College teachers say collaboration with peers boosts standards more than OFSTED inspections, new report finds
05 June 2019
College teachers believe collaboration with other educators has a much bigger impact on improving teaching standards than formal processes like OFSTED inspections or observations, a new report has found.
A year-long study from academics at Birmingham City University’s Centre for the Study of Practice and Culture in Education, looked at how leadership in further education can best contribute to improving the quality of teaching and learning.
It found that teachers believe assessing their own performance, informal conversations with colleagues and sharing best practice, most effectively contributes to raising standards.
It also revealed that many teachers felt inhibited by OFSTED inspections and graded observations which they believe were not focussed on raising the level of teaching and served simply as a ‘tick-box exercise’.
The research, which was published in a paper titled The Role of Leadership in Prioritising and Improving the Quality of Teaching and Learning in Further Education, makes a number of recommendations aimed at placing teaching at the heart of college education.
The key findings were:
- Teaching staff are best placed to improve teaching and learning by identifying and targeting their own professional needs
- Senior leaders have a central role to play in empowering teachers to refine their practice and create an environment in which they can develop
- Leadership approaches to improving teaching and learning should actively involve teachers
- Educational institutions should create long-term plans to improve teaching and learning which are developed over time
- Adequate time must be provided for teachers to interact with each other to discuss their ideas and reflect on practice, through regular on-going informal interactions.
Hundreds of teaching staff, senior leaders and education professionals were included in the research, which also took in case studies at three institutions.
Speaking about the benefits of having dedicated informal space to discuss teaching practice with colleagues, participants in the research commented:
Other participants spoke of the challenges faced by formal observations and OFSTED processes:
It highlights the important role further education has to play in equipping students with the skills they need to enter the jobs market and helping to grow the economy.
Matt O’Leary, Professor of Education at Birmingham City University, said: “This report makes a much-needed, serious and substantial contribution to our understanding of the complex relationship between leadership, teaching and learning in further education.
“It provides in-depth insights into the conditions that help and hinder the improvement of teaching across large organisations. It is of relevance to policy makers, senior leaders, middle managers and teaching staff.”
Birmingham City University’s Centre for the Study of Practice and Culture in Education, brings together researchers, students, young people and service users to explore a range of topics in education.
Research is focussed on collaborations, which can make a major difference to the future of education.