Last evening on Twitter, the question was posed among tweachers, as to whether or not there was a direct link between Lesson Observation gradings and class performance progress. I joined in the debate, stating that there is a direct link in my school and that I have the statistical evidence to support my judgement.
One of my esteemed colleagues pointed out that there is a distinct lack of empirical evidence in this highly contentious area; after all – what is the purpose of lesson observations, often highly stressful for teachers, if not to support and enhance learning? As Dr Mark Evans @teachitso has so eloquently pointed out, there is a need for evidence-based learning in our profession, as we search and scrabble around ourselves for solutions. Should we be VAK-ing? Brain-gyming? And is there a real purpose to lesson observations? The end here needs to justify the means, surely.
During half term, I’ve conducted a careful analysis of pupil progress data and the results DIRECTLY reflect lesson observation analysis – and here my judgements have been backed up by an external consultant, so I am assured they are accurate and not swayed by my personal understanding of our pupil progress data. And this being my first year at this school, I am free from preconceptions. At this point, I could chart the data – copy and paste – (and would share if asked, if evidence were required for research), but suffice it here for me to maintain some anonymity, to spare my teachers’ blushes……
My most effective teacher has added an average of 5.5 APS over the year to their pupil’s progress – a stunning result; needless to say, their’s are the highest lesson judgements – always good/outstanding – and I do mean always – learning walks, drop-ins etc. This is a class full of SEN/FSM children with many ongoing TACs. In Maths alone, 35% of the pupils entered the class “on-track” performance-wise; now 90% attaining as they should (in line with National expectations).
Teachers that have been judged “good” throughout the year have added value to their children’s progress – a little over the average expected progress, thereby closing gaps and ensuring their percentage class APS score is now in line with national expectations, having begun the academic year below them.
My satisfactory teachers have added the expected amount of progress – not more, not less.
So we share – we operate a collegiate approach – peer observations, practice-sharing, pupil progress meetings – my effective teachers, Maths specialist teacher and myself make ourselves available to take colleagues’ classes whilst they observe – always with time for detailed analysis post-lesson. The list of ways to share outstanding practice are endless….but I would maintain that any Head should undertake such analysis in their school – after all, if good progress is evident, if outstanding practice is evident, it NEEDS to be shared and tapped into, to ensure even progress throughout the school and fairness for our children.
Next blog….what constitutes effective teaching/learning? How do we rate our teachers and when can we give an outstanding rating?