Failure's not an option yet

5th November 2004 at 00:00
Q: I've had an "unsatisfactory" rating in my first observation - because a small number of pupils strayed away from the task during the lesson in question and didn't produce the work that was required of them in the time allowed. What are the consequences of this? Will I still only have observations once every half-term? And if I fail an observation, what long-term impact could that have?

A: That seems a bit harsh at this early stage in your career. But remember that you cannot "fail" an observation - and I don't think the person observing you should use official inspection gradings such as "unsatisfactory" unless the observation is part of pre-inspection monitoring. It's unhelpful, unnecessary and it may even be inaccurate. Was your observer a trained Ofsted inspector, I wonder?

The message for the school is that it should be putting in more targeted support to help you to achieve success, and it should be helping you find out what it was about your teaching that resulted in a small number of pupils not working hard enough.

Be clear about the standards against which you are being observed. Have objectives and action plans and focused meetings with your induction tutor to help you. See frequent observation of your lessons as a way to get more advice. The head may decide at the time of the end-of-term report that you might have problems meeting the standards for qualified teacher status and induction by the end of three terms. This is more worrying, but again it's down to the school to give you the extra support you need.

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