End of year reviews and target setting – get SMART!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Now that the new academic year is in full swing, it is important for line managers to meet with members of teaching staff to conclude the appraisal cycle for the academic year 2014/15 and set new targets for the upcoming academic year.

As we are sure you will be aware, it is important that any such reviews are carried out promptly and in advance of 31 October 2015, to ensure that teaching staff are informed of any performance related pay decision in line with the usual requirements.

For many schools an effective appraisal process is fundamental, but it is crucial now that pay increments are dependant on performance. We have therefore set out below guidance for managers on conducting effective appraisal meetings:

  1. Ensure that staff are given clear notice of the time and date of the appraisal meeting - this will allow staff to prepare any relevant evidence in relation to their targets in advance of the meeting. This is something that staff should have been working towards all year, particularly if they are seeking to move to the Upper Pay Range. However, there will inevitably be some staff that leave preparation for these meetings to the last minute.
  2. As a manager, make sure that you are prepared for each individual meeting – Ensure that you are familiar, in advance of the meeting, with the employee’s targets for that year. You may also wish to jot down any key achievements/concerns that you are aware of from the previous year to assist in the review process.
  3. Congratulate staff on their achievements – If staff have worked hard and met their targets, ensure that you thank them for their hard work and achievements. You may think that it is obvious to colleagues that you are pleased with their work - but it doesn’t hurt to tell them! It will also hopefully help to get this year’s appraisal cycle off to a good start.
  4. Provide constructive feedback where targets have not been met – Where staff have not met their targets, discuss and consider with the employee the reasons as to why this may be. Discuss with the employee any measures/ additional training that may be put in place to assist the employee to work on this area of performance, particularly if the target will be carried forward into the new appraisal cycle. Where any concerns do continue for an extended period, the School may wish to consider whether the performance has moved beyond the realms of appraisal and into the more formal capability process.
  5. Consider performance as a whole during the course of the year and avoid ‘recency bias’ – Managers should avoid basing the appraisal on one or two specific examples and should take into account performance across the whole of the previous 12 months. If there has been a ‘dip’ in performance during a certain period within the last 12 months, discuss this with the employee and see if there are any particular reasons for this. You could also then discuss with the employee any strategies to assist and support them going forward.
  6. Ensure that ‘SMART’ targets are set – At the appraisal meeting targets for the next academic year should be set. However, as pay is now awarded on the basis of performance it is essential that the targets are ‘SMART’ and that staff will be able to evidence whether they have/have not met these targets at the end of the next cycle. Bear this in mind when setting and considering targets - it will make life much easier at the end of the next cycle! 

It is important that all schools have clear appraisal policies so that both staff and managers are clear on the steps that need to be taken and how this process is linked with pay. Judicium Education provide clients with such policies and are on hand to advise on amendments as necessary.

In addition, we also have an accredited online course specifically for school business managers and line managers who are unfamiliar with the appraisal cycle, in the context of a school setting.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information about any of our services.


"The support we received from Judicium School Improvement Service prior and during our recent Ofsted Inspection was superb. We felt really prepared and confident with the process and the evidence required and the excellent advice we were given during the actual inspection made a significant difference to the overall grading. ” Jason O’Rourke, Headteacher, Washingborough Academy and Penfold Nursery

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