It’s time to look at the design of your self-assessment system

For many providers, November is the time of year for putting to bed their long and involved self-assessment process. Staff are happy that they’ve finally got through the panel interrogations, the quality manager has advertised the annual programme of QIP review dates, and all is well with the world. But is it?

The self-assessment process can go wrong at so many stages, from the culture that surrounds it, to the precise words used in its text. Here are a few tests you can do very quickly on your self-assessment report (SAR) and development plan (DP). They only take a few minutes, so you’ve really nothing to lose. They could be very revealing…

Test 1: The ‘good’ bullet ‘however’ test

Open your SAR and click Ctrl+F to open the ‘find’ box. Type: good (or any synonym for a grade 2 judgement).

  • If you don’t find any or many, then your SAR text may be overly descriptive and failing to produce its magic (or, of course, you may be outstanding or the opposite on every element of your provision).

Find an element of provision judged as ‘good’ (whether it uses the word or not). Now look for a ‘however’.

  • If there is no ‘however’, then your SAR is not a roadmap to outstanding and your provision may well fail to move forward.

‘Howevers’ are typically missing in SARs that are written in the format: Strengths and Areas for Improvement. The reason many providers design their system this way is to follow Ofsted’s lead. But self-assessment isn’t inspection, it’s something quite different.

Test 2: The targets for success in the development plan

Another quickie is to look at how the targets for success have been written in your development plan.

  • There should be no use of headline data in targeted outcomes.

If there are, then it’s odds on that the ‘inciting text’ at the start of that DP line is not the root-cause issue. This is by far the most common and costly mistake in the whole process.

The CCQI Self-Assessment Strategy online workshop will introduce you to a culture and format for self assessment that avoids these and many more of the typical issues we see in providers’ SARs.

For more details of the session and to join us on Wednesday November 25th, please click the following link:

And here’s some of the feedback from delegates about yesterday’s version of the session:

  • ‘That feeling when you get new glasses and realise things have been a little out of focus for some time!’
    ‘Going on a walk and reaching a fabulous view point’.
    ‘I was blind, but now I see.’

And my absolute favourite:

  • ‘I’ve got my head stuck in the sleeve of a jumper. It was someone else’s jumper, and it didn’t really feel like it fit but I probably should’ve started putting the jumper on sooner. I can see the light down the sleeve but it’s going to mean changing the jumper design whilst wearing it. Also, we need to go on a diet but it’s not about eating less it about making good choices about what we put in and understanding why?

Do join us if you can, or drop me a line if you’d like to arrange this or any of our other online sessions for your team.

To join the CCQI Research Network, do please click here.


  1. Harmesh Manghra
    November 8, 2020 @ 05:05 am

    Demystifying hints and tips.
    My favourite one is control F and development plans with targets to improve …

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