You are here:

Ofsted inspection: performance management

Ref: 3926
Last updated on 21 December 2016
School types: All · School phases: All
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.

Article tools


  1. 1 Inspecting performance management: what is Ofsted looking for?
  2. 2 What evidence will be used to assess performance management?
  3. 3 Meeting inspectors: what should governors be able to talk about?
  4. 4 Inspection of the headteacher's performance management

Article features

  • 2 external links

Inspecting performance management: what is Ofsted looking for?

Teaching and learning monitoring linked to teachers' performance management 

Ofsted’s current school inspection handbook, in force from September 2015, explains what performance management information inspectors are looking for. 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”.

You can download the handbook here:

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

Performance management outcomes linked to salary progression 

Paragraph 38 of the handbook 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.

Using performance management to promote effective practice 

Paragraph 141 of the handbook 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

Managing the headteacher's performance 

Paragraph 148 of the handbook 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.

What evidence will be used to assess performance management?

Paragraph 80 of the previous inspection handbook, archived in 2015, lists details about the ways in which performance management might be assessed. We outline these in the bullet points below. 

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:

Sources of evidence in the previous handbook 

You may wish to use the list from the previous handbook as a guide

  • 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 

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 Dunne, another of our associate experts, 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.

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.

How much detail is required?

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.

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 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.

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.