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Another Ofsted bear trap? Potential impact of PM/appraisal evidence on Ofsted judgements for leadership and management

The latest Ofsted Framework places an increased focus on Performance Management/Appraisal processes in schools.


  • there is a high proportion of UPS teachers in a school


  • there are significant concerns about the quality of teaching of individuals which have not been identified and addressed through PM/appraisal


  • the head teacher has been in post for more than a year or two


  • the quality of teaching or achievement requires improvement, say,

… it will be hard to argue for a good or better grade for leadership and management. Indeed, while the inspectors will be taking a whole range of factors/evidence into account, the current focus on teaching may lead to a “requires improvement” judgment for Leadership and Management.


1/ The OFSTED School Inspection Handbook advises that:

Inspectors should also request that the following information is made available at the start of the inspection:

information about the school’s performance management arrangements, including the most recent performance management outcomes and their relationship to salary progression; inspectors should make it clear that this must be provided in an anonymised format

This wording allows a number of interpretations, but is likely to create an expectation that the inspectors are provided with anonymised copies of the most recent PM/Appraisal Review Statements (with the names of the teachers obliterated)

2/ The Handbook also advises, under the section relating to reaching a judgement about the quality of leadership in, and management of the school, that: 

Inspection must examine the impact of leaders at all levels, including governors, and evaluate how efficiently and effectively the school is managed.

Inspectors should consider:

  • the robustness of performance management and effectiveness of strategies for improving teaching, including the extent to which the school takes account of the ‘Teachers’ Standards’ – this is demonstrated through:

  • the robustness of procedures for monitoring the quality of teaching and learning and the extent to which underperformance is tackled;

  • a strong link between performance management and appraisal and salary progression;

  • the coherence and effectiveness of the programme of professional development, and the opportunities provided for promotion. Particular attention should be given to the extent to which professional development is based on the identified needs of staff and the needs of newly qualified teachers and teachers at an early stage of their career.

  • the accuracy with which best practice is identified and modelled.

3/ The OFSTED publication “Subsidiary Guidance”, in the section headed Performance Management, states:

Inspectors should:

  • ask the headteacher about the proportion of teaching staff that has passed through to the upper pay spine

  • compare this with the overall quality of teaching

  • find out whether there is a correlation between the two, and if there is none, find out why, taking into account the length of time the headteacher has been in post.


The following offers further insight. It is an extract from the Ofsted Publication:

Schools and inspection: November 2012

Leadership and management: Ofsted inspectors’ evaluation of performance management arrangements

This guidance clarifies the evidence that inspectors consider when evaluating schools’ performance management arrangements during section 5 inspections.

The judgement inspectors make about a school’s leadership is very important, because leadership determines the culture of the institution and is fundamental to raising standards. Inspectors are guided to evaluate whether the headteacher/principal is taking performance management seriously and is using the staff budget to differentiate appropriately between high and low performers. Although they do not report on any individual’s performance, where relevant, they may comment on whether the quality of teaching is reflected in the proportion of teachers who are promoted and/or are making progress on the salary spine.

Inspectors also consider the extent to which the headteacher/principal and leadership team ensure that all teaching staff benefit from professional development, and that where teachers’ performance is less than good it is rigorously managed, and training and support are provided. Of course, where teachers’ performance is good, inspectors also expect to see evidence that this is recognised through the performance management process.

You can find out about the way in which inspectors evaluate a school’s use of performance management in the School inspection handbookand Subsidiary guidance.

A number of schools have asked about performance management related information that would be helpful to inspectors. Headteachers/principals may wish to provide the following:

  • the proportion of staff who progressed from one incremental point to the next this year/last year;

  • the proportion of staff that progressed through to the upper pay spines 1, 2, 3 this year/last year and the proportion that did not;

  • any other relevant information.

Inspectors do not want information which identifies individuals. Information:

  • must be provided in an anonymised format which takes all reasonable steps to avoid identifying individuals in a school;

  • must not be sent to inspectors electronically.


Advice to members: 

It is important that head teachers can demonstrate to Ofsted Inspectors, to the school’s Governing Body and to the Local Authority that not only do they know their school well but that they have the evidence to underpin that knowledge.

NAHT does not advocate a bureaucratic approach, not excessive monitoring but sufficient evidence should be collected to produce a reasonably robust evidence base to support the head teacher’s evaluations of:

  • The quality of teaching
  • Pupil achievement

Such an evidence base might include the outcomes of:

  • Graded Classroom observations
  • The scrutiny of pupils’ work
  • Marking reviews
  • Moderation of teacher assessment
  • Subject reviews
  • Analysis of teacher’s planning
  • CPD evaluations
  • Pupil monitoring

If there are concerns about the performance of individual teachers, the school should have evidence which demonstrates that school leaders have

  • Identified the causes of that underperformance
  • Taken appropriate action to seek to remedy those causes
  • Applied the appropriate procedure[s] including, as a last resort, Capability.

If the majority of teachers have passed the Threshold and teaching “requires improvement” it will be important that the school is able to produce Appraisal documentation, say, which evidences the actions taken to seek to move the teaching to “good”

For further advice, NAHT members may contact the Specialist Advice Department via specialistadvice@naht.org.uk or 01444 472475.



Page published: 24/10/2012