Effective classroom observation is proven to improve teaching and raise levels of attainment, according to a new report published by Wales’ education watchdog Estyn. This is from Wales Online…
Chief inspector Ann Keane said that while some question whether classroom observation is helpful in raising standards, Estyn’s visits to successful and improving schools confirm that it can pay dividends.
She encouraged all schools to review their use of classroom observation as part teachers’ professional development and said school leaders should strive to develop “a clear policy for classroom observation with the aim of raising standards of teaching”…
In her report, lead inspector Penny Lewis said classroom observation was most effective when leaders established a positive culture of improvement, self-evaluation and professional learning.
“In these schools, staff view classroom observation as a professional entitlement and as an integral part of effective team working. Staff are keen to share practice and to support each other’s professional learning,” she said.
“In the few schools where there is effective practice, school policies set out clearly the purposes and the arrangements for classroom observation. This helps to ensure that all staff receive consistent information about the reasons and expectations for classroom observation.”
In practical terms, Ms Lewis said classroom observation was most effective when the teacher and observer had time before the observation to discuss the focus of their session and to share relevant information about the class.
She said it was best to draw on a wide range of evidence which included more than one classroom visit, planning, assessment records, scrutiny of pupils’ work and listening to learners themselves.
Conversely, Ms Lewis said teachers and support staff could be “overly concerned” about classroom observation in schools where a culture of self-evaluation and self-improvement was not well established…
Ms Keane said: “Some have questioned whether classroom observation is helpful in improving the quality of teaching. The visits we made to successful and improving schools confirm that effective observation can both improve teaching and raise levels of attainment.
“Classroom observation, underpinned by a well-established culture of improvement, is at its most effective when combined with other types of evaluation that involve scrutinising the work of learners and listening to the learner voice.
“In this context, observation can contribute to building up a rounded picture of teaching and learning, rather than being just a snap-shot of one lesson.
“I encourage all schools to review the use they make of classroom observation as part of self-evaluation in support of teachers’ professional development. Schools should develop a clear policy for classroom observation with the aim of raising standards of teaching in schools.”
Rex Phillips, Wales organiser for teachers’ union NASUWT, said lesson observation can be counter-productive.
He criticised what he described as “an army of teacher watchers” and accused Estyn of undermining the “lawful action” that is being undertaken by members of NASUWT and NUT over excessive classroom observation…
Obviously a complex issue and more about how it is done than whether it is done, but what do you make of Ann Keane’s comments and suggestions? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…
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