The Function of Self-Assessment and Self-Evaluation in the Quality Cycle

Last Updated on 02/09/2023 by James Barron


The Self-Assessment Review (SAR) serves as a critical tool for academic institutions, providing an annual reflection on teaching standards against internal and Ofsted benchmarks. This document delves into the SAR process, emphasising its role in streamlining feedback and enhancing course management and accountability. At its core, SAR ensures that individual course assessments flow upward, from strand to department and finally to the broader teaching establishment, prior to being ratified by governing bodies. This hierarchical feedback system empowers course leads to take ownership, driving improvement while ensuring their accountability.


A Self-Assessment Review (SAR) is a review of what the teaching establishment, department or strand has carried out over the last year, including an evaluation against the teaching establishments own internal criteria and Ofsted requirements. When completing a SAR, it is best to “imagine that you were sitting down explaining how and what you did to a stranger not familiar with your work, including judgements on how well you do it” (Hatton, 2016).

The SAR Process

Information obtained from the individual strand SARs are fed into the department SAR’s which is then fed into the teaching establishment’s SAR. This SAR is then provided to the governors for ratification. Strand SARs are an excellent method of senior management effectively distributing the goals of the teaching establishment down through management to the individual course leads. As the course leads are those who are completing the SAR for their course, they will be motivated to improve by taking ownership of their course. They will also know first-hand what is happening on their course, including the problems, placing them in the ideal position to complete a self-assessment of the course. This also makes the course lead accountable for actions and performance on their course, likely pushing them to make the course perform better while providing a voice for staff directly to senior management. Managers also benefit greatly from SAR’s as they provide a summary of information for each of the courses within the department/teaching establishment, allowing effective monitoring of courses and providing an easy assessment into the success or failure of a course over 3 and 5 year trends.

Quality Arrangements of Own Organisation Learning Programme

I have selected the BSc in Applied Computing for evaluation as this is the learning programme on which I mostly teach. The predicted achievement is 90% which is significantly higher than another local teaching organisation, the only other provider of this learning programme. At the end of the course, the predicted achievement was accurate as one student suspended study for a year and did not complete the course this year, resulting in the actual achievement being 90%. Overall good outcomes with the majority of students going to work in industry or further study in the form of a master’s degree, this could still be improved further. Linked closely with the predicted/actual achievement is the level of retention being 100% as all students either completed the course or suspended until next year. The learner voice is positive with 100% of students rating 4 or above out of 5 for “overall, I am satisfied with the quality of the course…”, another prominent rating from students is 75% of students gave a score of 5 out of 5 for “staff are good at explaining things”. The vast majority of the feedback is very positive, some of the less positive feedback is 50% of students rated “feedback on my work has been timely” as average. The student attendance on the course is poor, with an average percentage of 72%, this is lower than the teaching establishments minimum requirement for attendance, however, can be expected as the learners are adults.

Areas for Improvement in my Learning Programme

There are two areas I would aim to improve, the first is the student voice providing an average rating for the question “feedback on my work has been timely” the second element that requires attention is the low attendance.

Feedback Delivery Speed

I have received an average rating for the Student Voice question relating to the speed that feedback has been delivered. This requires additional investigation as the combination of poor attendance and student voice could be resulting in assessments being marked and feedback being made available, but the students have not attended and as a result do not receive their feedback. A solution for this would be to email students all the feedback that is available so that they can access the feedback remotely, however, this may have a further negative impact on attendance as students will often attend specifically for feedback. Obtaining additional information relating to when the assessment has been marked would allow greater analysis and triangulation relating to speed at which feedback is delivered. This would also ensure that it wasn’t student perception having an unrealistic expectation of when feedback should be delivered.


The second area that requires addressing is attendance; this can be improved with greater levels of communication during induction relating to the attendance expectations. This should be followed up throughout the year with warnings for those students who dip below the required 90% percent attendance. If the attendance doesn’t continue it should be explained to students that disciplinary action will follow, this will have an impact on the majority of students and result in the attendance figure being higher. Another aspect to consider is to investigate why the attendance is so low, the BSc requires a large amount of independent research that many students complete at a local university library, currently the teaching establishment has no system in place to record when students have conducted research outside the class, or even in its own library. A simple email from students followed by a check of the library will likely have an impact on attendance figures.


Hatton, P. (2016). Getting self-assessment reports right. Kent: LEARNING IMPROVEMENT SERVICE.

Further Reading

Understanding and Using Educational Theories by Karl Aubrey and Alison Riley.

This book gives readers a detailed introduction to the foundational theories behind effective teaching methods and provides insights into the practical implications of these theories on teaching and learning.

The Use of Data in School Counseling: Hatching Results for Students, Programs, and the Profession by Trish Hatch.

While specifically aimed at school counselling, this book delves deep into using data for program review, improvement, and ensuring outcomes align with institutional goals.

Assessment Clear and Simple: A Practical Guide for Institutions, Departments, and General Education by Barbara E. Walvoord.

This book provides a concise and step-by-step guide to the process of assessment. It delves into the process of determining if students are learning what educators think they should learn and offers a clear way to integrate assessment into program review, accreditation, and setting strategic goals.

How to Create and Use Rubrics for Formative Assessment and Grading by Susan M. Brookhart.

Brookhart’s book on rubrics is excellent for educators and administrators looking to implement consistent and transparent assessment methods in their courses or programs. It explains the fundamental principles of rubrics, how to design and use them effectively, and ensures alignment with the intended learning outcomes.


This is the official website for the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. It provides resources, publications, and standards which are especially relevant for anyone in the UK’s educational sector.


Educause Review

Educause Review focuses on the advancement of higher education through the use of information technology. Articles, research papers, and case studies related to assessment, program review, and educational technology can be found here.


Chronicle of Higher Education

This is one of the most prominent publications in the field of higher education. It covers a broad range of topics including academic reviews, program assessments, and educational innovations.


Author Profile

James Barron
My first experience of teaching was in 2016, when I was asked to
deliver a talk to a group of 16-year-olds on what it was like to start
your own business. I immediately knew I wanted to become more
involved in teaching but I didn’t know where to start as I had not
previously considered a career in education. A few weeks later I
agreed to teach a class of Chinese students from the Shanghai
Technical Institute of Electronics and Information, who had travelled
to the UK to learn English and Software Engineering, after that I was
hooked. Within the next few years, I taught hundreds of students of
many different nationalities, aged from 16 to 60, and from
levels 2 to 6. I focused my time teaching with Bath University and
Bath College for several more years until I felt a change was in order.
For the last few years, I have taught remotely with several private
training organisations, provided dedicated one to one coaching
sessions, provided consultancy on teaching and assessment practices
and written about my experiences as a teacher. I plan to continue
with my current activities for the foreseeable future but I’m always
open to new teaching experiences.

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