Positive side to observations

6th July 2007 at 01:00

I would like to offer something of a counterbalance to Joseph Lee's article on the observation of teaching and learning (FE Focus, June 15).

Through the Quality Improvement Agency's support programmes, we have experience of a great deal of positive OTL work across the whole of the further education system. In the great majority of colleges and providers, these processes operate to support and develop teacherstrainers in their work to offer the very best experience for their learners.

Many providers focus OTL activities on areas of provision rather than just individual teachers or trainers. This has the advantage of developing teams as well as individuals. The collection of observation reports provides the basis for team and individual development, robust evidence for the self-assessment report and a platform for a continuous cycle of improvement.

In the North West region, the QIA's Support for Success programme backed the creation of a successful collective partnership involving 56 colleges, seven specialist colleges and 12 adult services. These peer observe across organisations and collaborate to develop and raise teaching standards.

Mr Lee rightly identifies the observation process as complex and heavily reliant on the skills, knowledge and abilities of observers and teachers. The training of observers, development of teacher self-assessment and creating a culture of reflective practice are all characteristics of the very best of the schemes.

The QIA will continue to work with and support colleges and providers in achieving and sustaining excellent and effective OTL.

Kate Anderson Director, Improvement and Strategy, Quality Improvement Agency for Lifelong Learning

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