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Union sees off teacher snoopers

CLASSROOM observation in Glasgow schools has been formally accepted by the Educational Institute of Scotland as a necessary part of ensuring effective learning, writes David Henderson. But senior managers who join classes will not be able to use it as a "crit".

After many years of argument and counter argument, the city council has finally agreed a framework for observation that is set against a new legal duty to improve its education service and schools' self-evaluation responsibilities.

"However, the emphasis must be clearly upon the quality of the pupil experience - it is not about the mechanistic monitoring of teachers.

Consequently there should be no 'crit lesson' nor should the process involve a mechanistic tick box checklist.

"There should, of course, be an agreed focus for monitoring and an agreed format for recording information about the pupil experience," George Gardner, depute director of education, states in a paper to the city's education committee yesterday (Thursday).

In the new post-McCrone collegiate environment, the authority points out that "teacher autonomy is not absolute".

Observation will involve assessing and supporting probationers, identifying reasons why a particular group of pupils are presenting behavioural problems, supporting any teacher who is having difficulties and determining progress by a teacher who is subject to formal competence procedures.

Many of the suggestions emanate from the EIS and Willie Hart, the union's local secretary, said that the revised plans went a long way to provide the safeguards teachers had sought. "They should protect teachers from anyone who wants to be over-authoritarian or inspectorial," Mr Hart said.

Teachers can now expect the focus to be on the quality of the learning experience for pupils, rather than on the classroom teacher, although the city acknowledges that, inevitably, teaching methods will come into it.

Senior staff, such as the new principal teachers, will have to arrange appropriate times and take part in the lesson prepared by the teacher.

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