The Changing Face of Appraisals

The changing face of appraisals

Rebecca Howitt Rebecca Howitt
February 2022

Appraisals have changed a lot since 2006 when Derventio Education started to initially develop SchooliP.

The Appraisal functionality then aligned with the Education Act 2002 when the Government introduced appraisals into education as a tool to hold teachers to account. This evolved with performance-related pay with measurable and numerical objectives. A high stakes culture is developed when there is a strong focus on objectives driven by numerical data. So many variables influence the performance of a student and not just the performance of one teacher leading to an undermining of teachers’ morale and motivation. 

In recent years many educational organisations have been rethinking and transforming the appraisal process from an accountable to a more developmental model. This shift in culture necessitates a clear understanding of what good practice looks like, with well-defined expectations for staff and a greater emphasis on coaching and professional dialogue. It encourages teachers to be professionally accountable and achieve their contribution to the school priorities.

The aim is for colleagues to feel empowered, to engage, and be inspired in the appraisal process, and to focus on: reflection, strengths, areas for improvement and aspirations. Shifting the conversation to reflection and professional development creates a culture where every single colleague strives to improve. This is the direction that many organisations in our SchooliP community are now choosing to take.

Professional discussions or ‘check-ins’ have become regular and ongoing.  It is no longer just setting targets, mid-year review and an end of year evaluation. These discussions focus on why and how classroom learning is progressing, identify potential barriers to learning, as well as what is happening to the teachers themselves.

Appraisers develop a climate of trust and support that empowers the teachers. They listen, probe, ask pertinent questions and allow time to reflect and provide meaningful feedback

Lesson observations are usually replaced by frequent, short lesson ‘drop-ins’. These create a more accurate picture and give ‘typicality’ of performance over time.  ‘Drop-ins’ are conducted not just by the leadership, but also by peers which all adds to getting a clearer understanding of teaching and learning.

Professional development is at the very core of developing colleagues and those who attend CPD take time to reflect and evaluate, informing how, if appropriate, it can be disseminated to other colleagues. Continued professional learning is crucial to improving student outcomes and must be relevant to the context of the organisation, and the colleagues themselves. For improvement strategies to work, they must not only meet the particular needs of the organisation but also be personalised to an individuals development needs.

If you are on this journey of change from an accountability approach to a developmental approach, feel free to make contact and allow us to work in partnership with you to develop your SchooliP system. Professional learning and objectives are at their most effective when they are clearly aligned to the organisation’s context and are rooted in a regular routine of reflection, review and refocusing. This not only puts the development of the professional at the centre of the conversation but also encourages that individual to actively participate in establishing an understanding of their strengths and areas of development.

How can SchooliP support the changes in appraisals?

As previously mentioned, the aim is for colleagues to feel empowered, to engage, and be inspired in the appraisal process.  To this end, SchooliP supports this process with the following features and functions:-

  • CPD recording and requesting
  • Areas for Development
  • Self-Reflective Blogs
  • Self-Reflective Video analysis
  • Regular check-ins
  • Lesson drop-ins

CPD recording and requesting

Any user can record CPD they have planned/have been on/or request to go on a course in their own appraisal area called ‘Portfolio’.  

This information is collated from all staff across the organisation automatically to provide the CPD lead and others in the SLT detailed, bespoke reports at the click of a mouse.

Areas for Development

The Areas for Development tool keeps all developmental suggestions from the staff member, their line manager or collaborating colleagues in one place and gives total clarity to the team.

Self-Reflective Blogs

The blog section provides the opportunity to record a self-reflective journal. Blogs can be shared and could form an ongoing activity feed/conversation between staff and their managers/coaches/mentors. 

When a blog entry is added to the system, an email will be sent to the recipients.  The benefit of this over emailing is that all relevant information is in one place and can be linked to any Portfolio objectives and Areas for Development etc.

Self-Reflective Video analysis

Self-reflective practice and collaborating with others is made possible using SchooliP with the video annotation tool.  Many practitioners are now used to using video in their practice in one form or another. Many are now professionals at teaching over Zoom/Teams, recording teaching as it occurs or pre-recording to share with students.  A staff member can upload videos from their mobile device/iPad/other device and/or pre-existing videos.  

Click on the image below to view a short explanatory video. https://www.derventioeducation.com/schoolip-video-gallery/video-lesson-observations 

In short, a user can add timestamps to write comments and areas of strength etc. to indicate "good practice" and share items of interest.  The tool allows the user to:-

  • Be objective – make annotations against time-stamps in the actual video
  • Share the video and annotations – have an online discussion with a collaborator/coach/mentor/line manager
  • Time and distance shifted – recorded lessons can be discussed at any time and sent to a collaborator to view and respond when feasible
  • Link to a form - allowing the staff members to complete a form to ‘calibrate’ against a guide e.g. for assessing a lesson for effective questioning, understanding learner behaviours, refining a specific teaching skill, lesson timings etc.

 Regular check-ins

The interim review tool can be used at any time to record a quick check-in discussion for support and mentoring.  

The tool takes a ‘snapshot’ of all of the data in the Portfolio at that moment in time. By default, the Line Manager has the user rights to start an interim review and can use this tool to record casual catch-ups or for more formal record keeping.

Lesson drop-ins

Lesson drop-ins and indeed any other type of monitoring activity is supported in SchooliP by the use of forms.  Any form can be created bespoke for your organisation.  Just send in your forms to us and we will help to create them, taking into account the data you wish to analyse as a result. Carrying out a lesson drop-in is simple and intuitive. Paper is removed from this process and the results are automatically collated for the observer, and the SLT to gain information across the teaching staff. Information can be collated and filtered; for example, departments, dates and particular drop-in forms. Staff can be analysed as a group and which enables you to see a picture of where you are at any point in time. 

Transparency enables leaders to identify strengths and areas for improvement within teaching.

How do you create a Form or Survey in SchooliP?

Simply review any existing forms you wish to use on SchooliP and email them to us at customercare@derventioeducation.com. We’ll do the rest!

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