Lesson observations: how-to guide and templates

Get to grips with how to carry out successful lesson observations. Use our lesson observation templates (2 of which are based on Ofsted inspection criteria), our template feedback form for staff and a spreadsheet to keep track of observations throughout the school year.

Last reviewed on 7 May 2024
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 36104
  1. You can set your own rules 
  2. Decide on a focus
  3. Understand the context 
  4. Use our template forms to structure your observations
  5. Talk to pupils and look at their work
  6. Follow up the observation with feedback
  7. Record your observations and outcomes 
  8. Share the results with the SLT and follow up with teachers
  9. Use learning walks instead of lesson observations when appropriate

You can set your own rules 

There are no requirements on:

  • The number of lesson observations you can carry out in a year
  • How long observations should last
  • Who can carry out observations
  • How much notice you need to give before an observation
  • Whether drop-ins or learning walks should count as lesson observations

Consider what style and frequency of observations will have the best impact on your senior leadership team (SLT) and teachers' workload and wellbeing.

Create a policy and keep union protocols in mind

Set out your school’s approach to lesson observations in a policy – it could be its own observation policy, or part of your appraisal policy.

Your policy could include:

  • The annual pattern of classroom observation
  • A notice period for observations
  • Who can observe who
  • How feedback should be given

Unions have their own protocols, so bear those in mind. If you're reviewing your approach to lesson observations, involve your school's union representatives in the process.

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