Better Schools:
Resource Materials for School Heads in Africa
Keeping Staff Records
Records kept within a school are part of the history of a school and are used for planning future actions and policy. Records in a school contain important information about school administration, for example, the safekeeping of money, how it is collected and used. However hardworking and intelligent you may be, you cannot carry all the information about every teacher, nor all the records about the administration of the school, in your memory. Information about the staff and school administration needs also to be available to others, for example, the inspector. This unit, however, is not about school financial records or those concerned with books or property, nor of keeping minute books or log books. The subject of this unit is the keeping of staff records.
Individual study time: 3 hours

Learning outcomes
At the end of this unit, you should be able to:
• understand the purpose of keeping staff records
• know the different types of records of staff which should be kept.

The purposes of staff records
Keeping records is the only way to ensure that information is not lost. This is true of all the different kinds of staff records that you will learn about in this unit. You, as the school head, are the leader of both staff and pupils. It is therefore vital that you understand, and are well informed, about the staff as well as the school, the pupils, and the administration of the school. Although you will delegate tasks to others, you remain responsible for all that takes place and for future planning. In particular, you are responsible for ensuring that every pupil is assigned to a class, and that pupils are taught all the subjects of the school curriculum.

Activity 6.1
(1) List as many purposes of keeping records of staff as you can.
(2) Give one example to illustrate each of the purposes you have listed.
15 minutes

The purposes you listed may have included the following:

Administrative and supervisory
Records, if they are kept efficiently, are a help to the school head in managing the school, in identifying needs within the school and in monitoring progress. They help the head to plan for school and staff development. Workloads need to be shared out between members of staff so that there is a fair distribution of teaching, administration, and non-teaching time. You, as the school head, need to know where all the teachers are throughout the school day, which rooms they are in, what classes and subjects are being taught. This cannot, and should not be, carried in the head. It needs to be recorded.

Before staff are allocated to classes, you or, in a large school, a deputy head, will have reviewed staff qualifications and experience in particular subject areas. You will not want to allocate a teacher to a subject in which he or she has neither qualifications nor experience. Teachers with expertise in senior secondary Mathematics should not, for example, normally be allocated to teach a first grade class, nor the other way round. Staff need to be matched to subjects and year groups according to qualifications, experience and interests. Your records are important for this process.

Your records will include information about the category of qualifications, for example, certificate, diploma, degree. These, together with experience and competence, will help you decide how best to use the staff member's expertise, and will have been taken into account for salary purposes.

Staff development
The purposes of keeping staff records which have so far been given have been related to the administrative, supervisory and professional duties of the school head. However, as well as ensuring that, for example, every pupil is provided with teaching in every subject of the curriculum, you also have a responsibility to provide for staff development. Records of staff will therefore include details of in-service courses attended by the teacher, private study undertaken for upgrading purposes or extra-curricular responsibilities undertaken by the teacher.

The staff development responsibility of the school head is part of the continuous process of staff appraisal. Records kept for the purpose of staff development should contain dates when the school head has observed a teacher's classroom work, notes of observations and discussions with the teacher. Where there has been a complaint about the teacher's work, the records should contain details of the reason for the complaint, the date/s, the action taken and whether there has been improvement.

Types of staff records
Staff records can be grouped according to whether they are purely factual and objective, or whether the information contained within them depends on judgements which are often subjective. You need to remember, however, that the differences between the two types of record are not always as clearcut as one might think. In apparently factual records there can sometimes be a subjective element, for example, the choice of information to be recorded. This problem can be largely overcome by using the same factual record form for all staff and an awareness that the risk of being subjective exists.

Confidential records
All records which contain subjective information, for example, the process and outcome of teacher appraisal procedures, should be regarded as confidential and should be kept locked in the school head's room. Details of salary bracket, copies of references, should also be regarded as confidential, as should any note of personal problems or domestic difficulties. Staff are entitled to privacy.

Examples of confidential records kept on a staff member's file:
1 References
2 Observations of teaching
3 Interview/discussions with school head as part of staff appraisal
4 Personal ambitions/personal or professional problems revealed in discussions
5 Notes, for example, of verbal warnings, or copies of written warnings as part of a disciplinary procedure
6 Teacher's salary bracket and financial status
7 Promotion prospects
8 Copies of correspondence, for example, curriculum vitae
9 Medical and health records
10 Other, for example, comments on attendance, punctuality, etc.

Factual and objective records
Factual and objective details such as the ones listed below would be likely to be kept in the secretary's or administrative office but you may find it convenient to have this information also available on the staff member's confidential file.

1 Full name, address, date of birth, sex, nationality
2 Qualifications, where obtained and date of qualification
3 Subjects in which the teacher is qualified to teach
4 Subjects taught, but without formal qualifications
5 Date of appointment to the school
6 Details of previous posts, length of service in these
7 Length of teaching experience
8 Timetable
9 Summary of number of teaching periods in each subject taught and number of non-teaching periods
10 Details of any extra-curricular or extra-mural duties undertaken, for example, sports coaching, homework or hostel supervision

Activity 6.2
You have had reason to discuss a member of staff's problems with class discipline. You have suggested to him that he might have less difficulty with his classes if he introduced some practical work and encouraged the pupils to talk together during their work and ask him questions.

What notes would you make of this discussion and which type of file would you use to keep your record of the discussion and your advice to the teacher?
15 minutes

Updating records
To be really useful, you will need to keep your records up to date. For example, the notes that you made under Activity 6.2 need to be reviewed after a few weeks and added to according to whether there has been improvement or not. To take another example, you would want to record the fact that a woman teacher has gained a further qualification through part-time study even though she is the sole earner and head of her household with five young children. This example should be recorded in both the factual file and in the confidential file since her circumstances make her extra qualification even more creditable.

Activity 6.3
Design a factual staff record to be kept in the staff member's file which gives all necessary information. Begin with the date of completion of the record form.
15 minutes

The way in which you choose to keep your records up to date and organise them will depend on whether there are record forms supplied to a school or whether you need to design your own. If the design of a record form is left to the individual school and school head, then you will want to make the record form as simple as possible so that your work is kept to the minimum. A blank form which you create, duplicate and complete is a useful way of easing your workload.

Making use of records
Your records will be most useful to you if they are kept in an organised way so that the information you need is immediately visible to you.

If you keep your records up to date, not only will you be behaving in an efficient way, but you will get to know your school and its staff in a very thorough manner. That alone will assist your task of managing and developing the school for the benefit of pupils and staff alike. Schools are like living things; they are not static but are constantly developing. Your records need to keep pace with that and be updated whenever there is new information to add. Alternatively, updating your records can become part of your routine activities at the beginning of each term.

This unit has been concerned with the basic staff records required to assist in the smooth functioning of a school. Administrative requirements may differ from country to country, region to region, or district to district. However, in the absence of directives from a central authority it is important that school heads maintain a record of their staff members. To maintain an understanding of the needs of the school and the individual staff members, the keeping of efficient staff records is an important tool in the hands of the school head.