Quality of Teaching and Learning – From Good To Outstanding


Quality of teaching and learning







There is currently a lot of blogging, discussions and debating going on around the subject of Lesson Observations and ofsted lesson observation criteria.  Especially in response to the  January 2014 Ofsted School Inspection Handbook and Subsidiary Guidance updates (we wait to see if the same type of update will be applied to Further Education and Skills). 

It appears that many of those in education are in agreement with Michael Wilshaw, Head of Ofsted, when he says

‘There is so much more that could be said about teaching without infringing the professional judgement of teachers to decide the most appropriate style of teaching to get the best out of their students.’
          Extract from HMCI’s message to Inspectors 22 January 2014 regarding teaching

With this in mind it is worth reminding ourselves of what should be the ultimate aims of any Lesson Observation process, namely,

****  1) To improve the quality of teaching, learning and assessment.
****  2) To raise learners’ progress and achievement In the extract Michael Wilshaw puts the question:

‘Does the school have a robust professional development programme which is improving the quality of teaching by disseminating good practice across the school or college.’

Ofsted Lesson Observation Criteria

 A similar question has been put forward by Matthew Coffey, Ofsted’s  Director of Further Education and Skills when he has said that what inspectors will be seeking is evidence a provider has to demonstrate it understands the performance of its staff so that it can better target CPD. 

Effective and meaningful observation in teaching is a vital contributor to an individual’s profession development programme and provides the information required to facilitate dissemination of good practice. 

However it is important that your staff are onboard with the process.  They need to understand the reason why they are being observed.  It should not be a stressful experience, but motivating resulting in unbiased constructive feedback.   The chances of this happening are increased if staff have been involved in the design of the observation of teaching process and most importantly observers have the knowledge and skill required to not only observe but to give effective feedback. 

With this in mind observation judgements must be based on easy to understand criteria that will help achieve the ultimate aims of the process. 

Here are 5 examples of criteria applied by Ofsted: 

  1. The teacher/tutor  demonstrates a high degree of subject knowledge throughout the session and can clarify learners ’ understanding through appropriate questioning.
  2. The pace of the lesson is good because the teacher/tutor is proactive and dynamic in the classroom.
  3. Every opportunity is taken to develop english and maths skills
  4. Tasks are challenging and match learners’ needs accurately.
  5. Comprehensive, timely feedback and SMART targets give a clear indication of what learners have to do to improve.