Calling time on 30-minute inspections

10th February 2012 at 00:00

It is a relief to see someone of Dylan Wiliam's stature questioning the 30-minute lesson observation policy adopted by Ofsted ("Teaching expert challenges Ofsted to prove its 'integrity'", 3 February).

Progress has quite rightly become a major focus, but observing lessons for only 30 minutes is putting enormous pressure on teachers to demonstrate learning progress in every lesson. Good teachers use some lessons simply to engage and motivate learners, to initiate debate, to stimulate curiosity or to pose a problem. Deeper study and progress will follow in subsequent lessons.

"Teaching by numbers" and straitjackets should have no place in our schools and colleges, and yet this is exactly what is happening under a system that tries to judge the effectiveness of teachers by watching them once for 30 minutes.

Robert Powell, Educational consultant and former headteacher, Stafford.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today