1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

How long can learning walks last?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by WombatStewForTea, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. WombatStewForTea

    WombatStewForTea New commenter

    As part of what feels like an endless cycle of monitoring we have just been told to expect learning walks lasting 'approximate half an hour'.

    When they took place last term they were only 10 minutes!

    I know they like to use learning walks as a way to get in more than their three observations a year.

    I've just checked union guidance and it says that they class learning walks as observations and that formal observations can total no more than three hours a year. Last term observations were only half an hour so they are under this limit.

    But half an hour is surely ridiculous?
  2. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    They can last all day if the head wants them to.

    Your union can think what it likes - but there are no laws and so the head can do what the head wants as far as people walking round the school seeing what happens is concerned.
    GLsghost likes this.
  3. johnberyl

    johnberyl Occasional commenter

    Learning walks are indeed covered by the Action Short of Strike Action instructions. If you are a member of either the NASUWT or the NUT you are protected by your union in following their instruction to take this industrial action. Do contact your regional rep for detailed advice. Your rep may well write to your HT.

    I would add that, if your Head belongs to the NAHT, as this union is now affiliated to the TUC, its members should not undermine the lawfully balloted action of another union or unions which are affiliated to the TUC such as the NASUWT/NUT.
    Resolve likes this.
  4. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    So - if the head is walking round the school, what - exactly - are such union members supposed to in their 'action short of strike action'? Stop him/her entering their classroom?
    GLsghost likes this.
  5. WombatStewForTea

    WombatStewForTea New commenter

    Walking around - fine
    It's plonking themselves in the back of my room for half an hour that annoys me!
    Surely if they are staying for half an hour it becomes more of a formal observation that popping through?
  6. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    It's only a "formal observation" if it gets written up as such.
  7. WombatStewForTea

    WombatStewForTea New commenter

    It does get written up with everything that would be in a lesson observation feedback, including targets, just on a slightly smaller piece of paper!
    Noja, aspensquiver and johnberyl like this.
  8. slingshotsally

    slingshotsally Star commenter

    Monitoring/ learning walks/ low level disruption checks/ team teaching/ book checks/ marking scrutinise/ peer mentoring....

    Today I was supposed to have a low level disruption check for 20 mins, it started before I even got in the class (leading children in from play time during which I was on duty). This then turned in to lesson observation for, and did not end until I led children out for lunch time....

    So Wombatstew... When was your last OFSTED, what were last year's results and so SLT are looking to cull from UPS?
  9. slingshotsally

    slingshotsally Star commenter

    Formal investigation only if written up... Thanks Middlemarch. All the walking around is being written up, I have a form as long as my arm. Apparently they are doing this to everyone even though it's supposed to be informal.
  10. old_dobbin

    old_dobbin Occasional commenter

    This is absolute madness. Before I retired , for thirty five years, there were no "learning walks". Standards were higher then , with less grade inflation , less cheating and far less pointless anxiety. Something strange and weird is going on in this country . Teachers seem not to be trusted at all but all of this scrutiny and endless bureaucracy has only a negative effect, achieving nothing.
  11. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    Unfortunately the three hour rule is just guidance and no longer 'law (if it ever was.) So schools can theoretically learning walk anyone they like to death. Effectively, all teachers are now under constant Mocksted/capability.
    Dragonlady30 and Middlemarch like this.
  12. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter


    There was a time when the Head or a member of senior staff would wander into the classroom and you wouldn't bat an eyelid. They might tell a pupil off if they thought they weren't behaving so the teacher felt supported. Now more often than not they are there with an agenda to observe and criticise the teacher.

    Now they come into a classroom with a clipboard and with no notice it's an instant observation. Just before I left my head of department would come in at random with a clip board and start making notes. I'd then get some feedback a couple of days later with the lesson graded.

    The thing is, if we are to be honest no teacher can bang out good and outstanding lessons all the time. Teaching is often about compromises. The requirements are near on impossible to tick all the boxes and so when someone comes barging into a lesson with no notice then it is very stressful because you know that you'll have missed something.
  13. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Learning walks and drop-ins
    The NASUWT regards ‘learning walks’ to be lesson observations. Teachers should only be observed in accordance with their performance management planning statement. Teachers should not agree to any observations, including learning walks, that are not in their statement or that take them over the three-hour lesson observation limit.

    A headteacher has a duty to evaluate the standards of teaching and learning and has a right to use ‘drop-ins’ to inform their monitoring of the quality of learning. Where the headteacher genuinely operates a drop-in of a few minutes and this does not involve formal observation of teaching but focuses on pupils’ learning, it would not be classed as a lesson observation. However, if the headteacher focuses on the teacher or makes notes on the teacher’s performance or uses the visit for any other purpose the visit would be classed as a lesson observation.
  14. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter

    When the informal learning walks started and the HT walked in I would stop what I was doing and look expectantly at the HT, waiting for them to impart to the class whatever it was that was so important as to interrupt my lesson. I honestly thought that's what they had popped in for! Then they might say they had just popped in to see how the class was doing, and I would tell them - either the class was working very hard and weren't they lovely, or actually some of them were messing about too much and wouldn't it be nice if they stopped disrupting the learning of others. I would tell the HT in brief this is what we were doing, and this is how far we'd got.

    I am sorry to say it took far longer than it should have done to realise that the HT was there to check up on me rather than the class.
  15. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

  16. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    Some SMTs never learn from the Heisenberg Indeterminacy Principle that the mere act of observation effects the outcome of what is being observed. Anyone plonking themselves down at the back of the lesson with a clipboard, or worst still, as in my last school, wandering around the class disrupting students working and interrupting the teacher with rude, peremptory questioning has a very different agenda to mere observation.
  17. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Not to mention that cat that someone once had.

    Or DID THEY????
    notsonorthernlass and Anonymity like this.
  18. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    That's what the union says, GDW - but it has no clout in law. THAT is my point. People can argue all they like about it, but what are they supposed to do?
  19. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Band together. That's the 'united' bit of union. Contest it.

    I'd be toddling along afterwards to ask why they were there, did they make notes, what observations did they make, was any of this to be referred to as part of my PM. I'd say (if I felt it to be the case) that it seemed to me that my teaching was the subject of the observation. Then I'd remind them of my union's advice and we'd have the conversation.

    I'd say what I wanted out of a drop-in.

    It never used to be a problem. I wouldn't invoke the union guidance if I thought it was old-style HT dropping in to make us feel like we counted and they cared! Feel free to say the room looks nice or everyone seems to be working well. By all means alert me to Kyle having had his mobile out under the desk! Then I can say that I'd had one off him only five minutes previously so he must have got TWO!

    (I have had kids bringing 2 to school btw.)

    But don't keep popping in and then using trivia against me later.

    If you have a problem with me then you have to manage me.
  20. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Get the head involved in the lesson

    They hate it.

    Even better if you have a chance to observe the head, give them a RI. See if they put themselves on capability.

    It's not worth commenting on the sheer stupidity and pointlessness of half hour learning walks. Sounds like someone needs to be made redundant.

Share This Page