Tony’s Blog

Time for an end to macho lesson observation practice

Tony Davis observing in Saudi Arabia

I was taking part in a consultancy inspection at a college recently when I became incensed by the twisted rhetoric of some ‘inspectors’. Comments such as: “You can ‘sniff’ the grade after 10 minutes,” and “20 minutes should be enough for them to impress you,” betray not just an unforgivable laziness, but a wholehearted missing of the point. It’s time for an end to this macho lesson observation practice. If you’re one of these inspectors, or perhaps worse still, one […]


My favourite precis yet

At the end of a full day looking at writing self-assessment reports and using low-level, volatile data indicators, a delegate came up to me to say goodbye. He thanked me for a very enjoyable and thought provoking day, and said he could sum everything up in just four words: ‘Strength is recognising weakness’. Definitely my favourite precis yet. Does your organisation truly celebrate the discovery of issues? There is surely no healthier state in which quality improvement can flourish. Session: The […]


The dependable rock in their turbulent world

Today, one of my delegates gave a beautiful answer to one of my questions. The group was talking about the reasons a learner may find it difficult to concentrate, but I wouldn’t allow the debate to focus on external, social or domestic issues. The debate was great and the reasons given were incisive. At the end, I asked the group why they thought I’d choreographed the debate away from external factors. My reasoning is that too many front-line staff try […]


Middle managers to tamper with reality

Marbled heart

The key message, or rather the key frustration, that came out of a recent event was a very powerful, interesting and worrying one. We were looking at self assessment. Staff overwhelmingly thought of their self-assessment regime as bureaucratic – something to be hated; tolerated at best. I’d been brought in by senior management to help front-line staff write judgement-rich, evaluative text rather than simply descriptions of what they do and out-and-out PR. It was when we started digging into their writing […]