education.vic.gov.au

The performance and development approach

The following section provides a step-by-step guide through each stage of the performance and development process.

Reviewer

Regional Director

The Regional Director (RD) is responsible for the performance and development of all principals. It is important to note that while the RD may delegate each stage of the performance and development process to the Senior Education Improvement Leader (SEIL) (or alternate nominee), the RD is ultimately responsible for approving all principal performance and development outcomes in their region. Where a SEIL (or RD’s alternate nominee) and principal cannot come to agreement at any stage of the cycle, the matter must be referred to the RD for a decision.

Senior Education Improvement Leaders

The SEIL (or RD’s alternate nominee) is responsible for coordinating all components of the performance and development process for principals. They will make recommendations about a principal’s performance and development to the RD and the RD must make the final decision.

Principal

In the case of campus and assistant principals, the school principal has the ultimate responsibility for decisions about an employee’s performance and development.

Reviewers may wish to conduct the end-cycle review in a one-on-one setting, or set up a review panel. The use of a panel should be agreed between the SEIL and the principal, and approved by the RD. If a panel is adopted, it should be assembled at the start of the cycle and panel members should be involved in the staff member’s performance and development process throughout the cycle.

Annual performance cycle

The performance and development cycle operates on a calendar year cycle (unless otherwise agreed with the employee) while the progression cycle operates from May to April.

The key dates and requirements for performance and development each year are as follows:

  • by 30 April — a principal class employee with less than 6 months eligible service at a particular salary subdivision will not be eligible for salary progression for that cycle
  • by 30 April — all principal class employees must be advised of their final performance and development outcome
  • on 1 May — remuneration progression occurs for eligible principal class employees who achieve a successful performance and development outcome

Refer to Other information chapter in these Policy and Guidelines.

Figure 3 Performance and Development Cycle for Principal Class Employees

Performance and development cycle for principal class employees
Figure 3 Performance and Development Cycle for Principal Class Employees

Performance and Development Cycle

1 Reflection and goal setting

  • reflect on practice and student learning needs
  • develop professional performance and development goals
  • identify evidence, strategies, school support and professional learning
  • discuss and agree on performance and development plan (PDP) with review

2 Professional practice and learning

  • reflect on practice
  • identify and reflect on multiple sources of evidence
  • discuss progress with reviewer and receive personalised feedback and support
  • reviewer to provide written feedback
  • identify further opportunities for capacity building or professional learning

3 Feedback and review

  • reflect on practice
  • formal discussion with reviewer to discuss progress
  • evidence collected to be considered
  • goals assessed individually
  • overall performance and development outcome to be determined and written feedback provided
  • opportunities for professional development to be considered and will form part of PDP for next cycle.
Download Figure 3 Performance and Development Cycle for Principal Class Employees

Reflection and goal setting (start of cycle)

‘While visions can be inspiring, productive action typically requires some agreement on the more immediate goals to be accomplished in order to move toward the vision’ (Leithwood, 2012).

Figure 4 Roles and Responsibilities

Role and responsibilities for start of PDP cycle for principal class: principal class employee, reviewer, Regional Director (for principal process only)
Figure 4 Roles and Responsibilities

Roles and responsibilities

1 Reflect on practice and past performance and development

  • principal class employee to reflect on practice and past performance and development
  • reviewer to provide support as required
  • Regional Director to provide support as required. If agreement between the reviewer and principal cannot be reached, the matter should be referred to the RD

2 Develop annual performance and development goals, strategies and evidence required to demonstrate goal achievement

  • principal class employee to develop annual performance and development goals, strategies and evidence required to demonstrate goal achievement
  • reviewer to provide support as required
  • Regional Director to provide support as required. If agreement between the reviewer and principal cannot be reached, the matter should be referred to the RD

3 Develop draft PDP

  • principal class employee to develop draft PDP
  • reviewer to provide support as required
  • Regional Director to provide support as required. If agreement between the reviewer and principal cannot be reached, the matter should be referred to the RD

4 Meet with reviewer to discuss and agree to PDP

  • principal class employee to meet with reviewer to discuss and agree to PDP
  • reviewer to meet with principal class employee to discuss and agree on their PDP
  • Regional Director to provide support as required. If agreement between the reviewer and principal cannot be reached, the matter should be referred to the RD
Download Figure 4 Roles and Responsibilities

Reflection and discussion

Principals will discuss their performance and development with their reviewer (SEIL or RD’s alternate nominee) at the beginning of each cycle. Campus and assistant principals will meet with their principal. Principal class employees should come to this meeting having reflected on the previous year, their role and performance as school leader, and school and student performance. Principal class employees should be clear about what they hope to achieve in the coming year in line with the strategic priorities of their school and school community.

This initial meeting will be used to discuss and refine the principal class employee’s draft Performance and Development Plan (PDP) which will incorporate the principal class employee’s proposed goals, strategies and supporting evidence as well as clear expectations for performance and development. The principal class employee and reviewer should seek to reach agreement about what goals are to be established, what evidence will be used to indicate success at the feedback and review stages. During this meeting, the principal class employee’s PDP should be finalised and agreed on by the principal class employees and their reviewer.

If a decision between the reviewer and principal cannot be reached about the content of the PDP, the matter should be referred to the RD. Figure 4 describes the roles and responsibilities of the principal class employee, reviewer and RD.

Goal setting

Building on an understanding of school priorities and student data and learning needs, principal class employees will refine, through discussion with their reviewer, goals in relation to each of the Domains of Principal Practice and a goal focused on school and student outcomes, which takes into account the Domains of Principal Practice. These goals should follow the SMART goal methodology (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time- Bound).

Goals should be based on previous reviews (where relevant), be clear and evidence-based, and reflect the principal class employee’s developmental needs.

Principal class employees’ performance and development goals should ultimately be aimed at improving school and student outcomes through improved practice. Analysis of school and student data and the learning needs of students should be the primary sources used to inform goal setting. Additional resources that can influence goal setting include:

  • the Australian Professional Standard for Principals
  • core accountabilities
  • the School Strategic Plan (SSP) and Annual Implementation Plan (AIP)
  • evidence and research about effective teaching and leadership
  • the school’s agreed approach to teaching

The Department has developed tools and resources to assist with goal setting, which can be accessed on the Department's website.

In summary, performance and development goals should be:

  • SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound)
  • evidence-based
  • aligned with school priorities and school improvement initiatives as outlined in the SSP and AIP
  • ‘stretch goals’ — they should be developmental, and based on areas or skills that are yet to be achieved, rather than those already consolidated
  • agreed between the principal class employee and reviewer and regularly reviewed and adjusted if required (and by agreement)

Strategies

Principal class employees should document strategies that will directly support them to achieve their performance and development goals over the course of the performance cycle. This may include capacity building, collaboration and, or professional learning.

Evidence

Evidence selected should be ‘adequate, authentic, appropriate and accurate’ (Griffin, 2008).

Principal class employees will also need to clearly nominate a range of evidence that will demonstrate their progress towards and achievement of their performance and development goals. Collecting and reflecting on evidence is critical to effective performance and development processes, by enabling principal class employees to provide evidence of the impact of their practice. Additionally, evidence provides the basis for further development by informing growth and access to high quality professional learning.

A range of evidence is required to produce a meaningful perspective of a principal class employee’s performance and development throughout the cycle (Timperley, 2008). Evidence selected should be realistic and accessible, and should be the data and information collected as part of a principal class employee’s everyday practice. Evidence should be an exercise in collation rather than creation. The quality of evidence is critical to ensuring that specific and growth-oriented feedback is provided to principal class employees to support their ongoing development.

When selecting evidence, principal class employees should ask themselves the following:

  • How will I know I have achieved this goal?
  • How could I demonstrate that I have achieved the goal?
  • What is the impact of me achieving the goal?
  • Can I seek feedback from those who benefit from my work?

Principal class employees are expected to document evidence collected from multiple sources, which may include, but are not limited to feedback from:

  • staff and students
  • peers and colleagues
  • school community and parents

Feedback may be in the form of quantitative evidence, including:

  • evidence of scope and sequence and documented curriculum planning
  • class assessments against Victorian Curriculum
  • portfolios of student work
  • on-demand assessments
  • VCE assessments and data
  • moderated teacher assessments

Feedback may be in the form of qualitative evidence, including:

  • evidence such as system contribution, for example collegiate activity outside of the school

The Department has developed tools and resources to assist with identifying and collecting appropriate evidence, which can be accessed on the Department’s website.

Professional practice and learning (mid-cycle)

‘If students are to learn at higher levels, processes must be in place to ensure the ongoing, job-embedded learning of the adults who serve them’ (Dufour and Marzano, 2011).

Figure 5 Role and Responsibilities

Role and responsibilities for PDP mid-cycle for principal class: principal class employee, reviewer, Regional Director (for principal process only)
Figure 5 Role and Responsibilities

Roles and responsibilities

1 Reflect on practice

  • principal class employee to reflect on practice
  • reviewer to provide support as required
  • Regional Director to provide support as required. If agreement between the reviewer and principal cannot be reached, the matter should be referred to the RD. If there are concerns identified, discuss with the reviewer and, if required, provide support plan and associated strategies

2 Meet with reviewer to discuss progress towards achieving performance and development goals

  • principal class employee to meet with reviewer to discuss progress towards achieving performance and development goals
  • reviewer to consider evidence presented. Provide quality verbal and written feedback to principal class employee, indicating progress to date and identifying support options or development opportunities (if required)
  • Regional Director to provide support as required. If agreement between the reviewer and principal cannot be reached, the matter should be referred to the RD. If there are concerns identified, discuss with the reviewer and, if required, provide support plan and associated strategies

3 Refine PDP (if required)

  • principal class employee to refine PDP (if required)
  • reviewer to assist principal class employees in refining PDP
  • Regional Director to provide support as required. If agreement between the reviewer and principal cannot be reached, the matter should be referred to the RD. If there are concerns identified, discuss with the reviewer and, if required, provide support plan and associated strategies
Download Figure 5 Role and Responsibilities

Professional conversations about practice

A mid-cycle discussion should be scheduled between a principal class employee and their reviewer to discuss progress against agreed performance and development goals. While a face-to-face meeting is not required, it is preferred in order to facilitate a robust process. The mid-cycle discussion provides an opportunity for principal class employees to receive feedback and, where required, support to ensure performance and development goals can be achieved by the end-cycle. However, feedback and support can be provided at any time during the performance and development cycle.

Discussion at this stage of the cycle enables both the principal class employee and their reviewers to refine goals, professional learning and development opportunities, and evidence identified in the Performance and Development Plan (PDP). Any changes are to be agreed between the principal class employee and the reviewer.

The formal mid-cycle review is also an opportunity for concerns about performance to be raised, and expectations for improvement prior to end-cycle review to be discussed. This may include identifying further opportunities for collaboration, capacity building and/or professional learning. It is important to note, however, that concerns about performance should be raised as soon as they have been identified and discussed in the content of how the principal class employee can work towards meeting their goals. Figure 5 describes the roles and responsibilities of the principal class employee, reviewer and Regional Director (RD).

Self-assessment

Principal class employees should monitor progress against their performance and development goals, focus on meeting the goals set and collect evidence of their practice and impact on school and student outcomes throughout the year. Principal class employees should self-assess against their agreed performance and development goals in preparation for the mid-cycle and end-cycle discussions.

Feedback

The role of principals in the performance and development process is twofold:

  • principals should know how to give quality feedback to teachers, assistant principals and campus principals, and
  • know how to engage in constructive feedback sessions with their reviewers

This ensures that principal class employees have the opportunity to reflect on and develop their skills.

Performance and development processes are effective when they provide principal class employees with meaningful feedback so they can reflect and improve their practice, and obtain support to improve and develop their skills. For feedback to be constructive and effective, it is important that is actionable, supported by examples, and provides substantial opportunities for improvement.

Both verbal and written feedback should be provided to principal class employees at the mid and end of the cycle. The provision of informal feedback is recommended throughout the cycle, from the reviewer, a critical friend, colleagues, peers, parents and students. This encourages continual reflection and improvement from all lenses of the learning environment. There is an opportunity to gain additional insight into the principal’s performance through seeking feedback from the school council regarding the principal’s delivery of the strategic plan.

Effective feedback must address 3 major questions (Hattie and Timperley, 2007, Timperley, 2011):

  • Where am I going?
  • How am I going?
  • Where to next?

Principal class employees should seek feedback from a range of sources (which may include colleagues, leadership team, students, parents and self-reflection) in order to answer these questions.

When providing feedback to principal class employees, reviewers should support them to become self-regulators — evaluators of their own practice and its impact on school and student outcomes. Feedback should be aimed at motivating effort and empowering principal class employees to identify where their practice could be more effective and to make the necessary adjustments. Equally as important, principal class employees must enter feedback sessions with an open mind, and be willing and receptive to meaningful and constructive feedback.

Professional learning

‘Through learning we re-create ourselves’ (Senge, 1990).

Principals have a responsibility to support performance and development by establishing a high-quality professional learning culture, characterised by:

  • a high degree of leadership support for ongoing adult learning and risk-taking
  • collective responsibility for improving practice
  • disciplined collaboration focused on student learning needs
  • high levels of trust, interaction and interdependence
  • support through school structures, explicit planning and the allocation of time
  • coaching and mentoring, and teacher-led action research, which are strategies that commonly feature in effective school based staff development.

When leaders engage in continuous professional learning, it sends a very powerful message that a professional learning culture is an essential element of an effective school. The leadership activity found to have the greatest influence on student outcomes is leaders’ promotion of, and participation in, teachers’ professional learning and development (Timperley, 2011).

Principals are asked to reflect on their school improvement strategies and their own professional learning needs, and to undertake actions that will build on and further enhance their leadership skills and behaviours. When planning professional learning actions it may also be helpful to consider them as:

  • independent action — undertaken alone, such as professional reading
  • supported action — supported by a coach, mentor or critical friend
  • collective action — shared through teams or collegiate groups
  • formal programs — provided by the Department and other organisations

The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL)External Link provides a range of useful resources to support principals and other school leaders in establishing a high-quality professional learning culture.

Feedback and review (end of cycle)

‘Feedback has no effect in a vacuum, to be powerful in its effect, there must be a learning context to which feedback is addressed’ (Hattie and Timperley, 2007).

Figure 6 Roles and Responsibilities

Role and responsibilities for PDP end-cycle for principal class: principal class employee, reviewer, Regional Director (for principal process only)
Figure 6 Roles and Responsibilities

Roles and responsibilities

1 Consider the evidence collected. Self-assess performance and development against goals. Record final self-reflections and update plan

  • principal class employee to consider the evidence collected. Self-assess performance and development against goals. Record final self-reflections and update plan
  • reviewer to provide support as required
  • Regional Director to make the final decision on the principal class employee's performance and development based on recommendations from the reviewer

2 Meet with reviewer for performance and development review, prepare to describe achievements, professional growth and areas for future focus

  • principal class employee to meet with reviewer for performance and development review, prepare to describe achievements, professional growth and areas for future focus
  • reviewer to meet with the principal class employee for their performance and development review. Consider evidence presented. Provide verbal and written feedback, and an outcome for each goal.
  • Regional Director to make the final decision on the principal class employee's performance and development based on recommendations from the reviewer

3 Receive final performance and development review outcome

  • principal class employee to receive final performance and development review outcome
  • reviewer to inform principal class employee of performance and development outcome. If reviewer is a SEIL, provide performance recommendation to the Regional Director to determine the final outcome
  • Regional Director to make the final decision on the principal class employee's performance and development based on recommendations from the reviewer
Download Figure 6 Roles and Responsibilities

A formal end-cycle performance and development review will be undertaken annually. Performance and development reviews will be based upon principal class employees meeting their accountabilities, achieving their goals and providing evidence of improved practice and impact on school and student outcomes.

Preparation for formal review

Principal class employees should prepare for the formal end-cycle review by:

  • reflecting on their performance and professional growth over the cycle, with reference to their performance and development goals and the Australian Professional Standard for Principals (the Standard) and the impact this has had on their school and students
  • collating and analysing evidence collected over the course of the performance and development cycle
  • preparing to describe their achievements, how they have grown professionally and areas for further development they have identified for the future (supported by evidence)
  • preparing to have a constructive professional conversation with their reviewer and receive feedback regarding their progress and professional growth in all areas of their practice

Formal review — professional judgement

Performance and development reviews require reviewers to make informed, professional judgements about principal class employee practice and improvement using multiple sources of evidence and with consideration of the circumstances surrounding a principal class employee’s professional growth throughout the cycle. Setting clear expectations at the beginning of the cycle plays a significant role in allowing reviewers to make a transparent, evidence-based and personalised assessment of a principal class employee’s performance and development against their goals, leading to an overall performance and development outcome.

When assessing a principal class employee’s performance and development, data will not be considered in isolation, and no single piece of evidence will determine the performance and development outcome.

Principals are responsible for determining the overall performance and development outcome for assistant and campus principals, and Regional Directors (RDs) are responsible for principals. The outcome must be recorded. As well as providing verbal feedback during the end-cycle discussion, reviewers must provide principal class employees with written feedback. Feedback should drive goal setting for the following performance and development cycle, and, as such, should be provided in a timely manner allowing for this to occur. Formal notification of performance and development outcomes must be advised to principal class employees by 30 April. Figure 6 describes the roles and responsibilities of the principal class employee, reviewer and RD.

Personalised feedback

Feedback (verbal and written) will focus on specific areas for improvement, and will assist principal class employees in developing appropriate performance and development goals for the next performance cycle. This feedback should be incorporated in the development of the PDP for the following year, including appropriate development actions.

In order to facilitate the formal provision of meaningful, detailed and actionable feedback to principal class employees, reviewers are required to determine performance and development outcomes at the goal level across three levels of achievement, and provide feedback explaining each outcome (Figure 7) and provide guidance for further development. This type of feedback:

  • recognises and celebrates achievement
  • recognises and records professional growth
  • identifies new or renewed areas for focus for the next performance and development cycle
  • identifies strategies and support that can be implemented to support growth in these areas for the future.

Reviewers will then exercise their professional judgement to determine a final assessment outcome. Figure 8 provides a description of the final performance and development outcomes that can be received.

In this way the formal feedback and review stage marks the formal close of one performance and development cycle and serves as the foundation for the next cycle by providing principal class employees with precise feedback on what they have achieved and where they can continue to learn and grow as professionals.

Figure 7 Definitions of Performance and Development Outcomes at the Goal Level

PDP descriptors: meets requirements, partially meets, does not meet
Figure 7 Definitions of Performance and Development Outcomes at the Goal Level

Meets requirements
The performance of the employee has been evaluated as meeting the goal set in their PDP, and therefore demonstrates the required performance and professional growth and improvement of practice at this stage of career development.

Partially meets requirements
The performance of the employee has been evaluated as partially meeting the goal set in their PDP, and therefore partially demonstrates the required performance and, or professional growth and improvement of practice at this stage of career development.

Does not meet requirements
The performance of the employee has been evaluated as not meeting the goal set in their PDP, and therefore does not demonstrate the required performance and, or professional growth and improvement of practice expected at this stage of career development.

Download Figure 7 Definitions of Performance and Development Outcomes at the Goal Level

Figure 8 Definitions of Final Performance and Development Outcomes

PDP descriptors: meets requirements, does not meet
Figure 8 Definitions of Final Performance and Development Outcomes

Meets requirements
The performance of the employee has been evaluated as meeting the requirements of effective performance, professional growth and improvement of practice at this stage of career development.

Does not meet requirements
The performance of the employee has been evaluated as not meeting the requirements of effective performance and, or not meeting the expectations for professional growth and improvement of practice at this stage of career development.

Download Figure 8 Definitions of Final Performance and Development Outcomes
Performance and development approach for Principal Class Employees

Reviewed 10 January 2023

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