November 2016

Why is a high quality ESR so important?
The ESR provides the major piece of evidence to inform the ARCP panel as to whether a GPST is making satisfactory progress. However, in order for the ESR to be useful, it needs to of high quality.   Comments and judgements made in the report all need to be supported by the evidence that is present within the eportfolio. Anecdotal comments and observations entered in the ESR are not considered to be evidence. If the ES is also the CS (as is usually the case in ST3) and wishes to document personal observations to add to the report, then this can be done by making entries in the Educator Notes or by completing a CSR prior to the ES meeting. A CSR has the advantage that it can be cited by the trainee as evidence when they do their own report. If the ESR is poor quality then it may be difficult or impossible for the Panel to make a robust and justifiable decision and a new report may be required before a Panel outcome can be given.

What is the role of the GP Trainee in assessing Competency areas?

One week before the ESR meeting, the trainee is required to self-rate their own progress in each of the 13 competency areas. These reflections must be based on specific, dated and identifiable evidence from within the ePortfolio. A good rating will cite about three pieces of evidence from various sources per competency.  A range of appropriate evidence should be selected for for each of the competency areas (Evidence requirements for Competencies).  Up to three pieces of evidence can be tagged and hyperlinked for each area - note that although the PSQ and MSF cannot be tagged with a hyperlink, they can still be cited as useful pieces of evidence. Log entries can only be hyperlinked against a competency if the ES has "validated" the entry in that area.  Trainees can enter personal reflections in their self-rating related to the ePortfolio evidence. (Note that Educator Note entries may also be used as evidence)

If the GP Trainee has written a good report, does the ES need to duplicate it?

If the trainee has written a good self-rating statement accompanied by appropriate evidence for a particular competency area, then it may be acceptable for the ES to accept what the trainee has written and neither write much more themselves nor provide any new evidence. However, the ES must remember the probity of their actions. If the ES relies solely on the trainee’s narrative and evidence then the ES must be absolutely sure that it is correct, comprehensive and justifiable.

In such a case, within that competency area, the ES should write a statement such as, "I confirm that the evidence cited by the trainee in this area is appropriate and supports progression". 

If the Trainee’s ePortfolio evidence is borderline satisfactory or unsatisfactory, then the ES will need to write their own appropriate narrative and supply supporting evidence against the relevant competencies.

As this assessment forms parts of the licensing exam, it is essential that it is clearly the grading by the educational supervisor that makes the recommendation and not that of the trainee.

In all cases, the ES still needs to make recommendations for further development, or expand on the trainee's suggestions, as appropriate (including in the final review, when recommendations would include actions following award of CCT).

What constitutes best practice in writing reports? 

The RCGP has produced the following guidance:


Needs Further Development


The Educational Supervisor (ES) has not based their judgement on appropriate evidence selected by the trainee and/or the ES


Judgements are generally referenced to a range of relevant evidence selected by the trainee and/or ES

When making their judgement, the ES has failed to explain how the evidence supports their decision


Judgements appear to be justifiable and include a description of how the evidence supports the ES's decision

The ES has failed to provide appropriate action plans for future trainee development, including in the final review of GP Training


Suggestions for trainee development are routinely made by the ES and appear to be appropriate

Is the quality of the Educational Supervisor’s report assessed?
ARCP panels are required by training regulations to give feedback regarding the quality of ESRs.  All ESs will receive feedback at least once every three years. This will cover the areas noted in the RCGP guidance, as well as the quality of feedback offered to the trainee within their learning log

Does the ARCP panel always follow the recommendation of an educational supervisor as to whether a trainee is progressing?
Although the ES makes a judgement as to whether a trainee is progressing, the actual decision is made by the ARCP panel.  A recommendation based on a well-written report with explicit reference to the evidence is more likely to be accepted than one coming from an unreferenced report or one with unclear justification of judgements.

How do supervisors improve their skills in writing reports?
The School of Primary Care can provide training in these areas in the 6 monthly conferences, advanced trainer courses, and direct to trainer/supervisor workshops.