Effective classroom observation in primary and secondary schools - October 2014

Summary

This report is published in response to a request for advice about effective classroom observation from the Welsh Government in the Minister’s annual remit letter to Estyn 2013-2014. The report is intended for the Welsh Government, headteachers, staff in schools, local authorities and regional consortia. It may also be of interest to parents and staff in other sectors and agencies who work with schools to improve the quality of teaching and learning. The main focus of this survey report is to identify how schools use classroom observation most effectively to improve pupils’ standards of achievement. This survey identifies how effective classroom observation can help teachers to improve teaching and learning and help leaders to improve to support initiatives that will enhance the professional development of all staff.
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Recommendations

School leaders should:

  • establish a shared culture of improvement, self-evaluation and professional learning so that all staff understand their roles and responsibilities;
  • establish self-evaluation practices that take account of a wide range of evidence, including classroom observation that focuses primarily on pupils’ standards of achievement and on the quality of teaching and learning;
  • develop clear, explicit classroom observation policies and practices that all staff understand and apply;
  • engage in professional dialogue with teachers and support staff soon after classroom observation;
  • arrange professional development opportunities for staff, based on evidence that includes classroom observation, that are matched to school and individual priorities;
  • for classroom observations that require judgements, develop grade descriptors and moderation procedures to ensure consistency; and
  • train as peer inspectors in order to be able to align and share their practice with that of others as inspectors.

Local authorities and consortia should:

  • help schools with strong improvement, self-evaluation and professional learning cultures and effective classroom observation to share their practice with other schools.

The Welsh Government should:

  • provide opportunities for schools with strong improvement, self-evaluation and professional learning cultures and effective classroom observation to share their practice on the Learning Wales website.