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Continuing Professional Development

Guidance and Proformas

Peer Review and Enhancement of Learning and Teaching for Apprenticeships

The peer review of learning and teaching is a critical component in the quality assurance of apprenticeship delivery. The observation of in-class learning and teaching is at the heart of this scheme for our apprenticeships, but we recognise that the delivery of a high quality academic experience is based on more than this. 

The quality of teaching, learning and assessment experienced by students has a significant impact on how well they make progress and achieve and as a result the University aspires to deliver good or better teaching for all students. The peer review and enhancement (PRE) observations framework in place is designed to allow the flexibility to accommodate different contexts whilst not becoming burdensome for individuals and to be rigorous and robust whilst also being supportive of those being observed and driving forward improvements in practice for the benefit of students.

Observation of teaching and learning is an established process which allows us to:

  • support and develop excellence and innovation in teaching, learning and assessment
  • provide feedback to those delivering and supporting teaching, learning and assessment
  • identify good practice to share, and areas for improvement for individuals, curriculum areas, and for the whole University
  • initiate coaching, training and support where it is needed
  • inform quality improvement planning and staff development activities
  • to provide evidence for judgements we make in Self-Assessment reports.

We continue to observe teaching, learning and assessment in a variety of ways, but we do not grade individual sessions, with the exception of performance management. 

We want to encourage innovation in the classroom and focus on the learners and the learning - grading can often get in the way of that by encouraging teachers to ‘play it safe’. A grade can become the focus of feedback limiting reflection and professional discussion. Our approach mirrors that adopted by Ofsted.

Delivery areas continue to grade the quality of the teaching, learning and assessment in their annual self-assessment reports, and this is informed by the themes Education Inspection Framework. These judgements are supported by evidence drawn from observations, learning walks, marked work, feedback methods, qualification and other outcomes, learner feedback, information about learner progress and destinations, including value added scores. 

Observation reports continue to identify strengths and areas for improvement and inform risk alert monitoring and action plans. We use action plans to record targets for sharing good practice, developing practice and identifying where support is needed. The setting and monitoring of actions following all observations is a key part of maintaining and improving quality.

Staff teaching on apprenticeships must be observed in delivery of learning and teaching in an apprenticeship class at least once annually, subject to feedback which suggests the quality of provision needs improvement.

There are three main type of observation activity which may be conducted as part of the annual review:

Types of observation activity
Session observation

In a session observation the observer will attend one session and spend at least 30 minutes observing the teaching, learning and assessment taking place. On this basis they will form a judgement to include feedback on good practice and areas of improvement. At the end of the observed session, feedback will be given to the tutor concerned within 48 hours, with formal written feedback within five days. External and internal observations will take this form. 

Learning walks

Learning walks provide a snapshot of the students’ experience and can provide an insight into the normal teaching, learning and assessment practice within an area. During a learning walk, the observer will drop into a number of classes for approximately ten to thirty minutes, in order to observe practice. These observations will not formally audit or written up. Learning walks may be used to investigate a particular theme (e.g. the embedding of equality and diversity or health and safety) or as a means of forming an overview about the quality of teaching, learning and assessment in an area (for example as part of an internal quality review). Outcomes from learning walks can then be used to inform professional learning activities or to support the dissemination of good practice. 

Peer review

Your observations and review will be completed by a peer from within the University. This is a reciprocal process, meaning that you will take it in turns to take the role of the reviewer. Your partner will normally be from outside of your School.  Within the partnered dialogue, questions are asked to stimulate reflection and discussion, and where appropriate, to provide each other with feedback and support in action planning and ongoing enhancement.  

In addition, we ask that a second review is undertaken focussed on one of the following:

  • applications and use of blended learning, and specifically use of Brightspace,
  • the ongoing development of Maths and English in curriculum for all learners, 
  • the delivery of Personal Academic Coaching sessions / Tripartite reviews,
  • design of assessment, formative or summative,
  • provision of assessment feedback. 


Annual reviews and observations for apprenticeships must be conducted by one of the following roles, rather than by a peer. The nature of the activity being observed will dictate who conducts the review.:

  • Associate Dean from any School
  • Quality Assurance Manager
  • Senior Lecturer Learning and Teaching Enhancement
  • Associate Director Digital Learning and Innovation
  • Director of Learning and Teaching. 

Notice of observation would ideally be given, depending on the purpose of the observation. Observers will provide verbal feedback following an observation and a written report will also be produced. Outcomes will be recorded from learning walks and session observations and theses will be categorised by risk alert with outline feedback provided verbally, via email, or both. These comprise (but are not restricted to): 

Areas of Focus

Active learning activities; student-led

Character strengths Demonstration and checking of in-session progress Employability skills
Enjoyment and attitude towards learning Equality and Diversity British Values Behaviours and Attitudes
Attendance Levels Target Session Lesson Objectives New Skills, Knowledge and Behaviours
Progression Sequential Lesson Planning Feedback to Students Quality of Learning
Quality of Provisions Personal Development Behaviour Management New Learning and Links from Previous Learning

If the observation is on a one-to-one tutorial, the observee should obtain permission from the student for the observer to be present. 

  • Evidence of lesson planning, class group profile and relevant handouts should be made available to the observer at the start of the observation.
  • Attendance (including a group profile) and a record of student progress (ILLPs or other monitoring documentation) must be available for the observer if requested, or following an observation / learning walk. 
  • The number of students present at the observation must be recorded by the observer. 
  • Attendance will be taken into account when forming judgements. 
  • The observer will communicate with learners, asking them questions about their learning and student experience. 
  • Portfolio evidence and / or work files should be examined by the observer. 
What happens during a co-observation?
During a co-observation two members of the observation team carry out a simultaneous observation, compare the strengths and areas for improvement observed, together with any suggested actions and agree feedback that will be given to the observee.
All observers are expected to take part in co-observation activities. This will usually involve being paired with another member of the observation team and we regularly invite external consultants into help validate the accuracy of our observation judgements.
Co-observations are scheduled centrally. One of the observers will be responsible for producing the observation report and the second will be nominated the moderator. Usually, a senior member of the observation team will act as moderator. 
Both observers attend the session to be observed and complete their reports separately.
Observers meet and discuss their observations, identifying strengths, areas for improvement and suggested actions, prior to verbal feedback being given. 
If the co-observation is to train or validate a new member of the observation team, they will present their feedback to the moderator first. The moderator will confirm that judgments are accurate. 
The observer will finalise the observation report following the verbal feedback and will release this for the moderator to view prior to releasing it to the observee. 


  • Judgements should be recorded clearly. It is important that the evaluative statement reflects the quality judgement at the end of each section. 
  • Once the observation has taken place, initial feedback will be normally provided to the observee within two working days. 
  • A copy of the observation will be sent to the observee and their line manager, normally within five working days. 
  • The observee and / or their line manager will agree an action plan to share best practice and develop areas for improvement. The line manager will then assume responsibility for monitoring progress against the action plan.
  • Any training needs identified will be recorded and referred to CELT. 
  • If the quality judgement of the observation is "requires improvement", the observee must agree an action plan with their line manager which includes guidance and support on ow to improve the quality of learning, teaching and assessment. The observee will be required to observe another practitioner as part of the plan and process. 
  • Where the quality judgement is "requires improvement" a mentor may be appointed to support the staff in their development and enhancement of practice. 
  • If there is cause for concern following an observation, a repeat observation may be carried out to monitor progress and improvement. 

Themes arising from observations of learning, teaching and assessment will be analysed and used to inform ongoing enhancement work and staff continuing professional development. Observation data and success rates will be compared year on year in order to track improvement and to assess the impact of the observation process in enhancing learner success. 

Observation Criterion Descriptors
The Quality of Provision
  • Is the lesson planned thoroughly for inclusive learning? 
  • Is the group profile used to inform planning and teaching strategy in terms of individual learners?
  • Is the lesson plan following the sequential planning? 
  • Does the planning allow for creative, sufficient and effective activities and resources, differentiated to meet needs of individuals? 
  • Does the planning stretch and challenge all learners?
  • Does the teacher encourage independent thinking and peer learning?
  • Does the planning take into account health and safety considerations for the lesson and learners?
The Quality of Learning
  • Is it evident that learners are learning something new or consolidating learning? 
  • Do learners know and understand that they are learning and the progress they are making?
  • Do learners show confidence in their learning e.g., to discuss, share and answer questions of each other and / or the teacher?
Student Progress
  • Do learners know the progress they are making and how well does feedback and marking help with that?
  • Is the progress differentiated so as to challenge learners individually and appropriately?
  • Is it clear progress is being made in the lesson as well as during the course (demonstrated through participation in lessons and records of progress and learner work)?
Enjoyment of Learning and Attitudes
  • Are all learners engaged and participating positively in the lesson, are they easily distracted?
  • Do learners work collaboratively, ask and answer questions and show interest in their learning?
  • Are they proud of their work and progress?
Assessment to Support Learning
  • Do learners peer or self-assess their work?
  • Is assessment differentiated to challenge learners appropriately?
  • Are learners aware of their targets and how to how to meet these? 
  • How well does the teacher use questioning to stretch and challenge learners?
  • How well is verbal feedback used to stretch learners?
Equality and Diversity including British Values
  • Is there evidence that through the lesson learners are supported to understand equality; that awareness of diversity is developed through tackling issues such as discrimination, victimisation, harassment, stereotyping, radicalisation and bullying?
  • Does the lesson promote and embed British values?
  • Is it evident that the lesson has been planned to incorporate and meet the safeguarding needs of individuals?
  • Are all learners wearing their badge or have it with them when challenged?
  • How are they kept safe?
  • What are local threats?
Employability Skills including Maths and English
  • Is it evident that learners have opportunity to develop employability skills, including Maths, English and ICT; that they are challenged to demonstrate positive and appropriate behaviours and attitudes suitable for employment and progression and to achieve their learning goals?
Learner Questions
  • What are you learning in this lesson?
  • How does this fit with previous lessons?
  • What are your targets for this lesson?
  • How does this fit with the targets for your course?
  • Do you find the work easy or difficult?
  • Do you work with other people on your course? How?
  • Do you know what you need to do to improve your work when you get it back?
  • Do you enjoy your lessons?
  • Are you proud of what you are doing and achieving?


Types of Observation
Scheduler When What Notice Period
Peer and Partner Anytime Directed observations are a good way to share good practice and support improvement. These can be used effectively as a follow-up to formal observation. As agreed with Manager. Open Door / PRE Observation Weeks


Types of Observation
Scheduler When What Notice Period
Manager / Quality Assurance/ CELT PRE Observation Weeks At least one observation per year. May require additional observations depending on judgment. Verbal and written feedback. Observers will comment on learning, teaching, assessment and key strengths and areas for development will be identified. Actions plans are set and discussed. Actions are followed up within 6 weeks and further observations may be required.  Session to be observed will be announced with notice given on the Thursday of the previous week. 


Types of Observation
Scheduler When What Notice Period
Manager / Quality Assurance/ CELT Throughout the year Formal observations to validate local judgements and provide further feedback about performance in the curriculum area. Deep dive observations may lead to additional actions, and initiated according to risk.  Deep dive will be announced with notice given on the Thursday of the previous week. Any session can be observed over this period. 


Types of Observation
Scheduler When What Notice Period
Manager / Quality Assurance / CELT Any time  Short visits may be themed (e.g., induction, learner progress, English and Maths development, attendance etc.) Can be referred for formal observations. Will not usually result in an individual report. Focus is on learners and what learning is taking place.  Unannounced, or short notice period given of when learning walks are taking place. 


Types of Observation
Scheduler When What Notice Period
Manager / Quality Assurance / CELT Any time related to the assessment strategy / learning plan. Observations may be focussed on a particular theme and will be used to gain an understadning of cross-University strengths and / or areas for improvement in relation to learning, teaching and assessment. the internal observation team will undertake regular standardisation and moderation activity and will also undertake some co-observation with an external observation team each year to allow benchmarking of practice within the wider sector. Announced on the Thursday of the previous week.


Types of Observation
Scheduler When What Notice Period
PgCAP delivery team Anytime as related to the assessment schedule / learning plan.

Principally concerned with helping the course participant to reflect on and develop their practice and as a result are carried out within the programme by a member of the course team or an allocated mentor. 

Observations are a requirement of AdvanceHE as a validation and authentication of practice. 

As scheduled in the programme. 


Giving feedback

We try to give feedback that is constructive and is presented as a coaching conversation. Remember, while it is good to share good practice, this is about the observee, not the observer. 

  • Feedback discussion should begin with the reflections of the observee.
  • As the Observer, it is better for you to ask for self reflection, rather than tell the observee how it has gone.
  • Your feedback should focus on the agreed outcomes from the pre-observation meeting. 
  • Begin the discussion with a positive observation. 
  • Focus on feedback that relates to behaviours or actions that can be changed, and use specific examples.
  • Make feedback constructive and offer positive suggestions. 
  • Use questions to guide the conversation. 
  • End on a positive note!

Prompt questions / statements

  • What do you think went well?
  • I wondered what you thought when?
  • Did you achieve what you wanted to?
  • If you did this again, what would you do differently?
  • What do you think the students gained from the session? How do you know?
  • What effect do you feel it had when you said ...?
  • How did you think students engaged with the learning?
  • How do you think you could have involved students more in that?
  • How can you address that?

The feedback you receive should be constructive, but it may not always be positive. 

  • Ensure that the type of feedback and areas of focus you want have been agreed in advance. 
  • Be ready to accept honest feedback and constructive criticism.
  • Be self-reflective.
  • If you don't understand - ask for clarification and specific examples. 
  • Attempt to find solutions to address less effective practice.
  • Ask for ideas, resources, examples for other ways of doing things. 
  • Develop an action plan from the feedback you have recieved.
  • Consider how you can share your good practice, perhaps by offering a CPD session or hosting a SoTL event.