Self-assessment is widely-regarded as an essential element of the improvement cycle, but it is all too often misunderstood and maligned. Learning to self-assess effectively as an organisation is not easy and the skills to do so have to be developed.
To succeed, a culture of open, honest and critical but constructive self-assessment has to be demonstrated by senior leaders and critically those involved have to understand why it is being done. The answer to ‘why’ is most certainly not – “because we have to write a self-assessment report”.
Obviously there are more than ten things we could say about self-assessment, but here are our top ten tips for you to consider, evaluate and perhaps measure against what you currently do:
1. Don’t just evaluate what you ‘do’ - always evaluate the impact of what you do.
2. Gather as much evidence as possible to inform your judgements before you make them (instead of trying to find evidence to support your judgements once you have made them).
3. Engage as many people in the process as possible – and never forget the voice of learners!
4. An evidence base needs more than just raw statistics. Analyse what they mean and evaluate what they show, especially in comparison to similar organisations.
5. Don’t just list sources of evidence – record what the evidence is telling
6. Be rigorous and critical but recognise your strengths – they need to be celebrated and shared.
7. Evaluating based on the context of your provision is very important but should be used with caution and never to excuse poor performance.
8. Open and rigourous self-assessment must be understood and demonstrated by senior leaders
9. Remember why you are self-assessing – which is to accurately inform how you can improve and not to produce a report.
10. Don’t evaluate based on what you ‘do’ - always evaluate the impact of what you do
And yes, we have repeated tip one. This is because it is so important to make sure your self-assessment is evaluative, rather than just descriptive and that you understand that the impact is more important than the process.
If you're developing an action plan, our best-practice checklist will guide you on how you can get started.