Top Ten Things I've Learned From This Blog: Number 2 Managers are able to manipulate the results of lesson observations

I am very aware that I sound very cynical when I say this, and sound like I have had a bad lesson observation and am trying to blame someone else for it, so I made doubly sure that I think this is the case before I wrote about this. There are just too many people who I’ve met who say the same for this to not be true.

Managers can engineer a poor grade at lesson observation if they want to. For example, they can choose to observe a notoriously badly behaved group, last lesson on a Friday before the Christmas holidays, teaching in an unsuitable room, teaching in a non-specialist subject, when the teaching assistant usually present is off sick, and there is an IT technician coming in and out all lesson working on the broken computer in the corner.

Or, they could come for the first lesson of the day, in the new computer suite, mid-term, to watch a top set who have two excellent teaching assistants attached. All of those things are completely outside of the teacher’s control – and they are all things which will have an impact on the grade they receive for that lesson observation.

Not only that, but I believe that the lesson grading criteria are open to a lot of suggestion, spin and twisting so that no matter what is seen, a case can be made to give that lesson any grade that is desired. Parts can be ignored. Parts of the lesson can be blown out of all proportion. Phrases like “Pupils make good progress,” are on there.

It’s so subjective, and so open to interpretation. A manager would have to use their own judgement to arrive at a conclusion: it is not a case of gathering evidence and arriving at a score that can then be verified independently, you are reliant on them saying there and then what the result is. They can say what they want, and that power is very often abused.

Have your lesson observations ever been set up for failure?


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