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How to Conduct Effective Observation of Teaching, Learning and Assessment?

The observation and quality assuring of teaching, learning and assessment is a mandatory and vital process in maintaining and improving our teaching standards, and in measuring the overall quality of teaching, learning and assessment. The observation framework, and associated processes, are in place to help us identify what we need to develop and grow, so as to achieve improved learner experience and outcomes, providing clear feedback to staff to support them in this. This observation process will:
  • Inform individual development
  • Inform provision of Professional Development at curriculum and whole-college level
  • Inform the dissemination of good practice
  • Provide a cross college view on the quality of teaching, learning and assessment
  • Improve the quality of teaching, learning and assessment
This framework details a wide variety of observation activities and the protocols associated with each of them.

Support and development through observation

One of the key outcomes of observation activity is that development and support can be put in place where improvement is required. This development or support is normally based around the areas for improvement that are identified. There are particular triggers for further support linked to the Teaching and Learning Standards. If the staff member is identified as being someone who requires re-observation, or would benefit from development and support to further develop their practice, the observation form must be sent to the Teaching & Learning Development Manager (as well as the Quality Team) and a meeting will be arranged with the relevant line manager to determine the appropriate support package based on actions identified. During this initial meeting, the programme of support, including any follow up observations, coaching, training and other relevant activity will be agreed along with clear timescales, and documented within the Development Plan. This support will either be with their Curriculum Manager or Director, or the member of staff may be allocated an Advanced Skills Teaching & Learning Practitioner (ASTLP) or member of the Quality Team to support them in this. At the end of the process, a further meeting will be held with the staff member and manager to sign off the support or agree further action.

The observation of supported learning

The opportunity to observe fellow practitioners leading learning can be a powerful carrier for professional dialogue and development. Staff who observe their colleagues can reflect on their own practice while they are viewing the practice of their peers. We, as an education provider, recognise the value of this practice and Directors of Curriculum and Curriculum Managers should co-ordinate opportunities for staff to access this. This can be supported by the Quality Team, since the Quality Team maintains the observation database and can therefore provide staff with a good understanding of where specific strengths can be observed across the college. It is also understood that staff who have delivered good or excellent learning are open to share the best practices that they have fostered. This will give colleagues the chance to view this practice at the complete potential, so that they can transfer it to others after them as well.

What is the coverage of staff?

Being observed as part of a peer observation is a voluntary act. In many cases reciprocal arrangements for peer observation will be established; however, there will also be situations when observers will take part in peer observations to develop an action agreed with their line manager after a formal observation.

Observers

All staff can take part in peer observation activities as observers. It is expected that their behaviour as observers will be in compliance with our educational values such that, respect is shown to the staff and students linked to the observed activity at all times. The Peer Observation Template should be used by observers carrying out peer observations.

What notice period is required?

The observer and staff member being observed will negotiate a mutually convenient timetabled session for the observation.

How is reporting of outcomes conducted?

Copies of the observation document should be kept by both the observer and the observed staff member; there is no expectation that the college maintains any records of the feedback, though records of who has been involved within the process will be maintained at curriculum area level by the relevant Curriculum Manager. It is envisaged that Directors of Curriculum and Curriculum Managers have an awareness of both the scale of peer observation activities within their area and can discuss the impact that such activity has within their own area.
October 29, 2020

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