A step by step guide to creating a performance agreement


Within (two) months of appointment OR within one month of the last review if renewing an existing principal performance agreement

The whole board (including the principal) should set aside some time (preferably a whole board meeting) to seriously consider the present state of the school. The following considerations are useful in determining the objectives:

  1. Have the previous year's strategic and annual operating plans been achieved?
  2. Were there any issues arising from the previous performance agreement that needed attention?
  3. Have any professional development needs arisen in the process?
  4. Are there any new external elements that must be addressed (requirements of standards, student monitoring, introduction of curriculum performance standards, etc.)?
  5. Has there been an ERO Accountability Review that recommends compliance requirements?
  6. What specific objectives need to be addressed in the performance agreement?
  7. Have staff or community members raised any concerns?
  8. Are there specific concerns about the performance of the school or principal?
  9. Are there aspects of 'special character' of the school that need to be addressed?

Keep note of the responses provided to the questions. This should provide a basis for the draft outline.


Draft a 'broad outline' document and delegate (in writing) the performance review responsibility to a committee of the board to develop further in consultation with the principal.


Create a draft performance agreement

NZSTA's performance agreement templates can be used (primary, secondary and area schools). This agreement must be constructed in consultation with the principal.

Included in the agreement must be:

  • Performance objectives which are school specific and improvement focused. See how to write performance objectives for more detail.
  • Standards for the Teaching Profession and Professional standards as stated in the employment agreements (+ job description, if desired). See primary,  secondary and area school professional standards.
  • Professional learning and development (PLD) goals as stated in the primary, secondary and area school employment agreements part 4.4, as well as individually tailored PLD needs. See how to write learning and development objectives for more information.
  • Concurrence requirements (if specified in the employment agreement). If boards are applying for concurrence payments for more than one year, the goals and tasks which are required of the principal in return for the additional payment should be included in the performance agreement.

Determine 'good performance'

A statement of what is considered to be good performance of the principal should be included. This is important if there is disagreement as to whether objectives or standards have been met. Good performance can be determined by the delegated committee who may want to consider whether good performance is:

Meeting all objectives, Standards for the Teaching Profession and professional standards?

  • Meeting all objectives and 80 percent of Standards for the Teaching Profession and professional standards?
  • Exceeding all objectives and at least 80 percent of the standards?
  • Exceeding 80 percent of the objectives?
  • Meeting one or more critical objectives?

This can be determined according to the needs of the school. Record this in a clear statement to include in the performance agreement.


Determining the review process

The delegated team should confirm the policy and process by which the review will be undertaken. NZSTA provides a performance review policy template for schools to use. The principal should receive and sign a copy of the policy which should be kept in the principal's file with the performance agreement.

Performance review policy template



The performance agreement draft must be consulted with the principal. If the principal agrees, the agreement goes to the board. If the principal has objections to the agreement, the committee must consider the principal's view. An Employment Adviser can offer advice on this issue. The committee may choose to accept the principal's view and modify the agreement or keep the document as stands. The board has the final say, but the principal has the ability to comment on their reasons for objection.


Finally, the performance agreement is ratified by the board and is used as the basis of the next performance review

Reminder: This process is confidential between the board and principal. Board members are reminded that issues or details that relate to the management of the principal's performance are not to be shared with people outside the board. All of these matters should be dealt with by the board "in committee".

Further information -  how to create a performance agreement

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