Struggling with Self-Evaluation



Nichola's documentation is excellent because so honed.
My stuff was much more extensive, I'm afraid.


It was based around the idea that a SEF is about evaluation, not description.
When you ask a teacher how successful - say - their Special Needs work is, their immediate reaction is to list all the things they do with the SN pupils.   That isn't evaluation - it's description.

What you ought to be doing in a self-EVALUATION document is to say HOW WELL you do things ... to EVALUATE your performance as a department. The list of what you do with the SN pupils is, in a meaningful evaluation, irrelevant - what you need is some reliable performance indicators, against which you can measure/judge ... evaluate ... your performance.

Much of the official guidance on Dept SEFs seems to me simply to miss the point. Much of it, as far as I can make out, asks HoDs to make statements of facts, not evaluations of performance - even down to repeating factual data (e.g. exam results) which are recorded elsewhere already. Alternatively, they seem to ask HoDs to include targets and plans in with their SEFs. Thus most of the guidance I have seen - it seems to me - muddles up what should be the distinct and discrete functions of three departmental documents - the departmental handbook (which should describe 'what is'), the departmental SEF (to evaluate how good it is), and the departmental devlopment plan (to catalogue what you are going to do to get better).

Thus your SEF should be about EVALUATION ONLY. Anything else is a waste of time, and we don't have time to waste.

So I started by putting out a position paper for thinking about, and for pre-discussion in departments.

Was it any use? I DO feel it was worthwhile discussing principles before we set about as departments filling in the forms, but actually, I suspect it was counter-productive.   It scared HoDs to death. I think it over-complicated things. I'm not even sure it generated positive discussion in departments.

I can send you it if you want to go through the same process with your department as I attempted in my own school but I haven't bothered to include it; everything that was felt to be of value was repeated in the later documentation.

So, about a month later, I issued HoDs with:

1. 'Step-by-step' guidance notes on how to complete their Dept SEF; it included not only step-by-step instructions, but all the key principles and prompt evaluative questions (performance indicators) from the earlier document. In contrast to the previous document, this worked well and was well-received by HoDs, who found that it made their task easier, and who quickly produced their SEFs using it. IF I HAD TO RECOMMEND ONE THING TO READ BEFORE YOU WROTE YOUR DEPT SEF, this would be it.

2. A pro-forma , which followed the guidance model, into which departments could insert the text of their SEFs.

Feel free to take or reject whatever, however you want.


Posted on: Oct 29 2006, 12:46 AM




To cite this page, use:   CLARE, JOHN D. (2006), 'Struggling with Self-Evaluation',  at Greenfield History Site (