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The Management of Selecting, Appraising and Developing Staff
Derek Gillard
September 1987

copyright Derek Gillard 2001
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It is self-evident that a school can be no better than the people who teach in it. Other factors - the building, environment, physical resources and so on - will obviously play a part, but ultimately the quality of the education it provides will be very much dependent on the expertise of its staff. This is an important point, for it means that, 'before we can set about our managerial role and mission, we need some skill in relating to other people' (Everard and Morris 1985:17). And that, to a very large degree, is what managing the selection, appraisal and development of staff is about - relating to people.

The style of management in schools has changed over the past decade or so. In primary schools especially the style of leadership which has been described as 'ego identification' (Lloyd 1985:294), in which the head saw the school as his/her own possession and in which s/he took an interest at a very personal level, has changed to a more participative or collaborative style. There is now a greater sensibility to situational differences:

few primary heads would attempt to introduce new curricular policies without at the very least consulting all members of staff and taking their views into account. Essentially this is a contingency approach to leadership. (Lloyd 1985:295)
Lloyd suggests that 'management and leadership are closely related' (Lloyd 1985:295) and this would seem to be particularly so in a small school.

Being aware of the strengths of staff members has been learned, perhaps, from industry. As Peters and Waterman comment (in relation to some of America's most successfully run companies), 'if you want productivity and the financial reward that goes with it, you must treat your workers as your most important asset' (Peters and Waterman 1982:238). And this means much more than just being nice to people:

We are talking about tough-minded respect for the individual and the willingness to train him, to set reasonable and clear expectations for him, and to grant him practical autonomy to step out and contribute directly to his job. (Peters and Waterman 1982:239)
We have established, then, that there is now a much greater awareness of the importance of managing people. Clearly, selection, appraisal and development will be vital parts of that management.

Formulating a policy

A school policy for the selection, appraisal and development of staff will need to take account of the policies of central government and the local authority. However, it is important to remember that a policy of itself is of little value. 'An organisational chart is not a company, nor a new strategy an automatic answer to corporate grief' (Peters and Waterman 1982:3). In other words, however good a policy is, it will be of no use unless it has the support and commitment of those involved in its implementation:

Even if appraisal is introduced into English and Welsh schools through 'enabling powers' granted by Parliament to the Secretary of State for Education and Science, it could rapidly decline into an operational facade unless there is a clear commitment to it by the staff who manage others. (Trethowan 1987:141)
Indeed, commitment is required of all staff for a policy to be successful. Motivation is essential. 'A fundamental mistake is to forget that people are best motivated to work towards goals that they have been involved in setting and to which they therefore feel committed' (Everard and Morris 1985:25). We have to convince staff that a policy for selection, appraisal and development is in their interests because 'there is no effective management without appraisal ... management is working with and through others to achieve organisational goals' (Trethowan 1987:1).

Why are staff anxious about these issues? Hasn't evaluation always been at the centre of the educational process? As Hywel Thomas says:

Evaluation is a well-established and accepted activity within education, engaged in by teachers not only when considering the performance of their pupils or students but also in making judgements about their own work and that of their colleagues. Yet evaluation is also viewed as a major innovation to educational practice, often treated by the same teachers with a mixture of hostility, scepticism and caution. (Thomas 1985:373)
Evaluation causes anxiety because it raises issues of power and control over teachers. But it has to be faced, if only because others will judge us even if we do not judge ourselves: 'Other parties, not least pupils and parents, have profound interests in the provision, processes and performance of educational institutions' (Thomas 1985:378).

It is the fact that evaluation has always been part of education which should enable us to convince staff of the value of having an agreed policy. Without such a policy, appraisal will still go on informally. How much better for staff to know exactly where they stand, what the school's policy is and, preferably, to have had a say in its formulation.

The person being managed is entitled to know what [the school's] goals are, what his or her role is, how successfully s/he contributed to the achievement of these goals last year and what s/he should do to make next year's contribution even better. (Trethowen 1987:1)
The benefits of a policy on staff selection, appraisal and development, then, should be made clear to staff. For teachers as individuals these would include
  • role clarification
  • task clarification (HMI noted in their survey of Education 8-12 that 'in some cases difficulties arose as a result of the lack of precise job descriptions' (HMI 1985:55)
  • participation in target setting
  • feedback
  • helping to cope with stress
  • fair and accurate references and institutional judgements.
For the school as an institution, benefits would include
  • awareness and problem-solving
  • teamwork
  • a better school ethos
  • more efficient management of change.
The fact that staff accept the need for a policy does not mean that their anxieties will disappear. They will still be concerned that appraisal will mean criticism, that it will involve people snooping round their classrooms and spying on their lessons. Their worries will be eased only if they feel that the policy is theirs. They must therefore take a real part in its formulation so that ownership is firmly established.

What should the policy contain?

First, a statement of its aims. These will be concerned with the development of individual and collegial expertise, the enhancement of the personal and professional resources of the individual teacher leading to the delivery of an improving standard of education for the school's pupils.

Secondly, it should outline areas of responsibility. Is there to be a designated professional tutor? If so, what will be his/her role? What of the roles of the head and deputy? Who will be appraised and by whom? Trethowan suggests that no one person can efficiently appraise more than about seven colleagues. Personally, I think even this is optimistic. In larger schools, staff other than the head will have to be appraisers and this will have obvious training implications.

Thirdly, the document should indicate the school's policies in relation to

  • selection of staff - job descriptions, employee specifications, shortlisting, interviewing, validation and induction;
  • staff development - INSET and, especially, school-focused INSET;
  • appraisal - observation, self-evaluation, appraisal interviews, target setting, documentation.
The procedures and personnel involved in selection should be clearly outlined. The policy should state, for example, whether references will be given or accepted other than in writing. Good equal opportunities practice should underpin the policy.

The Appraisal section of the policy should suggest the nature of judgements which might be made - will they be closed (the appraisee having no say) or open (the appraisee having some say)? Open judgements and negotiated criteria are more like to endear the policy to members of staff and will therefore usually be more effective.

A clear policy on documentation is essential. Will a record of the appraisal interview be kept? If so, where? And who will have access to it? Clarity over these matters should help allay suspicions about the use to which such records might be put.

Preparation for the appraisal interview is very important. Matters to be considered include the time of day, location, room preparation. Equally important is the structure of the interview itself - setting the climate, opening the interview, exploration, analysing needs and aspirations, setting agreed targets for future performance and closing the interview.

Perhaps the most important skill which an appraiser needs is the ability to listen, not passively but stimulating discussion, offering feedback, exploring feelings as well as facts. Trethowan suggests that, in a good appraisal interview, the appraiser should be listening 'for about 70% of the time' (Trethowan 1987:84).

Finally, an effective staff development policy requires that the professional tutor (or other responsible person) should be familiar with the training needs of the individuals within the school and of the school as a whole, and have access to the development resources available. This will usually mean local authority courses but should also include

  • senior teachers observing and supporting junior colleagues;
  • inviting local authority inspectors and advisers into the school;
  • visiting other schools to see examples of good practice.
A thorough and well thought out staff development policy embracing the selection, appraisal and development of staff is a prerequisite for an effectively run school. But it will be effective only if it is owned by the staff themselves. There is no short cut to achieving this - it requires much time and patience.

References

Everard KB and Morris G (1985) Effective school management London: Harper and Row

HMI (1985) Education 8-12 in Combined and Middle Schools: A survey by HM Inspectors of Schools London: HMSO

Lloyd K (1985) 'Management and leadership in the primary school' in M Hughes, P Ribbins and H Thomas (eds) (1985) Managing education: the system and the institution London: Holt, Rinehart and Winston 291-307

Peters TJ and Waterman RH (1982) In search of excellence: lessons from America's best-run companies New York: Harper and Row

Thomas H (1985) 'Perspectives on education' in M Hughes, P Ribbins and H Thomas (eds) (1985) Managing education: the system and the institution London: Holt, Rinehart and Winston 373-393

Trethowan D (1987) Appraisal and target setting London: Harper and Row

  • This article is a modified version of an essay submitted in September 1987 as part of my Diploma in Education course at the University of London Institute of Education.