The Cult of Outstanding™: the problem with 'outstanding' lessons

2014-01-16T13:26:35+00:00January 16th, 2014|learning, myths|

First of all I need to come clean. Up until pretty recently I was a fully paid up member of the Cult of Outstanding™. Last January I considered myself to be a teacher at the height of my powers. In the spirit of self-congratulation I posted a blog entitled Anatomy of an Outstanding Lesson in which I detailed a lesson which I confidently supposed was the apotheosis of great teaching, and stood back to receive plaudits. And indeed they were forthcoming. I was roundly congratulated and felt myself extraordinarily clever. And then Cristina Milos got in touch to tell me that there was no [...]

Why can’t we tell a good teacher through lesson observations?

2020-07-17T15:38:53+01:00August 23rd, 2013|leadership, learning, myths|

No teacher is so good - or so bad - that he or she cannot improve. Dylan Wiliam The English education system is obsessed with ascertaining the quality of teachers. And what with the great and the good telling us that teacher quality is the most important ingredient in pupils' success then maybe it's small wonder.  As Michael Barber says, "the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers." And taken in the round, assessing teacher quality and then working to develop teachers is an entirely laudable aim. Bizarrely though, many schools seem incapable of seeing beyond [...]

Where lesson observations go wrong

2015-12-16T11:49:39+00:00July 12th, 2013|Featured, training|

UPDATE: Since writing this post in July 2013 a lot has happened. Ofsted has stopped grading individual lessons and many schools have recognised the futility and harm caused by lesson grading. Here is my most recent post on the subject. Can we define an outstanding lesson? No. I get asked this regularly, and I've really tried. But I don't think it's possible. I can describe a specific example of a lesson which was judged as outstanding, but that really isn't helpful for three reasons. 1) Stand alone lessons don't provide evidence of much except the performance of the teacher and the students [...]

Live Lesson Obs: Making lesson observations formative

2013-07-19T09:22:37+01:00February 3rd, 2013|Featured, leadership, learning|

You can push and prod people into something better than mediocrity, but you have to encourage excellence. David Lammy We've all experienced the dread and agony of formal lesson observations, haven't we? We've sweated blood over our preparations, filled in inch thick lesson plans and obsessed over meaningless details in our presentations. Or is that just me? A while back now I read something (I forget exactly what) by Phil Beadle which went along the lines of "Be brilliant and they'll forgive you anything." This nugget has rattled around in my stony heart ever since with the result that I've started [...]

Myths: what Ofsted want

2012-03-17T16:14:40+00:00March 17th, 2012|English, myths|

With galling hypocrisy and seemingly no sense of irony, Ofsted have released their latest subject report for English snappily titled, Moving English Forward. The report is a step by step guide on how to suck eggs. Apparently, teachers should concentrate on engendering a passion for learning instead of worrying about all the waggle of passing exams! Who knew? Apart from its obvious interest to English specialists, there's stuff in here that all teachers will benefit from knowing. Moving English forward View more documents from Ofsted Possibly the most immediately pertinent information for all teachers is contained in the section Some common myths [...]

Are teacher observations a waste of time?

2013-08-24T15:18:16+01:00February 24th, 2012|assessment, training|

"I never allow teachers or school leaders to visit classrooms to observe teachers; I allow them to observe only students". John Hattie (2012) I've been mulling this statement over for the past few weeks and it seems to boil down to this: are we interested in how teachers teach, or how students learn? It's become a truism in recent times to say that just because a teacher is teaching there is no guarantee that students are learning anything. But, if you walk into a classroom it's hard not to look at the teacher. Especially if they're standing at the front delivering [...]

What's the point of lesson observations?

2011-07-17T11:35:16+01:00July 17th, 2011|Featured|

I feel I need to start by saying that I am not questioning the need for lesson observations. They're a crucial part of developing our professional practice and ensure T&L is quality assured. No, what this post is really concerned with is asking what we hope to achieve by observing teachers. For some time now I have been musing on the purpose of lesson observations  as well as considering new ways to encourage staff to develop their teaching practice. This has been merrily percolating at the back of my brain for some time but has now, I hope, turned into something a [...]

Go to Top