'Reclaim' lesson observation from Ofsted, expert tells FE teachers

Darren Evans

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When Ofsted announced recently that it was to scrap graded lesson observations in inspections of FE providers, many teachers in the sector breathed a sigh of relief.

After all, a detailed research project into the practice in colleges, which canvassed the views of 4,000 lecturers and was published last June, found that the majority felt observations were unwelcome, ineffective and had not helped them to improve. 

Despite the fact that graded observations in schools were scrapped last year, it took Ofsted until May to make the firm decision to follow suit in FE.

Now lesson observation expert Matt O’Leary, who carried out last year’s research for the University and College Union, has said that it is time for teachers in the FE sector to “reclaim observation” as a way to build “sustainable, collaborative communities of teaching and learning”.

Speaking at the University of Wolverhampton last month, at the first national conference dedicated to lesson observation, Dr O’Leary said the sector was “entering a new dawn”.

“The end of graded lesson observation in inspection is an important step in the right direction, and Ofsted should be commended for listening and responding to the views of practitioners,” he said.

However, he added: “The mere act of doing away with lesson observation grades won’t suddenly result in it becoming a transformative tool that wipes clean the experiences and mindsets of those staff who have come to view it cautiously – and with some justification – as a punitive disciplinary mechanism.”

Read the full story in the 10 July issue of TES. You can do so on your tablet or phone, or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents. 

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Darren Evans

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