In many schools, performance management is carried out unwillingly and appraisals happen because they have to, because managers have been told they have to do them.
This is certainly not how we see it at NTS. From the school’s point of view, Performance Management is perhaps the single most important tool for improving standards. Most discussions that take place between members of the Senior Management Team and Heads of Department are either directly or indirectly about it.
We don’t regard it as a one-sided process, though. Common sense dictates that effective Performance Management should contribute significantly towards each individual’s professional and career development. With this firmly in mind, our aim is that the process should be one of co-operation, not of imposition.
There are several aspects to Performance Management at NTS:
Each member of staff will discuss targets for the year with his or her Head of Department or Line Manager. Some of these will be numerical – exam and test results – but others will represent the improvements and developments that the department and individual wish to make over the year. The latter will always be in terms of teaching and learning.
Target-setting is difficult but important. Targets must be challenging but attainable. This is particularly true of exam targets, for which prior performance data are used: there should be cause for celebration when exam targets are reached, and cause for reflection – not misery or recrimination – when they are not.
This takes place annually. In teaching and learning terms it represents the summative assessment. It should be nothing more than a summary of discussions, observations and work carried out during the year. Our over-riding principle is that “there should be no surprises”. There is an interim check on performance in February called the “Mid-Term Review”. This is a self-assessment discussed between teacher and Head of Department.
Formative Assessment and Support
Appraisal and target-setting are not simply done and then forgotten. Everybody has their own “agenda for the year” and this must inform thinking, practice and discussion throughout the year. Everyone has a responsibility here – individual staff, their line managers and the Senior Management Team.
Watching other people teach is a powerful way for both parties – the observer and the observed – to improve their own classroom practice. This is dealt with in more detail on a separate page.