Using technology in the classroom

Thursday, 1 November 2012

CPD – Tighten to be good, loosen to be outstanding

A question often posed to me after observing colleagues was 'Can you give me a list of things I need to do to be Outstanding?  Now on one hand it is fantastic that they wanted to improve, like we all do, however the issue was/is that we seem to be in search of the quick fix.   This is not surprising when you consider we are constantly aware of targets we need to meet along with the added pressures of delivering a lesson which is deemed ‘outstanding’ for Ofsted.   

What struck me was that CPD in some schools appears to focus on training/programming our colleagues to follow a series of pre-determined sequences in order to deliver a good if not outstanding lesson for the observer.  I remember sitting in many an INSET session with the focus being on what we can do in our lesson to be good/outstanding for Ofsted.  Ofsted will like to see this and Ofsted think that this is good practice.  I am sure we have all experienced it, being told that we must all ‘show learning objectives/outcomes at the start, link to literacy, numeracy, PLTs, SMSC etc. etc., then have a starter, middle and plenary.....use traffic lights for AFL to show the inspector it happens in the lesson, have the pupils working in groups and not being quiet, the list would go on and on.  I’m not against any of the aforementioned but delivered at an appropriate time and for a purpose.

Each INSET would bring a new wave of ‘hot off the press’ ideas from a school recently inspected that we must  include in our lessons with the focus being  ‘because Ofsted like it’ not because it will help pupils make progress.  The issue with all this was that staff became afraid to take risks, to deviate from the now perceived norm style of teaching. We want our pupils to be independent but we were brain-washing our colleagues to teach like automatons when delivering, understandably leading to repetition in style of delivery and in some cases hindering progress.

In my opinion following a set of pre-detrmined sequences will never make you 'Outstanding' or more importantly help the learners make progress in line with their ability. Something had to change for us. What became apparent when I joined twitter a year ago was that this style of INSET was the case for some schools however other schools had/are doing it differently achieving fantastic results and this was our cue to change.

What changed for us this year? (no particular order)

  • Stopped referring to being ‘Outstanding’ instead focused on continual improvement.
  • Banned the word Ofsted from meetings and INSET.  We do things for the pupils and staff not Ofsted.
  • Introduced the 5 minute lesson plan (adapted from @teachertoolkit) which only needs completed if being observed by SLT  (we expect and trust everyone to plan their lesson but don't see the relevance of having to spend hours filling in lesson plans).
  • All staff have an extra non-contact period a week on their timetable to focus on T&L (discussion with coach, observation, learning walks, action research projects, Masters).
  • All staff have CPD review with SLT three times a year which looks at their development for progression.
  • All staff have a peer coach with areas for development of one matched against strengths of another to improve practice in this area. The coach changes 3 times a year.
  • All INSET delivered by experts in school (the teachers) on a carousal of sessions with staff selecting the ones they see most relevant to them.
  • All resources from INSET sessions shared with everyone as hard-copy and on intranet.
  • All staff will take-part in learning walks throughout the year looking at areas the need to develop.
  • Observations used for coaching purposes, not grading purposes.
  • School specific teaching handbook provided for all staff. Every staff member has contributed to what aspects they think improve a lesson. Under all these sections they list best practice and practical examples with links for all to share, this is continually added to by the staff.
  • Creation of two CPD areas in school for staff, one area for quiet work and the other area for collaboration.
  • T & L  (my best lesson) first item on every agenda.
  • No expectation to reply to emails during evenings or over holidays.
  • Common T & L target on appraisal.
Impact to date

Staff morale very high
Collegiate, collaborative ethos created and maintained
Improved progress in lesson
Reduction in behaviour issues
Attainment and Achievement higher (best results ever)
Parental engagement/input improved.

This is the start of the journey, it’s not meant to be a quick fix, it’s a long term culture shift which is working for us.   
It would be useful to hear of other ideas that we could incorporate to maintain our momentum.


  1. Great to see the 5Minute Lesson Plan being used in another school.

  2. Yes, would really recommend the 5 min lesson plan to any school, time saver and says to us teachers that 'we trust you'. Why spend hours writing out lesson plans when you have the lesson planned already, you are only doing for an observer, not to enhance the lesson. Time saved can be used to focus on developing T&L in school or maintaining a work-life balance. Rested teachers are more effective teacher.

  3. My lessons are an hour long how does that work?