How giving up lesson observations cut SLT workload by more than half: case study

Senior leaders at Lavender Primary School saved themselves 8.5 hours a term when they stopped formal lesson observations 2 years ago. This also improved teacher wellbeing, boosted retention, and kept teaching standards high. Find out how they did it, and how you can too.

Last reviewed on 13 September 2019
School types: All · School phases: All
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  1. The light-bulb moment
  2. The new approach: learning walks instead of observations
  3. How does performance management work?
  4. Impact on staff workload, wellbeing and retention
  5. Make this work in your school

The light-bulb moment

Executive headteacher Lesley Hill and head of school Jodie Corbett at Lavender Primary School knew they had to make a change when it was announced in a staff meeting that everyone should "be kind to year 5 this week" because it was their turn for lesson observations. That's when they realised that:

  • Observing every teacher once a term was putting teachers under unnecessary pressure to perform “the perfect lesson”, adding to workload, and wasn't benefiting pupils
  • Observations weren’t giving the senior leadership team (SLT) a true picture of everyday teaching in their school
  • Ineffective lesson observations were taking an average of 15 hours of SLT time per term (based on 1 hour per teacher per term)

Break down the “us and them” culture that lesson observations had created between teachers and leadership Mirror their “Fast Feedback” approach to marking, which was also brought in to tackle teacher workload. This approach stops