Sunday, 23 February 2014

Teacher Appraisal and PRP - Part Six: PRP for HoDs and Teachers

The majority of the posts in this series have focused on appraisal and on improving performance - I make no apology for that, for any organisation that seeks to introduce a form of Performance-Related Pay needs first to have robust appraisal structures in place.  As I argued in the first of these posts (see Part One), there are a number of issues when it comes to measuring teacher performance solely on the basis of pupils' results. The Novartis 3 x 3 grid which looks at both 'outcomes' and at 'attitudes and behaviours' provides an appraisal structure that looks beyond simple outcomes.

PRP and Heads of Department.
Recently I attended a Westminster Forum on the Introduction to Performance-Related Pay to the Maintained Sector. The well-rehearsed arguments for and against were played out, but no one mentioned that Heads of Department have a key role to play. My experience working in some of the top independent schools in the country is that a school's academic performance stands or falls by the quality of its Heads of Department because, unlike senior leaders, they are the close enough to the action to have a significant influence. It is they who are in a position to establish high standards and to hold teachers to account when they fall short; and it is they who can turn a blind eye and let poor performance drift. It was for this reason that we both decided first to introduce the new appraisal structure at HoD level, and, alongside that, to introduce an element of PRP for HoDs.
'Too soon to measure'
One of the issues that we have had to address is the situation where a HoDs appraisal falls 6 months after taking office. Clearly the HoD cannot be held responsible for the historic departmental results. However, we took the view that there was nothing to be lost by using the 'Attitudes and Behaviours' data to evaluate the HoD's performance, albeit over a relatively short period of time.
PRP and Teachers
At present we have no plans to roll out PRP to teachers because we are not confident that we have the granularity of data on teacher outcomes that would make it a meaningful exercise. Our priority is getting the new appraisal structure to bed down and to evaluate what impact it has in terms of teacher and whole-school improvement.
Roll-out Timeline
  • 2011-12: Senior Leadership Team and Governors formulate new appraisal structure
  • 2012-13: Consultation with HoDs on new pay scales and a group of HoDs drew up the HoDs appraisal grids
  • Michaelmas 2013: Working parties develop the Teacher, SLT and EY appraisal grids
  • Jan/Feb 2013: HoDs appraisals.  Outcomes judged on three-year rolling average; Self-appraisal forms comepleted, 360° Feedback, Moderation Meeting and Feedback Meeting
  • Jan/Feb 2013:  Trial Appraisals of the Teacher and SLT Grids
  • March 2013:  Publication of Teacher and SLT Grids (to Prep and Senior school staff)
  • April to June 2013:  Teacher Appraisals;  SLT Appraisals
  • Jan/Feb 2014:  HoDs appraisals - these will be the first PRP appraisals
The principal advantage of rolling out the new structure to the HoDs is that they already have an understanding of the process by virtue of having been through the appraisal process themselves.They have in effect already had some informal training in advance of the formal meetings and hopefully will be well prepared when they come to conduct teacher appraisals for members of their department later this academic year.
This project is in its infancy and we are very conscious that what we are doing at the moment is not the finished article - it is very much work-in-progress. There will be lessons learned as we go through the progress and I suspect that the Appraisal Grids will go through many more versions over the next few years. I will write again in due course with updates on our progress.

It is only fitting that I close by paying tribute to the many members of the Berkhamsted School team who have put hours of work and brain-power into this project; particular thanks must go to Deputy Heads who have worked hard to create a system that works and to the HoDs and teachers who have been the first guinea pigs going through the system. Thanks to you all.

Links to related posts on Teacher Appraisal and PRP:

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