By Paula Shacklady on 22 May 2020
The question that is likely to be on most Headteachers’ and teachers’ minds come September 2020, will be how the annual appraisal and performance management cycle will be fairly applied due to the unprecedented covid-19 crisis. You will have concerns how you will reach the decision whether or not a teacher has met their performance targets and entitled to a pay award in accordance with the school’s pay policy due to the period of school closure.
The DfE’s guidance is that maintained schools must continue and adhere to the School Teachers Pay Conditions (STPCD), which includes the requirement to ensure that all pay progression for teachers is linked to performance management.
The expectation is that schools - use their discretion and take pragmatic steps consistent with the Education (School Teachers’ Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2012) and the school’s Appraisal Policy to adapt performance management assessment in the current circumstances.
This means that there is an expectation to assess the teacher’s performance prior to the school closure, adjusting if necessary, for expected trajectory had there been no closures.
Schools and associated bodies therefore should be cautious that such an approach does not disadvantage staff who may not have had the opportunity to fully demonstrate their ability to meet their objectives or those who were working towards particular targets which they now no longer have the opportunity to meet. This is also applicable when considering applications to move to, or through, the Upper Pay Range.
In relation to appraisals and performance management for support staff, Government guidance states that this should be carried out in accordance with the employee’s contract of employment.
Where a teacher is not subject to the 2012 Regulations, the relevant body must determine through what process the teacher’s performance will be assessed and the evidence required when making a pay recommendation. Again, ensuring a fair and consistent decision is made for performance and pay for the period prior to the school closure due to covid-19.
Ongoing capability/performance concerns
Performance related concerns should have been placed on hold during the school closure due to covid-19, and re-visited once school has re-opened. A decision may be made not to award pay progression if the teacher was subject to capability proceedings prior to the school closure.
Equality Act considerations
Although we are living in unprecedented times, equality law still applies. Schools must therefore be mindful of equality considerations when conducting the appraisal and performance management process in relation to employees with protected characteristics.
New Qualified Teachers
Headteachers and appropriate bodies should continue to judge whether an NQT has met the Teachers’ Standards upon completion of the induction period, which for most, will be the end of the academic year. To continue to make a decision on whether an NQT has met the Teachers’ Standards throughout the period of their induction, notwithstanding absences due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
The DfE guidance makes it clear that the 30-day threshold for absences will continue to apply if the absences are non-COVID-19-related absences. This means that an NQT who has been absent for 30 days or more for reasons that are not related to COVID-19 will have their induction extended by the number of days they were absent.
If at the end of the induction period there are concerns that an NQT, with absences related to coronavirus (COVID-19), has not achieved the standards, we would encourage appropriate bodies to exercise their discretion to recommend an extension, allowing the NQT further time and opportunity to demonstrate their ability to meet the standards.
This means that a school should make it clear to an NQT if they believe that the NQT may not meet the Teacher Standards by the end of their induction period. The school and associated bodies should ensure that measures are in place to provide the NQT with tailored support to address particular issues during the summer term.
The DfE has also indicated its intention to make regulatory changes so that newly qualified teachers (NQTs) can complete their induction this academic year (2020) without having the induction period automatically extended because of coronavirus-related school closures. The guidance is subject to parliamentary agreement and as yet still to be confirmed
Manager's should use the annual process to focus on and support an employee's wellbeing. Time during 1-1 meetings should be set aside to discuss worklife balance, health and general wellbeing. Manager's undertaking appraisals should be provided with training to ensure they have the range of competencies needed to support their appraisees wellbeing.
Good practice would see completion of a stress risk assessment within the appraisal year. More details of how to undertake these effectively can be provided by your HR provider.
As far as performance management and capability processes are concerned, the Joint Union Advice on Covid- 19 (ASCL,NAHT and NEU) is that these should be paused until schools formally reopen. The current advice does not address pay progression as such.
NASUWT however insists that all schools ensure pay progression for every teacher who would otherwise be entitled to pay progression this year is completed.
NASUWT state that teachers who are subject to performance management/appraisal should suffer no detriment as a result of COVID-19 school closure. The process of performance appraisal and pay progression decisions for 2020/21 and 2021/22 must not be deferred or otherwise delayed by schools.
Teachers who are entitled to access pay progression at the end of the academic year should expect to receive pay progression at the end of the performance cycle.
If you require any further assistance on this matter then please do not hesitate to contact HR and People on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone numbers 0161 276 0153 / 0844 967 1112.