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External or Internal Performance Reviews?

Currently more than half of boards use external consultants for some or all of their principal performance review. The choice of external (consultant assisted) or internal (board conducted) reviews is central to boards' fulfilment of their employer role.

This guide provides a comparison of the two approaches and indicates which might be the best choice under certain board conditions. Although using a consultant does not necessarily ensure a better review process, there are circumstances where the board may benefit from the use of an external consultant.

Benefits of internal (board conducted) performance reviews

Common concerns boards have about internal reviews

NZSTA resources available to help boards perform reviews


Benefits of external (consultant assisted) performance reviews

Circumstances when an external consultant might be preferable

Recommendations when using an external consultant/reviewer

  1. Consult the NZSTA's guide on using a consultant for the review.
  2. The board needs to work closely with the provider to ensure the consultant understands the school's charter and needs.
  3. Any decisions about the principal need to be made by the board, not the consultant.
  4. While a consultant may be helpful for a new board lacking the requisite skills or suffering from a difficult board-principal relationship, the board should aim at improving their skills and relationships so that, in future, they may be able to conduct performance reviews unaided or with minimal use of consultants. Employment Advisers are available to provide assistance and advice to boards to build confidence in performing reviews unaided.
  5. Some boards find it helpful to have a policy of alternating internal and external performance reviews. For example, the board delegates could perform the review for Year 1 and Year 2, using an external reviewer for year 3. Or alternatively, the board, at its start, year 1, might prefer to use a consultant, and then, after learning from that process, undertake the review themselves in year 2 and 3.
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