The NASUWT has always opposed the practice in some schools of grading the outcomes of lesson observations.

It is well established that observation grades cannot be awarded on a valid or reliable basis and should not, therefore, be used to form judgements about the performance of individual teachers, particularly in the context of schools’ performance management arrangements.

In light of the serious limitations of grading individual lessons, Ofsted discontinued the use of lesson grades in school inspections in 2014.

While this decision contributed to a decline in the prevalence of this practice in schools, the NASUWT is aware that observation grades continue to be used in some instances.

In seeking to challenge lesson observations, it may be helpful to draw the attention of schools and employers to recent comments made by the Minster of State for School Standards, the Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP.

The Minister said: “Expertise in teaching is difficult to discern except over an extended period of time. That is why it is pleasing to see the practice of grading individual lessons slowly being driven out of the system.”

Read a full transcript of Nick Gibb’s speech.

It is, therefore, important to ensure that, where necessary, schools and employers are made aware that it is the clear view of the Government, as well as Ofsted, that grading individual lessons is an inappropriate means of forming judgements about the performance of individual teachers. In its myths and facts document, Ofsted confirms that:

‘Ofsted does not award a grade for the quality of teaching or outcomes in the individual lessons visited. Inspectors do not grade individual lessons. Ofsted does not expect schools to use the Ofsted evaluation schedule to grade teaching or individual lessons’.

National Action Instructions

The National Action Instructions says members are instructed not to participate in any form of management-led classroom observation in any school which refuses to operate a policy of a limit of a total of three observations for all purposes within a total time of up to three hours per year.

Classroom observation includes observation arising from learning walks, pupil tracking/shadowing, departmental and subject reviews, pre-inspection visits, drop-ins, mock inspections and any other initiatives which involve classroom observation.

Local authorities have a right to intervene in schools causing concern but they do not have a statutory right to observe teachers.

The instruction, therefore, also covers observation as a result of local authority intervention.  

For a full explanation of what is and what is not covered by the action instruction please download the full instructions below or on the right - depending on your device.