UK Military Appraisal Reports: Developing vs Insufficient Knowledge

The appraisal report provides an assessment of performance which is a combination of grading against a range of attributes and a narrative that can add weight and evidence to the graded assessments.

The assessment of performance provides awareness of an individual’s achievements and competence in relation to their responsibilities and objectives, as well as an impression of their personal qualities.

When assessing the individual’s potential, reporting officers are required to write a narrative and make a number of recommendations, one of which is suitability for promotion.

The accurate assessment of potential is demanding and requires honesty and objectivity. The reporting officer is required to build upon examples and evidence to assess whether the individual has demonstrated suitability and capacity, and has sufficient experience to be employed in the next higher rank.

The link between performance and potential is not mutual and high performance does not necessarily mean that an individual has demonstrated merit for promotion.

The Appraisal Report requires a graded recommendation for promotion to be selected from these available options:

GradePromotion One Rank Up
ExceptionalOutstandingly suitable
HighHighly suitable
YesSuitable now
DevelopingDisplays some suitability
NoNot suitable
Insufficient knowledgeInsufficient observation
Not applicableNot eligible

To be considered for promotion, individuals must have received a ‘Yes’ or higher recommendation for Promotion One Rank Up.

Where an otherwise fully eligible candidate receives an assessment of ‘Insufficient Knowledge’, presentation to a Promotion Selection Board will be determined using the recommendation from the previous report.

Where, for example, an individual has displayed some suitability but through lack of opportunity has been unable to demonstrate sufficient potential to merit a ‘Yes’ or above, the reporting officer would be correct in considering ‘Insufficient Knowledge’ as opposed to ‘Developing’, thereby not disadvantaging the individual.

Employment may be outside of the individual’s trade. In practice, this means that whilst an assessment of performance can be made against roles and responsibilities, it is often not possible for a reporting officer to make an objective assessment of potential for future promotion.

When the individual has, through no fault of their own, been unable to demonstrate potential then the award of ‘Insufficient Knowledge’ is considered best practice rather than the award of ‘Developing’ which could unfairly prevent the individual from being presented to the next Promotion Board.

You can read detailed information on appraisal reporting here.


FOI 2016/11821 dated 06 January 2017.

Joint Service Publication (JSP) 757: Tri-Service Guidance for Appraisal Report. This document provides direction for the completion of appraisal reports.


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