Rani Kaur explains why an annual appraisal is so important
NGA has always promoted the development and appraisal of clerks. However, when we carried out our survey on clerks’ pay and employment (June 2016), only 48% of respondents said that they receive an annual appraisal. NGA believes that, in line with other professional roles, it is imperative that clerks are appraised annually. A proper development and appraisal system should be a two-way process and give both the appraiser and clerk an opportunity to reflect on the previous year and look forward to the coming year.
The appraisal should identify both what has gone well and areas for improvement. Once the latter have been identified, relevant support and CPD can be offered.
However, it is not just the clerk’s performance that should be evaluated. It is also a good opportunity for the clerk to raise any issues they have in relation to the governing board or the clerking service they work within.
NGA thinks that clerks should be appraised by their direct line manager. This is likely to differ depending on how the clerk’s services are provided but, as a general rule, for those employed directly by the school or self-employed, it is likely to be the chair. For those employed through an agency or through the local authority (LA), it will be their line manager within the service.
Even where the clerk is employed through the LA or other clerking service, the chair should still take the opportunity to have an annual review of what has gone well and not so well.
SET OBJECTIVES As with any performance management process, the first stage is to set objectives. NGA recommends no more than four to six objectives. These should be SMART (specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based) and clearly communicated to all involved. Both appraiser and clerk should have regard to the DfE’s Clerking Competency Framework in setting objectives and identifying any opportunities for development
Schools should already have a process in place to appraise support staff and this can also be used to appraise the clerk. A robust appraisal process will include a form to be completed in advance by the clerk followed by an appraisal meeting. The appraiser should be familiar with the content of the form and not be afraid to ask the clerk to elaborate on any of the statements.
In addition to the annual appraisal, NGA recommends that a mid-year review is also carried out. This is an opportunity for the clerk and appraiser to review the progress made so far. A mid-year review will also highlight any areas of concern that need to be addressed and ensure that there are no surprises at the annual appriasal. The mid-year review is an opportunity for the progress made on objectives so far to be reviewed and if necessary amend the objectives. Objectives may be amended for a number of reasons, eg objectives that were appropriate six months ago may no longer seem relevant.
The appraisal meeting is an honest conversation between clerk and appraiser. Once it is finished, the appraiser should finalise their comments on the form and send it back to the clerk for final agreement. When the appraisal process has been completed, the clerk’s pay may need to be reviewed, so it is important to be clear about where this responsibility rests.
Appraisals are a vital part of any professional role and NGA recommends that all clerks who are not currently annually appraised should ask for this process to be set up as soon as possible and for objectives to be set.
NGA has created a model appraisal form that can be adapted to suit your role.
Download model development and appraisal form (MS Word)