Here is some helpful guidance on conducting joint observations.
The new framework on carrying out Ofsted inspections concentrates heavily on the managers leadership and management skills. As part of assessing and monitoring the managers leadership and management skills the Ofsted inspector will carry out joint observations with the nursery manager. The observations are used as a tool to help improve managers leadership skills.
As joint observations are a requirement during an Ofsted inspection, the outcome of the observations will contribute to the grade on the leadership and management section. Therefore knowing this it is highly important to value peer to peer observations.
So what are joint observations
Two people will observe a practitioner during play, after the observation they will discuss their findings with one another, this is good practice as nine times out of people see different things. The observation is then fed back to the practitioner giving construct feedback as this will help them to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Constructive feedback enables practitioners to look closely at their practice and managers may set targets which will help improve their practice. When delivering feedback always remember the rule “Good news sandwich” start with a positive, you’ll always be able to find one then address any weaknesses and end on a positive. The Good news sandwich is a great way to ensure that practitioners don’t feel deflated as the positives will hopefully give them a sense of achievement.
Joint observations can be led by the manager or a room leader, they can be carried out for a particular purpose or for best practice they can be done spontaneously throughout the day.
Here are some helpful things to remember
- During joint observations show respect for who you are observing.
- Have a focus in mind when carrying out the observation, discuss this with the other observer
- Have a pro forma to fill in, this may contain helpful questions and prompts to answer during the observations, for example, is the practitioner using eye contact with the children?
- Feedback given needs to be carried out sensitively and always provide two positives and a negative ( Good news sandwich)
- The feedback must be given in a private quiet place.
- Always give examples during the feedback of what you are referring to.
- Do not be judgemental during the feedback, just use the evidence you have to help the practitioner to identify their areas of improvement as well as commenting on their strengths
- Peer to peer observations is used to identify areas of improvements and to build on practitioners confidence.
- The observations should be no longer than 15 minutes, and they should be carried out at different times of the day.
- Change the observers around so that practitioners get to observe one another, this helps identify one anothers strengths and weaknesses.
Joint observations can be carried out at what ever time of the day and it is good practice to do this. Also, there may be particular points to focus on at nursery for example.
- Are practitioners interacting with children.- both verbally and using effective body language
- Are practitioners talking/responding to children’s questions
- Are the practitioners working as a team
- Is good quality practice being demonstrated?
- How do practitioners manage children’s behaviour
- Are practitioners extending children’s learning?
- Are open-ended questions being asked?
- Is the environment tailored to the children’s needs?
- Are the resources/activities appropriate for the age group?
- Is the environment enriched with language?
- Are the resources accessible for the children?
- How do practitioners encourage children’s language skills?
These are just some of the things to look out for during your observations, however, you may just want to use one of these as your main focus.
Carrying out a joint observation with an Ofsted inspector can be very daunting and stressful, however, remember that if the observation didn’t go as planned reflect on this during your feedback to the inspector.Explain what you would say during your feedback to the practitioner, for example, reflecting on what you would do next time.
It is best practice to implement joint observations on a regular basis, this will make it less daunting on the day of your inspection as everyone will know what to expect .The observations are also a great tool to continuously monitor and evaluate the learning environment and practitioners practice.
We hope this information was useful