Shifting ‘Performance Management’ from the personal to a more collegiate responsibility at Bader : 2015-10-04

I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed thinking on and contemplating how to approach School Improvement Planning and Performance Management (Teacher Appraisal) at Bader. That exercise has led me to delve into and take key messages from a number of useful works, that including:

John Hattie (2015) What Works Best in Education: The Politics of Collaborative Expertise
Sir Michael Barber (2010) Deliverology 101: A Field Guide for Educational Leaders
Jenni Donohoo (2013) Collaborative Inquiry for Educators: A Facilitators Guide to School Improvement
Anthony Bryk et. al (2015) Learning to Improve: How America’s Schools Can Get Better at Getting Better
Guy Claxton et. al (2011) The Learning Powered School: Pioneering 21st Century Education
Andy Hargreaves (2014) Uplifting Leadership: How Organisations, Teams, and Communities Raise Performance
Lyle Kirtman (2013) Leadership and Teams: The Missing Piece of the Educational Reform Puzzle
Michael Fullan (2014) The Principal: Three Keys to Maximising Impact
Richard Dufour and Michael Fullan (2013) Cultures Built to Last: Systemic Plcs at Work

For me, Professor Hattie’s words ring so true:

“If we truly want to improve student learning, it is vital that we shift our narrative about teaching and learning. We need to build the critical work of building up collaborative expertise in our schools and education systems.”

At Bader, how can we build a sustainable improvement culture? One in which quality improvement is not seen as a project but as an ongoing function?

Much reflection, fed by the reading listed above + learning conversations had with #VLNetworkUK colleagues and Sarah Martin, Founding Principal @StonefieldsSch , led me to decide upon the following as a way forward for keying a collaborative approach to school improvement into school’s performance management regime.

All teachers will be involved in two collaborative inquiry cycles. The first cycle will be completed by Spring half-term, with a second cycle begun and completed by the end of Summer term. We have adopted the collaborative inquiry framework suggested by Jenni Donohoo, using the four stage process:

    1. Determining a Meaningful Focus
    2. Collecting Evidence
    3. Analysing Evidence
    4. Documenting, Celebrating and Sharing


In line with Bryk’s six improvement principles drawn from the field of improvement science, the model encourages a ‘co-development orientation’, engaging key participants as problem definers and problem solvers. For example, our Early Years team, in determining their focus, have decided upon the following:

Shared Vision
Early Years learners demonstrate good progress in their development of learner characteristics and their application in the Early Years setting.

Student Learning Need
Our Early Years learners are not very accepting of challenge and show little independence.

Problem Framed
The purpose of this inquiry is to determine how to best develop learner characteristics in the Early Years whilst delivering the EYFS curriculum.

Inquiry Question
How effectively can we apply the concept of split-screen teaching to the designing of learning in Early Years?

Theory of Action
If split-screen teaching is adopted and developed successfully then Early Years learners will develop learner characteristics successfully, whilst making good or better progress against early learning goals.

One of the strengths of Donohoo’s model is that impact measurement is something that inquiry teams fathom and design for themselves, based on identified desirable outcomes. I feel that this will allow us, as a team, to ‘get better at getting better’, to use Bryk’s term. The model also allows participants to ‘see the system that produces the current outcomes’ (Bryk’s Improvement Principle: No. 3), for it is hard to improve a system if you do not fully understand how it currently operates to produce its results.

I anticipate that shifting performance management from the personal to a more collegiate responsibility will create a culture that cements the sixth of Bryk’s improvement principles, ensuring the total breakdown of silos of practice, enlivening a belief that we can accomplish more together than even the best of us can accomplish alone.

Performance Management Objective 3 (1 & 2 being the two collaborative inquiry cycles) is Leadership, with all teachers recognising that they are leaders of learning. PM 3 will continue to be driven by Sir Michael Barber’s Deliverology process:

  1. Develop a foundation for delivery
  2. Understand the delivery challenge
  3. Plan for delivery
  4. Drive delivery
  5. Create an irreversible delivery culture

Senior leaders in school have all taken on responsibility for key school improvement strands, being:

  • Learning Dispositions
  • Teacher Mindframes
  • Assessment & Feedback
  • Digital Learning
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Growth Mindset
  • Parental Engagement
  • Pupil Voice

All teachers in school are members of guiding coalitions. Performance Management Obj. 3 defines individual roles.

The truly exciting thing in all of this is how respective guiding coalitions are growing, expanding beyond our school community. If we are to pursue excellence then how far will we go? Well, how about this for an answer… the other side of the World! Marc Hayes and Samantha King are about to expand their respective guiding coalitions for Learning Dispositions and Digital Learning to incorporate the brilliant team at Stonefields School in New Zealand. Marc and Sam are about to embark on a learning adventure that will see them spend two weeks in Stonefields. Their learning blogs will be followed keenly by all Bader staff members as we look to get better at getting better.

5 Responses to “Shifting ‘Performance Management’ from the personal to a more collegiate responsibility at Bader”

  1. Stephen Brown says:

    Establishing a culture within school whereby every teacher is encouraged to collaborate strategically sounds great.
    (Parent Governor)

  2. Jenni Donohoo says:

    Sounds like wonderful things are happening at Bader Primary School and leadership and collaboration are key elements! Looking forward to following your story.

    • Mr Feasey says:

      Thank you Jenni. Your Collaborative Inquiry model provides a way of teams (made up, typically, of individuals not familiar with this way of working) to embark on what Professor Bryk would call problem specific and user-centred inquiry, with learning needs identified by the team and the inquiry itself being conducted by the team. It also allows for consideration and investigation around ‘variation in performance’. This is to be embraced because we all know that we have different levels of expertise, knowledge in, and experience of what we ‘do’ in this profession. Peter de Witt urges us all to bear in mind that true collaborators learn through the process. Which takes us back round to Professor Hattie’s celebration of collaborative expertise We will look to share the outcomes of collaborative cycles through this blog, as our teams complete their work. Transparency is very much a watchword here now at Bader. Along with acceptance of learning beyond ‘mistakes’; implementing slowly and learning fast. Getting better at getting better!

      Such a powerful and inclusive model. Thank you!

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