Improving the overall quality of teaching should be a priority for any successful school yet it can be one of the most challenging aspects of a school’s work due to variations within schools.
School leaders need to look at ways to secure sustainable improvements in teaching and learning through developmental feedback and effective CPD.
Here are some important questions that leaders need to ask themselves and that they need to address in order to improve the quality of teaching and learning across the school.
How exactly does Ofsted judge the overall quality of teaching across the school?
Is your evaluation of the quality of teaching and learning based on a broad range of evidence including visits to lessons, student voice and pupil progress data?
How valid and reliable are lesson observation judgements?
Are observers aware of what might be ‘proxies’ for learning? For example, students are busy, students are engaged, interested, motivated, and getting attention, the classroom is calm and ordered but do any of these equate to real learning?
Do observers understand what ‘learning’ looks like in a classroom and can they therefore accurately assess the impact of the teaching on learning?
Do teachers and observers have the skills to assess how effectively teaching and assessment supports learning? What evaluative skills are required to log, analyse and evaluate these classroom interactions?
Does your department and your school all agree on what constitutes highly effective teaching and learning?
Is this reflected in your department’s development plans and priorities? Is there targeted and relevant CPD in place to support this? How do you measure the impact of CPD? Do these departmental priorities provide a focus for lesson observation?
Do observers understand how to write evaluative feedback when observing lessons?
How do we get better at writing evaluative feedback rather than a simple narrative of a lesson? Are the observer and teacher clear about which aspect of practice successfully or otherwise contributed to pupils’ learning and performance?
Is there the right culture in your school or department to improve teaching and learning?
Do you have the right colleagues leading teaching and learning, colleagues who get teachers excited about teaching, talking about teaching, taking risks and taking ownership of their own professional development?
Are you using the expertise in your school or department to develop others?
Have you identified best practice and is it being modelled and disseminated across the school or department? Are you building capacity to secure further improvements? Is there an ongoing culture of continuous improvement with teachers valuing and embracing professional development opportunities?
Are your observers giving effective verbal feedback?
Is there consistency across observers? Are they using coaching skills to encourage self-reflection and secure commitment to action?
Do you understand how Ofsted judges the leadership of teaching and learning?
Do you know what evidence Ofsted requires and how to present this? How do you demonstrate capacity for improvement? Do you know what your teachers would say to inspectors about the quality of teaching in your school?
Do you understand the range of development opportunities within a school that can bring radical change in this area?
Does your CPD programme focus on how students learn? Is your programme ‘bottom up’ rather than ‘top down’ and is it seen as something ‘done with’ colleagues as opposed to ‘done to’ colleagues?
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