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Good to outstanding teaching

Key questions

  • What are the features of outstanding geography teaching and how do you get there?
  • Consider strategies for raising teacher quality

What is an outstanding teacher?

Ofsted describes an outstanding teacher as follows:

'Teaching is at least good and much is outstanding, with the result that the pupils are making exceptional progress. It is highly effective in inspiring pupils and ensuring that they learn extremely well. Excellent subject knowledge is applied consistently to challenge and inspire pupils. Resources, including new technology, make a marked contribution to the quality of learning, as does the precisely targeted support provided by other adults.

'Teachers and other adults are acutely aware of their pupils’ capabilities and of their prior learning and understanding, and plan very effectively to build on these. Marking and dialogue between teachers, other adults and pupils are consistently of a very high quality. Pupils understand in detail how to improve their work and are consistently supported in doing so. Teachers systematically and effectively check pupils’ understanding throughout lessons, anticipating where they may need to intervene and doing so with striking impact on the quality of learning.'

From this we can see that outstanding teaching is characterised by pupil progress and the use of assessment to inform learning, and not by teacher performance. In this statement there is a distinction between outcomes and processes.

The only sure fire way of raising teaching quality is for teachers to work together to solve educational and pedagogic issues. The idea that the solutions lie outside the profession is a fallacy but we still need to genuinely share good practice. Do you team teach, model teach, analyse methods? Have your staff developed a language to talk about pedagogy and curriculum?

Close scrutiny can result in attention being diverted from students to teacher. Make use of rigorous self assessment, but ensure that this takes account of what pupils feel about their learning, what they have learned etc. A work scrutiny can be more powerful than a lesson observation. Your staff, despite all the scrutiny, need to retain a sense of adventure, enthusiasm, experimentation, exploration.

From good to outstanding teaching: online CPD module

Author: Alan Kinder CGeog

Funded by the Department for Education (DfE) funded Action Plan for Geography

Thanks to Alan Kinder CGeog and Graham Goldup CGeog from Cardinal Newman Catholic School in Hove. Information taken from conference presentations given by Alan and Graham at DfE funded Action Plan for Geography CPD events at the RGS-IBG.

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