Monday, 14 March 2011

School improvement that will last: Staff Incentives

School improvement that will last

In the last of four articles setting out the principles of 'joined-up governance', Ann Holt and Stephen Adamson complete their look at ways in which governors can work to bring about lasting improvement in their schools


Having got the best staff we can, how do we encourage them and keep them motivated? For, without motivation, progress will be at best gradual or sluggish, and may not be achieved at all.

The incentives available to governors range from the simple thank-you to financial rewards and promotion. Money is clearly important but it is not the only incentive, or even the most important one. When a number of teachers were asked what kept them going they stressed two things: being appreciated and having the ability to influence and exercise some control over what was happening in their school.

Appreciation costs little but it is so easy to overlook. The note that lets someone know that you have noticed their efforts and achievement can be a real encouragement. We also have a significant part to play in praising the school in public and to parents when it is deserved.

The staff of the school feel more secure and therefore more in control when they sense that the school's leadership knows where it is going and what it wants done. They want to know that the governors and the head have a grip on things and are able to keep that strategic overview, which in turn will help the managers and teachers to get on top of the detail.

Governors have specific additional responsibility for the welfare of school staff. As well as ensuring that teachers get their 10% PPA time, governors are meant to check with the school management that other measures are in place to give teachers a good work-life balance and should themselves give the headteacher the same benefit.

Incentives and skills are closely linked. Staff will be more highly motivated if they know that you are funding and supporting a properly thought-through continuing professional development programme. You will not be involved in the detailed implementation of this but you should expect regular reports from the head about the achievements, development and wellbeing of the staff, and how they are serving the process of school improvement. These are vital if you are going to monitor the performance management policy and its impact, as indeed you must.

The material in this article has been drawn from Joined-up Governance by Jane Martin and Ann Holt, revised edition 2010, Adamson Publishing and first published on the School Governor Update from

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