What are ‘informal’ capability procedures?


You may be placed on ‘informal’ capability procedures but might be unsure of what is involved, how much to be worried or how it could progress to formal capability.

You will want to read your school’s capability and appraisal policy as approaches can differ from school to school. You might also find it useful to read our article on capability procedures which provides an overview of the process. 

In this article, we outline what informal capability procedures are, how to clarify where you are in the process and what you can do to access additional support.

What are informal capability procedures?

Essentially ‘informal’ capability can be triggered where it has been judged, as part of the appraisal process, that your performance can be significantly improved. Most often this can occur after lesson observations, learning walks, book drop-ins and feedback from your line manager. 

It should be noted that the term ‘informal’ capability is not technically used in the Department for Education’s (DfE’s) model policy for schools on teacher appraisal and capability or included in the Education (School Teachers’ Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2012 (the Appraisal Regulations).

However on page 9 of the DfE’s model policy it says, where there are concerns about any aspects of the teacher’s performance the appraiser will meet the teacher formally to:

  • Give clear feedback to the teacher about the nature and seriousness of the concerns
  • Give the teacher the opportunity to comment and discuss the concerns
  • Set clear objectives for required improvement
  • Agree any support (e.g. coaching, mentoring, structured observations), that will be provided to help address those specific concerns
  • Make clear how, and by when, the appraiser will review progress (it may be appropriate to revise objectives, and it will be necessary to allow sufficient time for improvement. The amount of time is up to the school but should reflect the seriousness of the concerns
  • Explain the implications and process if no, or insufficient, improvement is made – e.g, impact on pay progression and potential move to formal capability

When progress is reviewed, if the appraiser is satisfied that the teacher has made, or is making, sufficient improvement, the appraisal process will continue as normal, with any remaining issues continuing to be addressed through that process.

Overall, informal capability is meant to be a supportive process to prevent you from progressing to the more formal stage, however it can be a stressful and uncertain time and we recommend contacting us for further support.

Should it be made clear that I am on informal capability?

Ideally, it should be made clear to you that you are on a period of informal capability and you should not be confused about what you need to achieve and what your objectives are. You can always clarify with your line manager or headteacher if you are unsure and ask for it in writing.

You should be given a set timeframe where your performance will be reviewed, after which a decision will be made whether to progress to formal capability or to resume the normal appraisal cycle.

What should I do if I am placed on formal capability?

If you are an Edapt subscriber we recommend contacting us as soon as possible if you are placed on either ‘informal’ or formal capability procedures. Especially when you reach the formal stage there is a risk you could potentially be dismissed from your role.

We will be able to offer you support, advice and accompaniment to meetings throughout the process.

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While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.