The truth about appraisals
Within the early years, Ofsted expects to see evidence that regular appraisals are being carried out on all practitioners including management. Appraisals are important for continuing professional development. They are also an opportunity to discuss any concerns, weaknesses, gaps in training and importantly what is going well and a person’s strengths. Appraisals can also be a good indicator of how well a team is working together and how job moral is across the early year’s workforce.
The problems with appraisals –
There are many reasons why Nursery managers find it difficult conducting appraisals with practitioners. Some of these include –
- Time – In a busy nursery full of children there is often little time to complete appraisals forms – and to sit and have a meeting afterwards to discuss what has been written
- Ratio’s – Practitioners are essential to the workforce and need to be within the room and counted in ratio. To be in ratio and in a meeting, it would mean additional practitioners need to be paid and often managers are not happy to pay for spare practitioners
- Sickness – Some childcare settings experience high levels of staff sickness, and this can mean that when meetings have been arranged, they have to be cancelled due to staff sickness and any spare practitioners who were out of the room need to go back into rooms and cover for sick practitioners
- Upset – Occasionally appraisals can cause upset for practitioners if they take certain comments to heart. This can be difficult to overcome and can quickly lead to low morale spreading across the setting which can cause problems in staff performance and the level of care the children receive. To read more about the impact of low morale click here
- Lack of evidence – A good appraisal should include evidence of a practitioner’s performance to give some good points for discussion during the appraisal period however due to the nature of childcare there is often a lack of evidence that can be used. There are no figures or data which can indicate how efficiently a person is performing.
Overcoming these issues
Whether settings agree with appraisals or not they are a requirement, so it is important to find ways to overcome these issues. Ofsted may ask to see evidence of completed appraisals so ensure you have organised these and they readily available once they have been completed. Top tips for overcoming the above problems are:
- Make the most of the spare practitioners – On days when some children are sick or during the holidays when some of the funded children may not be attending the setting, make the most of this. Plan to try and complete appraisals during quieter weeks such as half terms or over the summer period.
- Use the feedback burger method – This means starting the session off on a positive note, during the middle of the appraisal is where any negative aspects should be explored and then finally end on a positive note. Using this method for feedback offers less of a risk of damaging morale and causing upset.
- Be constructive – Appraisals are not a time to deal with disciplinary matters or to tell someone all the things you dislike about them. Keep it constructive and have a purpose or goal in mind. Read more about giving constructive feedback after a peer observation
- Supervisions – Hold regular supervisions to build up some evidence of a practitioner’s thoughts, feelings and performance levels.
- Peer to peer observations – Try to ensure these happen on a regular basis, these will then offer evidence during the appraisal meeting.
Remember that carrying out appraisals can help improve practitioners practice and address any concerns.