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There is a long-standing tradition of using classroom observations in the assessment and development of teaching in education systems across the world (O’Leary 2020). This is because understanding what’s working well and what isn’t in lessons, and the impact this has on teaching practice and students’ learning, is pivotal to school improvement.

Aston University Engineering Academy (AUEA) is the UK’s oldest and biggest University Technical College. As such, we offer pupils between the age of 13–19 a different route to training and qualifications than a traditional school. It’s our mission to provide the very best academic and technical education.

One way to assess the impact the teaching is having on learning is through a lesson observation. But it’s long been argued this isn’t always the best method.

They only offer a ‘snapshot’ Wragg et al. (1996) with the observation and events filtered ‘through the interpretive lens of the observer’, (Wragg, 1999). In other words, we see what we want to see.

Findings show a collaborative approach can be a more effective way of improving pupil learning and teaching practice (Cordingley et al., 2003, 2005a, 2005b, 2007).

So, we wanted to rethink how we approached observations.

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