Book scrutiny and lesson observation – evidence for curriculum implementation that defines high quality education outcomes

How intent is translated into the delivery of high-quality educational outcomes must come from looking closely at pedagogy and how and what pupils learn. OFSTED have recently published research into ensuring they can assess this accurately. Lesson observations and ‘workbook scrutiny’ are seen as an essential part of what will provide a spotlight into the quality of curriculum implementation. They see an essential triangulation between observation, a deep review of pupils’ book work and opportunities for face to face conversations. Their research is small scale but it is thorough. ‘How valid and reliable is the use of lesson observation in supporting judgements on the quality of education?‘ and Workbook scrutiny – Ensuring validity and reliability in inspections’

The research is designed to inform the systems that will ensure accurate and valid inspection.  Some of the indicators and research questions could be useful in creating meaningful models for defining a school’s own internal standards that define the quality of education within subjects and across the wider curriculum. The imperative for quality assurance in schools is to ensure that classroom pedagogy reflects how the curriculum intent is translated into classroom practice that leads to effective and deep subject learning and skills competence.  For this there needs to be an opportunity to observe lessons across a range of learning contexts. The quality of teaching and the depth and sequencing of subject knowledge need to be reflected in the quality of work output that is included in pupils’ books, in displays and within their ability to articulate through conversations with adults and with their peers.

For ‘book scrutiny’ four indicators were selected as those that would be observable in workbooks, the focus will be on how subject matter is taught and learned to allow for efficient and meaningful acquisition of new knowledge and whether and how pupils consolidate knowledge so that it remains in the long term memory. The indicators are,

  • Building on previous learning
  • Depth and breadth of coverage
  • Pupils’ progress
  • Practice

The research into the reliability and validity of lesson observation is documented in a slightly larger piece of work. In this document there are a list of 18 lesson observation indicators that inspectors will use as a guide to ascertaining how accurate their judgements are at assessing the quality of education through lesson observation. We have included the indicators in a separate PDF which you can download here.

It is not possible for individual schools to carry out their own research on the scale that OFSTED and other researchers they cite have undertaken. It is eminently possible to use the findings from research to inform internal action planning. There are opportunities to model the research criteria as part of a structure that clearly defines the intention for high quality curriculum design and delivery. From this schools can then focus on identifying the strengths within their school, recognise the gaps and subsequently fulfil the professional development needs that arise. This will create the right culture to build a platform of continuous improvement, positive collaboration and professional learning conversations that will cascade good and outstanding practice.  Creating a triangulation for quality assurance that ensures the rationale and ambition for the curriculum is implemented to achieve a high level of success for all learners. This triangulation is essentially,

  • lesson observation that celebrates positive pedagogy that ensures curriculum implementation linked to the school intent, rationale and ambition
  • looking at learning outcomes within books and as part of displays and other media
  • creating opportunities for a curriculum dialogue to exist for leaders, managers, teachers TAs and pupils

We are continually updating our curriculum suite of courses  to create for schools a series of solutions focused and resource rich experiences linked to well-respected research and our own considerable expertise.