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Last updated on 25 March 2019
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Be clear about how you can effectively monitor the quality of teaching and learning, and use our list of questions to ask school leaders about provision.

Our contributing experts

We worked with David Driscoll and Kate Foale, two of our associate education experts, to write this article.

Triangulate evidence using different monitoring methods

Governors can be involved in monitoring the quality of teaching in the following ways: 

  • Examining and interrogating pupil progress data
  • Visiting the school to see lessons
  • Talking to pupils
  • Speaking to staff and asking questions

It is important for you to triangulate the evidence you have so use a range of methods.

Visit your school to see lessons

Arrange with senior leaders a convenient time to visit the school to see lessons, and be clear why you want to do so. 

Watching lessons can help you to understand:

  • Whether pupils are engaged in lessons
  • Whether pupil behaviour supports or undermines learning
  • How effective staff/pupil relationships are

You shouldn't assess teacher performance or be involved in formal lesson observations. This should be left to teaching staff and senior leaders at the school. 

Use our list of questions when speaking to staff

Use and adapt these questions when you are scrutinising:

  • The methods school leaders use when monitoring teaching and learning
  • Your school's approach to improving teaching and learning
  • How teaching is adapted to meet the needs of all pupils
  • The introduction of a new teaching approach

The document also includes what you might expect in a response.

Use pupil data and pupil surveys

Analyse pupil data

Evaluate the effectiveness of teaching and learning in your school by using internal and external data such as:

  • National assessments and examination results
  • Analyse School Performance
  • Half-termly or termly assessments of each pupils

Expected and better-than-expected progress over time can indicate that teaching is having a positive impact on pupils. 

A report from the Sutton Trust outlines the effectiveness of progress data in measuring the impact of teaching in further detail.

Gather pupils' views

Surveys and questionnaires can provide qualitative evidence of pupils' views on the quality of teaching and learning. 

Use our downloadable questionnaires on teaching and learning aimed at primary- and secondary-aged pupils

Scrutinise your headteacher's report

You should be kept informed about overall levels of teaching in the school.

Your headteacher's report should include information on progress towards improving the quality of teaching and learning, such as:

  • The programme of lesson observations
  • What the focus of lesson observations is and why; how it feeds into school improvement planning and continuing professional development (CPD)
  • How this addresses school improvement priorities and concerns around standards of teaching and learning
  • What is in place for teachers to improve practice and tackle under-performance
  • How any competency issues are tackled, and how teachers are supported to improve

If your school does use grades, your headteacher could also report on how many lessons observed were good or outstanding, and whether the number of these is increasing. They shouldn't be disclosing the details of individual lesson observation grades to you. 

If the quality of teaching is improving, you should expect the areas for development to change over a period of time, for example, or for pupils to be making at least expected progress.

Take a look at examples of headteachers' reports in another article.


David Driscoll is an independent consultant and a senior partner with an education consultancy. He has considerable experience of supporting schools to analyse their data to improve achievement, teaching and leadership.

Kate Foale has extensive experience as a primary and secondary school governor and is a national leader of governance. She has also worked as an adult education lecturer with specialisms in effective communications, strategic planning and managing change.



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