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3 ways an online platform can boost your school’s appraisal process

What are the benefits of using an online professional development and appraisal platform to support your people strategy?

In response to the evolving landscape of education, many schools are shifting towards personalised, ‘low-stakes’ approaches using an online platform to manage the appraisal process and professional development. This shift is crucial to address specific challenges and goals more effectively. In light of this, we delve into three ways that an online platform can strengthen your school’s appraisal process and professional development strategy.

1. Reduce workload

A traditional paper-based appraisal process is often cumbersome and time-consuming. In a recent survey, 90% of our users said that they felt the main purpose of professional learning in their organisations was to improve the quality of teaching. [1] When this is implemented via a paper-based system it can be a difficult and time-consuming exercise. However, by using an online platform  your school’s professional development and appraisal process can be simplified.

At Saracens High School, a fast-growing new school in North West London, switching to an online platform for their appraisal process and professional development has saved the school’s senior leadership team hours of work when it comes to their focus on developing their people through personalised continuous professional development.

“It’s so much easier to do,” says Dr Matt Stevens, the school’s principal. “Previously staff filled in a form, which was emailed to me. I would then check the calendar, check the budget with the Finance Team, and then email the staff member back… It was probably taking three or four minutes for each application.”

CPD in schools, continued professional development, Continuous Professional Development

The same effect has been seen at Sancton Wood School, Cambridgeshire when simplifying the school’s 3-month induction process. Before Sancton Wood started using an online platform Julia Cottam, Academic Vice Principal at the school, was discovering that new staff were finding it hard to understand the appraisal process.

Julia explains “We understood that new staff were struggling sometimes and found they were digging around in the dark a little bit for who they needed to see for certain tasks and where they could find X, Y, and Z when it came to appraisal and professional development.”

Using an online platform means she can “see which of these new members of staff are engaging with the induction professional development and appraisal process. I can see when they have been ticking off activities as they go, which is really helpful.”


of our users said that they felt the main purpose of professional learning in their organisations was to improve the quality of teaching. [1]

2. Investing in your staff

Teacher retention is a growing concern in the sector. A report from The Guardian recently revealed that 40,000 teachers left the profession between 2021-2022. [2] As noted by the Department of Education, one of the key ways to improve teacher retention in school is by ‘offering high quality continuing professional development.’ [3]

With an online professional development platform, more time can be allocated to supporting your staff in reaching their personal and professional targets. An online platform like BlueSky offers the ability for leaders to share the school development plan so teachers and staff can align their professional objectives with school improvement priorities. Personalised goals encourage staff engagement while strengthening their understanding of how their work contributes to the wider organisation.

CPD in schools, continued professional development, Continuous Professional Development

At Step by Step, a SEND school in East Sussex, using a versatile online professional development platform has allowed the school to implement a bespoke approach that supports staff to develop the specialist skills needed in the job.

As Gayle Adam, Headteacher at Step-by-Step School, explains, the ability to run reports quickly and easily has meant that this investment in staff professional development can be effectively tracked and evaluated, bringing all their “quality assurance and CPD activities together in one platform. This makes the process much easier to manage and ensures staff continue to keep their focus on their professional development.”

This increased investment in staff professional development has meant that in October 2022, Step by Step School achieved an improved Ofsted rating, moving from ‘Good’ to ‘Outstanding’. Ofsted noted the school’s particular emphasis on the individual support of both its staff and pupils and praised how staff at the school had built a strong understanding of the importance of their work. Gayle is confident that with a bespoke platform, the school can continue to deliver a high standard of education, even with their small staff.

3. Efficient evaluations

It’s been widely recognised that a lack of a coherent framework for assessing teacher performance in the appraisal process can lead to inconsistent practices. An online professional learning platform allows schools to implement consistent practices for all staff, ensuring that appraisals and professional development objectives can be linked with school priorities.

At Sherborne School, Dorset, BlueSky has helped the school with the implementation of its professional teaching standards; The Sherborne Teaching Standards. “Being able to see the details in what’s happening where and by having all the evaluations on BlueSky we can see where teachers might need support and help bring that to them,” explains Peter Chillingworth, Director of CPD. “For example, the Head of Physics found that a few staff in the Science Department had applied for separate training on differentiation in science, so he brought a trainer into school who worked with the whole department at the same time.”

By recording appraisal objectives within the system, teachers can document their reflections and track their progress towards both individual and school-wide goals. This information is shared with managers and school improvement stakeholders, creating a more transparent feedback environment for everybody and therefore strengthening the appraisal process.

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Online Platform, Appraisal Process, Professional Development Platform

Author: Ed Bellett-Travers
Digital Marketing Executive 

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