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Working with governors, lesson observations.

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by Ladykaza, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    I am a new head working with a very supportive and active governing body.

    I have discovered that in my new schoolthere is a history , going back many years, of governors, including parent governors, conducting lesson observations on teachers which includes written feedback including a 'what could have been better' box.

    This is completely alien to me, the head in my last school would never have allowed this, observing teaching to develop governors' knowledge and understanding, yes, but not assessing teaching. Her argument was always that governors were not professionals in the education world, and that their strategic role was to ensure that monitoring of teaching and learning was being carried out effectively by the SLT.

    The staff have also raised this issue with me, they are not at all happy about the practice and the union rep has brought up the NASUWT advice on the matter.

    I'm going to speak to both Governor services and the NAHT tomorrow but I thought I would ask experienced heads here what you thought, and whether this is common practise elsewhere.

    Many thanks in advance for your advice and comments.
     
  2. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    I am a new head working with a very supportive and active governing body.

    I have discovered that in my new schoolthere is a history , going back many years, of governors, including parent governors, conducting lesson observations on teachers which includes written feedback including a 'what could have been better' box.

    This is completely alien to me, the head in my last school would never have allowed this, observing teaching to develop governors' knowledge and understanding, yes, but not assessing teaching. Her argument was always that governors were not professionals in the education world, and that their strategic role was to ensure that monitoring of teaching and learning was being carried out effectively by the SLT.

    The staff have also raised this issue with me, they are not at all happy about the practice and the union rep has brought up the NASUWT advice on the matter.

    I'm going to speak to both Governor services and the NAHT tomorrow but I thought I would ask experienced heads here what you thought, and whether this is common practise elsewhere.

    Many thanks in advance for your advice and comments.
     
  3. Well, you need to deal with this in a supportive, positive but firm manner. I would review the strategic role of governors with them. I am sure they are uncomfortable judging lessons! . There is an important role governors can take in supporting monitoring but it us not lesson observation! The last Head clearly did not provide clear guidelines to them. The committee which looks at standards can have regular learning walks with you to look at broad improvements and specific issues like pupil engagement as a whole. I have worked with governors on regular post it trails eg interviewing children about different aspects of learning. There are many interesting and useful things they can support the school with. They should challenge in a strategic fashion. Lesson observation is not on. They should have average lesson grades each term as part of the data trail only. Good luck with it. Hold your nerve.
     
  4. Totally agree.
    NAHT advice will also be along these lines. Suggest you contact your NAHT Regional Officer. If you don't know who it is, phone head office and ask. they should give you contact details.
     
  5. I agree. Our governors do occasionally observe lessons but this is so they can gain an understanding of what good teaching in their link subject looks like. As such, staff volunteer to be observed (no body is forced to be observed by a governor) and no written feedback is given as this is not the point of the observation.
     
  6. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Do they have a governors visits protocol? That should make clear that the purpose is as you suggest. There are plenty of examples around - your governor services may have a model - but you could propose to the GB they adopt the National Governors Association one, which makes the point clear.
    http://www.nga.org.uk/Resources/Useful-Documents/School-Visits-Form.aspx
    I agree this is not correct, but you do need a mechanism for governors being able to raise anything that they have seen in a lesson that <u>concerns</u> them. Their concern may well be misplaced but governors need to know who to discuss it with. Our GB visits protocol makes clear that if a governor has a concern about anything they have seen they should discuss it in confidence with the head at the end of the visit or as soon as possible afterwards. Avoid letting concerns be recorded in the feedback form.
    Your GB might become less supportive if you say things that suggest you think parent governors are somehow lesser governors who need to be treated differently!
     
  7. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    Thank you all for your advice, it's very helpful to have a picture of practice elsewhere and I will follow up on your suggestions
    Thank you also Rott Weiler, your point about parent governors is well taken. There were circumstances, which I won't go into, which made it particularly inappropriate for an individual parent governor to be asked to observe a particular teacher and I guess that was what I was thinking of at the time, however I am aware that the way I express myself must be even more considered in this new role.
    I certainly don't believe that parent governors are somehow lesser governors and must ensure that I don't give that impression.
    Gosh this job is tough! I knew it would be ..... but still.
     
  8. I see no justification for governors to observe lessons. They can join lessons and participate in many different ways purposefully but lesson observation comes from experience, training and is a professional skill. Teachers deserve good quality observation and feedback from their own profession as teaching is an art and not open for all to comment on. Making confidential comments to the head teacher and raising concerns is helpful but they also need to allow the Head teacher to run the school. Teachers need to be able to get on and teach without too many unscheduled visitors as well. People coming in and out of your classroom takes children off task. Strategic is key in all governor business. They are brilliant people and if guided well have an excellent impact on school success.
     
  9. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Terminology matters in this area and governors need to be aware of the possible senitivities. On my GB we would never refer to governors making 'lesson observations'. We follow the teminology used in the NGA document and in all Governor Visits protocols I've seen and talk about governors making 'classroom visits'.
     
  10. I am Chair of Governors, and one thing that is dinned into governors in training that they cannot observe or judge teachers because they are not trained to do so.
    What Governors can and should mso is monitor that the school has an effectoive programme to raise teaching standards, which may well include lesson observations. Governors might carry out this obligation by checking your plans to observce, seeing anonomised data (75% lessons good and better) and hearing about training plans to devleop teaching practice.
    Governors vists schools for all sorts of other reasons too: for example to see how recently acquited resources are being used to help younger children .... or to see what a singisng assembly actually is .... or to see how playground behavious is monitired ... otr to check the quality of lunches for themselves .... or to see how a marking policy works in practice.
    Governors in my experiences, know that they should be in school, but dont always know what they should be doing when they get there. A good development plan for the school will suggest many things that governors could usefully be reseraching and checking in and out of the classroom. But not at all judging teachers.
     
  11. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    Thank you again for these helpful postings. It's particularly helpful to hear from imprudence, from the CoG point if view.
    I have hatched a plan to review the visits policy, but from a very positive stand point, of finding a way to facilitate a wider range of visits and develop links between governors and staff. I won't flinch from ensuring that there is a good understanding of roles and responsibilities but hopefully something positive can come out of this situation.
     

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