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Five tips for preparing your college appraisal system

See how identifying your strategic objectives, utilising the professional standards, tailoring your INSET training and using CollegeiP will maximise the value of your appraisal process.

Damien Roberts Damien Roberts
October 2021

With the new academic year underway, we thought it would be wise to consider some preparations for appraisals. Every college has some form of appraisal system and here we offer some guidance for ensuring that you secure maximum value from this process.

Tip One - Identify your strategic objectives

Acknowledgement of the overall picture is a good starting point for considering your approach to appraisals. Establishing clear objectives will enable you to write your development plan with clarity.

Having your overall aims in place will allow departmental and individual objectives to be aligned to your strategy. This appreciation of the overall picture will make it easier for a college vision to be achieved. Strategic objectives will serve as a constant reminder of the improvements that are sought.

Tip Two - Consider your current approach to observations

Whilst lesson observations are by no means redundant, they are only part of the process to determine the competency of colleagues. Learning walks and work scrutiny can be used in conjunction with lesson observations to monitor the progress being made. We recommend using a balance of the various methods. However, the use of peer observations is strongly recommended. This slightly more informal form of observation can really showcase best practice and promote a culture of sharing ideas in your college.

The use of grading within observation activity is a heated topic of discussion. As OFSTED no longer grades lessons during inspection visits, further education colleges are seeking to follow suit and distance themselves from labels of inadequate and requires improvement. Now terms such as developing and embedded practice are used. Regardless of the labels, we advise you to think about the culture that you wish to create at your college. A robust monitoring system is recommended to enhance and report on teaching over time.

Tip Three - Utilise a set of standards

The ideal outcome following the appraisal process is for staff to consolidate their strengths and to minimise their weaknesses. This must be a constructive undertaking that is never demoralising. To increase the transparency and enhance this process, reference to the professional standards or an internal set of standards is advised. This will help to drive competence and give all staff a clear point of reference. Individuality can still be encouraged; however, core principles will be established.

Appraisals do not just concern those who are delivering classes. Assistants and auxiliary staff must also undergo appraisals. Once again, standards are encouraged to help ensure consistency. Your code of conduct is a useful starting point for establishing clear standards for all staff.

Tip Four - Maximise the value of your INSET training

Synergy between your appraisal process and INSET training is highly desirable. Whilst appraisals look at individuals, the wider picture must be appreciated. Consider the collective requirements for your college. Once this is established you can then begin planning effective INSET to raise standards and upskill your staff. This measured approach is more likely to reap dividends than simply selecting INSET on instinct.

INSET training represents an opportunity to showcase your most talented staff to deliver a particular area of their expertise for collective benefit. This can also serve as a cost saving exercise as funds are not required to pay an external speaker. The experience of addressing the staff body empowers talented members of staff and serves as professional development for them.

Tip Five - Invest in an electronic system

To ensure real value in your appraisals, an electronic system is recommended. This means that professional time is saved and data is generated to support the decision making process. Identifying collective training needs is a challenging task. A system that is able to profile specific skills and compare skills across the board enables strengths and weaknesses to be accurately determined. Continuous Professional Development is easier to assign and improvement is a central focus amongst all staff.

The appraisal system should be coordinated to inspection processes and overall strategy. For instance, College Improvement Plans and Self Assessment Reports can be linked to individual and collective targets. This electronic integration has the ability to save valuable time for senior leaders which can then be devoted to leadership.


CollegeiP is our web-based performance management system that is proven to drive college improvement. The appraisal process involves every single member of staff and has the power to positively impact every single element of your college. Therefore, we recommend that it is taken seriously and not overlooked.

The bespoke nature of CollegeiP means that we build our system around your needs and it empowers leaders with a wealth of information needed in order to improve their college. Strategic objectives can be clearly defined and assigned to all staff. Unique observation proformas for your college can be uploaded and CPD can be tracked in a robust manner.

We know that CollegeiP is an effective tool for driving college improvement and saving hours of professional time. Please make contact with our sales team to find out more. Call 0333 0433 450 or email: info@derventioeducation.com. Alternatively, click here to arrange a no obligation demonstration.

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