School improvement survey of ASCL members conducted by BlueSky reveals thoughts of senior leadership teams nationwide

BlueSky, Premier Partner for Performance Management for the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) today announced the findings of its delegates’ survey conducted at the ASCL Conference on performance management, performance-related pay and continuing professional development (CPD) – the first national survey to be undertaken since the DfE published its Teacher Workload Diary Report in February 2014.

Performance Management and Performance Related Pay


55.1% of Senior Leadership Teams (SLTs) said that they believed ‘they had effective performance management procedures in place for performance-related pay decisions’ – the first awards for which will take place in Sept 2014.  39.8% said they were ‘mostly ready’ and 5.1% said that there was ‘still work to be done’. Commenting on the figures, Denise Inwood, former Assistant Head and Managing Director of BlueSky creators of the leading online performance management, CPD and self-evaluation solution for schools, said, “It’s refreshing to see a high level of readiness but it’s clear that many schools still have a considerable way to go if they are to be prepared for this September’s pay awards.”


The survey also shed light on the various methods employed by UK schools to manage the staff performance process -  24.1% said that they used ‘a paper-based system’, 20.3% ‘in-house spreadsheets’, 32.3% ‘a combination of the two’ and, only 23.3% ‘software developed for this express purpose’. The difficulties encountered by those using paper and spreadsheet-based solutions included misplacement of paper reports, difficulty applying a consistent and robust appraisal policy across all staff and the fact that limited access to their spreadsheet prevented their team from tracking their progress and taking ownership of their own professional learning. Such processes make on-going dialogue and accurate evaluation difficult.



Continuing Professional Development


When asked how the expertise of their most effective teachers is shared, across the school, 62% said ‘through peer coaching and mentoring’, 25.7% ‘using an observation timetable’, 8.8% ‘through an experts’ database’ and 3.4% said ‘they do not do this formally’.  “Support from peers is often viewed as more credible and worthy because they typically have more empathy for the issues facing their colleagues and a proven skill set that has already been acknowledged by fellow staff”, said Denise Inwood. 84% said that they exchange such expertise with other schools.


92.3% of SLTs surveyed confirmed that they ‘have a programme in place for mentoring’ and coaching staff. 7.7% said they ‘did not’.


Self-evaluation was also addressed in the survey.  64.9% of SLTs canvassed said they use ‘work and planning scrutiny as part of self-evaluation to determine the quality and impact of Planning Preparation and Assessment (PPA) time in their school’. 33.1% said they ‘did not’.  “With a greater emphasis on evidence based self-evaluation, it is important that schools have in place a rigorous procedure for the gathering of evidence. Standard criteria for all teachers is required from the outset.  Judgement of teachers should not be based simply on lesson observation data it should be based on the totality of that individual in performance reviewing their work over a period of time.

93.6% said that they determine the totality of their teachers ‘by collating data on lesson observation, work and planning scrutiny, learning walks and pupil voice’. 6.4% ‘did not’.

When asked “Do you use work and planning scrutiny as part of self-evaluation to determine the quality and impact of PPA in your school?”, 64.9% said yes and 35.1% said no. 


“This is great news”, said Denise Inwood.  “SLTs are recognising that teacher effectiveness is not simply about how an individual performs in a particular moment – there are a significant range of factors that go to make a good teacher. The fact that over one third of school leaders do not evaluate impact of PPA time on their school, is surprising as this forms a substantial part of their school budget and a teacher’s working week.”

Denise concludes, “This survey reflects the energy and direction of travel in the sector. What it clearly illustrates is the progress being made towards rigorous and evidence based judgements that will really drive up the credibility and status of the profession and the focus on school improvement.”

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