In many organisations – and schools aren’t excluded – there tends to be some division amongst the workforce. It’s the responsibility of the school’s leadership team to do whatever they can to minimise that and create a culture of inclusivity. If teachers are required to undertake performance reviews, then so should all members of the workforce.
Most members of support staff will be restricted in terms of pay increments because they’re paid under the National Joint Council (NJC) agreement, which means they can’t simply be awarded grade increments to reflect how well the school feels they’ve done.
It’s important that the school and its workforce understand that performance management isn’t just a method of achieving a pay increase; that it’s actually an opportunity to look at performance, achievements, areas for improvement, career prospects and CPD needs. CPD is a positive alternative to the elusive pay rise – supporting staff members in undertaking relevant training will benefit the school while also contributing to the employee’s sense of inclusion and value.
Make sure your performance management and pay policies are clearly outlined and disseminated to all staff. SLT should determine when support staff reviews will take place, though often they’ll be done after the teachers’ reviews to allow appropriate objectives to be considered. The reviews will usually conducted by a class teacher or phase leader; staff should be informed beforehand as to who the reviewer will be.
Reviewees must be given at least seven days’ notice to prepare for the review. If your school uses self-review assessment documents so that employees can reflect on their performance over the past year and aspirations for the future, ask the support staff member to bring it with them to the review and use it as a prompt for discussion.
Your reviewers should have been given sufficient training to allow them to carry out the performance management review. Ensure the review itself is held in a suitable location where interruptions won’t occur, and bear mind that some people can find performance reviews to be unnerving. The reviewer should do all they can to put the staff member at ease.
The review should then proceed as a two-way conversation; it shouldn’t be an opportunity for extensive criticism. The employee must be able to ask questions and challenge statements, and the review should conclude with an action plan containing some clearly defined objectives agreed between both parties.
In terms of follow-up, it’s advisable to hold a mid-year interim review so that the reviewer and reviewee can assess whether the employee is on target and re-evaluate the objectives set if needed. The PM cycle should then conclude with the reviewer and reviewee meeting again to analyse the reviewee’s performance and initiate a new cycle.
Caroline Collins is head of school business strategy and resources at Miles Coverdale Primary School.