Over the past month or so we have had a number of enquiries relating to the possibility of implementing a probationary period for teachers.
Although it can be controversial, a probationary period can be written into teachers’ contracts of employment, and can be an extremely useful management tool, provided it is well structured and properly implemented.
A probationary period allows a school to assess a new recruit’s suitability for the role and the school, specifically their overall performance and general conduct in relation to the job in question.
It is important that teachers are made fully aware before they start, that a probationary period applies to them, and that the consequence of failing to achieve the necessary standards is that the contract is not confirmed and is terminated. The probationary period is usually 26 weeks, but this depends upon the policy adopted. Probation periods cannot be applied if the appointment arises from a statutory transfer or to a newly qualified teacher who would be subject to a Statutory Induction Period.
Appropriate management of an individual’s probationary period is key, and any unsatisfactory performance or behaviours must be addressed as they occur and at review meetings and appropriate support and guidance provided to help the employee improve. Be aware that failure to monitor, review and confirm the outcome of the probationary period may lead to it being deemed to have been completed automatically.
Where performance is deemed to be below the required standards, teachers should be provided with appropriate notice of the ending of the probation contract, normally in accordance with teachers’ terms and conditions. Academies have flexibility to vary contractual notice periods in probation cases but must still apply statutory minimums.