< Previous page ^ Table of Contents Next page >


Joint Report of the Council and the General Board on a revision of the arrangements for appraisal

The COUNCIL and the GENERAL BOARD beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. This Report brings forward proposals for a revision of the current appraisal arrangements in operation and the development of a framework Staff Review and Development Scheme covering all staff.


2. The University's arrangements for appraisal and staff review for University officers were set out in a Joint Report of the Council and the General Board and subsequent Notice (Reporter, 1987-88, pp. 484 and 890). The purpose of the Report was to set out guidelines which could form the framework of an appraisal scheme and to clarify the purposes the scheme was intended to serve. At that time, the Council and the General Board wished to proceed by setting out a possible model for the appraisal process and then asking each Faculty Board or similar authority to formulate a detailed mechanism whereby the objectives of the scheme could be achieved in their case. These mechanisms would be subject to approval by the Council and the General Board, as appropriate, to ensure that they met the essential requirements. The subsequent Notice set out more detailed notes of guidance for the information of the University.

3. In the Report, the Council and the General Board made it clear that the introduction of an appraisal scheme was necessary in order to comply with the requirements of the Government, as part of the introduction of a revised salary structure. An Appendix to the Report set out the conclusions reached in 1987 by a working party (consisting of representatives of the Association of University Teachers (AUT), the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (CVCP), with assistance from the Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service (ACAS)) set up by the Government, about the points that appraisal procedures should incorporate. As far as the University's scheme was concerned, the primary objective specified in the Report was to assist officers in the performance of their duties by providing them with an opportunity to discuss ways in which their work could be developed, and ways in which any difficulties and obstacles to progress could be removed. The emphasis was on an exchange of information between the officer and the appraiser(s). If there were reservations about an officer's performance, the aim was to identify the causes of any difficulties and to seek ways of improving the situation.

4. Following the approval of this Report, the University's staff appraisal scheme for officers was introduced from October 1988. Every institution was asked to develop its own appraisal procedure, based upon the principles laid down in the Report. The scheme booklet was further revised in 1994 to emphasize a developmental approach. Appraisal for assistant staff followed in 1992.

5. An Appraisal Working Group was set up by the Personnel Division in 2001 to consider the nature and purpose of appraisal and the feasibility of introducing an integrated appraisal scheme across the University. Following receipt of their recommendations, in March 2002 the Personnel Committee consulted with institutions across the University on proposals to improve and simplify the procedure, with the aim of better appraisal coverage across the University but without any radical changes to the underlying objectives of the existing schemes as set out in the agreement of 1987 (see 3 above). In order to reflect the aims of the revised scheme, it was proposed that it be named 'Staff Review and Development'. However, the principles of giving each institution the autonomy to develop its own detailed scheme in accordance with a simple, centrally approved model and the flexibility to accommodate the needs of different categories of staff, but this time within a single scheme, were retained.

6. Council institutions unanimously supported the proposals made in the consultation. However, although General Board institutions were largely in support, they expressed reservations about the appropriateness of the Scheme for academic staff, the perceived bureaucracy, and the burden falling on institutions in administering their scheme. A number of revisions were made to the Scheme framework in response to these comments, including removing model forms. Revised documentation was produced so that institutions that wished to pilot the Scheme could do so. It was agreed that those institutions would receive support in developing their own schemes and would receive tailored training for their reviewers and staff being reviewed from the Staff Development Unit. Since that time fourteen institutions have received tailored training and there has been further informal consultation with some academic institutions and Faculty Boards through officers of the Personnel Division.

The need for a review

7. There are a number of reasons why a review of the arrangements is necessary:

(i) To take forward objectives specified in the Human Resources (HR) Strategy for the University (Reporter, 2001-02, p. 776) relating to a review of existing HR policies and procedures to assess the scope for harmonization between staff groups, and to performance review. The University's proposals in these areas relating to the recent HEFCE funding initiative 'Rewarding and Developing Staff' have been accepted by the funding council;
(ii) To respond to findings from the Equality Audit (2001) that there was a need for additional support to all staff on career progression, as some staff had reported that they felt unable to discuss the development of their career with their Head of institution. Also, some staff commented that they had never been appraised, which confirmed that appraisal coverage was patchy across the University, particularly for support and research staff;
(iii) To provide an up-to-date scheme to support the review process at the end of the recently introduced probation schemes, which was simple, flexible, and could be used as a framework by institutions to develop their own, more detailed schemes;
(iv) To incorporate and refer to other types of appraisal, specifically recommendations made for clinical staff through the Follett Report and the newly introduced Career Management Scheme for research staff.

The Council and the General Board believe it would now be appropriate to provide a revised, unified framework for appraisal.


8. The Council and the General Board believe it is important in the interests of equity and consistency of approach that the two existing schemes for officers (and analogous unestablished staff) and assistant staff are brought together under a single framework. The principles of self-assessment, mutually supportive, constructive discussion, and the production of a plan of action following the review should be retained within the framework. However, they recognize the varying needs of different categories of staff and acknowledge that the framework must provide institutions with flexibility so that it may be adapted locally, for example, to allow for both performance review and a more developmental model, where appropriate, in their schemes.

9. The Council and the General Board believe that the framework Scheme should be renamed Staff Review and Development (SRD) to reflect its purpose of enhancing work effectiveness and facilitating career development. However, institutions may retain the title of appraisal for their detailed scheme if they wish.

10. The proposals being made will not alter the underlying objectives of the process, as laid down in the CVCP/AUT agreement of 1987 and updated through subsequent agreements between the CVCP, the Manufacturing, Science, Finance Union (MSF), and UNISON. For ease of reference, these are reproduced, together with the aims of the University Scheme in Annex 1. This Scheme, as before, involves discussing ways in which the member of staff's work could be developed and ways in which any difficulties or obstacles to progress could be removed. It ensures that staff are clear about their responsibilities and have a formal regular opportunity (at least every two years) to discuss any help they may need in meeting them. The Council and the General Board acknowledge that the process should support, not replace, good management practice, and should not be used as a disciplinary tool or as a means of determining pay, since these matters are more appropriately dealt with through other Personnel procedures.

11. The Council and the General Board propose that a less prescriptive and simpler framework is used, with the emphasis on enabling institutions to carry out this process with their staff with the minimum of paperwork and administrative inconvenience. Therefore, the proposed basic framework allows for institutions to specify in their schemes the preparatory documentation to be supplied by the member of staff being reviewed and how both parties should prepare for the meeting. Similarly, they propose that the way in which the action plan is recorded after the meeting should not be prescribed but should be specified in the institutions' schemes. However, any institutional scheme should cover the key stages in the Staff Review and Development process of planning, discussion, and recording. Proposals concerning matters to be included at each stage are included in Annex 2.

12. Proposed guidelines to assist institutions in developing their Staff Review and Development scheme are included in Annex 3.

13. The Council and the General Board believe that accountability and responsibility for the operation of the scheme should rest with each institution. Therefore, the Head of each institution has a key responsibility for co-ordinating the procedure before and after each cycle of reviews. Proposed guidelines to Heads of institutions concerning the process for developing/reviewing their Staff Review and Development Scheme are included in Annex 4.

14. These proposals have been made by the Council and the General Board with the intention of improving the effectiveness of appraisal across the University. They believe that the benefits of an effective Staff Review and Development Scheme include improving communication and cohesion between different staff groups within institutions and enhancing overall performance by the consideration of how individuals contribute to their institution's and the University's objectives.

15. The Personnel Division will review the effectiveness of these arrangements periodically, with a full review five years after implementation, in consultation with Heads of institutions. They will also issue detailed notes of guidance on aspects of this Scheme, as appropriate.


16. The Council and the General Board recommend:

I. That the current arrangements for appraisal be replaced by the Staff Review and Development Scheme, in accordance with the proposals set out in this Report.

II. That the Council and the General Board be given authority to make such changes in the procedure as they consider necessary in the interest of efficient operation.

15 December 2003ALISON RICHARD, Vice-ChancellorJOHN BOYDD. LOWTHER


3 December 2003ALISON RICHARD, Vice-ChancellorN. O. A. BULLOCKD. W. B. MACDONALD


Purposes of Staff Review and Development (SRD)

The University SRD Scheme is designed to incorporate and extend the objectives set out in the CVCP/AUT agreement of 1987 and the subsequent agreements between the CVCP and MSF and UNISON. It is intended to:

provide an opportunity for reviewing in a positive and constructive way the work of an individual member of staff and how this has been carried out;
ensure that the individual's contribution to the institution is recognized and to agree specific objectives for the coming year;
provide a means of balancing the ambitions and personal needs of the individual with the overall objectives of the institution and university as a whole;
provide opportunities for the discussion of training needs for the current role and any development for future career opportunities;
allow for the identification and discussion of difficulties or obstacles which hamper effectiveness.

At the University of Cambridge we aim through the process to:

provide an opportunity for positive and constructive two-way review of work progress;
allow agreement of an action plan;
provide for discussion of training needs for the member of staff's current role and career development;
allow for identification and discussion of difficulties or obstacles to effectiveness;
provide a way of balancing personal needs and ambitions with the University's overall objectives.


Stages in the Staff Review and Development process

(a) Planning
Preparing for the discussion
A confidential review of the last year and planning for the coming year.The member of staff concerned completes a preparatory review of progress.The reviewer plans for the discussion by completing a similar review of the member of staff's progress. Also, the reviewer specifies what documents the member of staff needs to bring to the review meeting and gathers together information on the University's and the institution's objectives.
(b) Agenda
Setting the agenda for the meeting
Both the reviewer and The member of staff list what they would like to discuss at the meeting The member of staff identifies issues that he or she would like to discuss with the reviewer and lists them. This list may be passed to the reviewer to add additional items that he/she would like to raise, photocopy, and return it to the member of staff.
A review meeting takes place Reviewer and member of staff discuss the member of staff's progress over the review period, training and development needs, and agree on action plan for the future. (1) The formal framework for the meeting is in accordance with the institution's scheme.(2) A constructive, two-way open discussion takes place. (3) Actions resulting from the review are agreed, to be recorded after the meeting.
(a) Outcomes

Recording the decisions and outcomes from the meeting
The discussion and/or the decisions are recorded, including action plans and training needs. These remain confidential to the member of staff concerned and reviewer (and the Head of institution if specified in the institution's scheme) (1) The documents may be completed by either party so long as it is seen and signed by both.They may be signed by the Head of institution (or his/her nominated representative if the Head is not the reviewer) if this is specified in the institution's scheme. (2) Both the member of staff and the reviewer are given copies of the completed documents. (3) The Staff Development Unit may be given a copy of the individual statement of agreed training and development outcomes, if this has been agreed with the member of staff.
There are additional processes which may take place at institutional level:
(b) Summary
Listing and analysing the overall institutional needs
Reviewers draw together the issues identified in individual reviews. Each reviewer produces a summary of the generic issues identified in the review he or she has completed, and passes them to the Head of institution or his/her nominated representative, with suggestions for overcoming them. (This summary must be anonymous and must not refer explicitly or implicitly to any members of staff.)
(c) Institutional response
Producing an institutional summary
The Head of institution confirms that the process is completed and identifies any training needs needing central action. The Head or designated person co-ordinates all reviewer summaries to produce an overall institutional summary. This may be discussed at a meeting of all reviewers and fed back to staff generally to let them know in summary what issues have emerged and what steps are being taken to address them. The Staff Development Unit may be informed of some generic training needs so that it can assist in meeting them and also so that it can plan future University training activity appropriately.


Staff Review and Development

Guidelines to assist institutions in developing their Staff Review and Development Scheme

(a) Frequency of Review

For new members of staff, the first appraisal should take place at the end of the probationary period for the post, once a decision has been made to confirm the appointment. Subsequent reviews and those for existing members of staff should take place at least on a biennial basis.

(b) Confidentiality

The details of the discussion during the review should remain confidential between the reviewer and the member of staff being reviewed, unless they agree otherwise or their institutional scheme specifies that the Head of institution or his/her nominated representative, who is also bound by the confidentiality rules, signs the record of the review. With the member of staff's agreement, details of formal training needs may be sent to the institution's staff development liaison officer or direct to the Staff Development Unit for appropriate action to be taken in terms of reviewing appropriate training provisions.

A copy of the review document should be given to the member of staff. The original copy should be stored securely in the institution, to be accessed only by the Head of institution (if specified in the institution's scheme) and the reviewer.

(c) Documentation following Review

The documentation to be completed following the review should be specified in the institution's scheme. The reviewer and member of staff can use any action plan drawn up to monitor progress and as a reminder of the member of staff's planned training and development activity during the intervening period before the next review.

(d) Other Schemes

In developing the institutional scheme, the Head of institution will need to take into account other appraisal arrangements, specifically the Follett Report and the Career Management Scheme. The recommendations of the Follett Report1 lay out arrangements for a joint appraisal scheme (between the University and the NHS) for clinical academic staff (consultants), setting out in detail the preparatory reference material to be collected, documentation to be completed and action to be taken following appraisal. The Career Management Scheme2, recently introduced, incorporates the appraisal scheme for contract research staff and sets out arrangements for a career management review and the report to be subsequently completed.

1 Joint University/NHS Appraisal Scheme for Clinical Academic Staff (Consultants).

2 Circular of 3 Nov 03 - 'CRS: Probationary Arrangements and Career Management Scheme'.


Staff Review and Development

Guidelines to Heads of institution concerning the process for developing/reviewing their Staff Review and Development Scheme

(a) Institutional Scheme

Details of the institution's scheme should be prepared and passed to the appropriate Personnel Consultant, who can also provide drafting advice, for confirmation that their scheme is in accordance with the framework scheme. Provided that the details of the current schemes meet the SRD framework, existing arrangements within an institution can be retained, brought together under a single institutional framework. Alternatively, small institutions may wish to collectively develop a Faculty/School/Divisional scheme or may use the SRD framework, merely allocating reviewers.

(b) Reviewers

Careful thought should be given to the method by which reviewers are selected; this should be specified in the institution's scheme. The reviewer will normally be the Head of institution or his/her nominated representative, for example the member of staff's line manager/supervisor or principal investigator or a senior member of the institution. The names of reviewers should be reviewed annually; each reviewer should ideally review no more than eight staff and not more than twelve per annum. Similar care should be given to the allocation of staff to reviewers; wherever possible, staff should be allowed to express a preference for a choice of reviewer before a firm allocation has been made and should be given the opportunity to discuss an alternative reviewer with the Head of institution.

(c) Training

All reviewers should receive appropriate appraisal training. In addition, it is recommended that institutions arrange for members of staff to attend a briefing session before they are reviewed for the first time.

(d) Review Schedule

A schedule of reviews to be carried out in the forthcoming academical year should be prepared annually and passed to the Personnel Division, together with information on reviews carried out in the previous year.

(e) Meetings with reviewers

The Head of institution should make arrangements to meet with reviewers before and after each cycle of reviews, or at least on a biennial basis. One function of the meetings should be to identify any common themes or emerging problems so that appropriate action can be taken, for example, after the cycle of reviews advising the Staff Development Unit of generic training needs and informing staff of issues that have emerged and steps that are being taken to address them.

< Previous page ^ Table of Contents Next page >

Cambridge University Reporter
Copyright © 2003 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.