One term and you’re out
Posted by Joanna Worby on 26th June 2012
From 1 September 2012 a new teacher appraisal and capability procedure will be in force. The current regulations will be revoked with the introduction of the Education (School Teacher’s Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2012. Whilst they do not govern teachers in academies, free schools or independent schools it is nonetheless important to be aware of the regulations as it is an opportunity to consider what if any amendments are required to your own procedures and policies.
The aim of these regulations is to provide a national framework within which schools and local authorities are free to develop their own policies for appraising their teachers and headteachers without prescribing the detail of what they should do. It therefore allows the performance management of teachers to be shortened and simplified.
A new optional model policy has been published and sets out an example of a capability policy for teachers about whose performance there are serious concerns which the appraisal process has been unable to address. It is shorter and less complex than the current procedure, and complements, rather than duplicates, the appraisal process.
For a capability process to be fair it must be reasonable in all the circumstances and focus on improving performance. It must allow for a proper investigation or appraisal to seek to identify a problem and the employee must be given a warning of the consequences if improvement is not shown. If poor performance is due to lack of skills the employee should be given the necessary advice, training and supervision to enable them to reach the required standard before a decision to dismiss is made. There also needs to be a formal hearing to which the employee has the right to be accompanied and a right of appeal.
The main changes adopted in this model policy are:
- There is no informal stage in the capability procedure
- The suggested length of the monitoring and review period following a first warning has been reduced in length from 20 weeks to between 4 and 10 weeks. (It is important to note that the length of the review period must be reasonable in the circumstances of each case, and must provide sufficient time for improvement to take place).
What else is new or not so new?
Under the regulations the following will be required:
- governing bodies (in respect of teachers employed at a school) will be expected to have a written document setting out the appraisal process;
- governing bodies need to appoint an external adviser for the purposes of providing them with advice and support in relation to appraising the head teacher;
- objectives need to be set by the head teacher for each teacher which, if achieved, contribute to improving the education of pupils;
- each teacher will require to be informed of the standards against which the teacher will be assessed;
- each teacher must have an annual appraisal, to include:
- an assessment of the performance of their role against their objectives and
- the “relevant standards” (as published by the
DofE and designed to set out a basic framework within which all teachers should operate from the point of initial qualification.)
which should be recorded in writing and include an assessment of their performance, their training and development needs and where relevant a
recommendation on pay progression.
Most of the prescription in the current regulations will disappear, including the three hour limit on classroom observation. After September 2012, governing bodies and local authorities will be free to make their own decisions about the amount of observation that is appropriate for their teachers.
On the Horizon
A proposal was considered by the Government whereby schools would be required to pass on appraisal reports to prospective employers. The idea behind this was to prevent the recycling of underperforming teachers. This was not approved but a further consultation has recently closed examining whether prospective employers should be given, on request, information about whether a teacher has or has not been subject to a capability procedure. An outcome is awaited.
The regulations provide more flexibility when implementing appraisal and capability procedures and shorten the process. It may be considered to be a disadvantage to teachers to shorten the capability process but it is hoped that it at least reduces the stress and lack of motivation of staff subjected thereto. Regular appraisals should hopefully be a positive influence on staff and hopefully improve the overall work environment.
How can we help?
If your capability policy needs an overhaul or you would like to seek assistance from one of our HR professionals to improve your appraisal system and / or help with drafting pro forma documents for the appraisal process then please do not hesitate to contact us.