Peer support of teaching policy and guidelines

Updated on 19 October 2022

This policy applies to all staff with significant teaching roles and aims to encourage and support the improvement of teaching and personal staff development.

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To encourage and support improvement of teaching and personal staff development:

  • by providing a structured, focused opportunity for an individual member of staff ("the teacher") to receive comments from a colleague ("the peer") on aspects of teaching practice
  • and to do so in ways that:
    • are developmental, and non-judgmental
    • are flexible and can reflect the context of the subject and the role and needs of the individual teacher
    • minimise bureaucracy


This policy applies to all staff with significant teaching roles. Deans/Associate Deans/programme leaders should define 'significant' reflecting the nature of staff allocation to teaching.

Deans/Associate Deans/programme leaders should consider the situation regarding non-University staff (e.g. honorary lecturers) and tutorial assistants, post-graduate demonstrators etc, seeking advice of the Dean were appropriate.

The policy should normally be implemented on an annual basis.


Recognition that a peer can provide developmental comments that are useful, show understanding of context, and may complement or moderate other sources and means of feedback -e.g. from students.

Outputs should be confidential to the teacher, unless the teacher chooses to volunteer information for any purpose.

The process should not be linked to staff appraisal or review for advancement / promotion unless the teacher chooses to volunteer information.

Experience suggests that there are generally developmental benefits for the peer as well as for the teacher.

The process does not apply in any situation when there has been a complaint about a teacher's approach to teaching. It is recognised that there may be situations when a Dean (or their delegated nominee) may need to observe an individual's teaching for a particular purpose e.g. in response to specific feedback or comment. It must be emphasised that such a situation would not be classed as "peer support", and the comments in this guidance note would not be applicable. Such a situation would properly be a matter to be dealt with by the Dean in a manner which he/she considers appropriate.

Responsibilities of Deans/Associate Deans/programme teams

Deans/Associate Deans/programme teams should:

  • negotiate the broad approach to be used within the Schools/programme
  • agree the basis of deciding who should be the peers i.e. identification and allocation of peers to teachers
  • organise the process to ensure that it is implemented
  • submit an annual report to the relevant academic standards committee:
    • outlining the approach used
    • confirming implementation of the process
    • summarising any aspects of good practice in implementation of peer support
    • identifying any staff development needs at the general school / programme level

Responsibilities of individual members of staff

Members of staff should engage with the process - either as teacher or peer in ways that reflect the aims and principles, respecting confidentiality.

Members of staff may contact the Director of the Academic Skills Centre on an individual basis if they wish to discuss any development needs.

If a member of staff has a concern or complaint about any aspects of the process, they should contact the Dean or Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching) in the first instance.

Approaches - guidance and suggestions

Who is the peer? Schools/programme teams should decide the most appropriate basis e.g.:

  • nominated individual or team of peers
  • buddy system: all teaching staff are peers; pairings can be:
    • two-way - "A" is peer for "B", and "B" is peer for "A"
    • or one-way - "A" is peer for "B", and "B" is not peer for "A" but is peer for "C"
    • buddies may be allocated, at random, or chosen by the teachers

Focus - what to be observed/considered. In traditional approaches to teaching, this could involve observing a lecture or tutorial. However the focus should be directed on activities or aspects that would benefit most from the involvement of, and comment by a peer, and should reflect:

  • the subject and context e.g. studio-based teaching, clinical teaching, small group teaching etc
  • new and innovative approaches, particularly if the teacher is deliberately trying to adopt or implement changes -e.g. the focus might be on the approach to using the Blackboard VLE or computer-aided-assessment.

Themes or issues to be considered:

  • these may reflect generic themes or issues e.g. current developments or common concerns at programme level
  • or personal concerns of the teacher e.g. comments on changes to practice, or issues raised in student feedback, or raised through peer support in previous years

The process should include the following stages:

  • briefing - preliminary discussion between the peer and the teacher regarding the focus (what to be considered) and themes or issues to be included
  • observation/consideration by the peer
  • feedback discussion between the peer and the teacher
  • confirmation to the discipline/programme team that peer support has taken place, with any additional reporting required as part of the discipline/programme team's negotiated approach

Responsibilities of Schools

Schools should maintain a record of:

  • the approach used in the School and/or its programmes, as appropriate
  • implementation within the School and/or its programmes, as appropriate

They should also consider any generic staff development needs identified through the process and take actions as appropriate.

Report form

An example of a reporting template is provided in the downloads section of this page.

Further information

Any questions are comments should be addressed to any of the following - whoever seems most appropriate:

  • Dean/Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching)/programme leader
  • the Director of the Academic Skills Centre



Quality and Academic Standards