Middle Leaders provide secret to school performance

Posted by James de Bass on Apr 26, 2019 12:30:12 PM


The work of middle leaders in schools has become increasingly important to school performance in recent decades, with education sector experts and researchers alike highlighting the benefits of an effective middle leadership team.


Whilst strong overall performance management remains fundamental to staff improvement and motivation - with one study finding that management quality accounts for 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores at different organisations - effective middle leadership is essential to ensuring that even the best performance strategies do not fall apart in practice.

 Heads of department, curriculum leaders and heads of faculty play a key role in implementing school performance strategy and improving pupil outcomes, bridging the gap between senior leadership strategies and teachers’ every day work.

 As senior leaders set out the progress vision for schools, middle leaders implement these guidelines on a daily basis, working with both senior leaders and teachers to improve whole-school communication, motivate staff and ensure that performance objectives are being worked towards.

 In their role as a liaison between senior management and classroom teachers, heads of department and other middle leaders are ideally positioned to provide on-the-ground oversight and create drive to make sure that school policy both works in practice and is implemented effectively say to day.

 In addition to this mediating, middle leaders balance their roles in driving grass-roots progress and representing staff to senior management with managing their team, communicating with parents, answering to senior management and teaching themselves.

 In order to achieve and sustain strong school-wide performance, it is therefore essential that schools work to develop strong middle leadership capacity.

 Former Ofsted chief Michael Wilshaw underlines that middle leaders are “the engine of any school” and “in many ways … the most important leadership group in the school.” 

 Teaching Leaders charity CEO James Toop similarly acknowledges the importance of investing in strong middle leaders, stating : “No school can be a great school without getting middle leadership right.”

 By taking steps to improve the quality of their middle leadership, schools can reap significant benefits for their performance: promoting consistency in staff performance, improving relations between management and teachers and boosting employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Building teams and implementing strategy

  1.  Foster individual relationships

 One key element of successful and effective middle leadership is an ability to build cohesion within a given staff team or faculty.

 Bolstering team cohesion allows middle leaders to boost staff engagement, performance and job satisfaction at the same time - improving departmental relations whilst also honing focus on team objectives.

 Heads of department should aim to support, motivate and steer staff to achieve performance objectives across a personal, departmental and school-wide scale in order to promote good pupil outcomes.

 To this end, it is important for middle leaders to invest time into building a relationship with all the members of their department on an individual basis. 

 Leaders should aim to encourage regular, one-on-one discussions with their team members and engage staff as much as possible in any departmental decisions, inviting feedback and providing support for individual concerns.

  1. Develop team working

 To foster strong communications and team work across their department, middle leaders should also aim to create time for group work sessions.

 Team work opportunities offer a way to increase departmental face-time whilst also efficiently taking care of administrative tasks: data entry, marking and reporting activities can all be done in teams to improve communication, save time and reinforce a sense of departmental cohesion.

 Alongside building strong communication within their team, middle leaders must work to focus their staff on achieving wider school objectives, linking departmental work and aims into the framework of broader, whole-school vision and strategy.

  1. Creating the department strategic plan

 Creating a departmental master plan will help leaders to link specific, department work with the broader school vision statement, boosting performance progress and ensuring that broader performance aims of school and team are forefront  in the day-to-day working of all team members. 

Middle leaders should aim to engage their department as much as possible in creating and reviewing the team statement so as to motivate staff - aligning senior management policy aims with departmental staff’s own needs and objectives. 

In addition, departmental goals and vision statements should be reviewed and updated regularly in keeping with both changes to wider school policy and also with feedback of individual staff within department.

By incorporating broader school vision into more concrete, departmental aims, middle leaders can effectively enforce the implementation of school policy, making it easier to achieve improvement whilst also cementing departmental unity and cohesion.

Maintaining and monitoring both standards and workload 

 Another key element of middle leadership is the maintenance and monitoring of high administrative standards. 

 In line with their accountability for departmental performance, middle leaders should aim to have some meaningful oversight over whether members of their department are adequately meeting standards for every day non-classroom teaching tasks such as planning, assessment, marking, data-entry, reports and parental contact.  This oversight should include assessing whether colleagues are spending too much time on a particular aspect of their non-teaching tasks and require support or guidance on how to complete those tasks more efficiently or reduce the time spent on them altogether.  This is especially true for more junior members of staff who are relatively new to the profession.

 This oversight both allows the school to run more smoothly and makes it easier to identify and resolve any operational issues, with each department leader keeping a closer eye on their team of staff.

 Whilst scrutinising team performance may risk creating a more tense, adversarial relationship between leaders and staff, it is important for middle leaders to identify and address underperformance wherever possible, both to resolve issues quickly and to maintain a culture of high expectations, thereby supporting school performance objectives and pupil outcomes.

 Middle leaders can get the most out of quality assurance checks and ensure that their staff are achieving consistently high standards by providing teachers with an overview of the year’s quality assurance processes ahead of time, giving details for example of any marking and feedback audits, lesson observations or moderation and data checks.

 To minimise the sense of inter-departmental scrutiny attached to these checks, the purpose and aims of assurance processes should be as transparent as possible, with space given for any feedback or concerns to be addressed.

 In order to get the most out of quality assurance exercises, middle leaders are advised to share their findings and feedback with the team.

 Constructive feedback should be as positive and productive as possible: examples of any good practice observed should be given, so as to increase the sense of positivity around the checks and boost staff morale. 

 Criticism and negative feedback meanwhile should be framed as far as possible with a focus on finding collective solutions going forward.


Between representing their department, enforcing senior management policies and managing their own teaching performance, middle leaders in schools have a difficult balancing act to strike. If they are able to foster strong team ties, connect school aims to specific departmental goals and hold their team to account however, they can have a significant impact in shaping school performance and will likely prove to be school management’s most important asset. 

 Improving Performance Management

 Educate specialises in helping making performance management easier, faster and more effective with the implementation of its Standards Tracker software.

 Educate supports teachers, school leaders, governors and education managers to develop and implement best practice staff performance management systems that deliver improved learning.

 To learn more on how Educate can help your school improve its performance management practices please email Carol French on carolfrench@educate.co.uk  or call 020 3411 1080.


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Topics: Performance Management, Leadership and Management, Leadership, continuing professional development, workload, Outcomes, Systems, coaching

Research reveals that performance is boosted by coaching styles of management

Posted by James de Bass on Apr 12, 2019 9:50:03 AM



Performance boosted by prioritising development

Performance management researchers are heralding the rise of ‘coaching’ styles of management performance, as studies suggest that a focus on individual employees’ development and progression is key to boosting overall workplace performance and productivity.

Surveys suggest that managers who focus on getting to know and understand workers’ individual strengths and maintaining individual employee engagement are likely to see the biggest improvements in performance, as modern workers seemingly respond better to a mentoring style of leadership than a more fixed, traditional approach.

 Employees list ongoing feedback, opportunities to learn and grow and accountability among their top needs from managers.

Despite this however, the majority of organisations appear to be lacking an emphasis on employees’ personal and professional development in their performance management strategies.

More than 8 in 10 employees report that they do not properly discuss their career progression with their manager, with 70% feeling that they are not adequately involved in setting their own objectives.

Without proper emphasis on personal objectives and career progression, workers are more likely to lose motivation, feel unable to achieve their performance aims and ultimately leave their role.

Currently, research indicates that 79% of workers feel that their performance is not managed in a way that motivates them


Schools urged to heed career progression needs

In education specifically, there is a clear need to develop more supportive managerial practices, with campaigners, the government and industry leaders all underlining the lack of career progression support available to teachers.

Despite education ministers noting a “growing culture” of professional development within teaching, figures show that annual school spending on CPD dropped by nearly 9% (£23.2m) in 2016-17, ending an upwards trend in professional development spending since 2011.

The Teacher Development Trust found that 4.5% of primary schools and 10.5% of secondary schools spent nothing at all on CPD in the 2016-17 school year.

The government has acted to boost mentorship by extending the induction period for new teachers to two years, in a move which policy makers hope will “strengthen” support for QTS and further career progression.

In a consultation report published last year, the Department for Education emphasised the need for schools to offer more career progression support to staff, noting that “career development pathways outside of traditional leadership and management routes are not always visible or readily available to all teachers.”

The report expressed concern for the “very little formal provision” of support for teachers between the stages of QTS and NPQ levels, as well as for longterm, expert teachers.

In particular however, the DfE urged schools to place more focus on the “needs of teachers in their third year of teaching and the few years after this,” stating:

“This group often make up the majority of a school’s workforce, but it is also the stage at which a growing number of teachers leave the profession, which suggests that there is more that can be done to respond to the needs of these teachers.”

By focusing on performance development and individual career progression, schools may therefore have a better chance of seeing a return on their overall investment in performance management and CPD — retaining more of the teachers hey have trained and harnessing the full potential of those in the workforce who are ready to expand their subject knowledge and take on more responsibilities within the school.

Creating a coaching relationship between managers and teachers

In order to provide an effective, development-focused, ‘coaching’ style of performance management, it is important that managers understand teachers’ individual strengths and challenges, so as to be aware of what is needed to both boost performance and ensure job satisfaction.

Performance discussions between managers and employees should be held frequently in order to both develop this insight and strengthen overall relations and teamwork between managers and teachers.

These meetings should be used both for feedback and to discuss the concrete steps to be taken towards teachers’ individual development and progression, with specific goals agreed collaboratively to ensure clear performance expectations.

By instating a routine of regular check-ins, in which small, specific goals are met and replaced by new, small goals on the path to broader, annual objectives, managers can better identify and resolve issues, boost performance and even improve employee job satisfaction.

Only one in five employees report strongly agreeing that they have talked to their manager in the past six months about steps to reach their goals, according to a recent survey.

More frequent input can have a significant impact on performance focus however, with those who have discussed their goal plan with their manager in the past six months 3.5 times more likely to be engaged.

Researchers suggest that this is because focusing on short term goals creates tangible, achievable aims for workers — making progress smaller and more easy to accomplish, boosting motivation and providing a fuller sense of what is needed to work towards more abstract, long-term goals.

As well as ensuring frequency, it is also of course important for the content of the meetings to be helpful — with clear feedback from managers leading to a 2.9 times more engaged workforce in one study.

Only 1 in 2 employees report feeling confident in knowing what is expected of them in terms of working towards their performance objectives on a daily basis, underlining the failure of many management strategies to communicate directly and effectively with workers on their aims.

To this end, the check-ins must also give the teacher the sense of being held genuinely accountable for their performance objectives.

Research shows that 60% of workers do not feel that their manager holds them accountable for their performance goals, despite accountability being linked to a 2.5x improvement in employee engagement.

In order to ensure that employees feel able to be held personally accountable for their performance goals, the objectives and feedback given must be realistic and understanding of the individual worker's specific circumstances.

Only one in five workers strongly feel that their performance is measured by factors which are within their control — with this disjunct between objectives and ability linked to loss of motivation, low job satisfaction and poor performance gains.

In brief, managers should aim to provide effective feedback which is clear, points to achievable next steps, and ideally invites engagement and input from employees themselves.

By shifting from reliance on annual performance reviews towards a more regular, progress-oriented approach, managers can benefit not only individual employee performance and satisfaction, but also the overall performance of the organisation, with strengthened communication channels and a more motivated and focused work-force.


Improving Performance Management

Educate specialises in helping making performance management easier, faster and more effective.

 Educate supports teachers, school leaders, governors and education managers to develop and implement best practice staff performance management systems that deliver improved learning.

 To learn more on how Educate can help your school improve its performance management practices please email Carol French on carolfrench@educate.co.uk  or call 020 3411 1080.



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Topics: Performance Management, Leadership and Management, Leadership, Teacher Appraisal, Annual Performance Review, continuing professional development, workload, Outcomes, Technology, Edtech, Systems, coaching

Edtech in schools can improve outcomes and reduce workload

Posted by James de Bass on Mar 29, 2019 2:45:25 PM


Edtech in schools improves outcomes and reduces workload

Recent times have seen a drive towards a greater use of technology in schools, with research linking the use of innovative ‘EdTech’ to improved pupil outcomes, higher teacher satisfaction and a more efficient school system.

Education secretary Damian Hinds last year called on tech companies to work more closely with the education sector, noting that placing innovative technology in schools can boost performance by “support[ing] access, inclusion, and improved learning outcomes for all”, as well as reducing the administrative burden on teachers and making assessments “more effective and efficient.”

The Department of Education has also pointed to the impact that technological innovation is already having for some schools in Britain, observing:

“State-of-the-art technology is bringing education to life…while also slashing the time their teachers are spending on burdensome administrative tasks.”

From a pupil outcomes perspective, effective EdTech has been shown to boost academic achievement and even bridge the attainment gap between groups of students by offering a more personalised experience better suited to all pupils’ needs.

New technologies can tailor teaching to a pupil’s learning style, ability level and speed, allowing students to work at their own pace and combatting some of the challenges posed by increasingly big class sizes.

For SEN pupils, technology affords a variety of possibilities for improving the learning experience, with tools such as inbuilt voice recognition, screen descriptive tools and adjustable text size and formatting options all helping to support students’ learning.

For teachers meanwhile, updated classroom technology can save time with efficient new solutions: minimising the need for basic administrative tasks like printing and photocopying, delivering simple and immediate assessment feedback to students during lessons and even streamlining complex data collection tasks to monitor and analyse class performance.

Automatic pupil assessment data generated by online learning programmes enables teachers to quickly and easily identity problems for students early on, allowing for faster intervention and targeted support to be delivered and pupils’ education to be improved.  

With unmanageable teacher workloads repeatedly linked to low retention and job satisfaction rates amongst teachers as well as lower outcomes, using time-saving technology can benefit both staff and students by alleviating pressure and allowing teachers more time to focus on their primary role of teaching.

To ensure that new technology is as effective as possible, schools must make sure that it is handled properly: identifying the solutions that best fit their overall performance objectives and enacting a considered implementation strategy, taking into account factors like staff training and necessary infrastructure.

Budget options and teacher input

When deciding which technology to invest in, schools should start by asking for feedback from teachers on what would be most helpful, to ensure that the solutions identified by leaders are the best fit for the classroom.

Engaging with teachers as well as senior leaders will both help to identify and remedy ‘friction’ points in the daily teaching process and ensure that staff are more likely to actually use the new technology in the long-term, whilst also reinforcing ties between management and teachers.

Whilst budget considerations will of course be a key factor in deciding on a new technology strategy, schools should be aware of the full range of payment options available for many tech products when tailoring their strategy to a price scale.

As Education Secretary Damian Hinds notes, “schools, colleges and universities have the power to choose the tech tools which are best for them and their budgets,” with a variety of ways to structure payment.

For example, through subscription and buy-back schemes, schools can exchange their old tech and pay for new devices in instalments, avoiding a sudden blow to the budget and allowing the school to stay up to date with the latest technology by trading in products for newer models.

Additionally, some schools may consider using their pupil premium funding to pay for new tech, with access to technology a key factor in improving education quality for students from low income backgrounds.

When a particular solution has been decided upon following feedback and research, school leaders should equally spend time on planning the implementation of the new system.

If possible, it is advisable that schools pilot the product on a smaller scale before rolling it out across the board.

Starting small can allow any teething issues to be dealt with and preparation to be bolstered before the technology is properly launched, avoiding disruption and easing the transition.

Training and infrastructure key

A crucial factor to consider is the training and infrastructure necessary to allow the technology to be successful.

Researchers say that these considerations should be seen as equal if not larger investments than the technology itself, with proper support provisions fundamental to making sure that the time and money spent on implementing a new solution gives a good return on investment.

Despite this however, many schools seem to neglect their training: according to one survey- just 15% of primary and secondary school teachers feel confident in using the technology in their classrooms, with only 33% having received hands-on digital skills training.

When considering training, managers should not only allot time and funding for teachers to learn how to use the new technology, but also for support staff responsible for providing assistance with the tech.

In addition, senior management members should be properly informed as to how the technology operates, in order that they properly understand the systems that their teacher are using and are able to provide clear direction on performance.

Infrastructure is of course also important, with a good network connection fundamental to making sure that technology works efficiently and delivers its beneficial potential to the classroom.

A slow network will defeat tech solutions by slowing down work for both students and teachers, in turn negatively impacting both productivity and motivation.

In terms of logistical considerations, management teams should prepare by considering the potential issues posed by the new tech in detail and deciding on mitigating measures ahead of implementation.

When implementing an individualised tech learning product for example, schools may consider the possible impact of the programme on teachers’ control of the class, and tackle this risk by finding apps that allow them to monitor student activity and lock pupils’ devices when not in use, to ensure that students stay focused and engaged.


Improving Performance Management

Educate specialises in helping making performance management easier, faster and more effective.

 Educate supports teachers, school leaders, governors and education managers to develop and implement best practice staff performance management systems that deliver improved learning.

 To learn more on how Educate can help your school improve its performance management practices please email Carol French on carolfrench@educate.co.uk  or call 020 3411 1080.



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Topics: Leadership and Management, Leadership, workload, Outcomes, Technology, Edtech, Systems

Ofsted to offer secondment roles for school middle leaders

Posted by James de Bass on Mar 26, 2019 3:10:34 PM


Ofsted to offer secondment roles for school middle leaders


School leaders will be given the opportunity to spend a year in secondment working for Ofsted as part of a new programme announced by the inspectorate this month.


Speaking in Birmingham, Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman unveiled the plans to school and college leaders at the Association of School and College Leaders’ annual union conference.

 The new programme highlights the inspectorate’s current focus on “the importance of collaboration and discussion on inspection.”

 From September 2019, Ofsted has proposed that inspectors do their preparation for a visit at the school the afternoon before the official inspection starts, encouraging the lead inspector and school leaders to work together and strategise collaboratively for the benefit of the school.

 Speaking to union members, Spielman maintained that consolidating “the shared experiences of inspectors and school leaders” via secondments would benefit both groups and in turn the education system, stating:

 “Ofsted is part of the education system, not separate from it.”

 The twelve month programme is aimed at middle leader subject leads and heads of department, who will “get access to [Ofsted] training and development, and, through inspection, gain insight into what all different types of schools are doing.”

 After 12 months, the watchdog says that school leaders should return to their schools “and hopefully will have gained hugely from the experience, benefiting the school in turn.”

 From Ofsted’s perspective, the scheme will allow the inspectorate to “gain expertise from middle leaders” and more closely understand the “up-to-date experiences of running a school.”

 It is also positioned as a vehicle to boost Oftsed's recruitment of contracted inspectors, after the National Audit Office warned the regulator that it needed to devise a strategy to stem its decrease in staff and ensure that enough trained inspectors remain to carry out school assessments.

 The programme is set to start early next year with a pilot scheme of current, trained inspectors already serving as school leaders, with plans for places to then be “open to any school leader who has had some whole school responsibility.”



The benefit of inspection training for school leaders


The proposal has been met with understandable reservations by education professionals, with many concerned for the implications on school performance of removing key leaders from work for twelve months at a time. 

 In voicing support for the programme, ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton nonetheless acknowledged the “logistical hurdles” for schools seeking to “cover the gaps in staffing which would result from secondments, particularly given that there are currently very significant teacher shortages.”

 Alongside and in spite of its potential drawbacks however, the new scheme also brings to light the valuable benefits that a closer understanding of Ofsted amongst school leaders can bring to both performance and pupil outcomes.  

 On a broad scale, Barton says the secondments could indirectly benefit all schools by “enabl[ing] Ofsted to benefit from the insight and expertise of people who are in the education engine room, planning, delivering and supporting the learning of young people.”

 In terms of benefits for school leadership and performance, the ASCL head says that inspectorate secondments “would also provide valuable career development for secondees, which could help to improve retention rates in the longer term.”

 Ofsted envisions that the secondments will form “part of the development journey of talented school leaders who are on a trajectory to headship or beyond."

 Leaders who have qualified and served as inspectors report becoming better leaders as a result of their training and experience, learning how to objectively assess school performance and identify problems, as well as how to recognise the good practice and progress that may lie behind potentially misleading performance data. 

 A wide range of experience evaluating the performance of other schools can provide school staff with a depth of understanding regarding the specific challenges and risk factors facing schools in specific conditions, as well as the most effective ways to overcome them.

 Additionally, as a result of their “shared experiences” with inspectors, these school leaders are likely to be more confident and proficient both in conducting self evaluations and in working with external inspectors during their own inspections to improve outcomes for their school.

 By supporting inspection training, schools can therefore provide ambitious leaders with attractive continuous professional development opportunities which benefit the school significantly: boosting long term retention rates and developing an array of management skills key to school performance.

 Such training equips employees with the confidence and expertise to develop their own practice and become skilled policy-makers, preparing them to take on new roles and creating a pipeline of strong, experienced candidates for future top leadership positions. 


 Working with school inspectors to get the most out of visits


Whether staff partake in inspection training or secondments or not, to get the most out of the inspection process, schools should try to be as collaborative with their inspectors as possible.

 To counter and overcome the anxiety, stress and pressure often associated with inspections, leadership teams to aim to approach visits as a collaborative endeavour in which inspectors are working with schools to help them hone their performance strategy and identify the best path to progress for them.

As wide a range of the school community as possible should be invited to share their experiences with the inspectors, whilst school leaders should strive to communicate clearly and directly with inspectors before, during and after the inspection. 

 In order to work effectively alongside inspectors throughout the process, leaders should use the initial phone call and email exchanges with their inspector ahead of the visit to begin an open dialogue and establish a common ground of understanding going in to the visit.

 As schools which are well-briefed on their own goals will be better placed to clearly discuss them with external regulators, senior management teams should ensure that they instil a common internal understanding of the school’s progress and weaknesses through self evaluations. 

 At the moment, with the new curriculum-focused inspection criteria coming into force this September, school leaders would be wise to take time to establish their “curriculum intent” — setting clear, informed and achievable goals.

 To this end, school management teams should dedicate time to reading into their curriculum and meeting to discuss potential changes or suggestions, as well as any evidence which supports of could add to their current strategy.

 Setting researched and considered ‘intentions’ will help set the foundations for a constructive, collaborative inspection as well as providing a blueprint for primary school performance management strategy beyond external inspections.



Improving Performance Management

Educate specialises in helping making performance management easier, faster and more effective.

 Educate supports teachers, school leaders, governors and education managers to develop and implement best practice staff performance management systems that deliver improved learning.

 To learn more on how Educate can help your school improve its performance management practices please email Carol French on carolfrench@educate.co.uk  or call 020 3411 1080.



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Topics: Industry Updates, Ofsted, Performance Management, Senior Leadership Team, Leadership and Management, Leadership, Middle Leaders, school inspections

Educate signs agreement with Vietnamese government

Posted by James de Bass on Mar 14, 2019 4:42:49 AM

We are pleased to announce the signing of an MOU with EITSC - the technology solution centre for the Ministry Of Education and Training in Vietnam. Educate will work with the Ministry to provide software systems for Teacher feedback and development based on the new Teacher Standards introduced in Vietnam last year.

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Topics: Teaching Standards, continuing professional development

1 in 2 school leaders term inspections ineffective

Posted by James de Bass on Mar 6, 2019 3:11:59 AM


1 in 2 school leaders term inspections ineffective


Schools in England are no longer to be punished for failing to meet standards in national exams or tests, thanks to policy reforms pledged by the government.

 The measure was amongst those unveiled by Education Secretary Damian Hinds last year, as part of the Department for Education’s new strategy to boost teacher recruitment and retainment levels.

 School leaders and education unions alike have welcomed the change, which will remove what many saw as the double jeopardy nature of floor and coasting standards.


By not classing schools as ‘failing’ or ‘coasting’ based on pupil outcomes in national tests, the new policy removes an assessment burden which many criticised for targeting schools without regard to contextual factors.

 The National Association of Head Teachers has long campaigned against floor and coasting standards, with general secretary Paul Whiteman stating:

 “[The] standards added unnecessary stress and uncertainty without ever helping the process of school improvement. School leaders will be pleased to see the back of them.”

 In lieu of the floor standards, only the results of Ofsted inspections will be used to force intervention strategies on schools, such as a change in management.


The changes however highlight broader issues with approaches to school evaluation and inspections as a whole, with Ofsted also recently coming under fire for failing to help school improvement. 

 Last year, a report from the National Audit Office found that less than half of head teachers felt that their latest Ofsted inspection had led to any improvement at their school, despite the inspectorate’s guiding principle to be a “force for improvement” in education.

 Some school leaders feel that the formal accountability system suffers due to its overly critical approach, as a result promoting competition rather than collaboration between schools and deterring honest, constructive dialogue regarding improvement.

 Instead, research increasingly suggests that a more supportive, less punitive approach to school evaluations is needed.

 To implement effective evaluation and accountability tactics, schools may benefit from pursuing additional evaluates, harnessing more informal, collaborative and supportive options to take control of their own performance.


Peer reviews offer assessment alternative

 For schools looking to go beyond inspectorate feedback, incorporating more  informal, lateral modes of evaluation may bring a helpful, new dimension to accountability.

 For example, schools may benefit from implementing peer review and mutual accountability strategies, which have proven in several studies to be a more effective driver of school improvement than traditional top-down inspections.

 Implementing supplementary lateral school assessment systems can not only bring a fresh perspective to assessments from other school leaders, but can also help to develop management skills within the school staff force and boost schools’ support networks by promoting collaboration between institutions.

 The NAHT’s Accountability Commission has advocated for peer review programmes to be more widely used in schools, holding that the strategy has significant benefits for both schools’ accountability systems and pupil outcomes.

In order to implement an effective peer review system, school management teams should ensure that the reviews remain improvement-focused and are as independent as possible.

School leaders should not only ensure that their peer reviews are led by an individual without any vested interest in the outcome, but also by fellow leaders who are detached enough from the school and its environment to be able to appraise its performance objectively.

 To maximise the benefits of the collaborative, communicative aspect of peer reviews however, schools should also ensure that their own management works with the external peer review team and joins them in the assessment process.

 By pairing external reviewers with in-school colleagues, schools can allow their own leaders an opportunity to gain insight into and analyse the daily workings of the school and provide opportunity for in-depth dialogue between the pairs of leaders, inviting detailed, thorough discussions on the institution’s performance and what can be done to improve outcomes.


 Peer review networks provide insight and CPD opportunities

 To equip reviewers to assess other institutions, schools should provide a short training workshop in self-evaluation and review for participants.

 The review should be informed by the school’s identified priorities and documented with both oral feedback during the visit and written feedback afterwards, focusing on performance strengths and weaknesses.

 When factoring academic results into performance assessments, reviewers should ensure to be as holistic as possible, focusing on contextual value added rather than simply assessing crude exam results without reference to the school's background or specific challenges.

 As well as informal feedback, peer reviewers should ideally provide a thorough action plan after the review in a report that both offers practical solutions and highlights key themes for improvement of the school’s current performance.

 In order to encourage further, continuing collaboration and strategic planning dialogue between schools, institutions working together on peer reviews should make sure to hold a follow-up meeting to discuss their progress and offer advice for any pitfalls that may have been encountered in implementing the action plan.

 The room for constructive, in-depth and informed dialogue between schools and their peers on improvement tactics gives peer reviews a uniquely helpful perspective on school assessment, separate from either internal self-assessment or external inspections.

 Schools report “valu[ing] the experience of other colleagues looking at our organisation and identified areas.”

 At the same time, the technique also builds leadership and performance management skills within a school’s existing workforce, allowing staff to gain experience in leading evaluations as well as providing them with continuing professional development opportunities through peer review training.

 Those who participate in school peer review initiative frequently report valuing the experience for this benefit, with one governor stating:

 “As a reviewer, I felt it developed my skills to gather, collect and analyse information in a short time frame…I feel I have developed skills on how to give feedback in a constructive way at a higher level than I have done before.”

 The development of leadership and evaluating skills within a school’s own workforce will likely have a positive impact on school performance in its own right and and helps strengthen the pipeline of leaders for senior positions within the school.


Improving Performance Management

 Educate specialises in helping making performance management easier, faster and more effective.


Educate supports teachers, school leaders, governors and education managers to develop and implement best practice staff performance management systems that deliver improved learning.


To learn more on how Educate can help your school improve its performance management practices please email Carol French on carolfrench@educate.co.uk  or call 020 3411 1080.






Improving Performance Management

Educate specialises in helping making performance management easier, faster and more effective.Educate supports teachers, school leaders, governors and education managers to develop and implement best practice staff performance management systems that deliver improved learning.

To learn more on how Educate can help your school improve its performance management practices please email Carol French on carolfrench@educate.co.uk  or call 020 3411 1080.


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Topics: CPD, Industry Updates, Performance Management, Senior Leadership Team, Leadership and Management, Leadership, Recruitment, Rentention, Recruitment & Rentention, Annual Performance Review, wellbeing, continuing professional development, school inspections

Support for teachers central to improving schools

Posted by James de Bass on Mar 1, 2019 4:05:30 PM

Support for teachers central to improving schools


The government has pledged to provide more support for teachers, as measures to aid those in the early stages of their career form a central focus of new policies to boost teacher performance and improve recruitment and retention rates within the profession.


In January, government officials announced an “ambitious” new strategy for the teaching profession,with an additional £130m a year to be put towards providing a two-year support package for new teachers under the newly created Early Career Framework. 


Education Secretary Damian Hinds says that his department’s new approach is based on a “commit[tment] to supporting teachers – particularly those at the start of their career – to focus on what actually matters, the pupils in their classrooms.”


As well as a longer period of initial support, teachers have also been promised improved access to mentoring, a better provision of professional development opportunities and a reduced workload - with less emphasis on non-teaching tasks.


The Department for Education has also outlined aims to make part-time working easier and take a simpler approach to recruitment, in order to encourage strong candidates from all backgrounds to apply.


Whilst some concerns have been raised regarding the altering of recruitment strategy — with NASBTT leaders saying that undue pressure has been placed on training providers to accept lower quality applicants — the news of a renewed commitment to providing better support for teachers has been overwhelmingly welcomed by the education sector.


ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton has noted that plans for an early career framework have “the potential to be a game-changer”, whilst NAHT chief Paul Whiteman similarly projected that the framework could “transform the reality of teaching in England”.


The strength of response to the framework underlines the centrality of good teacher support to school performance and pupil outcomes. 


From a management perspective, providing adequate professional support to teachers is one of the most significant factors in determining a teacher’s performance.


In order to get the most out of teachers at the beginning of their career and beyond, school leaders should seek to implement management policies that support their teachers at all stages - nurturing talent, offering flexibility and providing a clear path for professional development.



Improving accountability practices


Accountability practices in education are one area of performance management often criticised for undermining teachers, with experts warning that teaching suffers from the “audit culture” of today.


The emphasis of the current school accountability system on data and inspections has been linked by research to negative effects on teacher performance and job satisfaction, with some feeling that the overly numerical and punitive approach is unfair on teachers and undermines good teaching.


New policies have made some progress towards recognising that a less stringent, punitive approach to accountability is necessary to enhance teacher performance, with plans to simplify the accountability system and remove floor and coasting standards from Ofsted inspections announced this year. 


The education secretary meanwhile has voiced concern that teachers are in some cases “spending more than half their time on non-teaching tasks” as a result of the administrative burdens of collecting data and accounting for pupil outcomes - to the detriment of their performance.


To ensure that accountability strategy is as supportive of teachers as possible, schools should ensure that their internal policies do not overly emphasise data-collection or numerical outcomes where possible. 


Individual teacher performance objectives and assessment criteria should not rely solely on numerical outcomes, as this can negatively skew both the teaching of a teacher and the accuracy of their performance evaluation, causing damage to both pupil outcomes and employee job satisfaction.


Instead, assessment strategy should centre around building strong relationships between teachers and managers, instilling self-confidence in teachers and providing a culture where they are able to voice problems, access managerial support and work together with managers on solutions.


Any changes to existing assessment and accountability criteria should be agreed by both managers and teachers as far as possible. 


Allowing teachers to give input on how they are held to account will help to ensure that the benefits of implementing new accountability measures are properly weighed against their impact on teacher workload, whilst also promoting a shared vision of performance aims to improve teacher motivation and job satisfaction.


In this way, a more collaborative, less punitive approach to accountability will enable teachers to perform their best and take initiative, while enabling them to approach management with challenges if they arise. 


As Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT notes, a less burdensome secondary accountability system would benefit school leaders in the same way, “free[ing] school leaders to concentrate on what matters most, and that's delivering for pupils."



Mentoring and flexible working support


In addition to avoiding punitive policy and lessening the administrative burden on teachers, schools can see significant performance benefits from directly improving their support provisions for teachers.


Commenting on the Early Career Framework, Geoff Barton of the Association of School and College Leaders notes: 


"Providing teachers with support and development during the first few years of their career and helping them to flourish in the classroom […] can help to raise the status of teaching to where it deserves to be: as a life-enhancing vocation.”


In terms of support, mentoring schemes for example can not only improve new teacher performance but also provide opportunities for new and experienced staff alike, offering established teachers CPD opportunities via the chance to train in mentoring their colleagues.


For new staff, mentoring provides insightful and challenging feedback from colleagues who have been in their position, promoting a trusting and communicative working environment which in turn can build infrastructure for wider school performance initiatives.


To harness this collaborative potential, schools should aim to assign a dedicated mentoring lead if possible to oversee mentoring strategy. In addition to specific training for mentors, leads could also provide basic guidance on how to counsel colleagues to all staff, so as to create a network of support and collaborative solution-seeking across the school.


Another way that schools can create a supportive environment for their staff is by offering flexible working options.


Flexible working conditions and job share opportunities have both proven successful in schools, with NASUWT leaders asserting that the promotion of flexible teaching “makes a positive contribution to the workplace.”


The Department for Education acknowledges evidence that providing flexible working options can help schools “to get the very best out of their teachers”, stating in guidance:


“[Flexible working] improves employees’ work-life balance and well-being, helps to attract and retain staff, particularly those with caring responsibilities, increases productivity and

reduces costs.”


Schools are advised to be open-minded when considering flexible roles and consider cases on an individual basis. 


For recruitment purposes, flexible working can widen the pool of highly qualified, available candidates, whilst for retention, the practice can be offered to defer the retirement of experienced teachers and help teachers return to work more quickly after parental leave, easing the impact of staff transition periods on pupils in both cases. 


Accommodating teachers in job-share roles is set to become easier for schools, with the government having announced plans to introduce a new match-making service for teachers seeking a job-share.



Improving Performance Management

Educate specialises in helping making performance management easier, faster and more effective.Educate supports teachers, school leaders, governors and education managers to develop and implement best practice staff performance management systems that deliver improved learning.

To learn more on how Educate can help your school improve its performance management practices please email Carol French on carolfrench@educate.co.uk  or call 020 3411 1080.


Read More

Topics: CPD, Industry Updates, Performance Management, Senior Leadership Team, Leadership and Management, Leadership, Recruitment, Rentention, Recruitment & Rentention, Annual Performance Review, wellbeing, continuing professional development

When appraisal goes wrong

Posted by James de Bass on Feb 19, 2019 6:48:31 PM


Teachers protest “punitive” appraisal policies 


School leaders have been given pause for concern over their performance appraisal practices as teachers at several schools in England go on strike in protest of their schools’ performance management practices.

 Teachers in Solihull and Derbyshire recently held the first of multiple planned days of strike action after raising concerns about school appraisal policies including lesson observations and performance management meetings.

 The NASUWT members who organised strikes at Light Hall School in Solihull Granville Academy in Derbyshire say that teachers have been left "feeling stressed” and with “very low” morale by excessive oversight from management.

 Key demands included a restriction on the number of times teachers can be observed teaching, as well as fairer pay practices and a less pressurising approach to performance management — which workers say is currently affecting their mental health and wellbeing.

 The action highlights a disconnection between schools’ and teachers’ perceptions of performance appraisals however, with leaders at both institutions contesting the strikes. 

 Light Hall School head teacher Annette Kimblin underlines school management’s responsibility to implement “quality assurance procedures,” noting:

 “Their purpose is simple: to ensure the highest standards of delivery are maintained and that there is equality and consistency of educational provision for all our young people.”

 Kimblin adds that she is particularly “disappointed about the industrial action because there is an appeal process for teacher appraisals, which nobody has used before striking.”

 Teachers’ union leaders however say that their members “have not made the decision to strike lightly,” but are moved by profound issues with appraisal policies and the unresponsiveness of their schools to these issues to take action.

 NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates says:

“The NASUWT has deep concerns about the way in which policies around lesson observations, performance management and capability and disciplinary matters are being carried out which has contributed to a punitive climate in the school for teachers.”

 Improving pupil performance is clearly a central focus of performance management in schools, with regulations stipulating that teacher performance objectives should aim to “contribute to improving the education of pupils” or further “any plan of the governing board designed to improve that school's educational provision and performance.”  

The frequency of observations should not of itself be a cause for striking; in fact most surveys show that employees crave more feedback from their employers not less.  However, if the quality of feedback and observation is poor then it can cause resentment and disenchantment.  Training middle leaders in the best way to conduct feedback and appraisal is necessary to ensure the process engages staff in their own development.

 By basing evaluations on a balanced, holistic overview of both teacher performance and pupil progress, schools may be able to more effectively monitor and improve their education provision without demoralising or unfairly penalising teachers.


 Schools advised to measure progress broadly

 First and foremost, research shows that it is most important that teachers perceive their performance appraisals and objectives to be fair.

 Appraisal policies and processes felt by teachers to be unfair have been linked to not only a breakdown in manager-employee relations, but also to poor outlooks on job satisfaction, motivation and future progress: ultimately leading to setbacks rather than gains in teachers’ performance.

 In addition, evaluations which are too narrow in their considerations or based only on a small sample of data are less likely to provide a full, accurate portrayal of teachers’ performance, and risk penalising teacher for factors outside of their control or for performance assessments which are simply inaccurate.

 To avoid making imbalanced evaluations which may be unfair to staff, schools are advised to base their appraisals on a wide range of measurements and considerations - both subjective and objective, without weighting any one, specific measure too greatly.

 A balanced evaluation may make teachers more likely to take critique on board as they feel more supported, whilst an understanding appraisal approach which takes into account aspects such as any measures taken by the teacher to resolve setbacks will enable managers to better identify and address the real causes of any progress issues.

 In addition, experts advise that it is also important for appraisal policies to acknowledge that external factors beyond the teacher will also affect pupil progress and outcomes, and so as such percentage fluctuations in class performance cannot be entirely attributed to the employee.

 Guidelines recommend that any performance objectives set for teachers should be attainable and tailored to the individual teacher, to avoid demoralising staff with seemingly unattainable or impertinent goals.

 The Department for Education’s model appraisal policy suggests that schools set performance goals which are: “specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound, and will be appropriate to the teacher’s role and level of experience.”

 The Association of Teachers and Lecturers meanwhile advises that “targets should be of the nature that, if reached, they contribute to the progress of pupils in its widest context.”

 To set reasonably attainable goals for teachers, schools should provide a clear and tailored definition of progress which is specific to the school’s own context.

 Some experts recommend that appraisal policies should not include set progress levels, but instead taking a more qualitative rather than quantitative approach to performance measurement.


Objectives should "not rely on raw data"

 In the name of providing broad and fair evaluations of pupil progress and teacher performance, several teachers’ unions advise against setting any numbers-based objectives whatsoever, holding that such measures lack nuance and may appear arbitrary.

 The Association of Teachers and Lecturers says it does “not support targets that specify what groups of pupils should attain in order for the teacher to be regarded as successful in that objective,” adding:

 “Schools should avoid setting numerical objectives that rely on raw data.”

 However, many schools do use number-based objectives, finding it to be a helpful and concrete way to assess improvement and back up more subjective, broader perceptions of a teacher’s performance and its impact on pupil outcomes.

 When deciding whether to implement number-based objectives, it is important that schools take into consideration the thoughts of teachers on such appraisal policies.

 The National Union of Teachers advises that performance objectives should not be “based on percentage target increases in tests or examinations” unless both managers and teachers “feel that the use of numerical targets is appropriate.”

 When numerical targets are implemented, the NUT advises: “the objectives should be reasonable, taking into account the context in which [teachers] work and that factors outside [their] control ... may affect achievement.”

 Further, schools that decide to use numbers-based performance objective should still ensure that these measures are appropriately weighted, so as to avoid outcomes which could be deemed unfair or punitive.

 A recommendation for a teacher’s pay award should be based on that teacher's level of skill and their development measured against the Teacher Standards, not solely based on whether objectives have been met or not met.

 Secondly, number-based goals should not be too exacting in their aims, providing scope for an acceptable range of improvement outcomes rather than demanding a precise rate of improvement from teachers.

 Goals should take account of the context of the pupils themselves, perhaps using measures such as the progress in outcomes for pupils eligible for the pupil premium or those with SEN to provide a more in-depth analysis of education quality. 


Allowing for a broader range of acceptable results and input variables in performance appraisals allows for more understanding of factors beyond the teacher’s own performance which affect pupil outcomes, and avoids demoralising or penalising employees unnecessarily.


Improving Performance Management

Educate specialises in helping making performance management easier, faster and more effective.Educate supports teachers, school leaders, governors and education managers to develop and implement best practice staff performance management systems that deliver improved learning.

To learn more on how Educate can help your school improve its performance management practices please email Carol French on carolfrench@educate.co.uk  or call 020 3411 1080.


Read More

Topics: CPD, Industry Updates, Performance Management, Senior Leadership Team, Leadership and Management, Leadership, Recruitment, Rentention, Recruitment & Rentention, Annual Performance Review, wellbeing, continuing professional development

Supportive performance management can help teacher retention

Posted by James de Bass on Feb 12, 2019 9:45:26 PM

Supportive performance management can help retention

Schools may be able to combat waning teacher retention levels by adjusting their approach to performance management, research suggests.

With the number of teachers in state schools dropping to the lowest levels for five years in 2018 and the secondary school pupil population alone predicted to rise by 400,000 (14.7%) by 2027, the staff retention crisis remains an increasingly pressing concern for schools.
The Public Accounts Committee has warned that teacher retention rates are at risk of causing grave issues for UK schools, with chair Meg Hillier urging: “The Government must get a grip on teacher retention and we expect it to set out a targeted, measurable plan to support struggling schools as a matter of urgency.”

Low job satisfaction is a leading factor in the downward trajectory of teacher retention levels, with the Department for Education finding that an increasing number of teachers are leaving the profession for reasons other than retirement due to dissatisfaction with workload , pay and a lack of professional development opportunity.  Whilst efforts towards boosting teacher satisfaction have largely tended towards proposals to decrease workload and offer pay incentives, schools may also be able to improve their retention rates by simply rethinking their management practices to place a higher priority on the needs of staff.  According to research, teachers are significantly more likely to remain in schools where performance management policies are supportive and place an emphasis on career development opportunities for their employees.  
To tackle retention issues, schools should therefore seek to instil a more supportive ethos in their performance management strategies: encouraging strong management-teacher communications, prioritising professional development opportunities, inviting staff feedback and placing more emphasis in performance conversations on teachers’ support needs rather than on targets and pupil outcomes.

Balancing teacher performance and needs

In harnessing performance management for the benefit of improving teacher retention levels, schools need to balance a managerial focus on supporting teachers and their personal career development alongside more traditional focus on improving pupil outcomes.   Achieving this balance is key to preserving the essential role of performance management in pupil outcomes, with one study finding that a 1 point improvement in performance management on a scale of 1 to 5 equates to an improvement of approximately four GCSE grades per pupil.  In addition, an average difference of two GSCE grades per pupil has been found between UK schools with average management scores and those in the lowest 10% of management efficacy.
Schools can best balance this twin managerial focus on teacher support and pupil outcomes through identifying strategies which serve both aims where possible.

For example, in terms of communication, implementing frequent teacher-management meetings for feedback and reviews can not only help managers to monitor and address problems with performance targets, but can also help to ensure that teachers feel valued and supported.
Schools should aim to foster a general culture of open communication between teachers and school leadership at all levels, with studies showing higher retention rates at schools where head-teachers instate an open-door office policy, prioritise communication and make a point to meet with new teachers.

The nature as well as frequency of this communication is important to improving relationships: discussions between management and leadership should not solely comprise performance-based feedback, but also include consideration of the teacher as an individual and their needs.
As well as inviting feedback from teachers in formal sit-down meetings, school leaders should try to take a more personal interest in staff and make an effort to acknowledge any achievements: whether via email or simply in casual conversation.  
Through small, positive, personal gestures, school leaders can counter and compliment more performance-centric discussions to make staff feel more valued, as researchers note that “many teachers…do not feel valued or reward sufficiently for their efforts by …leaders in their schools.”

Prioritising continuing professional development in performance management practice is another way to make teachers feel valued and supported. As National Association of Head Teachers general secretary Paul Whiteman observes:

“Professional training [is] not keeping pace with teachers’ expectations. They don’t ask for much but they are getting even less.”

With 60% of teachers leaving their last job for reasons related to career advancement or development, schools must make sure to offer accomplished teachers sufficient growth opportunities to keep them satisfied.  Teachers who perform well in periodic performance reviews and are not feeling challenged enough by their targets should therefore be offered the opportunity to take on new roles within the school as peer assistants or project coordinators.
By offering accomplished teachers these opportunities, schools can provide quality staff with the leadership and administrative experience they desire and in turn invest in the next generation of the school’s leadership, while also likely seeing benefits to school performance.

Managerial support training key

In addition to improving communication and career development, schools must ensure that their performance management policies provide adequate general support to teachers.
A lack of proper support can lead to problems with both teacher performance and retention rates, with high teacher turnover more common in schools with poor school management support.  In one US survey of 32,000 teachers, the quality of peer and administrative support offered by a school ranked among the key deciding factors in a teacher’s choice to leave their profession.  School leaders should therefore aim to instate policies that make teachers feel supported, trusted and engaged by their leadership and management: ensuring that teachers are involved in important decisions and that managers are equipped to nurture their staff.
To achieve this, it is important that managers are given proper training in how to effectively support teachers and deliver performance appraisals.  This will offer teachers the work and resource support they need to manage their workload, focus on teaching and improve their performance — ultimately leading to gains in job satisfaction and staff retention.

Support for new and incoming teachers is particularly important in order to maintain good pupil outcomes and build strong working relationships between management and teachers, ensuring that new staff are able to perform well and feel invested in the school.
New teachers should be offered additional support from managers, through initiatives such as mentor allocations and induction programs.  This support should be followed through as teachers progress, with measures such as monthly one-on-one meetings to address teachers’ support needs and performance.

In addition, more experienced teachers should be offered the opportunity to engage in the school’s decision making processes, by being invited to board meetings and other administrative discussions.  Including staff in important decisions will help to promote an environment of trust, boosting job satisfaction and retention rates.  To this end, performance management policies should also aim to give teachers as much latitude as possible over how their classrooms are run and engage teachers in setting their own objectives.

Improving Performance Management

Educate specialises in helping making performance management easier, faster and more effective.Educate supports teachers, school leaders, governors and education managers to develop and implement best practice staff performance management systems that deliver improved learning.

To learn more on how Educate can help your school improve its performance management practices please email Carol French on carolfrench@educate.co.uk  or call 020 3411 1080.


Read More

Topics: CPD, Industry Updates, Performance Management, Senior Leadership Team, Leadership and Management, Leadership, Recruitment, Rentention, Recruitment & Rentention, Annual Performance Review, wellbeing, continuing professional development

CPD - an overlooked asset in boosting performance

Posted by James de Bass on Feb 1, 2019 10:58:09 AM

 Continuing professional development: an overlooked asset in boosting performance


School leaders are investing less in providing teachers with continuing professional development as budgeting cuts and financial strain lead schools to direct spending towards other areas, new research indicates. 


According to statistics published by the Teachers Development Trust, spending on CPD in schools dropped by £23m year-on-year for the 2016-17 school year. 


Schools in England spend just 0.5% of their budgets on CPD on average, with research revealing that 10.5% of secondary schools and 4.5% of primary schools spent no money at all on continuing professional development in 2016-17.


The Department for Education cites CPD provision as an essential element in bolstering school success and urges that “professional development must be prioritised by school leadership.”


Yet financial strain appears to preventing schools from offering CPD activities, with a government teacher survey last year finding cost to be the most commonly cited barrier to teachers accessing effective CPD.


The lack of quality development opportunities available to teachers as a result is noted by the OECD, which states that “the quality and nature of continuing training available [in UK schools] is very uneven”. 


91% of teachers affirmed that the were prevented by barriers including cost and workload from accessing continuing professional development in a Department for Education survey last year.


This lack of access is particularly concerning given that widespread research has confirmed the benefits of CPD, with statistics showing strong links between CPD provision and improvements in pupil outcomes, staff morale and retention rates.


An extensive 15 year study on learning influences by University of Auckland professor John Hattie found CPD to be in the top 20 most influential elements in improving pupil outcomes out of 138 practices analysed.


In order to reap the benefits of professional development provision whilst adhering to a tight school budget, school leaders must be selective in finding good value and cost-free approaches to incorporate CPD opportunities into their management systems.



Choosing the right training 


One key criticism often levelled at CPD as a strategy is the broadness of the term. 


Comprising any activity that helps workers develop their skills and knowledge, and enhance their professional practice, CPD can take a vast range of forms in schools — from accreditation courses, training and workshops, to in-school mentoring schemes and peer group exchanges. 


A CPD strategy can encompass on one hand activities as small-scale as individual teacher reading and reflection and on the other involve intra-school visits, education conferences and widescale network collaboration.


As a result, the sort of strategy chosen by a school is hugely significant to CPD’s effectiveness in terms of both results and time and cost efficiency.


TDT chief executive David Weston warns that “a large swathe of training has no effect whatsoever on pupil outcomes,” adding: 


“The training most schools choose is often poorly chosen and ineffective, and the evidence about how to fix this is not widely known or understood.”


Research shows that CPD is most effective when it is targeted, evidence-based, collaborative, sustained over time and subjected to periodic evaluations. 


In particular, collaborative techniques such as implementing networks for topic-specific best practice sharing both within and across schools can be very effective in improving pupil outcomes.


These networks offer a low-cost way to bolster professional development and staff support and strengthen ties between colleagues, pooling resources and uniting staff on common goals in areas like special educational needs, maths and English teaching.


One MAT head notes that implementing system leader networks “reduces our resource needs by creating a synergy and network of people working together.”


This activity in particular provides staff with an opportunity to build their leadership and initiative skills, fostering the next generation of school leaders and improving job satisfaction.


In addition, collaborative efforts can be surprisingly time effective, with technology allowing networks to communicate remotely and for free via chat groups. 


Time efficiency is another key concern in prioritising CPD strategies, with many school leaders reluctant to add to staff’s heavy workloads with mandatory courses or trialling of new teaching methods.  


In its 2018 school snapshot survey report, the Department for Education found that 51% of over 1,000 teachers surveyed did not feel they had time to take up significant professional development activities such as courses.


Therefore when selecting their CPD offerings, it is imperative that schools focus on those that maximise time efficiency alongside cost considerations.


Incorporating CPD into existing performance management strategies, such as via 360 degrees performance appraisals, is one option.


Additionally, schools are advised to ensure that their chosen CPD offerings dovetail as neatly as possible with the school’s specific development goals, so that time spent on development has a tangible impact on improving outcomes and doesn’t feel to teachers like a gratuitous additional activity.



External experts and evaluations


Whilst in-school strategies such as peer networks and incorporating CPD into existing performance management policies offer cost-effective and time-effective results, research suggests that offering teachers some training from external experts is important and can significantly boost CPD’s effectiveness.


External experts offer not just evidence-based training and insight, but also bring a fresh perspective from outside of the school to identify and correct bad habits which may have become widespread across a school.

When choosing workshops and courses, schools are advised to be selective — aiming for a few, well-chosen, longer term courses directly related to practical school development objectives rather than a wide array of one-off workshops on a variety of subjects.


Research suggests that schools can achieve better results with training which takes place over a sustained period of time and which is more hands-on in nature, in part because allowing teachers to practice new skills is crucial to enforcing new techniques.


One-off sessions and out-of-school events such as conferences are therefore less likely to have an impact on teaching quality than more personalised, hands-on courses where smaller groups of teachers receive training support over an extended period of time. 


For similar reasons, training should be as targeted as possible, concentrating on a small set of focuses to allow teachers to thoroughly extend their knowledge and key skills on a specific subject and to practice what they learn during sessions.


Analysts advise against superficial focus on ‘tips and tricks’ and bought-in lesson plans, as such techniques are less likely to build teachers’ own skills and confidence and so improve the long term quality of their teaching.


In addition, school management should strive to evaluate the effectiveness and progress of CPD offerings should after training is delivered. 


Whilst this may in the short term add time and cost to the process, in the long-term such evaluation is key to ensuring that a school’s CPD provision is as streamlined and effective as possible. 


At the moment, only 3% of UK secondary schools evaluate the impact of CPD on student outcomes and attainment, promoting a scattershot, inefficient, hit-and-miss approach to training investments and making it difficult to know which offerings are truly proving to be the most valuable.



Improving Performance Management


Educate specialises in helping making performance management easier, faster and more effective.

 Educate supports teachers, school leaders, governors and education managers to develop and implement best practice staff performance management systems that deliver improved learning.

 To learn more on how Educate can help your school improve its performance management practices please email Carol French on carolfrench@educate.co.uk  or call 020 3411 1080.


Read More

Topics: CPD, Industry Updates, Performance Management, Senior Leadership Team, Leadership and Management, Leadership, Recruitment, Rentention, Recruitment & Rentention, Annual Performance Review, wellbeing, continuing professional development

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