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Jessica Edmonds, Assistant Secretary, 9th October 2019

Making the most of your appraisal and performance management

Appraisal workshop with Kim Knappett
Appraisal workshop with Kim Knappett

Many members feel that appraisal is a process done to them, but that isn't what it should be like! Instead, think about appraisal as an opportunity to explore what you're interested in, and where you'd like to go in your career. It's important because it affects your career progression and pay. There might be an element of what the school needs to achieve, for example key stage or phase priorities or Ofsted recommendations, but that shouldn't be all it's about. Performance management (PM) allows everyone to move towards the same objectives together.

You need to be a prepared and active participant and engage with the PM process. At the same time, appraisals should be:
Well structured
Consistently applied
Done regularly
Focussed on outcomes (that are SMART)
Fulfilling & supportive

So, what do you need to do?

First, know what your appraisal and PM policy says. If you don't know where to find it, ask your line manager. It's likely that you'll have a meeting to set targets before October 31st, a mid- year review, and then a final meeting to assess performance against your targets in the summer.

Second, think about your (no more than three) targets. Some might be generic, but some of them should be personalised. Think about what support you might need to achieve your targets, and make sure that's noted on the documentation. Does anyone else need to be involved to help you meet your targets? If so, make sure that is also noted. Also think about where you are in your career; targets for teachers in the first few years of their career aren't necessarily relevant for teachers with fifteen years' experience, and vice versa. Avoid numerical targets: the NEU doesn't support them and there are other ways they could be worded. Make sure the baseline is clear; ensure targets are realistic but challenging; note down leavers, joiners, interventions, and absences; and finally ensure that the target is connected to your contribution.

Before you go into your meeting, think about what you're interested in, and what you think you could make a difference to. Write your ideas down. This will help stop you feeling stale, and help you feel invigorated.

What about UPS?

This was brought in to keep good teachers in the classroom. If you're on the UPS scale there's an expectation that you're highly competent, and that you make a substantial and sustained difference. However, this doesn't have to be whole school: year/ phase/department/key stage is more than enough.

My targets have been set. Now what?

Make sure you tell any observer of your lessons if there's something you want them to focus on - it could be connected to your PM targets, for example.

Make sure you're specific about what you need to meet your targets. Observations work both ways; is there a colleague whose expertise you could benefit from? Could you visit other schools? If you're in a MAT, take advantage of all those other schools and their strengths (I bet that was one of the ways it was sold as a good thing in the first place too!). If you're in a maintained school, could you visit one of your triad schools? Are there projects or discussions that would help?

Keep records. Upload them onto whatever system you use or in a folder. Before you take a project on, think about your PM targets. It's no use delivering a reading system across the year group if your target was writing and you haven't delivered on that. Review your progress against your targets. Consider interventions and circumstances.

It's not quite going according to plan.... Help!

Your policy should include a mid-year review. Has it happened? You shouldn't get to the end of the year and be told you haven't met your targets and that you need to go on a support plan. Your line manager's job is to manage you, and part of that is to spot issues and troubleshoot. If your line manager flags a concern, focus on it because they will check on it!

At your mid-year review, flag up any issues and be prepared to talk about any issues your line manager may have raised. Keep records so you have evidence to support you. Get help if you need it. Refine targets if necessary. Adjust targets to take account of long-term absence (through maternity or illness for example). Add comments to your appraisal form - it's a working document and it should be collaborative, fulfilling and supportive.

If you're having problems with your appraiser, speak to them about it in the first instance. If it's still not working, ask your head for a different appraiser.

I've been denied pay progression. What can I do?

If your appraiser doesn't recommend pay progression, approach your head. The head makes the decision and recommendation to governors.

You have the right to appeal. Contact your school rep for advice, or us if you don't have a rep.

Being denied pay progression doesn't automatically mean capability; the two do not stick together like glue.

Finally, good luck and have a great 2019-2020 year!

Thank you to NEU President, Kim Knappett, for the excellent workshop she gave on 14th September. If you have any questions or concerns about your appraisal or PM targets, please don't hesitate to contact me.


Related articles

Your quick guide to appraisals (23rd September 2018)
Conference 2018: Targets, Data, Appraisal and Performance Related Pay Do Not A School Make (11th April 2018)