Lesson observations? This head gets the teachers to assess themselves.

The TES reports that Quality assurance in schools is too reliant on top-down procedures that have a negative impact on teacher wellbeing, says headteacher Liz Robinson.

In my experience, of all the negative aspects of teaching that impact wellbeing, it is monitoring and accountability that really gets to people the most.

The traditional view of “monitoring”, or to give it a less pugnacious name “quality assurance”, is that it is an activity carried out by a few people at the top of the school. A range of “formal” and “informal” approaches are used to gather evidence in order to make judgements about the quality of an individual’s practice. 

If we want to think about how we can re-engage and motivate teachers, we need to challenge this way of working.

Instead of a small group of leaders at the “top” of the organisation making judgements about the work of everyone else, we have found a way for teachers to take responsibility for their own practice, explicitly linking their own learning to their understanding of where their practice needs development.

We began by making sure that we were all absolutely clear about what excellence looks like, across subjects and in relation to all aspects of learning. This process has been critical in having a system that the team really believe in.

Following on from that, we created a simple self-assessment format that includes the agreed criteria. Teachers are then asked to colour-code themselves in relation to each aspect: purple for exemplary practice that can be shared with others; green for fully met; yellow for partially met; and red for not yet met.

Through working this way since September, we have seen a marked change in both the efficacy and effect of quality assurance. We find that teachers are now highly attuned to their own practice and make very accurate assessments of their own strengths (which is a skill in itself), as well as the things they need to work on. Feedback from teachers, as well as leaders, has been overwhelmingly positive.

Read the full article Lesson observations? This head gets the teachers to assess themselves.

Do you think this is a good idea? Could it bring teachers and departments together in your school? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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