Collaboration more useful than Ofsted, say FE teachers

Learning from each other's good practice is more useful than formal interventions, according to new research

Julia Belgutay

FE teachers benefit most from collaboration, and less so from Ofsted inspections

College teachers believe collaboration with other educators has a much bigger impact on improving teaching standards than an Ofsted inspections, according to new research.

According to research by academics at Birmingham City University’s Centre for the Study of Practice and Culture in Education, teachers believe assessing their own performance, informal conversations with colleagues and sharing best practice most effectively contribute to raising standards – more so than more formal interventions like inspections or performance management observations, a new report has found.

Read more: 'Ofsted's evidence base must include FE'

More news: No research on impact of inspection grades, Ofsted admits

Also: Ofsted confirms U-turn over SEND in inspections

Meeting colleagues

The report considers how leadership in further education can best contribute to improving the quality of teaching and learning, and is funded by the Further Education Trust for Leadership.

The paper, titled The Role of Leadership in Prioritising and Improving the Quality of Teaching and Learning in Further Education, involved hundreds of teaching staff, senior leaders and education professionals, and also considered case studies of three institutions.

Participants said that meeting with colleagues was key to thinking and practice improvement, and watching each other teach and then talking about classroom practice had been “a breath of fresh air”.

One said: “I hated being observed and graded. Did nothing for my teaching.” Others said Ofsted had “gone on a path that is not benefitting the sector and is also not in the public interest”.

Other findings from the research:

- Teaching staff are best placed to improve teaching and learning by identifying and targeting their own professional needs

- Senior leaders have a central role to play in empowering teachers to refine their practice and create an environment in which they can develop

- Leadership approaches to improving teaching and learning should actively involve teachers

- Educational institutions should create long-term plans to improve teaching and learning which are developed over time

- Adequate time must be provided for teachers to interact with each other to discuss their ideas and reflect on practice, through regular on-going informal interactions.

Driving improvement

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “We agree that college leaders and teachers are best placed to drive improvement in teaching and learning. However, Ofsted exists first and foremost to serve the public and to report to them on the state of our colleges. Our role is to independently assess the quality of education and teaching, and judge whether colleges are improving."

He added Ofsted did not grade teachers, and had not graded individual lessons since 2014. "When we inspect, we do so together with college leaders and teachers, and we know from their feedback that they value inspection in helping them improve.

“We are always seeking to improve how we inspect, and have just consulted widely with colleges and their staff about how best to do this. As a result, from September 2019, under the new education inspection framework, our inspection will focus even more on the quality of education, including the perspectives of teachers.”

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Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay is head of FE at Tes

Find me on Twitter @JBelgutay

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