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In an increasingly tough economic climate, managing and maximising staff performance is vital. The worst economic downturn since the 1930s is seeing British households cut back on spending, including in respect of the costs of private education. As a result of a fall in pupil numbers, many schools are looking to cut staff costs by putting a freeze on recruitment and making redundancies. It is therefore essential to implement effective performance management tools to ensure that the remaining support staff and teachers are working at optimum levels and to avoid disillusioning the already overburdened “good eggs”, who may otherwise be left feeling as if they are carrying the can for their underperforming colleagues.
Of course, performance management in schools has been somewhat in the spotlight recently, with the Department for Education bringing in new arrangements for teacher and head teacher appraisals and for dealing with underperforming teachers in the maintained sector. These arrangements came into force with effect from September 2012 with the aim of giving maintained schools more freedom to manage their teachers through a simpler less prescriptive appraisal system and by allowing poorly performing teachers to be removed more quickly. This two-pronged approach is vital in independent schools too; schools need to implement and diligently pursue an effective appraisal system to identify performance issues and then have in place a robust capability procedure to deal with the issues identified.
Factors for schools to consider in dealing with performance issues include:
The ACAS Code requires:
While the above are part of a fair process, the success of managing any poorly performing employee usually rests on:
Remember - the purpose of a performance management process/capability procedure is to raise the employee’s performance to an acceptable level. Managers, particularly in the education sector, tend to shy away from starting formal processes until they have reached the point when they want the employee to leave. That is entirely counterproductive from all perspectives – effect on colleagues, the manager’s stress levels, the liability which the school is then exposed to for unfair dismissal (and potentially other claims), not to mention the obvious unfairness to the employee in question. Be brave – tackle poor performance and you will be doing everyone a favour.
If you would like any further assistance with implementing a capability procedure or managing staff performance, please contact Louise Smyth at Field Seymour Parkes on 0118 951 6365 or by email at Louise.Smyth@fsp-law.com
This article also appeared in the March 2013 edition of Independent schools magazine