Section D: Staff Support and Monitoring
- Learning and Teaching Quality Committee [LTQC]
- Faculty Administrators
- Staff Development Manager
- Director of Academic Development
- Secretary to LTQC (Quality Assurance Manager)
The policies and procedures the School has for supporting and monitoring its academic staff form part of its quality assurance systems. It is intended that such procedures should represent good practice not only in human resource management, but also in assuring and enhancing the quality of the teaching provided to students studying at SOAS.
Staff Development documents set out procedures for supporting and monitoring new academic staff during their probationary period. These include the appointment of mentors; formal review meetings at set intervals; observation of teaching and completion of the SOAS Observation Record; and, where appropriate, additional staff development such as learning and teaching courses. Further useful information is available on the Staff Development website and (on mentoring specifically) . The Academic Teaching Development Programme offered by the LTU, although open to all staff, may be of particular interest to those new to SOAS, and details of this and the Graduate Assistant Training Scheme Programme can be found at on the LTU pages.
In 2005, the School agreed a procedure for the use of Peer Observation of Teaching [POT] by all Departments. The intention is not to integrate POT with other staff development systems, but for it to run alongside them as a purely peer-operated, developmental tool.
Each member of staff should be observed in one class or lecture at least once every year. The role of the observer is to identify good practice and to share with the colleague under observation constructive feedback, including any suggestions for enhancement. POT is compulsory for full-time staff who are beyond their probationary period, and voluntary for fractional and hourly-paid staff.
Details and downloadable forms can be found on the Staff Development website. Staff members are themselves responsible for ‘pairing up’ for reciprocal observation. Heads of department will remind staff early in Term 1 to submit the names of their agreed observation partner, and provide forms to record observations. Heads of Department will pair off any members of staff who have not provided the name of a peer observer by Reading Week. Peer observation is about teaching methods rather than content, so partners need not be from the same Department or Faculty.
POT can then be carried out at any mutually convenient time before the end of Term 2. The observer should share with his/her colleague any perceived strengths and weaknesses of the session. Any notes made during the observation are confidential, and should be kept by the teacher under observation for their own use. The observer records a short and neutral list of topics discussed on the POT form, which is returned to the Staff Development office as a record of the observation and a list of training needs.
Annual Staff Development Reviews are compulsory for all staff beyond their probationary period. SDRs are a confidential discussion between staff and their managers (Heads of Department in the case of most academic staff). A form is sent to the Staff Development Office to confirm that the review has taken place and to identify any training or development needs over the coming year; otherwise all records of the discussion are retained by the manager.