Lesson observation used as a punitive management tool

Published on Friday, 24 August 2012 10:39
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

Teachers in Wales say they are being subjected to destructive monitoring and surveillance practices in their classrooms, which is not making any positive contribution to teaching and learning. Only the NASUWT action short of strike action has prevented the position worsening.

Over 1,000 teachers in Wales responded to an online survey conducted by the NASUWT, the largest teachers' union in Wales, into classroom observation.

The survey found that prior to the introduction of the NASUWT action:

a third of teachers were being observed more frequently than ever before, with 5% reporting that they had been observed more than six times in the last year;

  • nearly three quarters of teachers said observations were to monitor the quality of teaching, rather than to assist them in developing their skills;
  • over half of teachers reported that their school fails to plan observations well in advance;
  • the majority of teachers said that they did not always receive feedback after an observation;
  • two thirds of teachers said they did not find observations to be helpful and more than a fifth stated that they found their school's monitoring to be intimidating;
  • almost half did not believe that observation is applied fairly across the school, believing that other teachers are often singled out for extra scrutiny because they have been off sick.

Excessive classroom monitoring was one of the issues on the agenda at a meeting with the Minister for Education on the NASUWT trade dispute on Wednesday this week. Good progress was made towards identifying strategies which could address the issues raised in the NASUWT survey.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

"No teacher objects to professional, supportive and developmental lesson observation designed to help them to enhance their practice.

"Unfortunately, too many teachers, as this survey shows, are being subject to surveillance and monitoring which is designed to be punitive and negative rather than to support enhanced teaching and learning.

"The survey reveals an unacceptable level of poor management practice, with teachers not receiving professional feedback.  Lesson observation without feedback is pointless.

"One of the most disturbing aspects of the survey is the belief that certain teachers are being deliberately targeted for inappropriate reasons.

"Classroom observation is being used as a punitive management tool to pressurise and intimidate teachers."

Rex Phillips, NASUWT Wales Organiser, said:

"The survey has confirmed that the NASUWT was absolutely right to ballot members to enable them to insist on a limit on classroom observation.

"Using observation as a punitive management tool does not improve standards of teaching and learning, it simply demoralises teachers, undermining their ability to teach effectively."

Source: ©NASUWT

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