Skip to content

Limited access mode: Please note you need to be an HR Protect client to access some content on this Hub.  Please enquire.

These FAQs set out the common questions about the benefits of appraisals, the undertaking of an employee appraisal and the suggested structure that an appraisal meeting could follow.  The additional documents referred to are designed to assist you further. Please note that some documents are available to all readers whilst others are locked and only accessible to HR Protect clients. To become a retainer client or to find out further information please click here.


What is the purpose of an appraisal?

The purpose of an appraisal is to:

  • Review an employee’s ongoing performance;
  • Provide praise and encouraging feedback on employee’s strengths and achievements;
  • Identify areas of development and improvement; and
  • Set objectives, expectations and development areas.

Appraisals provide an opportunity for employees to learn by reflection and take ownership by proactively evaluating their performance. There should be no surprises for the employee i.e. if there are any concerns with an employee’s performance, these should be brought to attention as they arise, and not held back until the employee’s next appraisal.

Do I have to conduct an appraisal with an employee?

Outside of the education sector, no, it is not a legal obligation to carry out an appraisal, but given the clear benefits to doing so set out above, failing to do so is a missed opportunity and may lead to issues building up and not being resolved.

In the education sector, appraisal arrangements are set out in the Education (School Teachers’ Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2012 (which are often referred to as the Appraisal Regulations).  They set out the principles that apply to teachers in all maintained schools and centrally employed (or unattached) teachers employed by a local authority where they are employed for more than one term.

Whilst the Appraisal Regulations do not directly apply to Academies, it is recommended that Academies follow the appraisal regulations even though they are not legally required to, particularly given that most Academies’ contracts of employment incorporate the School Teachers’ pay and conditions document, which link appraisals of individuals subject to the Appraisal Regulations to decisions on pay progression.

Schools are well advised to review their appraisal policy against the Department for Education “Teacher appraisal and capability: A model policy for schools” and ensure that their own appraisal policies reflect the key steps set out in that document.

For support staff, to whom the Appraisal Regulations do not apply, similar principles for conducting appraisals are also recommended.

Should the appraisal process be undertaken in a formal or informal manner?

There are no legal or technical requirements on how an appraisal should be conducted. An appraisal can be kept informal, and approached as a productive conversation between employer/employee. There is no set invite requirement to invite an employee to an appraisal – an email with a diary appointment will suffice.

An appraisal should be a two-way conversation; an opportunity for the School to feed back on the employee’s performance, but also an opportunity for the employee to feed back to the School with any issues they may have that they wish to raise.

How often should appraisals be undertaken?

There is no set time frame or frequency for conducting appraisals. Most Schools use 12 monthly appraisals, which is the appraisal period set out in the Department for Education “Teacher appraisal and capability: A model policy for schools.”

Regardless of how often appraisals are conducted, it is important to bear in mind that regular appraisals are only one part of the performance management process. In particular if appraisals are conducted on a 12 monthly basis you should make sure you have a mechanism to discuss performance issues as they arise, such as regular team or one to one meetings, as appropriate.

What does a School need to do to prepare for an appraisal?

It is still important to plan and prepare for an appraisal. This could include reviewing training records, feedback forms/verbal feedback, and any other criteria used within your school to measure performance. It is also useful to have an understanding of the overall performance of the team the employee being appraised works in, in order to be able to discuss how the employee’s performance impacts on the team’s success as a whole.

Planning before an appraisal will enable the appraiser to go in with feedback on their expectations and standards, be able to suggest areas for improvement, and provide the employee with an effective appraisal meeting.

Appraisers in the school sector should remember that, with the exception of those who are qualified teachers by virtue of holding and maintaining Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status, all teachers must be assessed against the set of standards contained in the document called “Teachers’ Standards” published in July 2011.  The Teachers’ Standards define the minimum level of practice for trainees and teachers to achieve qualified teacher status.  For teachers who are qualified teachers by virtue of holding QTLS status, it is for the governance board or headteacher to decide which standards are most appropriate.

What do I need to do when I am holding the appraisal meeting?

An appraisal should usually be conducted by the employee’s immediate supervisor or line manager, as directed by the headteacher, whereas the Headteacher, Chief Executive Officer of the trust and other senior trust staff might be appraised by the governance board as per the School’s or Trust’s scheme of delegation.

Notes should be taken during the appraisal as these may need to be referred to at a later point.

An effective appraisal should be conducted in 3 parts:

  1. Feedback

Using the information collated in preparation for the meeting, the appraiser should feed back to the employee on their performance against objectives set before or as soon as practicable after the start of each appraisal period.  For teachers to whom the Appraisal Regulations apply, these objectives ought to be recorded in the appraisal report produced as part of the teacher’s preceding annual assessment.

This can often be an emotive part of the meeting, particularly if it is not all positive. Appraisers should remain calm and measured and provide measurable information/examples to the employee in relation to their performance.

Appraisers should raise both positive and negative feedback in the meeting. It can be easy for appraisers to focus on concerns in an employee’s performance, but if there is something positive (e.g. an achievement, good feedback from a pupil, parent or colleague) this should be raised and acknowledged to the employee.

  1. Set expectations

Inform the employee of what is expected of them in the coming months in terms of individual objectives which, if achieved, will amount to them contributing to the school’s plans for improving the school’s educational provision and performance and improving the education of pupils at the school.

Appraisers should ensure the employee understands any strategic/operational/business changes that may be happening that may impact their work.

Appraisers should also set out clearly the employee’s individual objectives that they would like them to focus on to improve their performance. and set a timescale within which they would reasonably expect the employee to meet those individual objectives.

Appraisers should explain how performance will be reviewed throughout the appraisal period (for example, by classroom observations, carried out in a supportive fashion and not to add to the teacher’s workload, which ought to be documented).  They should also explain, and be committed to following through on, that feedback will be given soon after those observations.

The appraiser should be prepared to discuss any personal development areas that an employee may suggest themselves. If the appraiser agrees with what the employee has suggested, the appraiser should include them on the appraisal form and agree a timescale with the employee within which they reasonably expect the development to be made.

  1. Development

 Once the employee fully understands how they are performing and what expectations have been set, the appraiser should then make suggestions as to how the employee can actually meet those objectives/targets.

The appraiser should be open to suggestions by the employee, and open to accepting that some input may be required by the School to help the employee meet their targets (e.g. providing more training, more individual support).

Appraisals are often a good opportunity to discuss long term career goals with the employee. By discussing with employees what their career aspirations are this can make them feel more engaged and more likely to stay with the business in the longer term.

How do I bring the appraisal to an end?

Offer the employee the opportunity to raise any other issues or discussion points they wish to make. The appraiser should listen to these and deal with them in an appropriate manner. This may require a follow up meeting, depending on what is raised.

Summarise the plan of action/next steps.

It is important to keep a clear record of the appraisal, and for teachers to whom the Appraisal Regulations apply this is often done in the format on appraisal report which ought to be received by the teacher by 31 October or, where the appraise is a Headteacher, by 31 December.

A copy should be provided to the employee and a copy should be kept on the employee’s file.

How does an appraisal help improve employee performance?

A key reason why it is crucially important to monitor performance and tackle it when it falls below what is required is that this is the best way to support the employee to make the necessary improvements before it becomes a more serious issue.

However, if the employee does not/cannot make the necessary improvements then the next stage would be a formal performance management process, see FAQ: Performance management.

For further information see:

APR1: How to Guide: conducting appraisals

APR2: Example employee appraisal form

Documents are locked and restricted to HR Protect retained clients only. To gain unlimited access please either login or enquire now

Insights and Events