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The Observer – Headmaster’s Blog 23 January 2014

January 23, 2014

We live in a society with a high-degree of CCTV coverage and have got used to being observed, albeit unobtrusively and no doubt with a sense of unease. Pupils in schools are observed all the time areidlowres41whether formally in a class or games’ setting or more informally whilst they are at play. Pupils are, of course, given feedback on how they perform either orally, through comments at the end of work or routinely by reports. All of this keeps them on their toes and able to respond positively to constructive criticism and advice.
Staff, too, are being observed by their charges but only rarely do pupils get to comment formally on how they are being taught. Some teachers do have a feedback system at the end of a course or topic and this helps inform good practice for the next time they teach in this area. More formally staff are observed during a school inspection and also (on a regular basis) as part of their appraisal or performance management. This is peer observation by their Head of Department or Line Manager. Many staff, not least in the younger part of the school, are regularly involved in team teaching a class or set.
Last term I had the opportunity to be part of an ISI inspection team at another school. As part of my work there I undertook around a dozen formal lesson observations. I have now started to do this formally at Ballard (on top of the more informal dropping in and out of lessons at all ages and stages of the school). I have started with our Leadership Team and am working down through the Senior Management Team (SMT) to the subject and class teachers at the rate of two or three lessons a week. So far I have been able to see six different subject areas across the Y3 to Y11 age range. This has allowed me to observe how the pupils respond to different teaching approaches and styles as well as to gain a sense of the complexity of their multi-subject day! For my colleagues, whilst no doubt nervy to have the Head as a ‘fly on the wall’ making notes and giving comments after each lesson, I hope this has been an encouraging and helpful exercise. I know that it has helped me think more carefully about how I deliver my lessons in the classroom and on the games’ field! I have to say, however, that I have been mightily impressed to date with the high quality of learning and teaching which is going on as well as the breadth of education being given – and received!

Alastair Reid

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