Learning Walks

Richard Endacott

Monday, 15 October 2018

Recently it was announced that “Ofsted will consult on the introduction of a new judgement for ‘quality of education’. This will replace the current ‘outcomes for pupils’ and ‘teaching, learning and assessment’ judgements with a broader, single judgement” (www.gov.uk).

In completely unrelated news, the SLT in my school has organised a series of learning walks for the upcoming week. But how important are they?

In light of the new Ofsted framework set to come in September 2019, learning walks are set to become even more critical in providing evidence, if Ofsted are not looking at outcomes, they must be looking at the quality of teaching and there is only one way to judge that, by seeing teachers teach first hand.

Debate has raged about the veracity of learning walks. Traditionally the view is that there is a simple formula, if a senior leader comes into your room stop what you are doing, organise the students into groups and ask them lots of questions to check progress, simple.

But there must be more to it than that? From a management perspective, learning walks can inform performance management targets or training needs, they can also if used effectively target a particular area of best practice. From a teacher side, they are an odd 10 minutes maximum spotlight on your practice which can make or break someone’s opinion of you.

teacher in group

I’m a huge fan of Learning Walks, the more frequent they occur the more normalised the process becomes, as a Head of Sixth Form and now a Head of Humanities, my staff are used to me being in their lessons, this helps to prevent the ‘showstopper’ lessons that can cloud opinions.

"The more well-versed I am in the short, medium and long-term plans for each lesson the more I will be able to confidently explain how each lesson is progressing."


There is a tendency to overplay the importance of learning walks, they are purely a ‘litmus test’ exercise useful for the teacher to know whether or not they are ‘on track’ and for the observer to have confidence in the member of staff in front of the students.

As a consequence of this open door policy already in my first term of a new school, I have a handle on the strengths and areas of development of each of my 14 staff members. Now SLT will be joining me, the pressure is on to ensure their judgements match mine.

To prepare I have a working knowledge of all the schemes of work, what the teachers should be teaching when there should be no surprises.

For the teacher’s themselves I have not asked them to prepare anything out of the ordinary, I trust them to deliver a series of excellent lessons in the next few days and I am very much looking forward to sharing their best practice.

Just like Open Evenings and book scrutinies, my faculty is on show here and we as a team fully intend to show it off, just as proudly as we would to an Ofsted inspector. Bring it on.

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About our Community Expert

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Richard Endacott

Career Development Lead

Richard is a history Teacher by Training and for the last few years been head of sixth form. His specialism is leadership and career development in the classroom.

 

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