Key performance indicators (KPIs)
Key performance indicators (KPIs) define the success criteria against which progress can be measured. They will be agreed in detail between the governing board and the senior leaders, based on a shared vision of what the school is aiming to achieve (Element B). Some examples of high-level outcomes are in the tables on the next page. Each school can tailor them to its own situation and add others as appropriate.
When developing KPIs, it is important to ensure they are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, Timebound. These will be monitored on an ongoing basis by the governing board. But not all KPIs are quantitative: some of a school’s most important outcomes do not lend themselves to simple quantitative measurement. Outcomes will be monitored through a combination of narrative and quantitative measures appropriate to the phase and type of school.
For some of the measures, there will be limited external data to compare with or use as benchmarks; in these cases, schools should be able to learn from comparing across different groups of students and tracking their own performance over time.
Governors need data and information to help them judge how well the school is performing against the criteria that the governing board and senior leaders have agreed. This relates to the governing board’s core functions of holding the headteacher to account and ensuring financial probity. It is also something Ofsted inspectors look at; they will consider whether governors “understand and take sufficient account of pupil data” and use this to “provide challenge and hold the headteacher and other senior leaders to account” (see the Ofsted School Inspection Handbook, Sep, 2018).
Many KPIs can be linked to one or more school policies, so these can be a useful reference point. Governing boards should also ensure they monitor the policies themselves – it is a good idea to establish a policy review cycle so that policies are regularly reviewed and kept up to date.
The governing board will use a wide range of evidence to monitor performance, and it is useful to reflect on this by considering the following questions:
- Do we have ready access to all the data and information we need to monitor the KPIs?
- Are we able to access that information independently, or do we depend on the senior leaders to provide it for us?
- Do we have the skills on the governing board to interpret data, or do we rely on senior leaders to do this for us?
- Is the information at the right level of detail – detailed enough to tell us what we need to know, but not so detailed as to make it difficult to see the wood for the trees?
- Is information available on all the aspects of the school’s performance that we agree are important – or only on those aspects that are easy to measure?
- Are we able to use benchmarking data to compare the school’s performance with that of comparable schools (not only local ones)?
There are a number of tools available to help governors monitor performance. The Fischer Family Trust Governor Dashboard is a six-page report which clearly displays key data about the school, including results and pupil progress, subject performance, progress of pupil groups, school context, attendance and the strengths and weaknesses of the school. Find out more at https://www.governor.support/school-data/.
An excellent tool to help governing boards monitor effectively is the Wellcome Trust’s Questions for Governors (see questionsforgovernors.co.uk). This currently focuses on science and maths, but may expand, and it is easy to see how an analogous approach can be applied to other curriculum areas and wider school issues.
Below are examples of performance indicators for the governing board to monitor. These can be tailored to each individual school to complement the school strategy and school development plan. It is expected that schools will prioritise a small number of KPIs as part of the school strategy. There is information about why each performance indicator is important, and examples of the evidence governors could use to monitor and report on each indicator. Note that some indicators apply to all phases, while others are specific to primary or secondary.
Proportion of pupils making expected progress
Pupils should be in an educational environment that enables them to make at least expected progress. Pupil progress forms part of the floor standards for both primary and secondary schools, which the government uses to hold schools to account. This includes the progress of certain groups, for example those eligible for pupil premium. Schools falling below the floor standards are subject to government intervention, including being taken over by an academy sponsor. Pupil achievement is one of the four areas for which Ofsted makes a graded judgement.
The proportion of pupils reaching a certain level of attainment forms part of the floor standards for both primary and secondary schools. This includes the attainment of certain groups, for example those eligible for pupil premium. Schools are held accountable for their pupils’ attainment by both the government and Ofsted. In secondary schools, the attainment of pupils will also determine the qualifications they gain and consequently their future career options.
Quality of teaching
Research evidence  suggests that quality of teaching is a critical factor affecting pupils’ achievement. It is therefore strongly linked to pupil attainment and progress . It is one of the four areas for which Ofsted makes a graded judgement during school inspections.
There is a direct correlation between staff morale and staff performance; in short, happy workers perform better. Where staff morale is high, the quality of teaching is more likely to be high. Where the governing board is the employer, it has a duty of care to the school staff, and therefore needs to be aware of their wellbeing.
Pupil wellbeing and resilience
Governors and trustees will have an interest in pupil wellbeing because they care about the children in their school and parents will prioritise the happiness and wellbeing of their children at school. In maintained schools the governing board has a legal duty to “promote the well-being of pupils at the school”. Research evidence  shows that children with higher levels of emotional, behavioural, social, and school wellbeing, on average, have higher levels of academic achievement and are more engaged in school, both during school and in later years.
Behaviour of pupils
Pupil behaviour has a significant impact on the learning environment. Challenging behaviour disrupts teaching and learning, and consequently pupils’ achievement. As well as being one of the four areas for which Ofsted makes a graded judgement, behaviour has a wider influence on both pupil and staff wellbeing.
Use of resources
One of the governing board’s core functions is overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent. Effective use of resources will allow the school to give pupils the best education possible on a long-term basis.
Effectiveness of communication with parents
A school needs to understand its parents and their views of the education being provided to their children because parents care deeply about their children’s future. They have an enormous influence on their children’s learning and choose schools for their children to attend. Ofsted uses responses to Parent View when making inspection judgements, and will consider how effectively the governing board engages with parents.
Relationship with local community
All state funded schools are required in law to promote community cohesion. Developing a good relationship with the local community can benefit a school in many ways. It can open up experiences which support the curriculum and enhance pupils’ learning; for example enhancing careers education via links with local businesses. It can improve cohesion between the different ethnic and religious groups within a school. The school’s standing in the local community will also affect applications for places.
Future aspirations of pupils
Pupils with high aspirations are more likely to go on to university, apprenticeships and other forms of further education or training, leading to rewarding and successful careers. They are also more likely to work hard to achieve their aspirations and therefore reach their full potential academically.
Preparation for next stage of education
Part of the role of schools is to give pupils the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the future, both in the short and long term. Ofsted inspectors consider whether “teaching across the school prepares pupils effectively for the next stage in their education” (Ofsted School Inspection Handbook, July 2014) and this also forms part of the judgement for Achievement of Pupils.
Range of opportunities for pupils to experience and enhance success
Offering pupils multiple opportunities to experience success enriches their educational experience beyond academic attainment alone. It can positively influence pupils’ wellbeing, health and academic achievement. It makes the school more attractive to prospective pupils and parents, and can facilitate engagement with the local community.
 e.g. Barber M, Mourshed M. How the World’s Best Performing School Systems Came Out On Top. McKinsey and Company; 2007.
 e.g. Morrison Gutman L, Vorhaus J. The Impact of Pupil Behaviour and Wellbeing on Educational Outcomes. Department for Education; 2012.
Published: 07/01/2015, by Ellie Cotgrave