Managing Probationary Periods

Managing Probationary Periods

Andy Goodeve  Andy Goodeve
Rebecca Howitt  Rebecca Howitt
October 2021

Probationary periods are increasingly being used by many organisations as part of the onboarding process for newly appointed staff. Schools and colleges are committed to setting high expectations for their staff.

They develop and support staff to work effectively to meet the expectations of their roles and many use iP as a tool to support this process. Line managers are best placed to offer one-to-one support and guidance in understanding the requirements of their role and developing new skills. The probation period is used to support and evaluate a new member of staff’s performance, with a view to confirming them in the role.

It can be common for organisations to discover in the first few weeks into the role that a member of staff:

  1. Doesn’t deliver the skills or performance they promised at interview
  2. Have poor timekeeping or attendance
  3. Are a bad fit in terms of their personality and within the culture of the organisation

The purpose of a probationary period is creating a ‘settling in’ period for the staff member and for the organisation to assess the suitability of the staff members role. It is important that a member of staff and the organisation positively view probation as, when well managed, probation increases the staff members success in their new role. 

It’s important to remember that the purpose of probation is to make the staff member an effective part of the team so the quality of the line manager is key in managing the probation period in order for it to be a successful outcome.

Line managers need to make sure they support new employees by:

  1. Providing clarity on the expectations of the role
  2. Providing opportunities for developing the knowledge and skills needed to fulfil their new role
  3. Addressing promptly any issues before the probation period ends

The line manager provides guidance, support and clearly shares opportunities for training to assist the staff member in achieving the required standard to successfully pass their probationary period.  

During the probationary period a series of scheduled formal review meetings take place between the new staff member and their line manager. 

The line manager keeps detailed records and documentation of meetings, support and training and all documentation is signed off by both the employee and the line manager at the end of the period.

How can iP support the Probationary Period?

Schools and Colleges are committed to developing and supporting staff to work effectively to meet the objectives of their roles and many use iP to do that. Staff subject to an organisation’s probation procedure will normally have a probationary period of three to six months.  The implementation of the probation procedure must be clear and transparent.  iP is an ideal tool to handle the procedure.

Suggested Model

  1. A new staff member joins your organisation and is set up on iP as a ‘Probation User’ in a ‘Probation Group’.
  2. Probation competencies, objectives and observation/monitoring forms can be set by the iP Administrator, ready for discussion during the first line manager 1:1 meeting when the probation review is open. See examples of these forms in the resources area below.
  3. The probation review can be set to the maximum period your organisation allocates to probation e.g. 6 months. If the staff member is then invited to stay on, a new review in line with similar staff will be set up to reflect the performance management of a staff member.
  4. During each probation period, iP can be used by the staff member and line manager to record progress at intervals throughout the probation and at specific probation milestones  e.g. at 3 months, 6 months and 9 months.   
  5. iP functionality allows the recording and progress of probation objectives, objective action steps, probation competencies and probation monitoring forms.  See examples below.
  6. Evidence collation, the recording of CPD and areas for development can be utilised to support all probation activities.
  7. Finally, all of these undertakings can be supported by regular ‘Interim Reviews’ or ‘Check-ins’ with the line manager.  These are recorded with ease; taking a ‘snapshot’ of the probation period to date.

What do I need to do now to create a Probation Period on my organisation’s iP Site?

Simply call and ask to speak with your Customer Success Manager to discuss your bespoke needs.  We will help you to create the Probation Period forms and templates to reflect the needs of your organisation and will help to set up your processes.  Please remember, all online training is FREE and UNLIMITED.

Are you a customer?
Simply call and ask to speak with your Customer Success Manager to discuss your training needs.
Please remember, all online training is FREE and UNLIMITED.

Not a customer?
What can I do to find out more
Call on +44 (0) 333 0433 450 or e-mail


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