Lesson Visits Procedure

Review of the Quality of Learning through Lesson Visits

1. Aims and Objective


1.1    Introduction
The review of the quality of learning through visits to observe teaching learning and assessment and carry out professional dialogue about learning, is a key element of Newcastle City Learning’s quality assurance process.  Lesson visits provide important evidence to support judgements about the quality of learning experiences and to identify where development activity is needed to support improvement in teaching learning and assessment performance.  It helps us to monitor progress towards our key priority of delivering a high and consistent standard of teaching, learning and assessment, deepening learning and widening the application of skills and increasing learner independence.

Just as importantly, however, the procedure is intended to be developmental in nature and is to be used to support the professional development of our curriculum delivery staff, and thus improve the quality of the learner experience.


1.2 The aim and purpose of the review of learning through lesson visits and learning walks


The key aim of this procedure is to ensure that students at Newcastle City Learning receive the highest of standards and best quality learning experience to ensure that they are able to fulfil their potential.

In order to achieve this aim, Newcastle City Learning will continue to assess the quality of the learning experience through the collection of a wide range of evidence.  Collection of evidence through lesson visits is just one of the pieces of evidence which is used to judge the quality of the learner experience.

Overall, the aim is to establish a realistic picture of the quality of the learning experiences, to challenge under-performance to ensure that we raise standards, and support the strategic goal to provide outstanding teaching, learning and assessment and eliminate inadequate learning experiences for all learners.


2. Scope

All staff engaged in the delivery of learning activities


Key search words for this document

Observation, teaching and learning, lesson visits, learning walks


3. Procedure


Key Features 


Newcastle City Learning has a wide-ranging approach to the review of the quality of the
learning experiences of our students.  Lesson visits and learning walks are a part of a wide process in collecting evidence of the quality of our provision.


3.1   Lesson Visits


Our focus is firmly on improving learning opportunities by providing excellent leadership and support and expecting excellence from all our curriculum delivery staff.  Newcastle City Learning expects all curriculum delivery staff to deliver good or better learning opportunities for our students.  

We judge the quality of learning based on research on effective teaching as identified from the Education Inspection framework: overview of research (Ofsted, January 2019, No 180045) and a range of evidenced based knowledge about good learning.

During Lesson visits the observer will watch learning taking place, undertake a professional dialogue with the teacher to identify their thinking when planning learning activities, review any learning materials used, and talk to the learners to identify their current understanding within the lesson and overall progress from their starting points.

Training will be given to all those involved in the process, to ensure that they fully understand the standards, and how the quality of learning and learner progress will be measured during the lesson visit.

Constructive feedback will be provided to teachers for consideration in helping them to improve their practice and the quality of the learning experience.  Observers will adopt a coaching approach, and as such teachers are asked to reflect, accept guidance but to ultimately decided how their practice needs to be amended in order to move forward.

Staff are encouraged to reflect on their own practice and performance and manage their own continuous development and improvement.   Reflective practice and self-awareness is an integral part of the process of supportive observation of teaching, learning and assessment.

Following each lesson visit and subsequent professional dialogue, a Professional Development Plan will be created by both parties. The individual’s own line manager will be responsible for monitoring and tracking individual progress against the plan and ensuring support for improvement and the sharing of good practice.


3.2  What will be reviewed?


•    All timetabled teaching and learning sessions, including face to face and online.
•    Including preparation for life and work learning sessions
•    One-to-one learner progress reviews.
•    Training sessions.
•    Work-based training/On the job training
•    Tripartite progress reviews within apprenticeship provision.
•    The effective use of Learning Support Officers

•    All activities where teaching, learning and assessment is taking place will be reviewed.  The aim being to evaluate the quality of the learning experience, which will be influenced by various factors, including the learner’s work, planning documentation, attendance and retention rates, and the quality of learner progress made.

•    The Head of Service reserves the right, on behalf of the Board of Governors, to observe any learning session, at any time, with or without notice if feedback has been received of poor performance and lessons not meeting the NCL expected standards of delivery.

•    All newly appointed staff (full-time or fixed contract), will be observed during their induction period to ensure that they are working to the standards required by the service.


3.3  The Management of the Process


•    The framework for the operation of review of learning activities will be established by the Head of Service.

•    Learning and Skills managers will be responsible for ensuring staff compliance with the College procedures.  In addition, they will be responsible for reporting to the Head of Service the outcomes of lesson visits during routine performance review meetings, and for ensuring that both individual and team professional development needs are met. 

•    Learning and Skills Managers will provide support for improvement through an appropriate CPD programme including the use of teaching and learning coaches.


3.4  Procedure – Lesson Visits


•    The Head of Service will require Lesson Visits to take place at least twice per academic year. During those periods, the majority of staff should receive a visit to their lesson.  

•    All teachers will be provided with two days’ notice of any planned lesson visits.

•    Individual lesson visits should be for a minimum of 30 mins but no longer than 60 minutes in duration.

•    At the beginning of the session visit, the member of staff should give the observer access to a scheme of learning, and appropriate evidence of effective planning for learning, copies of any materials to be distributed to students, course work completed by the student group and any other materials which will assist the observer in understanding the context of the session.

•    Observers must be non-participative and non-directive during the observation.  However, observers may intervene if the Health and Safety of learners or others is at risk.

•    Observers will conduct a professional dialogue with the teacher to understand the context of the learning session and how the teacher has planned to maximise learning during the session.

•    Observers will talk to students and may look at students’ work and give them the opportunity to give feedback on their learning experience and their individual progress in learning, where appropriate.

•    On occasion, it may be necessary to have two observers observing one session as a means of standardisation, or for training purposes.


3.5  Giving feedback


•    A professional dialogue should take place immediately after the lesson where appropriate, if not then within 48 hours.  It may be necessary to agree a time for the discussion to take place at a later date, particularly where the visit does not extend to the end of the session, or where the teacher only comes into college for a short period of time within a week.  

•    Teachers will be encouraged to reflect and identify the strengths and areas for further development within the session observed.  Detailed, constructive feedback will also be offered to the teacher and their line manager within 7 days of the visit having taken place.  The feedback should clearly indicate both the strengths within the session and where appropriate, how the quality of learning could be improved further.  In the case of outstanding practice, this feedback might include how the individual might share this practice with others.

•    It is the responsibility of all parties to ensure that this timescale is adhered to.

•    Copies of the completed Lesson visit documentation will be sent by the observer to the teacher, their direct line manager and to Julie Hickin for our central records.  This evidence will be used to inform the self-assessment document for the service.  Additional visits will continue until the quality of learning experienced by the students is of the required standard.


3.6  Follow-up Lesson Visits


•    Where it is felt that a lesson visit has identified a member of staff requiring some additional support, to ensure a high-quality lesson is provided for learners, that member of staff will be offered an action plan of support from both their line manager and one of the teaching and learning coaches at NCL.  In these instances, a further lesson visit will be undertaken to measure the impact of the support provided.

•    Instances of sustained under-performance will trigger the NCL performance management procedures for classroom practice.


3.7   Accountability

•    The outcomes of all lesson visits will be analysed by the relevant Learning and Skills managers.  Managers will analyse the outcomes to agree appropriate CPD programmes which may need to be made available to support development needs.

•    Where best practice has been identified, Learning and Skills Managers should arrange to disseminate this to other teachers within their Departments and beyond.

•    Unsatisfactory performance in the classroom will be challenged.  Continuous under-performance will result in staff being placed on the Council’s disciplinary procedure if under-performance continues for a prolonged period of time.

•    All members of staff who have received a lesson visit will be invited to complete an evaluation sheet to provide feedback to the service on the effectiveness of the model in supporting them to improve their practice and to provide consistently good and better learning opportunities for their learners.  Staff will be asked to state whether procedures have been adhered to, to comment on systems and procedures and the quality of the feedback given by the observers.


3.8  Learning Walks


•    In addition to scheduled lesson visits, supportive learning walks may be undertaken by those responsible for developing curriculum.  These may be around key themes, such as attendance or student behaviour.  Learning Walks may have a key focus around an area of pedagogy such as questioning and are supportive and developmental in nature.  Following a learning walk 1:1 feedback will be given along with appropriate suggestions for development.  Learning walks will also be used to identify good practice within Departments.

•    Learning Walks should be undertaken in a supportive and professional manner.  Findings from learner walks may be used as the basis of professional discussion about teaching and learning at team meetings and used as a basis for general improvements to the learner experience.


3.9  Peer observations/Peer learning


•    Newcastle City Learning encourages all teachers to take part in peer learning sessions to enhance professional development.  The focus of learning for both the members of staff should be agreed by both parties and should be based upon sharing best practice.  Paperwork used for supportive Learning Walks would also provide an appropriate way of recording activities undertaken during such visits.  Peer learning is a very valuable way of developing your practice as a professional teacher.  Both parties will gain much from the process.


3.10  Review of the quality of learning within HE provision


•    The same approach is to be used in the review of the quality of learning in our HE curriculum within the service.