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Classroom observation and other monitoring: the statutory position in England - September 2012

Commonly, it has been asserted that teachers can only be observed for a maximum of 3 hours per year. This is not true.

The 2012 Appraisal Regulations do not impose any limit on the time for classroom observation that may be planned for any appraisal cycle, in England. While many school appraisal policies do include such a limit, this applies only to classroom observation that is included in the appraisal planning statement. Schools may need to arrange classroom observation for other purposes.

It is desirable that the evidence from classroom observations carried out for appraisal is used to inform other purposes, but head teachers are required to put in place such additional monitoring arrangements as their professional judgement dictates. Teachers are similarly required to co-operate.

 It would not be in the interests of any of those involved, to make arrangements for “additional” monitoring, where the information is available from other sources.

The arrangements for such “additional monitoring” may involve the head teacher in the reasonable delegation of the monitoring activities to appropriate colleagues. These will usually be members of the Leadership Group or TLR post holders, but may also be subject co-ordinators.

Monitoring may take a form that is not accurately described as a lesson observation, which is usually of teaching and learning. Instead, for example, it may have a focus on the standards attained by the children, the impact of programmes of study on learning or on pupil behaviour. The monitoring might, for example, involve: work scrutiny; analysis of assessment results; or an examination of lesson planning records. It may also be “light touch” and relatively informal.

If a head teacher is challenged in relation to the school’s programme of monitoring, that is carried out in addition to observations for appraisal purposes, it may be helpful to be aware of the statutory basis for exploding the myth cited above.

Statutory Framework

There are 2 statutory provisions that are especially important:

- The Education (School Government) (Terms of Reference)(England) Regulations 2000, which give the head teacher “responsibility for the internal organisation, management and control of the school.”

- The School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document 2012 (The Document).

Relevant paragraphs of the Document

Professional Duties of Head Teachers

54.2  A head teacher’s duties must be carried out in accordance with and subject  to the following -

(a) in the case of a school which has a delegated budget-

(i)  any rules, regulations or policies made by the governing body and for which they are responsible; and

(ii) any rules, regulations or policies made by the authority with respect to matters for which the governing body is not so responsible;

Commentary:

As the head teacher’s duties must be carried out in accordance with the policies of the governing body and the local authority, the teachers in the school must also be bound to comply with any such policies. Head teachers may wish to consider whether their governing body should consider the adoption of any additional or revised policy, which might support the head teacher in their day to day management of the school.

56.1  A head teacher may be required to undertake the following duties -

56.3 Develop, implement and evaluate the school’s policies, practices and procedures.

Commentary:

This paragraph gives the head teacher the responsibility for evaluating practices within the school. The practices must include Teaching and Learning. Such evaluation cannot take place without appropriate monitoring.

This paragraph is separate from those relating to managing performance, so clearly must be in addition to any activities carried out under the appraisal regulations.

56.4  Lead and manage teaching and learning throughout the school. 

Commentary: 

It is inconceivable that the duty to manage teaching and learning can be discharged without the ability to monitor and evaluate. While Appraisal will be a valuable source of evidence, there is no direct linkage or limitation.

56.7  Ensure good order and discipline amongst pupils and staff.

Commentary:

Similarly, it is inconceivable that this duty can be discharged without the right to monitor at first hand.

56.8   Lead, manage and develop the school workforce, including assessing and managing performance.

Commentary:

This paragraph makes it clear that this duty includes assessing and managing performance, so is not limited to Appraisal

Professional Duties of Teachers

These include:

61.11 Contribute to the recruitment, selection, appointment and professional development of other teachers and support staff

61.13 Participate in arrangements for the appraisal and review of their own performance, and, where appropriate, that of other teachers and support staff.

61.14 Participate in arrangements for their own training and professional development, and, where appropriate, that of other teachers and support staff including induction.

Commentary:

These paragraphs establish the duty of teachers to participate in monitoring activities, which extend beyond Appraisal.

The Multiple use of information

Information gathered during classroom observations and other monitoring activities may be used for a variety of purposes, including:

- Informing school self evaluation;

- Informing school improvement strategies;

- Assisting the head teacher to discharge his/her duty to monitor and evaluate the standards of teaching and learning and ensuring that proper standards of professional performance are established and maintained.

The aim should be to streamline data collection, minimising bureaucracy and workload burdens, to support the school in bringing downward pressure on working hours for all staff.

A key aim should be to reduce the need for classroom observation and other evidence collection, through the avoidance of duplication.

Schools may wish to devise a standard evidence collection form [for classroom observation, scrutiny of work etc… ] that may be used for Appraisal and also for other monitoring and evaluation.

There could be a separate section of such a form that allows “Ofsted grades” to be recorded. These could be shared with the teacher if they wish [optional] but their primary purpose would be to provide evidence for school self evaluation.

Any opposition to the use of “Ofsted grades” is likely to be minimised if there is a clear understanding that these will not be used as part of appraisal, even if they are collected through that process.

 

Links to Other NAHT Documents

Classroom Observation Protocol

Model Policy for Appraising Teacher Performance

Page Published: 17/10/2011