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Governors observing lessons

(79 Posts)
Mumsymumphy Fri 15-Mar-19 17:34:43

What is union guidance on governor visits?

We had governors come into a lesson last term to get 'a feel' of the school - approx 20 mins, all very informal but we did get written feedback.

This term they are coming into lessons for a full hour.

I've googled 'governor guidance' but it's sketchy.

OP’s posts: |
grasspigeons Fri 15-Mar-19 17:45:43

What did the governor's feed back on?

They aren't supposed to do observations on teaching.

They are supposed to come in to see how strategies are working on the ground as part of knowing their school. the visit should link to the priorities of the school. They are meant to have a specific focus eg they have noticed that data on English isn't where hoped, so they meet with the subject lead to hear whats being done to tackle it and perhaps get shown some interventions and a phonics lesson going on and look at some books showing writing.

Lemonsole Fri 15-Mar-19 17:47:09

I've been a governor in primary, and when we went into classrooms it was always made very clear that we were not there to observe teaching, as we were not professionals. (Although I was!) our role was to see in action the policies that the HT told us were in use, ie how feedback was used for progress, and to talk with teachers about whether they thought that they were effective or not.
If your HT is allowing governors to behave like mini Ofsteds or performance managers, talk to your union.

Mumsymumphy Fri 15-Mar-19 18:16:12

Yes @Lemonsole that was the premise last time, they came armed with a list of questions they had to ask - how is marking and feedback effective? How are the children grouped etc. They came in a Lit lesson last time, this time it's maths. I don't mind talking with governors, they're lovely, I'll happily talk to anyone about my teaching and the children's learning.

I guess we're just all fed up with the constant scrutiny- we already have lesson obs & other obs under the guise of 'drop-ins, learning walks' whatever, they're observations! We had Ofsted this year, we're a good school. Hate the constant 'we're watching you'.

Why can't we just be trusted that we're doing a good job? Data shows that we are, books show progress etc.

I don't know of any other professions who are scrutinised in some way or another as often as teaching!

OP’s posts: |
PerspicaciaTick Fri 15-Mar-19 18:19:22

It isn't that the governors don't trust you, it is part of their development as governors to see classrooms in action, so that they can be more effective as governors. Some of them may never have been inside a working classroom since they left school 30 years ago.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 15-Mar-19 18:21:09

What was the feedback on?

Mumsymumphy Fri 15-Mar-19 18:41:48

Feedback was context of the lesson and their overall thoughts on the lesson, children's responses, a box for commenting on what I'd said about the marking policy.

OP’s posts: |
Mumsymumphy Fri 15-Mar-19 18:43:55

Yes, fully understand it's not the governors who don't trust us. This is all under the direction of the head.

OP’s posts: |
Weetabixandshreddies Fri 15-Mar-19 18:46:21

Governors shouldn't be doing lesson observations.

We did go into classes but it was by invitation and it was for specific reasons - never to judge teaching or lesson quality.

Jackshouse Fri 15-Mar-19 18:52:05

I would not be happy with someone not trained in teaching and observations watching and giving feedback. No other profession would accept it. Do you actually have time to answer questions in the middle of a lesson?

Considering what have you have said about the culture in the school it sounds like a school wide meeting with the regional union rep would be a good idea.

MeOldBamboo Fri 15-Mar-19 18:53:23

I’m a school Governor and our role is to challenge, probe and hold the SMT to account. In my early days I would pop into lessons with prior arrangement with staff and talk to the children about what they were learning and for them to show my their work so I could see the marking, feedback and progress. It was important to get to know the school and the subjects I was looking after. Five years down the line, I only really follow my allotted Year group who all know me well and I pop in once a term for a bit of pupil voice. I liaise with subject leaders and provide regular monitoring reports and follow up actions from last time and also questions arising from leaders and HT’s report. I scrutinise the data that comes in and ask relevant questions to understand the impact of actions on pupil outcomes.
As others have said, I’m not there to judge the quality of teaching and there are guidelines for governors to ensure we don’t make staff feel uncomfortable. But I’ve built up a pretty good rapport with staff and they trust me. I don’t always ask easy questions but at least we can have a good discussion.
Very proud of our school’s journey to Good and hoping it will continue to succeed. We are part of the same team.

chalkwhite Fri 15-Mar-19 19:45:21

I am a staff governor.

Governors do class visits, but they are ABSOLUTELY not observations. In part, they are to ensure that the Head isn't feeding them a load of rubbish. In fact, it was a Governor visit last year that resulted in a massive overhaul of systems to reduce teacher workload. She had seen how labour intensive some of the paperwork demands were and went back to tell the Head that staff retention would be a problem if she didn't sort it out. Life has genuinely been a whole lot more pleasant since then.

Ofsted take a dim view of Governing bodies who do not have real experience of the school in its everyday existence. So in this case, it is not about scrutiny of you at all.

We had a big conversation about just this at a recent Full Governor Board meeting - how to change the culture so that Governor visits are seen as the open dialogue they are meant to be.

If it feels scary, then someone is doing something wrong.

CraftyGin Fri 15-Mar-19 19:48:23

I’ve had a governor shadow a student for the day.

If you want governors to be in touch, then it’s good if they can play the part of a student.

TeenTimesTwo Fri 15-Mar-19 20:53:46

I don't know of any other professions who are scrutinised in some way or another as often as teaching!

I'm not a teacher, so feel free to tell me to butt out. smile

But many professionals are scrutinised regularly by colleagues and managers just because they interact daily in their work. So e.g. if I was giving a presentation to management my own manager would often give feedback afterwards. (Tech company). In other professions there can be peer review or management review and sign off of output and feedback given if it is deemed not good enough. (e.g. company law, tax etc)

Teaching is different because in your main work you aren't working with other adults so any level of observation will feel intrusive as it isn't normal routine.

In other professions where people work individually with clients such as social workers, they have regular 'supervisions' to discuss stuff and how they could approach things next.

That said, if you work in a school where management is poor and people use learning visits to then criticise I can totally see why you would feel there is a 'we are watching you' vibe. I get the impression there are far too many schools where (wo)man-management is poor.

I think the teachers at DD's school are ace.

noblegiraffe Sat 16-Mar-19 10:55:10

NASUWT Classroom observation protocol says that observations should only be carried out by people with QTS and the training and skills to provide constructive feedback.

www.nasuwt.org.uk/uploads/assets/uploaded/ac0a7235-fd25-4b8a-9959068b9c65f454.pdf

Clutterbugsmum Sat 16-Mar-19 11:12:31

When I was a governor we would do a 'learning walk'.

For example if it was a maths 'learning walk' we (would be a member of the SLT and 1 governor). We would have a meeting with the SLT to discuss how, what are targets were being taught. Then we start in Reception class and move through the years seeing how teaching changed depending on the year group. We would only stay at the back of the class for 10 - 15 mins.

Any questions we had would be put to the SLT person after our walk through, and we did not interrupt classes. We also had to write a written report to be presented to the next governor meeting.

Clutterbugsmum Sat 16-Mar-19 11:18:02

I don't know of any other professions who are scrutinised in some way or another as often as teaching! Well unless you have worked in other fields you can not make comments like this.

All professions are scrutinised, not just teachers. It's how companies keep there standards and work to improve there company.

HelloYouTwo Sat 16-Mar-19 11:19:10

I’m sorry if you feel like you’re being scrutinised. For Governors, if they themselves are held to account - Ofsted will interview Governors when they inspect - you have to know that what the SLT tells you is true. It’s not that they don’t trust the SLT either, but if an Ofsted inspector asks a governor about marking or progress or how different groups (FSM, BAME, EAL etc) and you spout the policy off the website they will then ask you how you know this is being done. “Because the Headteacher told me” isn’t a good enough reply. “I regularly agree visits and see classes where the marking scheme is in action” / “I’ve liaised with the Head of Subject I follow and they’ve shown me their data and I’ve been able to see that in action in the classroom and in books, but there’s still work to do with xyz group through abc programme,” is a better answer.

HelloYouTwo Sat 16-Mar-19 11:21:57

Also, if the HT feeds you a load of crap and you can see for yourself that none of the teachers are implementing / or nserstabding / buying into the scheme you’ve just been told all about, your can hold the HT to account smile <<I have never been fed a load of crap by a HT, not at all. Never.>>

noblegiraffe Sat 16-Mar-19 11:22:47

Ofsted shouldn’t be asking governors for their opinion on what goes on in the classroom.

How do you know this is being done should be answered with ‘the head, SLT and middle managers who are trained teachers do learning walks and write reports which I’ve read’.

In the school I teach at, the governors never do learning walks. That would be ridiculous.

HelloYouTwo Sat 16-Mar-19 11:31:43

It’s not about quality of teaching though, it’s about whether you can see for yourself what the SLT tell you they are doing is being done. Governors in my LA are encouraged to get to know the school and you can’t do that if you just sit in a meeting room looking at data with the SLT.

wasgoingmadinthecountry Sat 16-Mar-19 12:15:31

I'm a teacher governor. Our governors are required to do 2 monitoring visits a term each so the curriculum governors normally talk to the head about data and the curriculum or will look at books/learning walks.

As others have said, it's not their job to make comments/judge about teaching. This is all made very clear in new governor training.

Part of the problem is that Ofsted is very keen on strong governance and schools don't always pass this on to teachers, therefore teachers think of it as yet another layer of unwanted scrutiny.
One problem I have is teachers expecting me to tell them what's been discussed in governor meetings. I can't and won't as it's confidential.

ArmchairTraveller Sat 16-Mar-19 12:26:24

I used to like involving governors in my classroom activities if they came to observe, so they could learn through direct experience.
I’m particularly proud of the encounter between the modroc giraffe, the acrylic paint and the governor with the power suit and megabucks Italian loafers.

Weetabixandshreddies Sat 16-Mar-19 12:27:10

Ofsted shouldn’t be asking governors for their opinion on what goes on in the classroom.

Have you sat in on an Ofsted meeting with governors? What they should ask and what they do ask bears no relation to each other.

The answers that they will accept also follow no rules.

We had an inspector demanding to know if we knew where x year were in y subject, currently. This was in the autumn term and we hadn't yet received the data from the assessments. Our answer was that no, at present we didn't have the data, however SLT and hod would know - not a good enough answer apparently.

Their focus was very strongly how did we know that what we were told was true. We were able to put forward very strong answers because we did learning walks, classroom visits, book scrutinies, and we spoke regularly to staff and students. We could see for example, how the new marking scheme was being implemented, whether it was achieving what we wanted it to do and how the staff and pupils felt that it was working.

I'm really not sure how governors can hold the head to account if the only information they get comes via the head?

noblegiraffe Sat 16-Mar-19 13:38:17

So basically governors are being encouraged by Ofsted to not trust the people actually running the school and to double up on all the monitoring work done by the trained teachers in order to check up on them?

FFS. This is unacceptable. I wonder what the official Ofsted line is.

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