No Formal Observations, Ever!

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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If schools are not grading lesson observations, how can we take this further?

This post forms the crux of my presentation at TeachMeet London 2016 and is what I believe, to be the next stage for all schools – whether you are grading individual lessons or not!

Without lesson gradings, how can we improve teaching and learning? Many schools will be conducting Learning Walks – I stopped doing these 3 years ago – and department reviews. I know I have also been the by-product of our system, but I hope from all of our experiences, I am able to contribute to a solution. One that reduces time, is costed and is a feasible solution for improving teachers and teaching and learning.

I now ask that we have no more formal observations, ever!


Here is my pitch to banish high-stakes formal observations (x3 per academic year) and help schools and teachers move towards a coaching model; to develop the teacher and genuinely improve teaching and learning.

Click below to watch my 2-minute presentation at TeachMeet London 2016 (and read the pre-blogpost here).

What? Why? How?

How can we genuinely improve teaching and learning? How can we add a brick in the wall to strengthen teaching and learning?

If we keep doing the same things, we will keep getting the same results.

Pre-2014, teachers were graded (sometimes wrongly) in 3 formal observations per-year. Despite teaching over 800 hours, only those 3 hours were used to evaluate the quality of teaching over time.

Eighteen months on, Ofsted and 50% of schools are now, no-longer grading teachers via individual lesson-observations and teachers are now free from high-stake decisions that have been proven to be unreliable and lack any valid judgment.

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What? No Feedback?!

However, some schools still conduct learning walks, despite not offering specific feedback to individual teachers. Instead, a blanket generalisation is made of what has been seen throughout the process; providing generalised areas for development for all. This has no benefit to the individual teacher, whatsoever. In 2013, I said I was binning learning walks and I’m pleased to report, I haven’t conducted any since!

In my video I offer how ‘coaching‘ can be a solution for every school and every teacher. I also offer some time and financial solutions to enable the proposal to work. It will not be bullet-proof, but it is a start …

TeachMeet London #TMLondon 2016 Ross McGill @TeacherToolkit


  1. Banish lesson gradings forever.
  2. … then STOP the traditional 3 lessons per year.
  3. No more formal observations. Ever!
  4. Allow every teacher to receive coaching.
  5. Identify 25-50% of staff to be coaches.
  6. Allocate funding.
  7. Allocate time: one period per week (15 min / 30 min)
  8. No paperwork. Optional log book.
  9. Rigorous training for coach.
  10. Relationships outside of appraisal.
  11. Across departments, levels, roles.
  12. Specific framework. A common vernacular …
  13. The cycle would repeat every week.
  14. The coaching would be for 2 terms.
  15. Voluntary … let appraisal take care of itself.


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Click to open some feedback provided on social-media …


Click the image to share a ‘thank you’.


… and you can download my presentation here.

Thanks for reading.


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3 thoughts on “No Formal Observations, Ever!

  1. What a fantastic opportunity to develop practice and treat each other in the positive, supportive and personalised way we are told is best practice with our students!

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