The SEF and the SDP cycle

The SEF and the SDP cycle

Andy Goodeve Andy Goodeve
Rebecca Howitt Rebecca Howitt
October 2021

At Derventio Education, the home of SchooliP, CollegeiP and UniversityiP, we believe successful leaders in education have the talent of knowing exactly what is going on in their organisation. They seem to have an amazing sixth sense of thoroughly understanding the strengths, areas for development and importantly capacity for change. 

These leaders are willing to ‘dig deep’ and ask and re-ask probing and challenging questions. A culture has been established where everyone is willing to be involved in improvement; to monitor.and collect evidence. It is a collaborative process of reflection and analysis in which teams gain a deeper understanding of themselves and they are able to clearly identify the best way forward for their pupils to achieve their best outcomes.

Self-reflection and self-evaluation in education isn’t new, but for some leaders, writing the evaluation is cited as one of the most time consuming and challenging tasks, especially if using a paper-based approach. For some, writing the SEF is seen as just another piece of ‘paperwork’, to add to the workload. To improve the process, the key is finding a way to streamline and add automation to achieve the best possible outcome. Some view the process as something that has to be done because someone wants to see it, while for others, who perhaps have more streamlined and automated processes view it is a key component of their self-reflective culture and is the basis of self-improvement and improvement.  

At its heart, self-evaluation is simply about asking:

  • How well are we doing?
  • How do we know?
  • What do we need to do next?

Successful education organisations use information from self-evaluation as a key component of their cyclical improvement process of planning, monitoring, and evaluation. 


Planning is clearly identifying the strategies to secure future improvement, resource allocation and financial implications.

Implementing and monitoring

Implementing and monitoring is the process of clearly identifying the Key staff and their responsibilities to find out what needs to be done and checking progress.


Clear analysis of a range of validated and reliable internal and external evidence underpins good evaluation. 

In successful education organisations, everyone understands that everyone plays a role in the ‘bigger picture’. Appraisal and professional development, links to self evaluation and improvement planning, in aligning staff to the priorities identified in the organisation’s self evaluation. Linking to the staff appraisal process creates a system where each individual understands his/ her part in achieving those priorities. Key priorities are broken down into objectives, with each objective broken down into further activities.

The process of self-evaluation should be seen as a regular part of the education organisation’s working life. A culture of continuously asking and re-asking fundamental questions to achieve clarity. Successful self evaluation develops the staff team by providing fresh goals and developing new skills to improve. A culture of personal and professional development, in which each individual takes responsibility and shares ownership to improve pedagogy, by learning from each other, and understanding what ‘outstanding’ looks like. The successful organisations make a clear link between teacher outcomes, the quality of teaching, performance management and professional development.

How can SchooliP/CollegeiP/UniversityiP(iP) support these processes?

Derventio Education have developed their iP software around the processes of the monitor and review cycle applicable to schools, colleges and universities. iP integrates individual staff appraisal targets/objectives to organisation improvement plans (SDP/QIP), and then with the evaluation processes (SEF/Improvement Plan). Ditch the paper, reduce your hours, disseminate the accountability and make all of these processes totally transparent to all staff in one fell swoop!


Development Planning

Our software provides comprehensive management of your development planning and integrates this fully into your appraisal process. All activities are focused and linked to your overall strategic priorities. These priorities can be made visible to all staff and can be linked to an individual’s personal appraisal targets/objectives.

Beneath these priorities, a school can start to create their own plans by devising a series of objectives which may be attributed to a particular subject area or department. These objectives may then be further broken down into activities, which are assigned to key personnel. Reminders are sent to staff to inform them of their obligations and development planning becomes transparent. As a result, all tasks are completed on schedule.


For further information, see the video overview ‘Managing your school development planning’. 


Self-evaluation contributes to school improvement as it provides a regular assessment of how your school is performing. iP provides a number of templates:-

  •  Ofsted Forms
  •  Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI)
  •  ASCL Forms - devised by Tony Thornley
  •  Any bespoke template of your choice

…. or we create a bespoke form to structure your organisation’s Self-Evaluation.

The tool is a comprehensive performance package that allows whole school and departmental self-evaluation to be carried out electronically. Our self-evaluation form is split into sections and questions. Each question can be rated in terms of progress and grading (as seen in the data donuts in the image below).

Individuals and Departments are assigned to contribute to the questions and collaborators are added and assigned tasks. A workflow which ensures that key sections are reviewed at prescribed intervals.

Notifications can be sent to staff members to ensure that they are aware of their workload. Each time a member of staff makes a change an audit trail is maintained. The evidence for self-evaluation may be uploaded alongside the responses or the school may choose to simply link to evidence that is contained within their school development plan.

Integrating the Self-Evaluation form to the Development Plan

The self-evaluation form is fully integrated with the development plan.

Here you are able to make links to the existing Development Plan as evidence for your Self-Evaluation form. You are also able to add further elements to the existing Development Plan (or banked plans for the future) such as Objectives, Activities or Priorities. 

For further information, see video overview ‘Managing your school development planning’

Integrating Personal appraisal targets/objectives to the Development Plan

When determining objectives for teacher and staff appraisals, they can linked to:

  1. Development Plan Priorities
  2. Development Plan Objectives
  3. Personal targets

At Derventio Education, the home of SchooliP, CollegeiP and UniversityiP, we understand the importance of self evaluation and how it is integral to the improvement cycle: planning, monitoring, evaluation, appraisal and professional development. Our system seamlessly links these functions together to empower staff in aligning the organisation’s priorities for improvement.

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