Meaningful Staff Appraisals

Staff appraisals… in most cases it sends shivers down spines. That one day where your whole year is reviewed. I have worked in some services where the appraisal was done by someone who didn’t work in the service with you on a day-to-day basis and based it all on feedback and paperwork. I have worked in services where staff appraisals were almost a blood sport and if you didn’t come out crying then management had failed.

I have also worked in leadership and management roles where I have had educators who were so lacking in self confidence and nervous about the whole experience that it was traumatic for everyone involved. When you look at the requirements they state:

  • Element 4.2.1 – Professional standards guide practice, interactions and relationships.
  • Element 4.2.2 – Educators, co-ordinators and staff members work collaboratively and affirm, challenge, support and learn from each other to further develop their skills and to improve practice and relationships.
  • Element 4.2.3 – Interactions convey mutual respect, equity and recognition of each other’s strengths and skills.
  • Element 7.2.2 – The performance of educators, co-ordinators and staff members is evaluated and individual development plans are in place to support performance improvement.

Nowhere does it say we need to have annual appraisals. Just that educators have their performance evaluated and individual plans are in place. Now, for me, I found it difficult to establish goals for educators when they might achieve them in 3 months, so they were “goal-less” until the next appraisal 9 months later.

I started doing small, regular, less formal, chats with each educator and each educator had a journal. In that journal we documented what success they had identified since the last meeting, what struggles they were having, and we created a goal. The time frame of the next meeting depended on the goal and how they were coping overall. The meetings were anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months apart.

I say meeting… really, it was a chat. Some took place in the sun outside, some in the room in a quiet corner, some in the kitchen, rarely in the office (because this was the place that caused anxiety and made me appear assertive as I sat on one side of the desk and them the other). These chats served many purposes. They allowed for:

  • the above NQS elements to be met
  • me to build a relationship with my educators (something we sometimes get too busy for)
  • me to create an opportunity to train my educators to reflect on themselves both positively and negatively (as often we are good at seeing the weakness and not the strengths in ourselves)
  • each educator to always be working towards a goal
  • educators to work collaboratively on reaching their goals as some chose to share their goals with others to seek support


As with everything in your service or scheme, if something isn’t working, check the requirements, make sure you stay within them, but don’t be afraid to make changes.

I have created a printable PDF of this system, with instructions and explanations of which requirements are met by using this system, that is available from my online store if you would like to save time and use something that already exists, or you can create your own. The one for sale is available by clicking here, it is only 3 pages long but the last page can be printed as many times as you would like to make a booklet for each educator and keep all their plans and reflections and goals in one place. The cost covers the ongoing licence to use the document in your service/scheme/organisation for all your educators.

Don’t forget if you would like specific support with anything in your team please feel free to contact RARE to discuss your needs as mentoring, consulting and training can be provided.

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