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Appraisal: Completing the Process, Substantive Evidence and Effective Review Meetings

In the last blog earlier this month, suggestions were made to not let appraisal sit metaphorically on the shelf until October and that action was needed this term in order to ensure the appraisal process has impact and supports colleagues’ professional development. Effective appraisal is an ongoing process that develops individuals and ensures whole school improvement.

It is essential at this time of the year to collect any remaining evidence needed in order to be able to draw conclusions about the appraisee’s performance against the objectives that were set. The planning statement should identify this clearly.

Almost certainly, lesson observations were identified as part of this evidence and these should be completed in the next couple of weeks. In most schools lesson observation outcomes are also used as part of the school’s self-evaluation mechanism. Remember that evidence can come from other school quality assurance processes. Have book looks been undertaken that can support a judgement? Interim performance data? Coursework marks? External reviews? Remember also that the evidence trail must have been identified in the planning statement.

Now is also an opportune time to ensure any CPD requirements have been provided in order for the appraisee to have a fair chance of meeting their objectives. Not providing the training and support can lead to difficult appeals later on, especially if pay enhancement is affected. Ensure the CPD is good quality and meets the identified needs. Where possible, use in-school expertise and identify similar needs from across the appraisal planning records so that the training is cost effective – and manageable.

The best timing and two way responsibility of review meetings

Whilst many schools hold appraisal review meetings in September and October, schools are increasingly completing this part of the cycle towards the end of the summer term. Schedule review meetings for this term if possible and as soon as the evidence base is complete. Allow a good hour for the meeting and, for the best reviews, both parties should come fully prepared. It is recommended that before the review meeting appraisees undertake a self-review process to help evaluate their own performance. This should include a review against the Teachers’ Standards and their objectives. This self-review must take account of the evidence collected and avoid unsubstantiated assertion. It is also recommended the appraisers complete a similar activity for the appraisee. This will then form the basis of an honest and productive review meeting and also support the process of identifying next year’s objectives.

Review meetings should be held in directed time, in an appropriate location and at a suitable time of the day. Appraisees should do most of the talking and appraisers should listen, ask probing questions and explore the evidence carefully and fairly. What is the evidence? Is it secure? Is there any additional evidence that supports the review process? What is the picture that is emerging? Can a fair judgement be made? Remember, the review is to determine whether the objectives have been met, partially met or not met. It is also to determine the appraisee’s overall performance in relation to the Teachers’ Standards. It is for the appraiser to make the final judgement on performance, including for any pay recommendations. It may be necessary to wait until September to complete the student progress objective, especially in secondary schools as the examination results emerge in August. However, this should not stop the rest of the review being completed.

The importance of evidence

When writing the review statement assertion should be avoided; evidence should be used to substantiate judgements. Comment first on the extent to which objectives have been met and then comment on overall performance. Appraisers should take the time to detail the strengths of the appraisee, where successes are evident and where the appraisee should consider developing their practice. It is important when writing the review statement to be fully aware of the appraisee’s position on the pay scale. A UPS teacher should be recognisable in the review statement and it should show how the teacher has grown professionally. A less experienced teacher should have a range of areas for development and so selecting the most relevant is important for the next cycle. If the appraisee is eligible for pay progress make sure the review statement can support that judgement.

Above all, appraisal review should be honest, supportive and professionally undertaken. With the increasing demands placed on the teaching profession, a well-trained and motivated set of professionals has never been more important. Use appraisal to support colleagues, to make them better teachers and to provide the best education for our children.

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