The number of lesson observations conducted during any Ofsted inspection is at the discretion of the lead inspector. The watchdog says this would also depend on the size of the school, as well as the sector it sits within.
According the Association of School and College Leaders, during a one-day inspection, Ofsted might typically conduct around six formal lesson observations; on a two-day inspection, this figure would be around 15.
Since September 2014, Ofsted has not graded individual teachers on their lessons. Instead, inspectors offer feedback for individual teachers and comment on different departments and the school as a whole. Despite this, many teachers are convinced that their performance is still graded.
“I’ve heard teachers say, ‘They must still be grading us – they can’t do it otherwise,’” Sean Harford, national director of education at Ofsted, has told Tes (bit.ly/TeacherGrade). Harford wrote to inspectors, saying: “When observing lessons…we must not give the incorrect impression that any graded judgement has been formed.”
But many teachers remain uncertain what inspectors are, therefore, doing during lesson observations.
“One of the inherent contradictions in Ofsted is: what are they looking for in lessons, if they’re not judging teachers?” says Geoff Barton, general secretary of ASCL.
“If I’ve got an inspector at the back of the room, and not looking at my teaching, what are they looking at? They might flick through some exercise books, and look at whether the books are tidy or not. Tidiness is not the same as learning.”