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Classroom observation of induction teachers

Observation is often found by ECT/NQTs to be the most useful induction activity.

While in England teachers on induction are Early Career Teachers (ECT), in Wales they are still Newly Qualified Teachers (NQT).

There is no stipulation around the timing or frequency of observations - the statutory guidance says an ECT/NQT's teaching should be observed at regular intervals throughout their induction period and should be undertaken by the induction tutor or another suitable person.

You should:

  • Keep a record if any observation falls outside the guidance that is given above. If observation does not take place, or if it doesn't happen in line with the timings indicated, you should raise this with your induction tutor, your head of department or the headteacher as appropriate.
  • Always know what the particular focus of any observation is going to be, and be able to see that it is related to completing the requirements for the Teachers' Standards.

All arrangements for observation should be agreed with you in advance.

The importance of feedback

There should also be a follow-up discussion when your induction tutor analyses the lesson they observed. The quality of this feedback is the most important part of the tutoring process.

  • It should be constructive and clearly indicate the extent to which you are achieving the standards. It should also take place as soon as possible after the observed lesson so that you can gain the maximum benefit.
  • You should be given a brief, written record of each observation, which relates to your objectives for development and which clearly indicates where action should be taken. If any objectives have been revised, this should be clear on the written record.
  • You should be involved in the review and in setting new objectives.

If any of these provisions for your observation are breached, you should raise this with your induction tutor.

Inadequate or unhelpful feedback is a more difficult issue, but you should always seek further help on how you might remedy this, because your success during the year is linked to the support you receive to improve your teaching.

Professional reviews of progress

The professional review of progress is the most important part of your induction support programme. Professional review meetings should take place at regular intervals and there should be at least one scheduled review meeting in any six-to-eight-week period.

For part-time teachers, the intervals between professional review meetings should be adjusted, but the first meeting should still take place in the first half-term.

Your objectives should be reviewed and revised in light of the standards and your needs and strengths. There should be a written record of your progress towards your objectives, any new objectives and the steps that will be taken to support you to achieve these objectives.

The role of the induction tutor should be to provide formative as well as summative assessments, since both make an important contribution to your development.

You should know:

  • The extent to which you are judged to be meeting the relevant standards
  • If you are judged not to be meeting the standards, exactly where you are deficient and how you can plan to improve your skills.

The professional review meetings should be discussions between you and your induction tutor that should be informed by evidence, eg from observation of your teaching.

Professional review meetings are also meant to focus on the action plan developed with the tutor and to review and revise your objectives for professional development in your plan in the light of the formative assessment. These objectives should determine what development activities are arranged as part of your individualised programme of support.

Observing experienced teachers

The guidance specifies that ECT/NQTs should be given opportunities to observe experienced teachers to help develop good practice in specific areas of teaching, in their own or other schools. Observation is often found by ECT/NQTs to be the most useful induction activity. It is good practice for observation of experienced teachers to be arranged for you by your induction tutor.

It should be seen as a professional development activity and not just something set up for its own sake.

If you are unsure how an observation fits in with your action plan and objectives, or if you feel that observing an experienced teacher would help you develop, raise this with your induction tutor.

Formal assessment meetings

Whilst Government guidance says there must be three formal assessment meetings during the induction period. These will be between the ECT/NQT and either the headteacher or the induction tutor acting on behalf of the headteacher. Formal assessment meetings should:

  • Take place near the end of every term
  • Be informed by written reports from at least two observations and two professional review meetings that have taken place during that term
  • Have an agreed agenda and be held in a setting where interruption is unlikely.

These are important meetings and they should be clearly distinguished from the more informal and formative professional review meetings.

Ideally a formal assessment meeting should not take place immediately after a professional review meeting, as it leaves insufficient time for you to reflect on the advice you have received.

You should expect to:

  • Receive a schedule for formal assessment meetings
  • Have the written reports made available to you before the formal assessment meeting.

In most cases:

  • The first meeting will be concerned with the extent to which you are consistently meeting the Teachers' Standards at the level of initial qualification
  • The second meeting is likely to be concerned first and foremost with the extent to which the Teachers' Standards are being met at an appropriate, more advanced level
  • The third meeting makes a final summative judgement as to whether all the Teachers' Standards have been met at the appropriate, further advanced, level, and its main focus will be on identifying new objectives for the second year of teaching.

The guidance says that the judgements should be based on evidence systematically gathered during the induction period and should relate directly to the Teachers' Standards.

The evidence should emerge from your everyday work and from your support programme, rather than being compiled just for the purposes of assessment. The guidance emphasises that there should be no surprises. As well as these written records, other examples of evidence are:

  • Formal and informal assessment records of pupils for whom you have responsibility
  • Information about liaison with others, such as colleagues and parents
  • Your lesson plans, records and evaluations
  • Your self-assessments and record of professional development.

At the end of each formal assessment meeting, a report will be completed by the headteacher – or the induction tutor acting on behalf of the headteacher – which will be forwarded to the appropriate body. This report should be made available to you. The guidance says that these reports should indicate clearly whether or not you are judged to be making satisfactory progress at that stage of your induction period.

You, your induction tutor and your headteacher are all required to sign the assessment form, which should be sent to the appropriate body within 10 working days following the summative assessment meeting.

There is a space on the form for you to make comments, which must be done within the 10 working days allowed for the return of the form. The guidance states that ECT/NQTs should be encouraged to add their comments to the report. Although there are special arrangements for ECT/NQTs who are not making satisfactory progress, it is important for you to make sure your comments are recorded at this stage if you believe there are concerns that are not fully represented in the formal, written summative assessment.

Black woman writing notes


Excessive classroom observation is one of the biggest sources of stress and does not of itself lead to better practice.

Children in assessment


We need reform of our assessment and exams systems to make them fit for the future.

Classroom observation model policy

The aim of this model policy on classroom observation is to provide a framework that schools can adopt to ensure it is developmental and supportive.

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