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Learning walks

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by d43587, Oct 5, 2018.

  1. d43587

    d43587 New commenter

    A member of my SLT conducted a learning walk focussing on Teaching assistants and questioning. I have found out today that they didn't forewarn teaching staff. This has led to the question, can learning walks be carried out unannounced? Does the focus of the learning walk always need to be shared with teachers?
  2. R13

    R13 Occasional commenter

    Learning walks do not need to be announced in advance.
    Schools are expected to act in a business like manner - can you imagine any business where the boss has to give warning to staff that he or she is planning to supervise and observe the quality of work? One of the most fundamental parts of the Leadership role is to monitor and improve performance and to only do that with advance notice will mean that they may not see what is typical
    Laughing Gravy likes this.
  3. install

    install Star commenter

    See Union. It should be part of your School Policy. If not - the school has messed up.

    Learning Walk Schedules should be shared - along with the focus - in advance. This does not need to be detailed about what time and class will be visited. But it cannot be a 'shock'.

    Also, it needs to be clear whether this is part of the Observation process (no longer than 10 mins) or not in each room. It should also not interrupt the progress of the lesson. This is so that the process can be fair, open and honest.There is also the point about annonymity. Teachers should not be named - but classes may be. Whole School Feedback of Learning Walks should also be provided to allow open and full communication and future progress.

    The danger otherwise is that Learning Walks become bullish,.ruthless and unfair.:cool:
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  4. R13

    R13 Occasional commenter

    A head teacher has a duty to evaluate the standards of teaching and learning and to ensure that proper standards of professional performance are established and maintained. Heads have a right to drop in to inform their monitoring of the quality of learning - DfEE 2007

    3 hours of observation in a Performance Management cycle is a usual maximum but a Learning walk would typically be outside that - your own quoted 'theme' for the learning walk also makes it like nothing to do with your PM. Observing to check, monitor and maintain quality at other times is a legal right.

    Your Union policy might suggest something different - but it isn't rule or law.

    As to the point - The danger otherwise is that Learning Walks become bullish,.ruthless and unfair. Personally I think this is down to how they are conducted and fed-back on etc. Carrying out a Learning Walk without notice doesn't make it bullish or unfair . . . . in the same way that giving notice of one doesn't unfortunately stop poor leaders from being bullish and unfair!
    Pomza and caterpillartobutterfly like this.
  5. install

    install Star commenter

    Mmmm...agree in part. And a head teacher also has a 'duty of care' towards his staff. Should those Learning Walks ever become a 'naming or shaming' procress or akin to Observations or any form of intimidation then the school is in trouble.

    Having it in the agreed policy is vital - otherwise the school.has messed up. I was at a school where all staff refused to allow Learning Walks until it was clearly laid out what they were for, how long they were for and what the schedule and feedback would look like.

    Learning Walks are not 'Lets shock 'em walks'. They are for monitoring purposes, no more and no less. Thank goodness for Unions. :cool:
  6. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Haven't we all worked in schools where some colleagues are flippin useless much of the time, but put on a nice show when they know SLT are coming to observe?

    Unannounced observations and learning walks are the only way SLT can find out what really goes on day to day and so really get to know the quality of T&L.
  7. digoryvenn

    digoryvenn Lead commenter

    Sometimes, I would take messages to class teachers and that would be 'revealing'. :eek:
    It is all about typicality over time, not 'putting on a show'! The era of a Busby Berkeley musical has long gone!

    @caterpillartobutterfly how did your meeting about workload go?

    Are things improving in nursery?
  8. install

    install Star commenter

    In my experience 'last minute', 'rushed', 'poorly organised' or 'pre-Ofsted panic' Learning Walks do more harm than good.

    An effective approach to Learning Walks means they are well planned, strategic and useful to all involved. They shouldn't secretive, ad hoc bolt ons used to punish the very team they claim to support.

    Better to have an open culture used to monitoring consistently, fairly and openly - and one that truly shares a teamwork approach. In the best schools, teachers are involved in Learning Walks too.. :):)
    krusty1 likes this.
  9. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    yes, or whats the point.

    Presumably, at the end of the day, what you want is to see good work from TAs, and good questioning.

    rather than to try and catch someone out not doing it "right" - to what end? you can't use learning walk feedback in PM, can you?

    so surely, you tell staff what you are looking for, you give them a chance to embed it, you pop in and see how its going, and you hopefully give kind and constructive feedback, so it stays inbedded, or improves.

    I can stand the sort of SMT who play power games striding in and out of lessons without even saying what they are there for. Classic bullying
    install likes this.
  10. R13

    R13 Occasional commenter

    The derogatory comments made about what Learning Walks can do strike me as evidence that we need to ban stupid bullies from Leading Schools, not learning walks. There really is nothing inherently wrong with walking around spending 5 minutes each of a dozen different classes to see whether what we discussed and agreed at a couple of meetings and following some CPD input has been put into practice. Staff where I work expect that and what we want to see is how it impacts on a typical day. I can honestly say we use the information to work out how we can better help get things sorted for our kids.
  11. install

    install Star commenter

    Sadly, I can honestly say, I have seen it used to target staff especially when rushed and not scheduled, or thought through and not even shared beforehand. Indeed the findings in one school, where I saw it badly used, were kept with specific staff names on a list - all unknown to the staff. These staff found themselves visited again and again - with evidence kept specifically on them rather than the supposed focus. To make matters worse the staff didn't know for quite some time.

    Needless to say, eventually they got feedback a year later. The documentation was eventually shared after being requested by via the Unions. And sadly this process in this case was found to have targeted some teachers by name.

    Having said that, I can honestly say, I have seen it done well when teachers too were involved in Learning Walks. And when there was no secrecy, no bullish approach and no recycling of a ' s l t vs staff ' agenda.. Learning Walks can be great - but teachers are part of the team too. I wonder what some s l t would say if there were ever an 'unannounced Monitoring Walk' on them , including how much time they actually interact with teachers, students and parents...?
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018

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