Thomas Buxton Primary School makes use of our Teaching and Learning Development Module for recording lesson observations with judgements and has been doing so since 2014. We asked headteacher, Lorraine Flanagan, to answer a few questions for us.
What led you to buy Lessons Learned?
We were looking for a better way to track the quality of teaching and learning across the school. At the time we had a number of different paper-based systems which had developed over time. Although staff were clear about the criteria for making judgements about different aspects of teaching and learning it didn’t all quite join up. Appraisal, monitoring and professional development were effective but they didn’t fully interconnect.
What impact has Lessons Learned had on teaching and learning in your school?
Working with the Lessons Learned team has helped us to have a focal point for all the work we do as a leadership team and increasingly for class teachers to use for their own professional development.
We developed our use of the system over a longer period of time than we initially anticipated. This has been beneficial in that we have taken time to consider how we judge the quality of teaching and learning. It is evolving as the various frameworks for inspection and appraisal develop. Moving from a paper-based to web-based system has meant that the way we look at the quality of teaching and learning is much more evidenced based. You can never beat knowing your staff and children well but having the evidence to quality assure your judgements is essential in today’s world.
What types of evidence do you use Lessons Learned for?
Currently we only use the system to record lesson observations but now we are comfortable with this approach we are moving toward recording a wider set of evidence to support our overall judgement about the quality of teaching.
Can you talk us through the process of using Lessons Learned in your school?
Team leaders use Lessons Learned to record notes from lesson observations. Some staff prefer using the iPad to record during the lesson and others use paper notes and then fill in the proforma with the class teacher afterwards. The AHT with responsibility for Teaching and Learning has the overview of outcomes across the school and can track different aspects depending on the focus.
How easy was it to customise for your school?
The team have always been available and willing to talk to us about adapting the system to what we would like to achieve. It is never quite finished but is more of a constant work in progress. The time taken to get to know the system is well spent and, as with many things, it is slowly becoming “just what we do”.
What do find most frustrating about the system and how have the Lessons Learned team helped to address this?
Initially the proformas were too wordy and seemed a bit secondary focused but it soon became apparent how easy it is to adapt anything on the system with the help of their support team.
What do you think is the most useful feature of Lessons Learned?
The central, accessible store of analysis of teaching and learning is useful for us in building a picture of teaching and learning for individual teachers and for the school as a whole. The fact that it is web based means that there is less risk of user error. Having a shared view of teaching and learning is very valuable.
Is Lessons Learned good value for money and would you recommend the system to other schools?
I believe Lessons Learned is good value for money and I do recommend the system to other schools.