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Observations by peers and others


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I'm asking this out of curiosity!!

 

I've observed recently that whenever someone asks for help here about having an observation it is pretty much teachers in the school sector, both nursery and reception. As teachers, observation by seniors and by peers is pretty standard practice and is in part for CPD as well as performance management,and to determine the teaching and learning profile of the school (ie lots of "requires improvements" in the school's profile would seriously hamper a schools capacity to get a better outcome in an ofsted). It can also be because the teacher is an NQT or in the case of several people I have supported in my career because of capabilty procedures which are now more prevalent than I have known in the past.

 

So what is the situation in other provision. Is this just something that happens to teachers? How is observation of staff managed in non school provision? What place does observation of the quality of teaching play in self evaluation elsewhere?

 

Cx

Edited by catma
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Good question/observation Catma.....

 

From my experience, staff were only observed if an issue had been highlighted. Staff always felt uncomfortable about the process, felt stigmatised. Even when done in an empowering way staff always felt wary of being observed. Interestingly it showed in how the staff responded to any form of intervention/ support or guidance to reflect or review their practice.

 

Im only be talking about a few settings here but its not common practice and interestingly self reflection and critiquing ones practice isnt highlighted as a crucial aspect of working in the early years on NVQ courses. Whereas in teacher training action research is an expectation and a mark of good practice.

 

I think peer on peer observation, self critiquing and action research is a mark of quality.

 

I wonder what others think.

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Catma, I'm probably not the person to answer your question, as I am a teacher in a maintained nursery; however the idea of peer observations have been around for a long time - as I'm sure you know. About 1993 my pre-school was the first pre-school in Cornwall to achieve the PPA Accreditation Award in the first 'trials' of the scheme - even then we were looking toward peer observations as a way of moving forward and improving 'teaching'.

More recently, as part of the ECaT project, settings are encouraged to do video peer mentoring - against the 'Top ten tips to look out for' - a proforma is used and completed by the mentor; it is later shared with the practitioner after watching the video together.

As yet, I have only used the video to record myself reading to a small group - it was a useful exercise; unfortunately the staff at my setting are not altogether happy about video peer mentoring - although most have agreed to take part, it has not yet happened due to the time commitment.

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This is such an interesting area- and one where non-maintained leaders of settings are beginning to take observing staff seriously. It is now forming a part of the inspections- through the joint observation opportunity where they help inspectors to assess the accuracy and quality of monitoring practice and planning for staff professional development. Indeed the outstanding criteria says "High-quality professional supervision is provided, based on consistent and sharply focused evaluations of the impact of staff's practice". How better to do this than regularly observing staff working with children, and identifying those areas of strength (and celebrating them!) and those for development? :1b

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As a pre-school we do peer on peer observations in a small way through two stars and a wish format . We also have regular supervisions and appraisals. Most staff are also doing further training so are regularly meeting with their mentors (who are members of the team) to discuss their ongoing development. As a manager it is also up to me to pick up on any issues...or equally praise them for what they are doing right. When we had our inspection we were praised for the amount of self assessment we were doing (even though my sef hadn't been done at the time!!)

Although this is not the same sort of observation that schools do i do feel it has the same overall effect on the quality of our service

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well actually it's now a happy sandwich !!!

All the staff are given a piece of paper with another member of staff's name on it (like secret santa!) they're asked to write down one thing they like about the way the member of staff works then something to improve, then another positive. We then discuss as a team...without anyone knowing who said what ...except me!

It's a bit tricky to do at first but is a reasonably simple system.

(if you google 2 stars and a wish it is used for lots of evaluations...we also use it for parents to tell us about our service)

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I've passed some information about it to our manager but we dont do them yet. We have appraisals once a year. and I believe they're about to start more frequent supervisions too.

I expect one of the reasons we dont do them is time, there is only so much you can cram into a 2 and a half hour session and these kinds of thing, which are new and have never been needed before get pushed to tomorrow and next week.

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As a pre-school we do peer on peer observations in a small way through two stars and a wish format . We also have regular supervisions and appraisals. Most staff are also doing further training so are regularly meeting with their mentors (who are members of the team) to discuss their ongoing development. As a manager it is also up to me to pick up on any issues...or equally praise them for what they are doing right. When we had our inspection we were praised for the amount of self assessment we were doing (even though my sef hadn't been done at the time!!)

Although this is not the same sort of observation that schools do i do feel it has the same overall effect on the quality of our service

 

So in this process do you as a leader give a judgement to the staff member, ie: what I saw was outstanding to inadequate?? What would you use if you had to go into a capabilty situation?

 

Cx

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I think I'm liking this idea (not sure about the time factor though but as a CPD exercise I think it's worth looking in to) We have general chats based around general observations (i.e nothing is formal) but I think it would be nice to base it on something more specific/transparent

...what sort of things do you look for when completing peer observations?

...and do you have a proforma for the occasion (so everybody is judged on the same criteria...especially if it's a team member observing another team member)

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I observe my staff and give them very detailed feedback about what I've seen and what IMPACT they are having, as practitioners, on the children. I do give indicators of whether the practice is Outstanding, Good, Satisfactory, Inadequate. I also go through the DM statements with them afterwards so that they can see that I'm not just making it all up! I also use the evaluation schedule that Inspectors use to show staff why the judgements are as they are. I describe it to my staff as 'Satisfactory is a cake, Good is a cake with icing, Outstanding is a cake with icing and sprinkles - Inadequate is no cake (and we all know that's unacceptable!): I spend a lot of time with my staff talking about "where are the sprinkles?" . Then, when we are team teaching together we can talk together about how things can be improved and what's being done really well.

It feeds into our appraisal and review system as part of staff CPD.

Our teams also do supervisions of each other, but these are informal, chatty and are about how teams are working and the children they are with.

 

pw x

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So in this process do you as a leader give a judgement to the staff member, ie: what I saw was outstanding to inadequate?? What would you use if you had to go into a capabilty situation?

 

Cx

No i think this would be something i could aspire to though! i guess it is an issue of time as a manager i not only do the role of headteacher but business manager and keyperson too (etc etc etc!!) I'm not sure i would be comfortable to use the ofsted criteria but i guess i would expect to be picking up on outstanding practise and certainly inadequate on a daily basis as part of the provision...after all i am on the shop floor all day every day working with the team. I suppose this is the other thing too ...i am very much part of the team. I would hope that as the staff's employer i would have assessed their capablitlity at several points ..including during employment and induction, large issues would result in me not employing the person...small issues would need further training and monitoring. Obviously if we get to a stage where i felt they were unable to do their job (even after further input) i would start to put disciplinary procedured in to play.

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This is the format I use.

 

I get staff to identify something in supervision meetings that they themselves feel they could do better, it might be that they have noticed for example, that another member of staff can keep the children captivated during a story or circle time and would like that person to do the observation of them diong it so that the feedback is from someone they feel they can learn from. Not sure I am making sense here but it works for us, especially the second page where the conversation takes place giving advice and setting personal targets.

 

It might help others, not sure where I got it from; could have been from here or from someone from my LA ;)

Peer observation form.docx

Edited by Pimms o'clock?
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In our Local Authority, Registered Childminders are visited a couple of times in their starting up period and then about once a year thereafter. Now that I am a 'Network Childminder' my provision is assessed every six months or so. Two hour long visits - planning, assessment, care provision.. It's very much, 'How is it for the child here?' and 'what are the outcomes?'. Used to be traumatic but I now welcome it.

 

Honey

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