Do your school’s processes ensure that the right type of CPD is being provided to the right people at the right time? And crucially, is the impact measured? Countless studies tell us that carefully-designed, insightful staff CPD can help raise standards and pupil attainment, as well as positively contributing to staff retention and recruitment, welfare, happiness and morale. However, research (Goodall, Day et al, 2005) suggests that many providers don’t have sufficient evaluation processes in place.

In recognition of school’s embracing technology in and out of the classroom on a day-to-day basis, the team at SISRA have been working on a number of improvements to their Observe service for monitoring the quality of teaching and learning. One of the major new features is the Focus Area report, which allows schools to perform detailed analysis of a particular aspect of teaching.

Which of the following is more likely to improve the quality of teaching and learning in your school:

a) Observing a whole lesson or part of a lesson, feeding back with a judgement on the quality of teaching and learning. ‘Outstanding’, ‘good’ or ‘requires improvement’.

b) Observing a lesson or part of a lesson as part of a professional development cycle with built in feedback (and no-grades).

Lesson observation takes place with varying degrees of regularity, robustness and clarity of process.

The key question is: does it actually make any difference to the observed teacher's practice and subsequent impact on learners' progress?

Evidently, this will depend on the quality of the observer, the observation and the nature of the 'feedback' shared. Nevertheless, we can make some general observations.

The ups and downs to conventional lesson observation

Straightforward observation enables leaders to gather selected evidence quickly. Observing parts of lessons can provide key evidence of students' behaviour, attitude, understanding and application of the content being taught.

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