Using observations to record teacher effectiveness

According to the Sutton Trust (2014), there are three questions to answer about the effectiveness of teaching:

  • What makes ’great teaching’?
  • What kinds of frameworks or tools could help us to capture it?
  • How could this promote better learning?

So, what does make ‘great teaching’?

The very best teachers are highly professional, passionate and have excellent subject knowledge. Furthermore, they give students clear instructions to ensure their classroom is characterised by purposeful learning.

However, how do we assess great teaching? Improved student achievement and progress is a yardstick to measure the quality of teaching. Therefore, a formative teacher evaluation system is required to provide an effective measurement.

What kinds of frameworks and tools can help us capture the effectiveness of teaching?

Lesson observations can be viewed as high stakes, test like, one-off measures. Independently, they are of little real value. The effectiveness of teaching should be determined over time and utilise a variety of methods from different sources. For instance, collating evidence from continuous assessment and feedback against targets, the Teachers’ Standards, monitoring activities and peer assessment.

“A key to suitably cautious and critical use of the different methods is to triangulate them against each other, but when it is confirmed by another independent source it starts to become a credible guide.”

The Sutton Trust (2014)

How does SchooliP help?

Our software is a comprehensive bespoke package of tools for measuring the effectiveness of teachers. It helps both schools and colleges (CollegeiP) to improve and manages the process of staff appraisal for all staff.

SchooliP offers a tailored solution that enables schools and colleges to define how they observe their staff and against a specific criteria. For example, you could focus your efforts on measuring each of the six components of great teaching outlined by the Sutton Trust.

One of the ways in which it helps is through the capturing and reporting of observations and feedback. These observations may be captured on a simple to use web form on a tablet or laptop – no need for paper. The statements on the observation form may be accompanied by guidance to help observers to make the correct judgements.

To encourage the participation of all staff, you can use constructive language and judgements. This moves away from the old harsh Ofsted criteria to using gradings like: “Outstanding Practice”, “Embedded” and “Developing”. Therefore, even the members of staff who require the greatest amount of support are identified as “Developing.” This means that the school is supporting them and promoting teamwork to improve outcomes.

In SchooliP, you can use our comprehensive reporting to produce reports relating to statements and/or questions on your observation form. This will ultimately provide a percentage of the different types of practice within the school at that time. For instance, we may have observed that we have 12.5% of our staff exhibiting “Outstanding Practice” in the management of behaviour in the classroom.


How could this promote better learning?

Our experience is that the credentials of SchooliP help to answer the third question about the effectiveness of teaching.

If we were to perform an immediate set of observations and then repeat the process again in three months’ time, we would be able to observe and analyse the changes in performance. Therefore, this paints an individual and collective picture of the effectiveness of teaching over time. This creates powerful data to analyse performance and encourage teachers to become more effective.

Having SchooliP at the heart of your school means that the effectiveness of teaching can be measured and statistical evidence is generated to support the decision making process. We would welcome the opportunity to deliver you a free, no obligation demonstration of SchooliP. Please call us on 0333 0433 450 to arrange this or alternatively email: info@derventioeducation.com

The Sutton Trust was founded by Sir Peter Lampl in 1997. Please note that inspiration for this article was drawn from this report.