidence to suggest that detailed or extensive marking has any significant impact on pupils’ learning”. Why? Because this is a perfect illustration of process over content – doing paperwork to show how well you can do paperwork, not to actually move children’s learning forward.
So yes, there should be a policy – for marking, for safeguarding, for any significant areas a school needs to regulate. But this does not mean that the best schools have extensive policies, causing extensive work, often thereby creating the minimum of impact. The best policies are concise, succinct and cause the minimum of workload for the maximum of impact. As David Hopkins says of School Development Plans in ‘Every School a Great School’, “The length of a school’s development plan is in inverse proportion to its impact on practice”. I would argue that this holds true for any school policy.
Coming back, by a slightly meandering route, then, to performance management. Yes, of course there ought to be a policy and a procedure, but let’s not mistake lengthy, complex procedure for efficiency. Let’s not mistake depth of paperwork for depth of impact. Performance management comes in many shapes and sizes – some schools use paper forms, others use online systems; some schools use email-linked calendars to schedule reviews months in advance, others catch one another in the hall to arrange a time for a chat – but there are several key areas in which the most effective schools are the same:
There are, of course, many different ways of doing this. However, at TT Education, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about performance management, because our entire purpose is to improve children’s life chances by empowering staff, and one of the most significant ways to empower staff is with rigorous, inspiring, supportive performance management. This is why we created our brand new School CPD Tracker portal. Now please bear with me, because I don’t want to become too sales-y, but this is an exciting system and it makes performance management just so simple, straightforward and effective, I can’t help but get a bit enthusiastic! School CPD Tracker:
Best of all, it’s just so simple to use, with everything together in a single online portal. Performance management is not about complicated procedures, piles of paperwork or adding to teachers’ and leaders’ already overburdened workload. It’s about recording the great practice, reflecting on personal progress, and – this is the key – developing your staff (and thereby your children) to be the best they can be. After all, isn’t that what education is all about?
Published on 25 May 2018