I’m not an authority on education matters but I do try and keep myself up to date with the latest decisions affecting teachers. So when I see a misconception on twitter I generally choose to ignore it and move on. We’re all entitled to our own opinions and that’s fine by me. Just sometimes you see something that is blatantly wrong and shouldn’t be ignored. Some things are detrimental to the profession and some things are detrimental for our work life balance. 

It all started on Tuesday morning with a tweet from @Vickiteaches

‘How often do you hand your planning in? Anyone else do it on a weekly basis like me? This is before we have taught the lessons!’

I answered her by asking why she had to hand her plans in. Did her SLT not trust her? 

This simple statement from me unleashed a debate which lasted for two days. @vickiteaches replied that the plans go to HT and subject leader and that she has never questioned it. I reminded her that there is no requirement for short term plans. It is wise to do them but they should be for your own benefit. You can guess what’s coming next I’m sure. SLT want them for Ofsted. Now I thought everyone knew that Ofsted require a well planned lesson but not an actual lesson plan. It seems not. I had tweets from at least 13 teachers who weren’t aware of this, and this was at 6 30 in the morning. 

@PaulGarvey4 joined the debate and informed us that Ofsted don’t require a well planned anything but confirmed that planning is is one thing which can help you teach well. At this point @redgierob joined the discussion and said that if he was HT in a school that was less than a solid good I would want to see weekly planning. This concerns me a little because I think that spending time writing copious plans for inspection by HoD and HTs is time you could be spending resourcing and teaching good lessons or tackling poor behaviour. Rob then went on to say that bullet points and power points would be acceptable. At this point I knew that Rob and I were talking at cross purposes. I wasn’t advocating not planning at all, I was dismayed at the thought of handing in plans for inspection. 

The conversation continued with other teachers asking if my school does lesson plan scrutiny as part of overall judgement for PM. No, was my answer to that one. We have no short term lesson plan scrutiny at all. Long term and medium term plans are checked at the start of the year and we are trusted as professionals to deliver our lessons with or without a short term plan. 

A further twist in the conversation came from @goodman_ang who has experience of a school recently out of RI. Again, there was no requirement to see plans from Ofsted. HT focussed on triangulation of data, outcomes and observations. Long and medium Term plans expected, short term as the teacher sees fit. 

So why did this conversation carry on for 2 days? It seems that some people just don’t believe it. My timeline was full to brimming with teachers who have to hand in their plans to HTs who say that they require the plans for Ofsted. I had a direct message from one teacher who had been in tears due to the excessive workload caused by all the planning. That was very sad to read. I’m shocked! I really am. I may be naive but I thought that of all people HTs would know Ofsted do not require short term lesson plans. 

Many people joined the conversation and a discussion ensued about how to do a short term plan effectively. @bryngoodman suggested finding your own format that doesn’t kill you. @goodman_ang said the format should be manageable and useful not for ticking boxes. She also pointed out that over planning can ruin essentially good lesson ideas. We also veered in to differentiation and how much time this took to plan. 

I won’t reiterate the whole 2 day conversation for you but suffice to say I was very surprised that so many teachers were unaware of the requirements re planning. @PaulGarvey4 was very helpful. To all the teachers who said it is a requirement from Ofsted Paul replied that this ‘requirement’ is a myth. Read the handbook P16 para 41. @imagineinquiry pointed out there is a world of difference between planning and record keeping. Planning is important for teaching and record keeping is about accountability and SLT need to be aware of work life balance for teachers. My point exactly. 

0n day 2 @Heatherleatt (School Improvement) joined the conversation. She was asking the question what is reasonable and necessary to ask a teacher to do. I think she is right. Is it necessary to ask a teacher to produce 5 lesson plans per day for inspection by SLT? Some it seems are saying it is required by Ofsted, others just require it because they like to be in complete control. It is up to individual Heads how they run their schools, of course it is. Personally, I don’t think they should hide behind Ofsted.

I asked my HT why she doesn’t require our plans. She has 3 reasons. In no particular order 1, no requirement from Ofsted, if it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for her. 2, she trusts us to teach to the best of our ability for our children, 3, she hasn’t got time to look at them all. She’s too busy ensuring we do our best for every child and young person. Wise words I think. 

Just to be clear! Ofsted do not require a lesson plan, but they do require a well planned lesson.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the debate. 

Many thanks to Emma Ann Hardy for providing this link from the union.

Emma Ann Hardy ‏@emmaannhardy Oct 4
@cherrylkd here’s the up to date joint one with @NASUWT http://www.teachers.org.uk/files/instructions-for-action-short-of-strike-action.pdf
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