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Lesson Observations - Making the Grade

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#1 Roy Huggins

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 10:41 PM

Hi Guys,

After first checking with a few folks I thought that it would be a good idea to begin a seminar / thread where folks could discuss the different grading criteria that Ofsted, SLT and HOD use for grading lesson observations.

As a HOD / HOF I'm under a lot of pressure to monitor my staff and grade their lessons. I also put myself under a lot of pressure to lead by example. I've often got annoyed in the past with what I've ofted felt are arbitary decisions by members of SLT or inspectors about what was a 'good' or 'outstanding' lesson' or before they moved the goal posts a good, very good or excellent lesson. However, what I've learnt over the past 18 months is how to tweak or play the game so that my lessons so that they have gone from 'good with outstanding features' to 'outstanding'.

If you've followed any my threads you may know that my school was recently put into challenging school's status as a result of our Math's department dragging our 5 A*s - C including English and Maths down to 19%. Our overall school pass is about 44%, whilst the English department achieves 60% and the history department 64%. Previous to this we were very much under the microscope and were effectively inspected three times last year by Ofsted and the LEA. Each time our school's overall grading was 'Satisfactory', but due to the fact that not enough lessons had improved since the last inspection in October 2007 we deemed as being unsatisfactory.

Throughout this baptism of fire my departent did very well with our lessons being graded as either good with outstanding features or outstanding. In the past 12 months I've had three of my lessons graded as outstanding in the past 12 months by tweaking my them playing the game and focusing on the learning taking place in the lesson and almost physically rubbing the inspectors faces in what is happening in my lessons. If you look at some of the lesson plans that I intend to upload to this thread I actually tell them where to look for the evidence they are looking for!

Unfortunately, now that we are in Challenging School status I now find myself coaching a number of departments including Maths and Geography! However, one of the upsides is that I've managed to get my hands on some very interesting documents including Ofsted training material and guidance for grading lessons as well as the opportunity to work with a even wider range of folks who need help moving their lessons forward.

So the aim of this thread is not to discuss the rights and wrongs of the system, but how to play the game and move lessons from Satisfactory to Outstanding. It would be great if other folks could post and share similar resources, lesson plans that might help other folks who are burnng the midnight oil preparing for an observation next day to tweak or nudge them in teh right direction. Ideally, if I get the time I would like to turn some of the documents below into some form of eading ladder for teachers.

Ultimately, I would like to go on the record that I'm not a 'Superteacher' nor do I know all the answers, but I would like to help folks by entering into a professional dialogue and sharing what I know in the hope that others will do the same. The only way that we can safeguard history's position on the curriculum is by standing together making sure that it remains the best taught subject in the curriculum.

Anyway, so lets get this seminar or thread underway by sharing some of the goodies I've managed to aquire recently that folks might find useful. Please feel free to discuss and share similar resources that you may have!

Ofsted Grading Criteria Explained: Attached File  Ofsted_Grade_Criteria.PDF   583.49KB   256 downloads

Lesson Observation Guidelines produced by our Challenging School's advisor: Attached File  Lesson_Observation_Guidelines.PDF   532.37KB   221 downloads

Kind Regards

Roy :jester:

Edited by Roy Huggins, 11 November 2008 - 12:14 AM.

"Men are disturbed, not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen." - Epictetus

#2 Derek Bos

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 07:12 PM

Hi Roy
A good topic to begin. I have attached 10 lesson plans which were considered to be outstanding by Ofsted which were picked up on a course a couple of years ago. I am not sure that I would consider them to be outstanding but gives a flavour of what they are looking for in terms of paperwork. We had a one day Oftsed ispection last week looking at inclusion and how we cater for the ability range. It was noted that lesson plans rarely identified differentiation and though it occurred in the lessons observed it was not down on paper and so was not deemed to be really happening.

Attached Files

#3 Roy Huggins

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 08:21 PM

Hi Derek,

Many thanks, some brilliant resources! The only problem with looking at lesson plans is that they only show the planned direction, but a good / outstanding teacher will respond to the needs of the class and adapt to maximze the opportunities for learning. You don't necessarily have to produce fantastic plan and resources in order to get outstanding as the emphasis is on the learning not the actual teaching. I suppose what I'm saying is that you had to be there!

Roy :jester:
"Men are disturbed, not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen." - Epictetus

#4 Roy Huggins

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 08:47 PM

Hi Guys,

Please find below my lesson plan, resources and evaluation of a lesson that was graded as outstanding this year.

Attached File  Lesson_Plan_Emily_Davision2.doc   55.5KB   151 downloads
Attached File  Emily_Davison.ppt   318KB   140 downloads
Attached File  Smart_Notes_for_Emily_Davison.ppt   427.5KB   113 downloads



The lesson began with a Snowballing exercise using the key words in the PP Smart Doc

  • Students were given two minutes to memorize the key words before they were covered up.
  • They then had to list as many of the key words as they could remember in 2 minutes.
  • They then had 1 minute in order to share their answers with their neighbours and add to their list
  • During this time I gave out the lesson resources and took the class register.
  • I also kept on calling out the timing so as to keep the underachieving boys on task
  • Once the Snowballing session was over students had to self or peer assess their answers
  • We then discussed the key words and through no hands feedback I got the students to explain their meanings and make links and connections


  • I then explained the lesson objectives and how they fitted into the bigger picture.
  • This was followed up by watching a video clip on Emily Davision 90 seconds
  • Whilst students were rewatching the video they then had to draw up 5 bullet points which they then had to snowball with their neighbout before feeding back to a class discussion.

  • We then moved onto the card sort exercise which I based on the Folen's text book on Technology and Power
  • Students had to sort the evidence cards under the two heading / interpretations - Suicide or Protest. They had to record their choices in the table in the Smart Notes PP.
  • I gave them 15 minutes and circulated around the class. I also encouraged the inspector to actively discuss with the students what they were doingas well look through their work - especially their back book work.

Plenary - best laid plans ...

  • During the feedback session we took a vote on the evidence and I duly recorded their responses.
  • I used the no hands counting in order to select students to explain their choices.
  • Conscious of the time I had to cut this short to explain the Pro and Con Organiser homework
  • At the close of the lesson I brought up the learning objectives and got my students to assess their work against the lesson objectives and the must, should and could which I linked into GCSE grades - they all achieved the 'Should' and some about 15% the could. A cunning trick I learnt from an AST!


On balance, I was maybe being over ambitious but the quality of discussions / feedback from my students and their ideas were brilliant. I was really proud of them, but the trick that I've learnt is to give them lots of opportunities to reflect, discuss, assess and share what they had learnt. I also regularly referred back to the objectives and reconnected what they were doing to the key theme on how successful was sufferegette violence. I also laid down the criteria by which they could also base a judgement on how well they had achieved and made sure that I rubbed their responses in the inspectors face!

I also managed to add pace throughout the lesson and keep everyone engaged by calling out the timings and using my bright pink egg timer which never fails to keep them on task. One of the keys to success is empowering classroom routines which literally help you to coach the kids to success and look very impressive to an outside visitor / inspector - climate for learning!

I hope you find this useful.

Roy :jester:

Edited by Roy Huggins, 11 November 2008 - 11:04 PM.

"Men are disturbed, not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen." - Epictetus

#5 donald cumming

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 12:47 PM

The Ofsted website always has useful documents - for example here is the guidance for Inspectors on how to inspect a school:

Inspectors handbook

And here is the guidance on evaluating lessons:

Lesson obs guidance


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