BEHIND the Education (School Teachers' Appraisal) Regulations,
which came into force on 1 September, is the Government's wish to
prevent the recycling of under-performing teachers. It creates a
more favourable playing- field for schools, governors, and local
authorities, and brings to an end the previous process. Most church
schools will be affected by these changes.
The Department for Education suggests that these procedures are
intended to be less confrontational, less bureaucratic, and
generally quicker than the previous regime. The Government's view
is that schools need to be able to dismiss those who do not perform
to the expected standard.
The new appraisal procedures apply to head teachers, and
teachers in local-authority-maintained schools, and are designed to
make the process less prescriptive than previously. For example,
lesson observation by the appraiser will no longer have to be three
hours. It could last for a longer or shorter time, as deemed
appropriate by the governing body or local authority. These will
also have freedom to decide on other matters where there is
currently no flexibility.
The teacher's performance will be assessed objectively against
the relevant Standards for Teachers, as directed by the Secretary
of State, whereas previously the standards were seen as a mere
backdrop to discussions about performance management. The
Government has also issued a new model policy that deals with
appraisal and capability issues, which, it is anticipated, will
form the backbone of most schools' policy on the subject.
As was the case under the previous regime, teachers must still
receive an annual written assessment of their performance, along
with an assessment of their training and development needs, and,
where relevant, a recommendation on pay-progression. There is no
Governors will also have to appoint an external adviser to
assist with the appraisal of the head teacher.
Capability procedures apply only to teachers and head teachers
about whom there are serious concerns that the appraisal process
has been unable to address. The monitoring and review period after
a first warning has been shortened from the previous 20 weeks to
between four and ten weeks.
It is important to note that the review period must be
reasonable, given the circumstances of each case, and must provide
sufficient time for reasonable improvement to take place.
Prescribed notice provisions are required when engaging the
capability procedure, and, if necessary, advice should be sought to
The new model policy sets out an ACAS-compliant model on
capability policy that schools might like to follow. It is also
important to remember that the School Staffing (England)
(Amendment) Regulations 2012 now require maintained schools to
provide details about whether a head teacher or teacher has been
subject to capability in the previous two years.
While the new appraisal regulations do not apply to academies,
free schools, and independent schools, the governing bodies of such
schools would be well advised to consider implementing similar
procedures, as it is likely that the Government will introduce
similar regulations into their funding agreements for
Howard Dellar is an education specialist at Lee Bolton
Monier-Williams, legal advisers to the National Society.