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Hi,

 

I'm still relatively new to this website and haven't really posted before so a quick hello firstly! I'm Kate.

 

Secondly, I'm not certain this is the right place for my query but here goes!

 

I'm working in a school nursery and have was today observed for part of the morning session by a member of SMT with no prior warning. She walked in and said she'd be observing literacy - what was my focus? She then stayed for about 40 minutes and later gave me unfavourable and in my opinion unwarrented feedback concerning behavioural issues with no mention of literacy.

 

My question really is - are teachers entitled to any notice before being observed and do they have to stick to commenting on a particular pre-determined focus?

 

Would appreciate anyone's experience of this?? I feel angry that I wasn't given time to prepare myself!

 

Thanks

Kate

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Hi Kate and welcome

 

Good practise does mean agreeing the focus of the observation beforehand ( so warning, I believe) and sticking to it. Other issues may be discussed but should not take over, so behavioural issues impacting on the teaching and learning taking place could be relevant but should not detract from the agreed objectives of the observation.

I think you should be able to access guidelines from your union, maybe performance management.

 

I suppose in the current short notice Ofsted climate, it could be argued that we should all be prepared to be observed at any point?

 

As a member of SMT I did warn my team that in my management time I would be spending time in their classrooms and that I would be making notes for my own benefit but the purpose of my visits was to get to know the children and to monitor provision across the classes not to be threatening.

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Hi Kate, What a horrible position to find yourself in.

 

It is not good practice for anyone to come into your lesson to observe without notice, even if you're an NQT. Are you an NQT?

 

In fact, the more I think about this the more I think it's an outrage! Did the children know who this person was? How did she know you'd be doing 'Literacy'? Hope you said we don't do Literacy in Nursery, we do CLL.

 

I think you have a right to feel angry about this instrusion. The intention may be honourable but the way it's been executed is not, particularly if the feedback was all negative. Was it? Surely some positives should/could have been noted. I think you need to tell her that you don't think her observation was fairly conducted.

 

Does this SMT person have a feel for Foundation? Are you new to the school? If so on both counts why not try to redress the situation by inviting this woman to Nursery on your terms, to take part in an activity/session that you've prepared for her and the children to work together to get her onto your wavelength?

 

Comiserations. Hope this help.

Love J

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Good practice and good management would dictate that you should be given notice that you are going to be observed, and what the focus of the observation will be. That said, a Headteacher is perfectly entitled to enter your room at any time and see what is going on in your classroom. All staff should be aware of the criteria used to judge their lessons, and should receive both verbal and, later, written feedback, and be given an opportunity to comment. Part of the observation criteria will be classroom and behaviour management. The OFSTED handbook describes the standards that are expected at each level and these are the criteria against which lessons are judged.

There seems little point in turning up to observe CLL if you happen to be engaged in numeracy activites for example, which is why it is better to negotiate when the observation is to take place. With schools now doing self-evaluation SMT are having to do observations to justify their judgements about what is happening in the school. When OFSTED arrive they will be testing that those judgements are valid by sampling lessons. there is a lot of pressure on SMT and unfortunately that then gets passed down to the rest of the staff. :o

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That's disgusting! Just to turn up like that, & then to comment on unrelated issues - I should complain if I were you (in the nicest possible way). I don't do CLL activities every day in my nursery - they are built in to the routines, e.g. children reading their names to self-register etc. but with only 2 adults in the nursery usually, and with one of those positioned outside, the inside person is not always delivering CLL!!!

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:) I agree with Chocolate Girl that is disgusting :o . Even with Ofsted there is some warning. I also think what JacquieL said is important to note " Good practice and good management would dictate that you should be given notice that you are going to be observed, and what the focus of the observation will be."

Do you get written feedback of the observation and if so is their any space for you to add your own comments?

 

No wonder you are angry. I hope you feel better having shared your experience on here :)

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That's disgusting! Just to turn up like that, & then to comment on unrelated issues - I should complain if I were you (in the nicest possible way). I don't do CLL activities every day in my nursery - they are built in to the routines, e.g. children reading their names to self-register etc. but with only 2 adults in the nursery usually, and with one of those positioned outside, the inside person is not always delivering CLL!!!

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Thanks for all of your responses. I'm not an nqt - i've been teaching since 97 with two breaks when I had my daughters. I am going to arrange to meet the SMT member again on monday and ask her why I wasn't given notice (I think it was agreed in staff meetings that out of politeness you would be warned that morning if you were to be observed during the day).

 

I have a feeling that I am being unfairly targeted at the moment, mainly because the head can walk past the nursery and view proceedings at any time (there is a long corridor with 4 windows) and lately I have seen her looking disapprovingly at what is going on. I think she got this member of staff to come in purely to check up on me and this explains her hidden agenda and the pretence of a literacy observation.

 

The head and SMT have no experience of nursery or fs at all and after two years at the school this is only the 3rd observation I have had. The second was 6 weeks ago and was glowing - I was told I should frame it. I know that when the head looks in she sees everything out of context and has no real idea of the age group - she frowns when she sees a group of children in the role play area (I suppose she thinks it looks unstructured) but I know that they are all sharing pretend food and are involved in amicable, collaborative play because I've been watching them and can hear them. I have been told that members of SMT have been 'spying' on me through the windows - they have been seen apparently standing out of my sight but in a position where they can see into the nursery!! I find this all extremely upsetting! I know I am a good teacher but all of this is making me doubt it.

 

I think I will ask SMT back part in an activity as suggested and thanks again for all of the responses!

 

kate

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As far as I am aware you should be notified of observations, even when OFSTED arrive you will have notice. Be prepared and armed to argue about the value of what you are doing- literacy as a lesson is not appropritae for nursery and refer the person to the FSCG. As a memeber of the SMT you would hope that they are aware of this document but it may well be gathering dust!!!!!!!! I have to say that I am very used to members of the SMT and other staff walking through our unit as unfortunately it provides a handy walk way through to other classes/ office/rest of school if the hall is in use (assemblies, PE, external visitors etc). I can not reciprocate this disturbance to key stage 1/ 2!!!!!!!At the moment I feel confident enough in what I am doing with the children ( hopefully so do most of the FS unit team including our FS coordinator) and we accept these walk through visits as part of the norm. I know that we should' nt but at the moment its not an issue as we don not feel threatened as a teaching team. Some children will ususally try to grab the attention of walk through visitors and engae them inwhat they are doing. The plus side is that the children get too know the faces of staff in the school who are not based in thre unit, the down side everybody has a bad day. But so far no negative comments. Also as a a team we are always aware of non regular visitors and stop them and question why they are walking through our unit. Always vigilant!

 

Lisa

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The head asked if we minded the Year 6 teacher coming to have a look at numeracy 'good practice' and of course we said that was fine. He arrived however with a clipboard and a 'OFSTED' style check list he had drawn up himself and settled down in a corner to observe :( Never spoke to any of the staff not even a hello :o left without even going into the room where the numeracy adult focus activity was set up. Both I and the nursery teacher were understandably 'put out' and went to see the head who agreed this wasnt acceptable. When confronted he said he was overcome by the number of things going on and unsure what he was looking at (time to ask maybe) and his only comment was that we had dangerous whisks in the angel delight tray xD Hmmmph!

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