Guest post: Performance related pay for teachers – 5 steps to ensure a robust policy

This autumn sees the first pay awards under the new performance related pay regime for teachers. In this guest post, Keith Wright of school information management specialist Bluewave.SWIFT,  outlines the five key features of a robust performance pay process…

The first pay awards to be made under the new performance related pay regime will be happening this autumn.

Performance related pay may have many detractors but it is a reality and it is happening. The preparations really should have started back in autumn 2013, when the current performance management cycle started in many schools up and down the country.

At that time schools should have been putting in place mechanisms and processes so that staff should have been clear about the criteria and standards they would be assessed against and what they were expected to achieve and when in order to qualify for a pay award.

Here I’ve described the five step process needed to ensure a robust performance related pay system. Many schools will have already followed these steps. For those that haven’t I hope there is something in here to help them improve or revise their preparations. For all schools, these steps will help schools review and refine their PRP processes from the autumn onwards.

1          Policy

Clearly there needs to be some governance of the process in place.  Local authorities can help here. Local authorities are generally supporting schools with template policies for implementing PRP so it makes sense to use this support. But it is important that your policy should be localised and contextualised, it must be right for your school.

Most importantly, once you have your policy in place, share it with your staff. The policy is essentially a legal contract between two parties; in any other situation both parties would take advice to ensure their interests are protected as far as is reasonably practical. Don’t wait until the end of the year for people to take issue with your policy, get the issues out of the way early and have confidence in the agreed policy.

2          Timetabling

The complete process must be timetabled for the whole year. Everyone should be aware of what is expected and when. That’s not to say there should be precise time restrictions but there must be an established timetable which should, ideally, be shared so that everyone knows and understands the importance of each step of the process.

3          Vision

In any organisation the vision – the overall aims and objectives – will have a far better chance of being achieved it is shared. People need to know how they can contribute to the bigger picture and they need to be able to join in and celebrate the success. If you don’t let people know where you want be, don’t expect them to help you get there.

The best examples of team working and achieving success are where the vision is shared. In practical terms this means having an all-inclusive dynamic action plan and making sure everyone interacts with it – regularly!

4          Be clear about performance

The policy should include details on the process for setting, agreeing, monitoring and evaluating performance criteria.  Each person must be fully aware of what is expected of them in relation to the vision and in context with their role. Expectations must be clearly defined, realistic and agreed. They must not be vague but at the same time they must not be so micro-defined as to render any deviation worthless. Some schools simply regurgitate the professional standards as PRP targets; the standards are in themselves vague (possibly deliberately so) and they are designed to provide a foundation for more clearly defined expectations – so use them that way.

Think about the standards and use them to inform your thinking about how each person might address them whilst also working towards the shared vision and in context with their role. And remember, this is in parallel to performance management objectives and should be a broader expectation associated with the career stage not specifically applied to any one particular person.

In practical terms, start with the school’s vision, break it down for each member of staff and define what, how and when that person might contribute to the vision. Keep it simple but state clearly the evidence you would hope for. Clarity at this stage will reduce the risk of conflict later on.

5          Engage, interact, manage

Under the old performance management approach, targets might be set in October, signed off and filed in the lever arch file, never to be seen again until the following October. Many teachers couldn’t remember what their targets were, and consequently there was little chance of any evidence of impact being demonstrated. Those days are gone.

All of the preceding steps will be a complete waste of time if step isn’t implemented. There must be a robust system for monitoring, evaluating and modifying the agreed expectations.

Time must be given to everyone to reflect on their contribution to the shared vision. It simply cannot be crammed into an already overflowing workload. Quite simply, there is nothing more important than developing the people to whom we entrust the education of children.

At least termly, preferably half-termly, schedule into the timetable some ‘performance reflection’ time and follow it up with some ‘performance feedback’ time. If people know these events are fixed in the diary, they will be more likely to contribute.

You can download a PDF which sets out steps to take in the performance related pay process over the course of a year by clicking on this link:

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Keith Wright is managing director of school information management specialist Bluewave.SWIFT.  More information is available at

Your thoughts on Keith’s article and suggestions? Any questions or anything you would add? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

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  1. GeographyCarrie

    SchoolsImprove time to reflect will become even more important. I know in the past my performance mang has been rushed. Not good.

  2. JeniHooper

    SchoolsImprove targets should measure your performance not someone else’s. Payment by results has too many uncontrollable variables.

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