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 3 May 2023
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 36104
  1. 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

Set your own rules 

There are no rules 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 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.

Our own model appraisal policy, which we developed in consultation with NAHT A model appraisal policy