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Severn Bridges Multi - Academy Trust

Growing Great Schools



As a Trust we feel that the research on Performance Management shows that the process is largely ineffectual in developing the quality of education in our schools.


From September 2019 we developed a complete Growing Great Schools culture spanning: Staff appraisal, career development, coaching and mentoring support, working in partnership with quality assurance and school development planning,


Our appraisal procedures have their foundations in Chris Moyse`s “Growing Great Teachers” professional growth policy that we have extended to involve all our colleagues: teachers, teaching assistants, administrative and premises related staff. 


Our unique approach develops a culture where traditional appraisal disappears and is replaced with an enriching, interactive and inspiring process based on a professional interpersonal and interactive review centered on the team member’s individual Growth Plan.


The appraisee reflects on the standards for their post and leads the development of their career development, motivated through their own aspirational and career based goals.  They plan their goals, associated training and CPD with the support of their Growth Mentor. 


The process is non-judgmental escaping the straitjacket of high stakes lesson observations and numeric targets. The process works seamlessly alongside the school's development plan and quality assurance model. 


The team members career pathway is supported by an innovative Trust career structure set out in a family of Career Bridges for all our staff.


"Culture eats strategy for breakfast." Peter Drucker

Our schools make a commitment via the top slice to value and  support centrally our staff development over and above the school`s training budgets. These innovative documents and standards forms enable team members to plot a course through the career structures and associated training. Staff link their Growth Goals to the Career Bridge training and the Trust empowers them to develop their skills and personal development.


The innovative and original Career Bridge approach is epitomised in our dedication to developing areas such as UPS3 teachers often neglected in their career development if they are not seeking leadership roles. The MAT champions ‘The Project’ where UPS3 staff can develop an area of interest, supported by MAT funding, that allows them to develop a personal goal with benefit to the school or MAT as a whole. 

Our exciting and inspirational appraisal process works in synergy with our school development planning. 


Quality assurance across the schools is symbiotic with the staff Growth Plans our appraisal format. An innovative quality assurance system is a creative, non-judgemental hybrid of the ‘Deep-Dive’ methodology. The schools have embraced the most useful and informative parts of the Deep-Dive to create a collegiate and supportive Subject 360 review. The Subject 360 reviews form both part of the appraisal system but also the quality assurance for each subject across the school.


Subject 360 reviews on a planned timetable paralleling curriculum development in school analysing all the key aspects of a subject. The subject leads engage in lesson visits, children discussions on their learning, staff feedback on curriculum unit choice and lesson sequencing, data around their subject and share books with staff and children to gauge their views on the work undertaken. This format gives an excellent picture of the subject`s strengths and development points and supports the team members chosen Growth Goals. The 360 is supported by SLT, fellow team members as appropriate or with a colleague from another school in the MAT. 


The monitoring of each subject is creative and gives a deeper understanding of the subject across the school. It develops the sharing of good practice as each coordinator sees great teaching across the school, areas of excellence being flagged and noted to share as good examples with their peers. Children have a real voice in the development of lessons and curriculum helping leaders develop an understanding of the quality of lesson planning and teaching and where they can be supported to improve. 


Our staff see the 360 reviews as non-judgemental and develop an open door, “come and  see what I'm doing” approach across the schools. Staff are happy to share great proactive ideas with the other schools in the MAT or join 360s in other schools. 


SLT will use a range of monitoring of standards alongside the reviews to understand the progress pupils are making across the school. They will use part of the 360 review to look at perhaps data in Maths or the quality of writing in books for example. 


This rich vein of data and evidence allows leaders to make excellent, research based decisions about school development and improvements. 


The whole process of improving the quality of education in the school is a culture which Walt Whitman would describe as “being curious, not judgemental”. 



“49% of school staff say Accountability (e.g. performance, test scores, inspections) causes them to feel stressed or unhappy at work over the last 2 weeks.” Anna Freud Centre research


“Whoever came up with the idea of targets? They are worse than a waste of time.

Targets take up valuable time, concentrate people on the wrong things or too few things, and lay the basics for a pseudo-performance-management experience: ticking a box.

They don’t make people better. They make them worse. And they make your school worse. In fact I’d argue they make most organisations worse and any leader who wants to do something radical for the better, should abolish them.” Katherine Birbalsingh – Michaela Community School

This approach was developed over many months by the then Executive Head Teacher (current CEO) and Head teachers of Severn Bridges MAT.  The initiative was put into place in all our schools in September 2019 and has been working very successfully since. As a MAT we are proud of our approach to growing and nurturing our staff and are always willing to share our ideas with other schools.