Exclusive: Lockdown observations for 1 in 10 teachers

Schools continuing observations during Covid-19 crisis 'completely failed to understand' pressure staff are under, say teachers

Amy Gibbons

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The UK's largest teaching union has said some school leaders should "look at themselves in the mirror" after nearly one in 10 teachers reported observations continuing in lockdown.

Schools carrying out performance management observations while they are closed to the majority of pupils have "completely failed to understand" that education should be done differently during the Covid-19 crisis, according to Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union.

Of nearly 2,800 UK teachers that responded to a Tes survey, 9 per cent said their school had continued to hold performance management observations during closures.

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Official Department for Education (DfE) guidance states that appraisal and performance management processes should continue in maintained schools during the pandemic, but teachers must not be "penalised" as a result of partial school closures, where this has impacted their ability to fully meet their objectives.

As part of the Tes survey, teachers in the UK were asked whether or not they agreed with the statement: "My school has continued to carry out performance management observations on my teaching during school closures".

A total of 245 answered "yes", while 2,547 (91 per cent) said "no".

While Dr Bousted said it was "really pleasing" to see the majority of school leaders had acknowledged normal performance measures "simply weren't suitable" during the shutdown, she criticised those continuing to carry out observations  arguing that teachers would have found this "insulting".

"Those that are [continuing observations] have completely failed to understand and to acknowledge that this is education done differently; that your staff are under huge pressure," she said.

"They were in schools at the most difficult time – but also working from home, doing online teaching and learning, using new technologies.

"And I would be very interested to see what could be judged from performance management in that circumstance.

"Because we know that lesson observations, even in traditional circumstances, they're wrong in the majority of cases. Two observers observing the same lesson would come to different judgements."

She added: "How you make any valid or reliable judgement based on online lessons, when teachers are grappling with new technology, probably highly stressed, pulling out all the stops to make it work, doing their very best to connect with their pupils?

"And then to get that as a performance management observation... I think many teachers would have just found that insulting.

"And you would have thought those minority of school leaders – because the majority have done the right thing – they really need to look at themselves in the mirror."

The DfE has been approached for comment.

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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