Time for schools to stop grading lessons.

Time for schools to stop grading individual lessons. 

I did my first inspection under the new framework in September 2015 (I’ve now done more!). I didn’t lead, for the first time in a long time and it was interesting to watch another Lead Inspector (LI) work. More importantly, however, I was able to do more lesson observations than usual (Ofsted still call them ‘observations’, Which I believe is a mistake, they should be called ‘lesson visits’. On Ofsted, I’d rather call all visits to lessons exactly that; a ‘lesson visit’, but that’s a personal wish). The great thing was, though, was that for the first time *ever* in my 8 years of inspecting, I didn’t have to write a number in the “Quality of Teaching” box. 

It was incredibly freeing! Instead of playing games with language – inspectors have been expected to avoid giving grades for a while, though many have found the difficult, I know – I was able to set a protocol right from the start: please don’t expect any kind of grade from my visit to your classroom. 

Instead, I was able to have a much more interesting and I think, useful, conversation around the teaching and learning which I’d seen, with a professional who was able to listen without the worry of a grade hanging over them. All the inspections I’ve done since this have reinforced my first impressions. 

In the inspection room, the grades summary sheet had no column for “Quality of Teaching” – really, there wasn’t! – and the judgement for quality of teaching was arrived at by looking at many sources of information, including progress across the school. Examples of lessons seen were discussed, as were strengths and weaknesses seen in teaching across the school, but individual lesson grades were studiously avoided (and are in every inspection, now).

Update, Feb 2015. I’ve just completed a lead and as usual now, the team had no difficulty in assessing teaching quality, though no grades were given to any lesson visit.  

So, my question is: If Ofsted can do this, why can’t school leaders?

Come on HTs. It’s time to stop grading lessons!!

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