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Learning Walks - Stop Spying on Us!

4th June 2007

As the late Ted Wragg put it: "My son was observed by a teacher, who was being observed by a trainee inspector, who was in turn being observed by an experienced inspector. He said he felt like the smallest piece of plankton at the end of the food chain."

It was in 2005 that 'learning walk' was winner of our irritating educational phrase of the month. At the time I hadn't heard the expression before, but it sounded like the sort of ludicrous new initiative that we should treat with disdain. Sadly, for many teachers it is not now a joke but a threatening reality.

At this year's NUT national conference Ex President John Illingworth referred to 'an educational reign of terror.' I don't think that this is too strong a sentiment; 'learning walks' are a part of that reign. Don't get me wrong, I know that heads have a perfect right to walk around their school having a look at what is going on. There needn't be anything too threatening about that. However, as soon as they come in with a clipboard under their arm and start making notes, it becomes a formal classroom observation. There are local and national classroom observation protocols which should be adhered to. If you think that you are being bullied by frequent, unannounced and threatening observations under the guise of 'learning walks', please contact the local office for support.

John Illingworth has produced a booklet, Crazy About Work, which looks at the causes and effects of teacher stress and mental illness. It is available from john.illingworth@nottsnut.co.uk

We are delighted to announce that John has agreed to come and speak to one of our association meetings in the autumn term.


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