Achievement, Contribution and Excellence (Ace) Scheme

  • Update

    The Achievement, Contribution and Excellence (ACE) scheme rewards and recognises where colleagues have performed outstandingly in all areas of their job and consistently demonstrated an exceptional contribution, or significant achievements. Applications are now invited for the 2022 scheme until the closing date of Friday 11 March 2022.

    What is a contribution (ACE) salary award?

    The University operates a 12-grade salary structure with a further five grades beyond this for senior staff and professors (SS0 to SS04). Each grade has provision for automatic annual increments up to the normal maximum of the grade. Annual increments recognise and reward the acquisition of skills, knowledge and expertise that come with experience in a job. It is expected that all Brookes staff will strive to achieve personal and departmental aims, and contribute to the overall success of the University.

    Above the normal service maximum, each grade has a number of contribution salary points. The Achievement, Contribution and Excellence Awards are designed to reward and recognise colleagues who have made an exceptional contribution. These are awarded following a successful application to the ACE Panel, which meets annually, normally in March. (Note: the ACE awards replace the former CRSP scheme.)

    Award of an ACE requires the submission of an application form demonstrating evidence of the candidate’s ‘exceptional’ contribution. 

    In all cases, the application form must be endorsed and the contribution confirmed by the PVC/Dean or Director.

    Additionally, departments may make smaller, more timely awards (£200 before tax in all cases) to recognise one-off, significant contributions at any time of the year. These are known as “Recognition Awards” (see below for further information).

    HR will monitor applications and awards for ACE Points; and monitor the distribution of Recognition Awards to ensure equity and consistency of practice. An annual report will be produced and shared with faculties, directorates and the Joint Staff Committee.

  • Permanent addition of one salary increment: awarded to staff who have demonstrated a sustained exceptional contribution defined as a continuous exceptional contribution over and above that normally required of the post, spanning a period of not less, and usually considerably more, than 12 months. Colleagues who are awarded a permanent ACE point will not be eligible to apply for a further permanent increment for two years after the award of the first. Applications for a further award should be made using the full application form.

    Non-recurrent increment: staff who have demonstrate an exceptional achievement may receive a lump sum equivalent to one increment (i.e. the difference between their current salary point and the next higher point on the grade). This might, for example, be appropriate for a colleague who has done an exceptional job in completing a time-limited project, or managing a significant, unforeseen piece of work. (Note: in certain circumstances, e.g. where the staff member can demonstrate that the payment of the award as a lump sum might affect other entitlements such as statutory benefits, the award may be paid as a temporary increase of one increment for 12 months.

    Accelerated incremental progression: awarded to staff who demonstrate that they are acquiring the skills, knowledge and expertise of the role more quickly than would normally be expected and who are therefore making a more significant contribution than other staff at the same stage of a career. If approved, the staff member will move up by one increment within the normal range with effect from 1st April. Please note that if the next increment would otherwise be due soon after 1st April, the member of staff will only be financially better off for a short period of time.

    The ACE scheme is designed to reward those colleagues who have:

    • performed well in all the key areas of their job; and
    • consistently demonstrated an exceptional contribution or can demonstrate significant achievements.

    The scheme should not be used to reward:

    • those who work long hours, for whom overtime (for professional services staff in relevant grades) or a review of the total amount of FTE required or WLP allocation to cover the demands of the role will be more appropriate; or
    • those whose role has grown such that they are required to work ‘above’ their grade: in these cases, a regrading application, temporary acting up allowance or a review of the role should be considered.

    The broad criteria against which applications will be judged are:

    • Achievement and impact
    • Motivation and Teamwork
    • Service to colleagues/students/customers
    • Continuous improvement
    • Good citizenship and acting as a role model for others
    • Personal/professional development which enhances individual or team effectiveness
    • Leadership/encouraging/coaching or mentoring others (where appropriate to the role)

    These criteria will be interpreted as appropriate to the broad range of grades and types of role across the University.

    The application should provide specific examples and relevant information related the criteria set out on the application form. It should indicate clearly why the contribution is considered to be exceptional and how it links to the objectives within the Department, Faculty, Directorate or University in terms of:

    • Outputs, impact and results: this might include operational or financial goals, impact on service delivery, student/customer satisfaction, quality assessment and service feedback received as part of a formal review process.
    • Behaviours, skills and knowledge: this might include team-working skills, interpersonal relationships, flexibility in adapting and accepting change, impact on first-line delivery of customer services, acting as role model for others.
    • Job-related knowledge and skills: this might include how acquiring additional skills and competencies have had a positive impact on the contribution of the role, the ability to support and guide less experienced members so that overall team/faculty/directorate performance has improved.

    Examples of some of the core academic activities in teaching and learning, enhancement of the student experience, research and administration which could be used by individuals or teams as evidence under the appropriate criteria may be found here. Evidence should be given by the individual or team as to why their contribution in any particular areas is sustained and exceptional.

    Examples of exceptional contribution for lower graded posts

    Achievement and impact

    • Work is consistently of a very high quality
    • Manager/supervisor is confident that very little supervision is required, and the employee can be relied upon to maintain a very high standard of performance.  

    Motivation / teamwork / role model

    • Identified as a role model for new staff and giving guidance to colleagues.
    • Shows flexibility and a willingness to work in other areas to help out, e.g. when other staff are absent without prior consultation and/or at short notice
    • An excellent attendance and timekeeping record
    • Good working relationships maintained consistently with work colleagues
    • Responds positively to advice or suggestions for improved performance
    • Willing to learn and embrace/promote new ways of working to improve customer service
    • Shows a positive response to any criticism of work or proposed changes in work practices

    Service to customers / colleagues / students

    • Good record of developing relationships/building rapport with customers to enhance the service provided
    • Keeps an eye out for potential problems/issues
    • Takes pride in their work

    Continuous improvement

    • Finds innovative ways of working, using equipment in the best way possible to get the job done

    Personal / professional development

    • Willingness to attend and then implement/share learning from training

    Applications are invited from:

    Applications for permanent ACE points are invited from:

    • Staff who have been at the top of the normal incremental range for 12 months or more when the contribution points take effect in April. This includes staff who have been at the top of the automatic incremental range for 12 months or more and have changed post in the last year, without a change of spine point. In these circumstances the line manager should comment on the extent to which the new post is similar to the old. The panel will take view on whether the employee has maintained exceptional performance.
    • Staff who have been on an ACE (or CRSP) point for two years or more following a previous award.
    • Staff who have been assimilated into the ACE points of their grade.

    Applications for non-recurrent increments (one-off ACE points) are invited from:

    • All staff who have further headroom in their grade i.e. who are not paid at the top ACE point or receiving salary protection.

    Applications for accelerated incremental progression are invited from:

    • Staff who are not yet at the top of the normal incremental range for their grade and will not be there by 1 April when ACE awards take effect.

    Applications for all types of award may be made by a team. In such cases, all team members must be included in the application (unless they are under formal disciplinary or capability processes) and the same criteria will apply.

    Staff whose salary is currently protected, staff who are paid at the top ACE point of their grade, and staff paid at single, fixed-points are not eligible to apply for any type of award.

    If you are unsure whether you are eligible to apply please contact your HR Business Partnership Manager, who will advise.


    Any member of staff who believes they meet the eligibility criteria above may apply for an ACE award. Staff contemplating making an application are encouraged to discuss this with their line manager in advance, as they may be able to assist in making an effective application

    Line managers should review the list of all eligible staff provided by HR and may either encourage staff to apply or may nominate a staff member for an award. This may be appropriate for staff who are less comfortable completing written application forms (or who are unduly modest). In such cases, the application form should be shared with and verified by the staff member concerned.

    Applications should be made on the appropriate application form:

    Please note: the application should focus on explaining how the staff member’s contribution or achievement relates to the criteria. NOTE: it is not necessary to provide evidence under every section of the form. Clear examples of a significant contribution under two or three of the criteria are likely to be much more effective than spreading your evidence across all of the criteria.

    The line manager should complete the section of the form to confirm that the applicant has achieved all their objectives; to indicate (with specific evidence relating to the criteria) whether or not they consider that the applicant’s contribution has been exceptional and/or sustained; and to indicate whether or not they support the award of a ACE point.

    Similarly, the PVC/Dean or Director should explain whether or not they consider that the applicant has made an exceptional and/or sustained contribution and whether or not they support the award of an ACE point.

    All (fully completed) application forms should be received by HR ( by the deadline of Friday the 11 March 2022. Your department may set an earlier deadline to allow line managers and Deans/Directors time to complete the relevant sections of the form. Please check with your department what your local deadline is. Confirmation of receipt of applications will be by email to the employee and copied to the line manager. Applications will not be accepted after the deadline.

    Staff who do not have regular access to email may submit a hard copy for the application form to the HR Business Partnership Manager, HR Directorate, Wheatley Campus, Wheatley, OX33 1HX. Please check that your application has been received.

    • Applications from professional services staff are considered by a panel of senior managers from across the University, chaired by the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer.
    • Applications from academic staff are considered by the Senior Academic Promotions Committee, which is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor.
    • Applicants will be notified in writing of the outcome of their applications.
    • Awards to successful applicants will take effect from 1 April.
    • Unsuccessful applicants will receive written feedback from the panel.
    • Departments may make smaller, more timely awards (£200 before tax in all cases) to recognise one-off, significant contributions at any time of the year. These are known as “Recognition Awards”.
    • The purpose of the Recognition Awards is to reward special one-off contributions or examples of achievement or excellence by individuals or teams at any time (e.g. the delivery of an important departmental initiative, helping others to meet an unforeseen challenge, providing an exemplary service, etc.)
    • Recognition Awards are handled locally by faculties and directorates, i.e. they do not require an application as part of the annual ACE exercise.
    • Nominations for a Recognition Award should be made in the form of a brief statement of the case to the head of department, using the Recognition Award Nomination Form. If supported by the head of department, the nomination should be forwarded to the PVC/Dean or Director for final authorisation. The decision of the PVC/Dean or Director will be final.
    • The award should be accompanied by a personal acknowledgement of the individual’s contribution, such as a letter of thanks from the head of department.
    • The distribution and reasons for making Recognition Awards will be monitored by HR for consistency.

    Please return completed Recognition Award Nomination Forms to the HR Employee Services Team, being mindful of payroll deadline dates:

    Recognition Award Nomination Form »