What are the main weaknesses of the ‘twice/thrice’ yearly staff appraisal system that schools have traditionally used?
It doesn’t allow for reflection and progression to take place easily. In the same way we provide feedback to students regularly, we should also do the same with our staff. If issues are not discovered until the mid-term review point and then are not looked at again until the end of the cycle it can be very difficult to judge ongoing progress and impact.
If appropriate support has not been offered it can become very troublesome to say objectives have not been met. Often appraisal is seen as a tick-box exercise, and it can be tricky to really impact the quality of teaching and learning through staff assessment, development and support without ongoing feedback.
How is Standards Tracker able to address these?
Standards Tracker adopts a ‘little and often’ approach enabling a process for continual feedback and progress within the annual cycle. Both appraisee and appraiser are integral parties in this process and the open transparent nature allows for staff to take ownership of the process.
Standards Tracker allows for short term goals to be set outside of any formal appraisal objectives to support staff members in areas of need and address any issues in a timely fashion. This helps to ensure staff members meet their appraisal objectives and get the career progression they deserve as well as showing clear progress and impact as a school.
Can Standards Tracker help alleviate the workload of senior leaders, and if so, how?
Absolutely! Often with paper based approaches things are completed by different people at different times and sometimes in different ways. Standards Tracker pulls together all of the elements and tasks you and your colleagues may already be doing separately into one central place.
A recent survey of our existing schools told us that not only did senior leaders find the Standards Tracker service intuitive and easy to use but that it also saved them time too. One school noted that the service had saved upwards of 14 hours of time per senior leader!
What does the initial set up of a Standards Tracker service typically involve in terms of system configuration, support and/or staff training?
For a typical set up, each school is assigned a Project Manager who will guide them through the service for the first year, in addition to having access to our Support team.
An initial Project Planning meeting lays out the scope of the set up, and there are several follow up meetings to introduce additional elements of the service, such as how to embed triangulation forms and produce reports. As access is online; through secure, cloud-based servers; there is no need to change, configure or update any systems/technology.
Training is provided through remote meetings with the Project Manager and the school project leader(s), and disseminated to staff through online video and support materials so that staff can learn at their own pace.
And are there changes to existing working procedures?
Very little will change to existing practices, although often we find schools have a far more robust PM process, that makes greater positive impact on school performance.
What changes to the feedback and appraisal process are teaching staff likely to perceive if a school adopts the system?
Staff feel more valued, supported and invested in. They have more ownership and accountability for their own development and career progression. CPD needs are easily identified and supported using existing best practice within the school.
This has little impact on CPD budgets, therefore more development opportunities can be provided, both for individuals and for whole school improvement. There should be very little functional change to how things work in school as the same elements are applied, they are simply implemented in a slightly different, more effective and efficient way.
Performance-related pay can be an especially complex part of the staff review process – how can Standards Tracker help with this?
It is no longer complex because of the transparent nature of the service. Everything within Standards Tracker is completely evidence based and centred around collaboration and agreement between both appraiser and appraisee. This collaborative approach alongside robust Professional Skill Level Descriptors (or pay scale criteria/career stage expectations) makes the process simple, fair and clear for all involved.
Are you aware of any notable Standards Tracker success stories?
Very much so. We regularly invite feedback from our customers, it helps us inform development decisions and make sure the service continues to reflect the needs of our users and represent excellent value for money. We work with several Advocate Schools who each have their own success story about how Standards Tracker has positively impacted on performance management and in turn, quality of teaching and learning, and school improvement.