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Ofsted: Schools 'not expected' to grade lesson observations

Ofsted “does not expect” schools to grade lesson observations or provide lesson plans for inspectors, the watchdog has confirmed.

A myth-busting document, produced in response to discussions between the teaching unions and education secretary Nicky Morgan about reducing the workload of teachers, aims to dispel misconceptions about inspections which could generate additional bureaucracy within schools.

It also clarifies that Ofsted does not have specific requirements for “how planning should be set out, the length of time it should take or the amount of detail it should contain”, and does not “require self-evaluation to be provided in a specific format”.

Schools, it adds, do not have to undertake a “specified amount of lesson observations”, nor should they tell inspectors how much individual teachers are paid.

Last month, TES revealed that Ofsted would no longer be grading individual lessons after a pilot in which the practice was scrapped proved to be "incredibly popular" with teachers.

The message, however, appears to be slow to trickle through to school leaders. At a conference held by the Association of School and College Leaders yesterday, almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of delegates said they were still grading individual lessons in schools.

But ASCL general secretary Brian Lightman said that schools were still perfectly entitled to use the system if they wanted to.

“If Ofsted don’t require something, it doesn’t mean that schools mustn’t do it. The decision on how to run a school comes down to the headteachers. If you’re doing lesson observations as part of performance management, teachers do want feedback, and one way in which you could articulate that is by giving a grade," he said.

Ms Morgan welcomed Ofsted’s report. “This simple set of statements will help to dispel myths which can lead to schools providing reams of additional paperwork for inspectors,” she said.

“This publication has come from the programme of talks between the Department for Education and trade unions, and I would like to thank Ofsted and the unions for this productive collaboration. We have a common interest in tackling unnecessary workload, and giving teachers more time to focus on teaching.” 

General secretary of the ATL teaching union Mary Bousted said that teachers “will be pleased that Ofsted has clarified what it does not expect schools to do as part of the inspection process, and has made it clear that not everything teachers do has to be written down”. 

She added: “This should help reduce the enormous workload under which teachers and heads are struggling.”


Related stories:

'Grading lesson observations puts barriers in the way of innovation' - October 2014

Ofsted announces another U-turn over no-notice inspections - October 2014

Ofsted launches wave of no-notice school inspections - September 2014

Ofsted scraps grades for individual lessons - August 2014

Ofsted must scrap 'quality of teaching' from inspections - July 2014

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