Five essential tips for effective mid-year appraisals

By Derventio Education

We are now passing the halfway point in the academic year, which means we are discussing effective practice for mid-year appraisals. In a busy school environment, we recognise that there are competing priorities to address. Here we offer some advice for senior and middle leaders in conducting appraisals to make them as productive as possible.

As a provider of online performance management software, we pride ourselves on expertise in this field. The main aim of an interim review is to ensure that staff are on track to meet their appraisal targets and to highlight any issues that need to be addressed. However, we recommend that every single aspect of the appraisal relates to one thing – improvement!

Tip one: Planning and preparation

Rescheduling is a common theme of appraisal meetings as senior leaders often are forced to delay appointments. However, we have observed an increasing trend of INSET days and Twilight sessions dedicated to appraisals. This is good practice and we recommend conducting appraisals outside of curriculum time to reduce the likelihood of delays and enable greater focus.

Having everything at hand for the appraisal meeting helps to ensure a smooth and productive process. This often includes pupil performance data, observations, work scrutiny, previously agreed targets and reference to previous appraisals. Preparing a series of open ended questions is recommended to fuel discussion.

Tip two: Performance data

Pupil progress is often a target in an appraisal meeting. It is important to ensure that the appraisee has the data they need available to discuss in the meeting. Often data relates to examination groups. However, other data for other year groups must not be overlooked.

It is good practice for a work scrutiny to be carried out beforehand and for it to fuel part of the appraisal meeting. Pupil progress is centred around improvement and this should be a real area of focus during the appraisal meeting. Likewise, lesson observations are useful sources of information. However, they are just part of the picture and good appraisals gather evidence from a variety of sources.

Tip three: Difficult conversations and support

Ideally, appraisals will be very positive conversations that consider how you can stretch the performance of a committed colleague. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and it may be necessary to inform colleagues that their performance requires immediate improvement.

Do not avoid difficult conversations and approach them with the mindset of what will inspire the person to improve. We recommend a culture of regular and supportive dialogue to ensure that problems do not escalate. Focused support mechanisms mean that a colleague feels well supported and is able to develop their skills and achieve their targets.

Tip four: Professionalism and development

The confidential nature of appraisals means that meetings should always be carried out in a formal manner in a private space. Whilst having a series of planned questions is recommended, be prepared to listen to what your appraisee has to say and give them every opportunity to be open and honest.

Always be mindful of developing your appraisee and show a real interest in their future. This can often help to identify targets for the next academic year. Do not be afraid to look back at their previous experience (this might relate to their previous school). Showing a real interest in your appraisee will help to motivate them to improve. CPD opportunities should always be an outcome of an appraisal meeting and remember that you are looking to secure a positive long term working relationship.

Tip five: Concluding appraisals

As action points are agreed on and the process moves forward, it is important to remember two key words – thank you. Whilst not all appraisees are worthy of high praise, thanking them for their efforts during the appraisal process is important. We always find that it is better to have the carrot rather than the stick. Improving the quality of teaching and learning requires the cooperation of all staff. Developmental language should be used and should always carry a constructive tone. This will help to keep the focus on improvement which will have a positive impact on students.

SchooliP and appraisals

The guidance outlined here is easily implemented into our SchooliP system. For us, appraisals are constructive learning conversations and not an interrogation. We pride ourselves on removing the administration burden and increasing transparency. SchooliP (CollegeiP for colleges) is proven to enhance teaching and learning and drive improvement.

Collaboration and communication are at the heart of SchooliP and its intuitive nature allows for evidence to be easily collated with our mobile app. Pictures can be taken of a book scrutiny to highlight marking, assessment and feedback to students. Observations are carried out on a laptop or tablet in real time. SchooliP makes performance data collection considerably easier and saves significant time for school leaders. This allows more time to be devoted to leadership and ensure that school improvement is the core focus.

If you would like to drive school improvement and save hours of professional time, please make contact with our sales team. Call 0333 0433 450 or email: info@derventioeducation.com to receive a demonstration of SchooliP. Alternatively, click here to arrange a no obligation demonstration.

This blog was originally posted on the Derventio website.