Lavender on The Key

When senior leaders at Lavender Primary School stopped formal lesson observations it saved them 8.5 hours a term, improved teacher wellbeing, boosted retention and kept teaching standards high.

This month the school featured as a case study on The Key for School Leaders, an online information service used by 100,000 school leaders across the country.

Executive headteacher Lesley Hill and head of school Jodie Corbett made the change after they realised that observing every teacher once a term was putting them under unnecessary pressure, adding to workload and wasn’t benefiting pupils. It also wasn’t giving senior leaders a true picture of every day teaching in the school.

Informal learning walks

Instead, they replaced lesson observations with informal learning walks. Once a week, leaders walk around the school in pairs and spend about five minutes in each lesson. They take minimal notes, which they feedback to teachers the same day by email.

Not all classes are seen every week, but the aim is for all classes to be seen throughout the term. Teachers don’t usually know when the senior leadership team are going to come in or what their focus is, so they don’t over-prepare or tailor their teaching to meet specific criteria.

All classrooms have an “open door” policy and teachers and pupils are used to school leaders popping in and out regularly, so it doesn’t feel like a big deal when it happens.

Leaders now spend an average of 6.5 hours on learning walks throughout the term – 57% less compared to how long they were observing teaching before.

The school saw a positive impact on staff wellbeing after changing their approach. Stress and teacher workload decreased as teachers weren’t over preparing for lesson observations or worrying about one lesson a term representing their overall teaching. They also felt less anxious when senior leaders were in their classroom.

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You can read the full article on The Key’s website here.