Using standards/competencies to ensure expectation clarity

Ensuring staff have clarity of what is expected in their role is key to the success of any organisation. All staff should be aware of what is required and their performance measured against these expectations. 

Some organisations assume that staff are clear of what is expected in their roles, but unfortunately these roles and responsibilities evolve over time and expectations have a tendency to become blurred if they are not regularly revisited. It is important that, during the year, that staff members are given the opportunity to discuss their performance against expectations on an ad-hoc basis - not just at their annual performance review. Make it the norm to discuss performance both formally and informally, ensuring training and development are regularly offered when required.

The team needs to be made aware that everyone has a part to play within an organisation, irrespective of their role. Staff can easily identify when they feel others are not performing, and not ‘pulling their weight’. They expect, in the interest of fairness, that poor performance will be dealt with swiftly and effectively. It is important that everyone is made aware that one person not performing can create a domino effect regarding performance and motivation.

It is therefore important that careful consideration is given to the expectations of a role, its responsibilities and the experience. Do you expect the same performance for all leaders, teachers and support staff?

To address this issue nationally agreed Standards/Competencies were introduced. An example of these were the teachers’ Standards/Competencies that came into effect in September 2012. These were intended to be used for a range of purposes that included assessing the suitability of those in initial teacher training, assessment of the competence of newly qualified teachers, the appraisal of qualified teachers and by Ofsted, to provide a consistent benchmark, when assessing the quality of teaching.

As well as teacher Standards/Competencies, there were a range of nationally recognised Standards/Competencies introduced that included post threshold teacher, SENCO, Headteacher, TA, HLTA and business manager.

Some education organisations, in consultation with staff, have also adapted and created their own expectations based on the details outlined in job descriptions.

The reasoning is, in many cases, linked to fairness. Is it fair, for example, to expect the same performance from a teacher in their second year of teaching as for someone who has been teaching for fifteen years?

In a school for example, there is a significant difference in salary between an M1 and an M6 teacher, depending on location. Further salary increases, can be added, for  being a leading practitioner, whose role is to model excellent practice and sharing knowledge and skills.  Additional increases in salary can also be awarded for other areas such as Senco and curriculum development. These salary differences are not taking into account the leadership and support staff roles and salary.

Sharing expectations for roles also provides guidance for staff who potentially want to progress in their careers. Examples being TA to a HLTA, main scale to post threshold teacher and a DHT to a HT. It allows the staff to clearly understand the expectations of their future role and collect the required knowledge and skills to make them ready to take their next steps in their career.

By setting out clear expectations empowers and unites staff, allowing them the freedom to act more autonomously with the common goal of driving up standards and improving the outcomes for our children and young people. 

How does iP support Standards/Competencies?

SchooliP, CollegeiP, UniversityiP and Alto (referred to as iP) online platform is an extremely effective way of handling the process of Standards/Competencies and therefore expectations in a time and paper efficient way.

In iP, Standards/Competencies are accessed in the individual staff member’s Work Area…...

…. and rated using a sliding scale e.g. exemplary, successful, developing, area of concern.  This list can be bespoke for every organisation.

How do Line Managers understand how their staff are performing against the Standards/Competencies?  

The only way is to view the staff self-rated Standards/Competencies.  Line managers also rate alongside the staff member to identify matches and mis-matches. A ‘Spider Diagram’ is automatically produced to enable an overview of data.

Line Managers can then appraise their staff using these results in addition to other Performance Management. This can drive appraisal discussions as skill sets can be analysed and any differences explored. This leads to more productive conversations around the professional development of staff. 

How do Leaders analyse how well the whole staff team are meeting Standards/Competencies?  

iP collates a large amount of data from across all staff and all  Standards/ Competencies to produce meaningful reports. Senior Leaders, Executive Headteachers, Trust Heads, School Improvement Consultants, Inspection Teams and Local Authorities can access, filter and refine reports in ‘My Reports’ to understand what the relative strengths and weaknesses are within the school. 

How are Standards/Competencies set?

Standards/Competencies are set by an iP Site Administrator prior to starting a new appraisal review period and are matched to the roles of the staff member.  The iP systems has several default lists of Standards from education authorities world-wide and across many different educational organisations.

What are the benefits of rating and analysing Standards/Competencies?

Standards/Competencies can help to identify best practice. For example, teachers identified by their Standards/Competencies as outstanding can be encouraged to mentor, coach and collaborate.  Therefore, colleagues who require improvement can receive support to enable them to improve. Additional responsibility is given to talented teachers to develop others. Often this can be a means of identifying aspiring middle leaders and empowering them by giving them a platform to shine.

For an entire school, collective areas that require improvement can be identified. This can inform planning for Twilight sessions and INSET days. For Trusts taking over schools that require improvement, outstanding practitioners within the Trust can be identified to deliver training and share best practice.

It can be seen that iP empowers leaders with detailed information to make good decisions to drive improvement. No longer are multiple, self-devised spreadsheets required. SchooliP can quickly produce detailed reports with just a few mouse clicks. This means that hours of professional time can be saved each week. This enables leaders to concentrate their efforts on strategic matters and reduce the administrative burden. iP provides comprehensive data in one convenient location. The power of iP means that leaders are better informed to make a decision to improve their schools.

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