Delivering Inspirational Creative Arts Education Since 2012

Ever get the feeling you‚Äôre being watched? Lesson observations… A good or bad thing?

Ever get the feeling you’re being watched?

Are observations a good or a bad thing?

A teacher that has never been observed is a teacher who has never taught! Good old Ofsted are always on hand to make sure they give us their ‘ten pennies’ worth when it comes to teaching to their standards. Government guidelines are the foundation that Ofsted use and they visit schools throughout the year monitoring how well the school is doing… how well the teachers are teaching!! And this is done through Observation. This is followed up with feedback and a grading of both individual teachers and a whole school grading. We could go into the pros and cons of Ofsted themselves, with their grading schemes, but that’ll be for another blog!!

Then there are in-house observations. These are done by heads and other members of staff. Again, this will be followed up with either verbal, written or both types of feedback, to help ‘You’ develop as a teacher. The feedback should always be constructive, yet fair and honest and should highlight positives as well as improvements.

Other external observations may include visits to check on supply teachers, just to make sure everything is ticking over nicely with the school they are working for.

Observations have always been controversial. There are teachers that totally agree with them, and there are teachers that are dead against them. So what are the pros and negatives for each?


They offer an outsider‚Äôs (usually a professional) point of view to your teaching style/ strategy. Thus making you take a step back and look at things from a different perspective. Your observer may notice things that you do, that you may not have noticed that you are doing yourself. The observer can also give advice on strategies that may work for them, should you be having any troubles in the classroom. An observation can also work as an ego boost, thus raising your confidence and making you feel like you belong in the job that you are doing‚Ķ we all like a bit of praise from time to time, and having a higher authority telling you that you are teaching wonderfully can be a real buzz! Recognising where you need to make improvements can only be a good thing. If you were to not recognise where your weaknesses were, you may continue giving lesser performance in the classroom. The government ‚ÄòMust‚Äô see lesson observations as good practice, otherwise there would be no such thing as Ofsted. Here is some guidelines I found on what Ofsted do…

OFSTED Inspection

Ofsted inspection of Initial Teacher Training and the observation of former trainees

Ofsted places a great deal of emphasis on lesson observation and on involving school leaders in the inspection process. Inspectors are likely to invite school leaders to participate in joint lesson observations.

Ofsted guidance makes it clear that lesson observations should enable inspectors to judge the accuracy of the school’s evaluation of teaching and learning. Ofsted guidance says that the key objectives of lesson observations are to evaluate the quality of learning and the contribution of teaching.

Lesson observation should focus on issues identified in the pre-inspection briefing with senior staff or from early inspection activity. Observations will include gathering evidence on how well particular groups of pupils and individual pupils are learning. Inspectors should use evidence from lesson observations to make detailed and specific recommendations to improve teaching and learning and make judgements about outcomes for pupils, provision and aspects of leadership and management.

Inspectors may use a range of strategies for observations, including part-lesson observations of 25 to 30 minutes, tracking of a class or group of pupils to assess pupils’ experience of a school day or part of a day, long observations of an hour or more, and/or short visits to a number of lessons.

Any of these observation strategies may be carried out jointly with the headteacher/senior member of staff. Guidance to inspectors makes it clear that a joint observation between the inspector and a member of the senior management should only take place if the teacher agrees to being jointly observed.

Inspectors should work to a protocol for feedback arrangements that the lead inspector has explained to the school. Inspectors must be proactive in offering feedback to teachers. 

Feedback should address the main strengths and weaknesses of the activity observed, focusing on:

  • pupils‚Äô learning and the teacher‚Äôs contribution to it;
  • the quality of what was seen;
  • how it could be improved.

Where possible inspectors should comment on:

  • the context and content of the lesson ;
  • where it fits into a sequence or programme of lessons;
  • other teaching and learning activities that the teacher uses;
  • professional development experience related to teaching;
  • the extent to which leaders monitor teaching and provide pedagogical guidance and support for teachers;
  • the nature and impact of performance management.

Inspectors have now been instructed not to provide grades for individual lesson observations. This has been confirmed in Ofsted’s publication, Ofsted inspection – clarification for schools. This document can be accessed here (new window).


Instead of writing ‚Äòagainst‚Äô lesson observations, I have an article I found on TES that describes the negatives of observations…

‘Too often lesson observations alienate teachers, belittle¬†them professionally and compound¬†the stress in the profession’

Colin Harris

9th December 2015 at 11:47

The approach external agencies take to school improvement must be more collegiate and less confrontational, writes one celebrated headteacher

So your school receives a disappointing¬†inspection. This is bad enough,¬†but what inevitably follows is the arrival of the “hit squad”. Whatever confidence left in the establishment is quickly eroded by¬†the battery of observers, clipboards in hand, who appear with the sole aim¬†of improving the teachers. What generally happens, however, is the opposite: “Death by Observation.”

I am not denying that school improvement is crucial and that working to improve the quality of teachers and teaching is core to this mission. However, my problem is that too often the approach of the powers that be seems to focus solely on observation as the only way to get there. And yet this is generally an approach that is both flawed and ineffective.

In fact, I would say that in many ways it is obsolete. Normally it involves the same individuals, walking the same “learning walk”,¬†feeding back the same information. Time after time.

What other profession would do this to its most valuable and important asset, its practitioners?

These are the people who¬†have been trained and have achieved professional status doing the¬†very job that they’re being observed in. I was a good teacher, I believe, but without doubt¬†the majority,¬†if not all, of my teachers teach far better than I did.

While life has changed since I was in the classroom, the way you get the best from teachers has not. Observing them and often criticising them is not a recipe for improvement.

Peer-support offers so much more: working alongside, being supportive, offering direction if needed: encouragement and praise in equal measure. This model allows colleagues to grow professionally, and individuals feel part of the team, not like someone who is there to be knocked down. If it is done right, they feel they are all in the process of school improvement. Other aspects of staff development naturally come into the debate, and so data can be discussed, successes celebrated and failures analysed.

Throughout all of¬†this,¬†the children are kept fully in the centre of all thoughts, and let’s face it, this is why we all became teachers in the first place.

Many teacher observation practices¬†start¬†by alienating the teachers. They¬†belittle¬†them professionally and undoubtedly compound¬†the malaise and stress currently in the profession. There is pre-observation stress, then the actual observation and then the inevitable post-observation “rating”, all of¬†which can send many over the edge.

How pathetic to adopt an approach which is based on subjectivity.

Let’s go back to ensuring that observations¬†are an integral part of continuous professional dialogue. Let’s focus on the children, looking at their successes and seeing how as teachers we can get¬†all pupils¬†to reach for the stars. How can we make, also, every learning and teaching opportunity the best?

If we adopt this approach then headteachers, Ofsted, local authorities and academy chains may need to analyse, perhaps even research, how institutions can actually change. It is certainly not achieved by someone holding a clipboard. No, it’s by creating a staff team willing to look at their individual teaching, confident that when they speak they are not shouted down, bullied and undermined, confident they are¬†putting their¬†pupils at the very centre of the existence of the school.

I’d welcome¬†a hit squad targeting that as its mission.

Colin Harris is headteacher of Warren Park Primary School in Havant, Hampshire

What are your views on lesson observations?????  (Not following us?)

Share them with us on twitter, facebook, linked-in and google plus. Look for 1stNoteEducation and air your extremely valued views!!!

Andy T (1stNoteEducation post writer)


Share This Vacancy

Other Posts


Primary School Singing Teacher – Birmingham

Start Date: September 2024 Role: Weekly Sessions Location: Birmingham B12 Salary: £80 per Session   We are currently seeking a specialist, singing teacher confident in delivering


Primary School Music Teacher – Hertfordshire

Start Date: September 2024 Role: 1 day per week Location: Hertfordshire AL10 Salary: £135-£150 per day   About Our School Our client is an outstanding primary


SEN Music/Drama Teacher – Hillingdon

Job Fixed Term – 8 Weeks Start Date: Autumn 2024 Role: Full Time or Part Time Location: Hillingdon Rate: £145-£160 per day About Our School A

Sign up to our Newsletter

Receive regular updates from 1st Note Education on the lastest news.

1st Note Education Website Terms and Conditions

1. Acceptance of terms

Your access to and use of (“the Website”) is subject exclusively to these Terms and Conditions.

You will not use the Website for any purpose that is unlawful or prohibited by these Terms and Conditions. By using the Website you are fully accepting the terms, conditions and disclaimers contained in this notice. If you do not accept these Terms and Conditions you must immediately stop using the Website.

2. Advice

The contents of the Website does not constitute advice and should not be relied upon in making or refraining from making, any decision.

3. Changes to the Website

the Website reserves the right to:

3.1. change or remove (temporarily or permanently) the Website or any part of it without notice and you confirm that the Website shall not be liable to you for any such change or removal; and

3.2. change these Terms and Conditions at any time, and your continued use of the Website following any changes shall be deemed to be your acceptance of such change.

4. Copyright

4.1. All copyright, trade marks and all other intellectual property rights in the Website and its content (including without limitation the Website design, text, graphics and all software and source codes connected with the Website) are owned by or licensed to the Website or otherwise used by the Website as permitted by law.

4.2. In accessing the Website you agree that you will access the content solely for your personal, non-commercial use. None of the content may be downloaded, copied, reproduced, transmitted, stored, sold or distributed without the prior written consent of the copyright holder. This excludes the downloading, copying and/or printing of pages of the Website for personal, non-commercial home use only.

5. Disclaimers and limitation of liability

5.1. The Website is provided on an “AS IS” and “AS AVAILABLE” basis without any representation or endorsement made and without warranty of any kind whether express or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of satisfactory quality, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement, compatibility, security and accuracy.

5.2. To the extent permitted by law, the Website will not be liable for any indirect or consequential loss or damage whatever (including without limitation loss of business, opportunity, data, profits) arising out of or in connection with the use of the Website.

5.3. the Website makes no warranty that the functionality of the Website will be uninterrupted or error free, that defects will be corrected or that the Website or the server that makes it available are free of viruses or anything else which may be harmful or destructive.

5.4. Nothing in these Terms and Conditions shall be construed so as to exclude or limit the liability of the Website for death or personal injury as a result of the negligence of the Website or that of its employees or agents.

6. Links to third party websites

The Website may include links to third party websites that are controlled and maintained by others. Any link to other websites is not an endorsement of such websites and you acknowledge and agree that we are not responsible for the content or availability of any such sites.

7. Indemnity

You agree to indemnify and hold the Website and its employees and agents harmless from and against all liabilities, legal fees, damages, losses, costs and other expenses in relation to any claims or actions brought against the Website arising out of any breach by you of these Terms and Conditions or other liabilities arising out of your use of this Website.

8. Severance

If any of these Terms and Conditions should be determined to be invalid, illegal or unenforceable for any reason by any court of competent jurisdiction then such Term or Condition shall be severed and the remaining Terms and Conditions shall survive and remain in full force and effect and continue to be binding and enforceable.

9. Governing Law

These Terms and Conditions shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the law of England and you hereby submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

10. 1st Note Education Privacy Policy


1st Note Education respect individuals’ rights over their personal data. We are committed to ensuring that people are treated fairly in everything we do. This Privacy and Cookie Notice (“Notice”) outlines:

Type of personal information held

Personal information collected by us usually falls into the following categories:

  • Temporary contractor information submitted and obtained from the temporary contractor and other sources in connection with applications for work
  • Work performance information
  • Information about incidents in the workplace
  • Staff information
  • Information submitted and obtained in relation to absences from work due to leave, illness or other causes

Information obtained to assist in managing client and business relationships 

How we may collect personal data about you

Where this Notice refers to ‘personal data’ it is referring to data about you (or other living people) from which you (or they) could be identified – such as name, date of birth or contact details.

This Notice applies to all personal data processed by 1st Note Education about its registered teachers and teachers contact dater base This includes data gathered via third parties, such as social media and job sites, and which is therefore also covered by their own Privacy Polices.

This policy was last updated on 18th May 2018. Any updates will be posted to this version of the policy. If you wish to see a previous version of the policy, or have any other questions, please get in touch.

1st Note Education may collect personal data from you via means such as:

  • In person, when you speak to one of our representatives
  • Through a telephone call, either where you call us or we call you
  • On paper, such as if you complete a registration form or send us information via post
  • Digitally, such as if you fill in a form on a website or interact with the us online
  • When you offer or ask about, or take part in company activities
  • When you enter into a transaction with 1st Note Education, such as registering, purchasing a product or paying for an event
  • Indirectly from other public records or sources, including Job Site register which 1st Note Education is legally entitled to.
  • On social media platforms, where you have made the information public, or you have made   the information available in a social media forum run by 1st Note Education.

We may collect personal data about you such as:

  • Name
  • Contact details (e.g. email address, address, telephone / mobile number)
  • Date of birth
  • Future communication preferences
  • DBS
  • ID
  • Other demographic information
  • Issues you raise

We may also collect information when you interact with 1st Note Education digitally, such as by visiting one of our websites or communicating with one of our social media channels. This may include additional data to that above, such as:

  • Your device, browser or operating system
  • Details of the links that you click and the content that you view
  • Your username or social media handle
  • Any other information you share when using third party sites (e.g. sending a tweet or using the Like function on Facebook). We may also place one or more cookies on your device. For further details on this, see below.
  • We may also collect information about you from other public sources, such as, Companies House or other commercially available sources. We only do so where those sources are lawfully permitted to share the data with us and where we have a legal basis to process data from such sources. This may include, for example, checking the eligibility to work in the UK and may include additional data to that above.

How we may use your personal data

We may use your personal data to further our objectives, we use and analyse your information to keep in touch with you and to supply and improve our services. We will also use your information to tell you about services that we think may interest you and/or contact you in future. Examples of the way we may use your data include to:

  • Tell you about policies, career opportunity’s that may be of interest to you
  • Respond to queries that you raise with us
  • Conduct training activities, including checking your eligibility to apply for vacancy’s
  • Manage our sites and services

For more specific information about how we use your data for these activities, and the legal basis on which we rely to process your data in this way, please see the ‘Why 1st Note Education is allowed to use your information in this way’ part of this Notice.

Why 1st Note Education is allowed to use your information in this way

If you have provided us with your email, mobile phone number or landline phone number and we have a legal right to use them for such purposes, we may use that information to contact you to promote causes and campaigns that we support, such as by sending you an email, online advert, or a text message.

We will respect any registration you hold with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) except where you have opted in to receive phone calls on that number from us.

You may opt out of communications from us at any time.

The circumstances under which we may share your personal data or disclose it to others.

Depending on how and why you provide us with your personal data it may be shared within 1st Note Education our representatives or with companies that provide services to 1st Note Education (“service providers”).

In addition, we may share your personal data with third parties when we are required to do so by law (for example, with the Police where they ask us to assist them with their investigations).

However, save for the limited circumstances noted above, we will never pass your personal data to any unrelated third parties unless you have given us your permission to do so.

For example, if you choose to register with us we will need to process your personal data to record that you have given us your support in this way. A contract will be put in place between you and us and we will process your personal data to the extent that we need to in order to fulfil our obligations under that contract.

Similarly, you may from time to time give us your consent to send you communications by e-mail (or similar mediums) which promote our work. Where you do that we will use your details to send you those kinds of communications until you tell us otherwise. Should you ever ask us to stop sending those kinds of communications we will hold your details on file to ensure that we respect that request – we justify that retention on the basis that we have a legitimate interest in holding your data in that way.

Finally, where we have received your personal data in the various ways described above, we may continue to hold it as part of our records after the relevant processing has stopped. We hold data in this way because we have a legitimate interest in doing so. Specifically, where you have registered (or have otherwise engaged with us such as by attending an event, or by responding to a survey or questionnaire) we have a legitimate interest in holding your personal data to help us to monitor the numbers and the diversity of people who engage with us, as well as a legitimate interest in making sure that we can follow up any complaints or grievances which you may raise (or which people may raise about you).

Additional details about cookies and technical information

A cookie is a small text file placed on your device when you visit a website. You can accept or decline cookies through your browser settings or other software. By using our sites, you are consenting to our use of cookies in accordance with this Notice. If you do not agree to our use of cookies, then you should set your browser or other software settings accordingly.

1st Note Education takes the protection of your information very seriously. We protect your personal data when appropriate, and all the information provided to 1st Note Education is stored securely once we receive it. People working or volunteering on behalf of 1st Note Education only have access to the information they need, and the web servers are stored in a high-security environment. 1st Note Education may store your personal data on secure servers either on our premises or in third party data centres.

Data retention policies

We only keep your personal data for as long as required to meet the purposes set out in this Notice, unless a longer retention period is required by law. For example, this may include holding your data after you have ceased to engage with 1st Note Education (such as by resigning with us) where we have a legitimate interest in doing so, such as to enable us to respond effectively to grievances that may arise after you cease to engage with us. Where we collect and hold your details as part of our public interest work, this may also include retaining those details for as long as you remain a registered.

Where permitted by law, we may also save personal data for archiving purposes in the public interest, including historical research.

Your rights over personal data

You have legal rights over any of your personal data that we hold.

Right of Access

You may, at any time, request access to the personal data that we hold which relates to you (sometimes called a subject access request).

This right entitles you to receive a copy of the personal data that we hold about you. It is not a right that allows you to request personal data about other people, or a right to request specific documents from us that do not relate to your personal data.

Right to rectification and erasure

You may, at any time, request that we correct personal data that we hold about you which you believe is incorrect or inaccurate. You may also ask us to erase personal data if you do not believe that we need to continue retaining it (sometimes called ‘the right to be forgotten’).

Please note that we may ask you to verify any new data that you provide to us and may take our own steps to check that the new data you have supplied us with is accurate. Further, we are not always obliged to erase personal data when asked to do so; if for any reason we believe that we have a good legal reason to continue processing personal data that you ask us to erase we will tell you what that reason is at the time we respond to your request.

Right to restrict processing

Where we process your personal data on the legal basis of us having a legitimate interest to do so, you are entitled to ask us to stop processing it in that way if you feel that our continuing to do so impacts on your fundamental rights and freedoms or if you feel that those legitimate interests are not valid.

You may also ask us to stop processing your personal data (a) if you dispute the accuracy of that personal data and want us verify its accuracy; (b) where it has been established that our use of the data is unlawful but you do not want us to erase it; (c) where we no longer need to process your personal data (and would otherwise dispose of it) but you wish for us to continue storing it in order to enable you to establish, exercise or defend legal claims.

If for any reason we believe that we have a good legal reason to continue processing personal data that you ask us to stop processing, we will tell you what that reason is, either at the time we first respond to your request or after we have had the opportunity to consider and investigate it.

Right to stop receiving communications

Wherever possible, we will provide you with a choice about how we can contact you to share information about 1st Note Education. You can opt out of communications at any time by emailing  It may take several days for requests submitted this way to become effective on our systems, or by the methods described below.


If you provide us with your email address and indicate that we may do so (e.g. by subscribing to an email distribution list or by ‘opting in’ through the web site) we may send you further information about 1st Note Education in the future. These communications will take the form of e-mails promoting us and our work.

You can request that you cease to receive these kinds of communications from us at any time. The easiest way to do so is to use the unsubscribe link provided at the bottom of any e-mail messages that we send to you.

SMS Messages

If you provide your mobile phone number, we may call or send you text messages if you have given us permission to do so. You may request to stop receiving SMS messages at any point.

You can stop receiving SMS text messages by emailing unsubscribe to . It may take several days for requests submitted this way to become effective on our systems.

Online Advertising

If you provide us with your email address or telephone number we may use it to ensure online adverts you receive from us are relevant to you. These communications will take the form of online adverts promoting us and our work.

You can opt out of online advertising at any time by  emailing unsubscribe to . It may take several days for requests submitted this way to become effective on our systems.


While all of our direct marketing communications contain details of how you can stop receiving them in the future you can either follow those instructions (such as using the unsubscribe link in an email or telling a telephone caller), visit  or ask us directly using the contact details below. If you do the latter, please provide us with full details of the telephone numbers, postal addresses, email addresses and so on to which you wish us to stop sending communications to in order to help us deal with your request quickly and accurately.

We will process any requests to stop receiving communications as quickly and comprehensively as is practical although there may in some cases be further communications already on their way to you which cannot be stopped.

If you ask us to stop sending you information (e.g. by email, post, phone or SMS text), we may keep a record of your information to make sure we do not contact you again, up until the normal retention period for that type of data.

Please note that this right to stop communications does not apply to emails that we send to you that are a necessary part of us providing a service to you (such as messaging you about your status as a registered teacher or volunteer for example) or us notifying you about how your personal data is being used.