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Ofsted inspection: performance management

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Last updated on 17 August 2016
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In-depth article
How will Ofsted inspect performance management? This article explains how Ofsted will inspect the performance management of staff and headteachers. It sets out what governors should be able to talk about when meeting inspectors.

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  1. 1 Overall inspection of performance management
  2. 2 Meeting inspectors: what should governors be able to talk about?
  3. 3 Inspection of the headteacher's performance management

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  • 5 external links

Overall inspection of performance management

Ofsted’s school inspection handbook, in force from September 2015, explains what performance management information Ofsted will expect to see. Near the end of paragraph 28, it says that inspectors will want to see:

Evidence of the monitoring of teaching and learning and its link to teachers’ performance management and the teachers’ standards.

It adds, however, that this information should be routinely used by the school and not be “additional evidence generated for inspection”.

Information should be routinely used by the school and not be “additional evidence generated for inspection”

Paragraph 38 explains that, at the beginning of inspection, inspectors will ask to see:

Information about the school’s performance management arrangements, including the most recent performance management outcomes and their relationship to salary progression, in an anonymised format.

Paragraph 141 says that, as part of the evaluation of leadership and management, inspectors will consider:

How leaders and governors use performance management to promote effective practice across the school

Paragraph 148 explains that inspectors will consider whether governors performance manage the headteacher rigorously. It also says that they will consider whether governors understand how the school makes decisions about teachers’ salary progression and performance.

You can download the handbook here:

What will evaluation of performance management include?

Paragraph 80 of the previous inspection handbook listed details about what the assessment of performance management would include, such as:

  • Analysis of the impact of professional development on teaching, and on specific teachers
  • Information about the performance management of the headteacher
  • Information from discussions with the headteacher, governors, senior and middle leaders, and other staff
  • Evidence of improvements in teaching over time and improvement in systems for tracking, monitoring and analysing the impact of teaching on progress
  • Scrutiny of the school’s records on, and evaluation of, professional development
  • Analysis of information from staff questionnaires, where available

We asked one of our associate education experts, Mary Myatt, whether inspectors will still use these sources of evidence. Mary said:

While the information is less detailed in the [new] framework, the substance of the information to be discussed remains largely the same.
All of the same points will be considered.

Therefore, you may wish to use the list from the previous handbook as a guide to what inspectors may look for. You can download the previous handbook here:

Forms for recording and presenting information

Norfolk County Council designed a form to help its schools capture the relevant data for evaluation of performance management. A note at the start of the form explains:

School leaders – headteachers and governors – will need to show how the school management of performance is part of a systematic process and to be ready [to] explain the process they use ... during an Ofsted inspection.

As well as what can be recorded in the form, Mary said that evidence when evaluating performance management should include pupil progress from starting points.

Ofsted’s Common Inspection Framework 2015: read more

The Key

Elsewhere on The Key, you can read a summary of the changes to the inspection framework which will be applied from September 2015, as well as a shorter QuickRead on the framework.

Meeting inspectors: what should governors be able to talk about?

John said that when inspectors meet the governors, they will be assessing:

  • Whether they understand how the school's performance management system delivers better outcomes for pupils
  • Whether they ensure the system functions robustly and in line with school improvement priorities

In other words, inspectors want to see whether governors are fully involved in and knowledgeable about the performance management system, or whether it is something they leave to the school leadership team.

A key item that inspectors check is whether governors can talk about how they have 'triangulated' different sources of information to assess the effectiveness of their performance management system.

Pages 9 and 10 of guidance from the National Governors' Association (NGA) on performance management sets out how governors can do this. We summarise this at the end of this article.

What level of detail?

John said that governors are not expected to possess a full and comprehensive knowledge of teachers' performance and pay levels across the school. In any case, inspectors will have anonymised data on performance management outcomes, and they may refer to this data when speaking with governors.

Governors may, however, be questioned about significant individual cases where particular teachers are either underperforming or excelling. In these cases, inspectors may ask what actions the school has taken in response.

It is likely that these teachers would not be identified by name, but John says he would expect governors to be aware of the individuals in question.

Performance objectives

John explained that inspectors will also want to see that governors are aware of the kinds of performance objectives that teachers have been set, and whether governors are aware of how these relate to the priorities identified in the school improvement plan.

In particular, governors should show awareness of objectives that focus on key groups in the school, such as pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM), and where objectives have been tailored to specific individuals, departments or phases as a result of improvement priorities.

Salary progression

Where a significant proportion of teachers are rewarded with salary progression, inspectors will want to hear from governors about why this has been the case.

Where pupil outcomes are not improving, yet a significant proportion of teachers are receiving salary increases, inspectors may focus more sharply on this issue.

Assessing the robustness of performance management

The guidance from the NGA, linked to above, explains on pages 9 and 10 that governors can gain an understanding of the effectiveness of their performance management system by monitoring the correlation between the quality of teaching, pupil outcomes and other indicators with appraisal outcomes and teachers’ (and headteachers’) salary progression.

If standards are staying level and appraisal objectives have all been met, it may suggest that objectives are not sufficiently stretching

The guidance says that to do this, the governing body first needs to fully understand the school’s performance and the outcomes for pupils.

It then needs to compare standards and outcomes with the percentage of objectives met at appraisal, making one of the following "initial hypotheses":

  • If standards are falling but most appraisal objectives have been met, it suggests that appraisal is insufficiently robust
  • If standards are staying level and appraisal objectives have all been met, it may suggest that objectives are not sufficiently stretching
  • If standards are staying level and appraisal objectives are not generally being met, it may be indicative of problems to come. Possibly some objectives are unrealistic or staff development is not having the required effect
  • If standards are rising and appraisal objectives have been met, it suggests that appraisal is probably sufficiently robust

Inspection of the headteacher's performance management

Page 41-43 of the latest inspection handbook have grade descriptors for the leadership and management in a school. For example, one of the descriptors for ‘outstanding’ is:

Leaders and governors use incisive performance management that leads to professional development that encourages, challenges and supports teachers’ improvement. Teaching is highly effective across the school.

We asked John Dunne, one of our associate education experts, how inspectors will evaluate the governing body's performance management of the headteacher in light of the inspection handbook's requirement that information relating to an individual's performance management remains anonymous.

Inspectors will want to see documentary evidence of the headteacher's appraisal

He told us that headteachers are the exception to the anonymity rule. Inspectors will want to see documentary evidence of the headteacher's appraisal showing that governors have conducted performance management in a robust way.

Such evidence might include the minutes of the meeting and/or the appraisal report itself. Inspectors may also question governors on the performance management procedure for the headteacher.

John said that providing anonymised information of the headteacher's appraisal to inspectors is not really possible, even if it were attempted, but he confirmed that the appraisal information about all other staff should be anonymous when it is provided to inspectors.

Similar advice can be found in the guidance from the NGA, linked to above. Page 7 says:

Ofsted inspectors will expect to see evidence of governors performance managing the headteacher rigorously.

Sharing the headteacher's appraisal report with governors

Page 7 of the NGA's guidance also notes that it is for the governing body to decide whether all governors have access to the headteacher's appraisal report or whether it remains confidential to the review panel. It goes on:

If this information remains confidential from the rest of the governing body, the governing body as a whole does need to be assured the appraisal process is robust.

One way to do this may be to receive an independent summary report from the external adviser or, alternatively, a governor who is not on the panel could be appointed to review the heateacher’s performance management and report back to the full governing body.

Sources and further reading

Mary Myatt is an education adviser and has experience of inspecting schools.

John Dunne has extensive experience of school leadership in secondary schools. He is also a former inspector.

This article was updated in response to a question from the chair of governors of a medium-size urban primary school in the south east.

The Key has taken great care in publishing this article. However, some of the article's content and information may come from or link to third party sources whose quality, relevance, accuracy, completeness, currency and reliability we do not guarantee. Accordingly, we will not be held liable for any use of or reliance placed on this article's content or the links or downloads it provides. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence.