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Teacher observation sessions 'do not lead to better outcomes for pupils'

14/11/2017 Joanna

A new study has cast doubt on whether teacher observation sessions are able to deliver the intended benefits for staff and their pupils.

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) led the study, which involved 14,100 pupils in 82 English secondary schools and aimed to determine whether introducing more frequent and structured lesson observations, where teachers observe their colleagues and give them feedback, can prove useful.

Maths and English teachers were asked to take part in at least six 20-minute peer observation sessions over a two-year period, with staff rating each other on specific elements of a lesson, such as how well they managed behaviour, engaged students in learning or used discussion techniques.

Although a previous US study indicated that such observations could deliver gains in student and teacher performance, this EEF evaluation showed that GCSE pupils made no more progress in combined English and maths scores than those who did not take part in this research.

Moreover, many teachers failed to complete the recommended number of observations due to the difficulty of fitting this work into their timetable. Even when observations did take place, there was no evidence that they led to better pupil results.

Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the EEF, said: "Today's research tells us that schools shouldn't expect to see an improvement in results by increasing the frequency and intensity of their teacher observations. Even though some teachers in our trial struggled to fit them into their busy days, when they did, they made no difference to pupil results.

"Focusing on proven ways of improving teaching - like tried and tested CPD courses and feedback methods - are likely to reap bigger rewards."

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