Best Practice

Classroom observations: Judgements or conversations?

As a school leader, why do you carry out lesson observations? What are they for and what do you ‘judge’? Experienced headteacher Jim Mepham discusses what observations should aim to achieve and some alternative approaches

A key monitoring activity in primary schools has long been regular lesson observations of teachers operating in classrooms with feedback that is intended to improve practice and the quality of teaching.

But is it the case that for too long, lesson observation policies have been plagued by the need to make and communicate “judgements”, simply in the name of accountability?

Ofsted’s 2019 Education Inspection Framework (EIF) recognises that classrooms are complex environments and that to try and capture everything that goes on there is neither possible nor desirable.

Ofsted also knows that lesson observation is only one tool among a range of evaluation methods for measuring teacher effectiveness and that evidence should be triangulated to make informed assessments.

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