Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Clarification on classroom observation regulations

Several members have asked for clarification of the classroom observation regulations that come into effect in September 2007.

Within the social partnership (including NASUWT, PAT and ATL), ASCL argued from the outset that classroom observation is central to school self-evaluation and that there should be no limit on the number of hours - a very different position from that of the classroom unions.

In the end, all sides reached a compromise and the resolution will give members, we hope, ample freedom to assess performance.

The limit on classroom observation will be three hours per year. However, there are three important exceptions, which do not count toward the three hours:

  • peer observation

  • drop-in observation by the head and/or senior leaders with responsibilities for quality assurance of teaching

  • situations in which there are questions about capability

Where concerns appear during the three hours or during drop-in observation that are serious but fall short of capability procedures, additional and unlimited observation can be triggered. Where this happens, the review statement needs to be amended. The NASUWT, PAT and ATL have agreed to all of the above. If members encounter problems, they should call the hotline on 0116 299 1122.

ASCL knows that, since Ofsted has shifted the focus of inspections from the classroom to leadership and management, and inspectors observe very few lessons, heads are expected to have a detailed understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of teaching in all subject areas and to monitor this as part of self-evaluation. It simply cannot be done without observing teaching in action.

Members are advised to read the Rewards and Incentives Group publication Guidance: Teachers' and Head Teachers' Performance Management. Download it from www.teachernet.gov.uk

While non-statutory, the guidance states that classroom observation should be proportionate (not all teachers may need three hours) and that it should be multi-faceted and capable of meeting, for example, self-evaluation and school improvement requirements. Schools will be required to produce a protocol for classroom observation.

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