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Last updated on 3 August 2020
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You'll likely be appraising staff and setting new performance objectives as cycles end in the autumn term. See our tips for how to approach this while coronavirus continues to impact everyone's work.

How to approach appraisal for the current cycle

You shouldn't skip appraisals

If you're in a maintained school, you must appraise teachers annually under legislation.

Additionally, if you follow the STPCD, you must make annual decisions on teachers’ pay progression linked to performance.

Even if you're not required to conduct appraisals annually, such as if you're an academy that doesn't follow the STPCD, we'd recommend you still carry out appraisals at the end of the current cycle.

For support staff, you should continue appraisals as set out in their contracts.

However, you should approach appraisals differently

There's no single approach you have to take. Seek advice from:

  • Your HR provider
  • Your local authority or trust (if they're not your HR provider)
  • Any union reps at your school

Here are some general tips for appraisers that should suit most schools though:

  • Only consider progress against objectives up to when schools closed on 20th March – think about what could've reasonably been achieved in this time
  • Base progress against the objectives on evidence that was already created before lockdown – don't ask staff to create new evidence, but you can ask them to collect any existing evidence together
  • Don't consider any evidence you weren't able to get, such as lesson observations in the summer term
  • For secondary schools, avoid using exam results as evidence as these have been put together through a very different method than usual results
  • If you were monitoring work during the lockdown, don't use any evidence from this period during appraisal – it's unfair to treat this as a normal work period, as everyone was getting to grips with a very different situation

Run any approach you take past your governing board.

How to set new objectives for the next cycle

Understand your new baseline before setting objectives

You need a sense of where your school is at following the lockdown so you know what you want staff to focus on for the next year.

For example, ask yourself:

  • How has pupils' learning development been affected by lockdown? Do you need to introduce a 'recovery curriculum' to get pupils back on track?
  • How has the school community been emotionally affected by lockdown? Are there new safeguarding risks or mental health issues?
  • Did any new opportunities present themselves during lockdown? For example, do you want to introduce more online learning to your curriculum?

Consider this baseline when deciding on objectives

Consider objectives under the two categories below:

  • Baseline objectives: think about where you want to be at the end of the next year compared to where you're at now, and set objectives based on how staff can realistically contribute towards this
  • Continuity objectives: reuse the objectives you set last year that staff weren't able to complete but could still reasonably achieve within the context of the position your school is in now

You might decide to only set objectives from the former or latter categories, or a mix of the two.

For example, for a literacy lead you could set:

  • A baseline objective about improving pupils' literacy by a certain amount from pupils' starting points in September
  • A continuity objective about improving the diversity of reading books available to pupils

Make sure there's flexibility though. We don't know if another lockdown may happen, so avoid any objectives that heavily rely on staff being in school.

For more help with setting strong objectives, see our article on how to write performance objectives.


This article is based on advice from the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and Tony Cook, our associate education expert.

Tony is an independent learning and development consultant. He has experience of teacher recruitment, developing training programmes and providing HR services to schools.

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