Damien Roberts, business development director at SchooliP, discusses the importance of a streamlined approach for performance management when it comes to managing multiple sites, to ensure MATs can work as efficiently as possible.
Schools are busy places, full of planning, administration, assessment and, most importantly, teaching. It’s vital to streamline processes as much as possible to ensure staff are able to concentrate on their students, raise attainment and positively contribute to whole-school objectives.
This is especially important when it comes to multi-academy trusts (MATs) that need to maintain high educational standards across a number of schools. With high numbers of teachers and staff members, it’s important that headteachers and the governing bodies of MATs manage the performance of individuals within each school effectively to make sure that student progress is consistently being achieved.
People tend to perform better when they have a clear understanding of what is required of them and when they are given access to support
The structure of a MAT definitely has its benefits, including stronger collaboration and support in terms of sharing experience and best practice among the collective schools. However, as set out by Ofsted, all staff members must be evaluated in terms of their performance against annual targets and objectives. For MATs, this can be a mammoth task with each school often having its own way of conducting processes and appraisals, and assessing and evaluating success. According to the Open University, people tend to perform better when they have a clear understanding of what is required of them and when they are given access to support. Therefore, senior leaders need to make it simple and streamlined to ensure everyone is working from the same page.
An effective performance management process helps staff set out realistic, achievable objectives that fit with the priorities of the MAT’s development plan. In order to maximise this efficiency, MATs should look to standardise the way performance management is handled. Keeping everything in one central place, in which both the staff members and senior leaders can access and update will ensure documents remain up to date and accurately reflect performance of individuals, and across the board.
Opting for a central online management solution will also help to improve the standard of teaching and learning within MATs by providing tools to support the evidencing process required for appraisal and pay progression. Teachers can record all of their evidence in one place, capture conversation trails, flag any concerns, and access a range of training and continuing professional development (CPD) programmes.
Doing all of this digitally means that heads and governing bodies can access information at any stage, regardless of whether they’re in the school or not. Making the process as simple and accessible as possible for staff is also important, being mindful not to add to already busy workloads. With most people owning a smart device nowadays, having the ability to record evidence digitally using mobiles or tablets and uploading information instantly can help to reduce the arduous paper administration traditionally associated with performance management, and stops the risk of evidence being lost or misplaced.
Not only this, but using a central system means that the senior leadership team for the whole trust can access all of the information in one place, comparing and contrasting data on performance, development areas, skills, and the details of CPD (type, cost, value to teachers etc). This makes monitoring progress across the whole trust far more straightforward and easier to manage.
Having all this information to hand throughout the year allows senior leaders to assess performance across all subjects and also gives teachers the chance to request help if there is an area they find challenging. This is especially valuable for MATs with large amounts of staff in various schools; having an online system that records dialogue between staff and senior leaders means nothing will go unnoticed.
The ability to share best practice and collaborate is especially important when it comes to professional development. Having a central system that provides a list of training opportunities, as well as an evaluation of all the courses each staff member has completed, allows the trust to monitor where budget is being spent and how effective it has been. This can then be shared across the schools, and certain programmes can be recommended to individuals that require development in those particular areas.
When Ofsted comes knocking, inspectors will be looking at the strengths and weaknesses across the MAT. Therefore, keeping information in one place and streamlining all processes will help ensure a successful outcome in relation to the priorities and performance across the trust.
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