Performance related pay

These days schools and governing bodies can anticipate being asked about how performance relates to pay by OFSTED. When I was a member of the governing body and the finance committee of my school we prepared to be quizzed on that and I put quite a lot of thought into it as well as canvassing the views of the staff.

We considered it to be a massive and a very sensitive issue. It’s very easy to upset staff if this issue is not handled well (as the SLT discovered when they ignored my advice and tried to completely change everyone’s performance management targets for a second time to even more ludicrously unrealistic ones)

I’m going to split this post into two sections:

  1. How to use existing data and PM to show pay and performance are linked. How it can be done wrong (in my experience) and how a school can make it look better quickly if they have an OFSTED looming and lack the time to do it properly before they arrive.
  2. How one might go about doing it properly over time.

So how can a school explain how pay and performance are linked?

With great difficulty in my opinion because they probably aren’t. I am yet to work in a school where there is a close link between pay and performance (my current school might be different. I’m relatively new and I’ve been too swamped to pay attention to that sort of thing).

In the school before last the HT used threshold and promotions as rewards for loyalty and not performance. It wouldn’t have mattered how good my performance was I would never have threshold or promotion in a million years. I didn’t need the money so I preferred to stay in the rebel alliance than sell my soul. Quite often the worst performing teachers (in terms of raw data) were the highest paid. Some of the best performing teachers were pariahs that were never going to get promoted or put through threshold.

In one of my schools they waved everyone through threshold with just a nod for many years. This resulted in significant numbers of highly paid but very ineffective teachers (where the data was concerned). I’m not saying they were “bad” teachers. I can say with absolute certainty that most of them were capable of being extremely good teachers. What I am saying is the results their pupils achieved were not great and their pupils did not make the best progress. For some of them this ineffectiveness suddenly manifested itself after going through threshold. Many of them had become disaffected and demotivated by the perceived failures and ineffectiveness of the leadership of the school. Some of their complaints were justified, some less so.

In both cases it would have been very challenging to show a link between performance and pay if the school analysed the data in a neutral, dispassionate way.

When I was in the first of these schools OFSTED did not ask that sort of question much. It was a different OFSTED then. The leadership of the school was heavily criticised by OFSTED in both inspection during my time there but not for that.

In the second school it was easy to show that the teachers who were paid more had met or partially met all their PM targets over a long period of time. This is partly because the targets were not especially demanding when I arrived at the school. Observations records were problematic because the most effective teachers where the data was concerned did not always get good observations. They also had a very particular view of what good teaching looked like that was not connected to results.

The main the thing the school did, which was hugely successful in this regard, was put staff whose pupils did not appear to be making progress under enormous pressure. Staff were given increasingly “ambitious” targets (ludicrously unrealistic targets). They were called into meetings and forced to justify themselves, made to fill in forms with what interventions they were doing for each and every under performing child (including children making perfectly good progress but not going to meet thee “ambitious” target) and various other tedious and time consuming things if the progress their classes made was deemed unsatisfactory. The unintended consequence of this was massive grade and level inflation across all internal assessments, internally marked exams, controlled assessments and anything that was not moderated by a senior leader. Thus, on paper, almost everyone was performing wonderfully well and thus everyone’s salary could be justified by looking at their KS3 and year 10 data. Trebles all round!!!!!

This created a raft of problems in year 11 as pupils and teachers realized that the levels and end of year 10 grades pupils came to them with did not necessarily reflect reality. In a sane world the exam boards might have asked why so many pupils were getting A grades on their controlled assessments and D/E grades in the exams. OFSTED however did not pick up on that. They rated the leadership of the school as outstanding so I assume they were happy with how the schools links pay with performance…

So how do you show that your staffs pay does relate to performance?

  1. Performance management targets need to be challenging and achievable. I would have a target relating to observations, a target relating to pupil progress, a target relating to the wider contribution to the school and a target for leaders relating to their area(s) of responsibility.
  2. Included in each of these targets should be agreed CPD that the teacher will have to improve their teaching or leadership
  3. The targets relating to observations and pupil progress should have caveats so that if they are not fully met the teacher can show that the issues causing this have been identified and are being addressed.
  4. The targets relating to leadership should also have relevant caveats

If this is already in place it makes the whole thing much easier. If it isn’t then I would meet the union reps and try to get the current performance management targets/policy changed to something that looks a bit more like that before OFSTED arrive.

Beyond that I would look at that data. Find aspects of pupil progress for each teacher and each class that portrays the teacher in a positive light. Get them to contribute to that if they wish to. Keep those positive reports in your evidence file.

Before writing more about this I would like to make it clear that this is probably only worth doing if you think it will be difficult to show that pay and performance are linked in your school by simply using the data and records from PM.

The creation of that evidence file can at times require some creative analysis of the data. This sometimes mean that the SLT member in charge of monitoring pupil progress may not be the best person to do it. In my experience creative analysis of data is often the last thing they want. People who are used to looking at data with an eye for spotting under-performance may not have the right mindset to look at data with a view to making it look good. If someones focus is accuracy or detecting under-performance then in my experience they find shifting the way they look at data to a different perspective very difficult.

I made a file like this for myself which contained things like:

In year 7:

All pupils with above 90% attendance have made the expected progress. More able girls and SEN pupils have made more progress than expected.

In year 8:

Afro-Caribbean and white girls have made above the expected progress. The hearing impaired students in the class have made the expected progress. The number of serious incidents of poor behavior from the BESD pupils has decreased significantly from last year.

In year 9:

All pupils have achieved their target level. FSM and EAL pupils have made above the expected progress.

In year 10:

All pupils have already achieved their target grade for their GCSE. The Chinese girls have made well above the expected progress.

There was more in it than that but that’s what I remember roughly.

It didn’t take me long to produce (about 10-15 minutes per class) and it creates a wealth of data that shows what staff do well.

Obviously it’s better to sort out a proper system that works than it is to do some of this stuff but that takes time that some people may not have. Some of these things are worth doing regardless in my opinion.

I will write about how I think it should be done properly at some point in the next week or so.

This is a touch less coherent than I hoped it would be because half of it has been typed one handed while a grinning baby bashed my keyboard. I will try to find time to tidy it up a bit over the next week or so.



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