Union Slams Letter on Classroom Observation for 'Inflaming Dispute'

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), April 17, 2012 | Go to article overview
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Union Slams Letter on Classroom Observation for 'Inflaming Dispute'


Byline: GARETH EVANS

THE UK's biggest teaching union has accused a senior civil servant of inflaming its trade dispute with the Welsh Government in an "ill-judged" letter to sector leaders.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) said it was "dismayed" by an update on classroom observation penned by Chris Tweedale, director of schools and young people in the Department for Education and Skills (DfES).

The headteachers' union said the letter was 'helpful'.

In his letter, which will be distributed to schools this week, Mr Tweedale said he wanted to clarify the use of classroom observation in raising standards following "some people's misunderstanding".

NASUWT is the first teaching union to launch a dispute against the Welsh Government over issues including excessive workload, job losses and "excessive lesson observation". Members have been told to refuse any classroom observation which exceeds three hours or was not agreed and recorded in their annual performance review.

But writing on behalf of DfES, Mr Tweedale said classroom observation was a key element of its school improvement strategy and an integral part of a teacher's professional development. "Observation can take many forms and provides valuable opportunities to share what works well in the classroom including receiving feedback on new areas of practice or learning," he said.

"It is for headteachers to decide on the purpose, nature and frequency of classroom observation.

Arrangements for observation should be planned and well-managed and the purpose of observation should be clearly understood by those involved so that it supports effective teaching and learning. "However, contrary to some peoples' misunderstanding, there are no set limits on the amount of observation that may be carried out either as part of performance management arrangements or for other purposes."

Rex Phillips, NASUWT Wales organiser, said the union would consider strike action if Mr Tweedale's letter was used to pressure its members.

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Union Slams Letter on Classroom Observation for 'Inflaming Dispute'
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