Can Head Teachers Ask to See Your Lesson Planning?

Knowing your rights regarding lesson planning is crucial for managing your workload and maintaining a sense of professional autonomy as a teacher. One common question that arises is, ‘Can headteachers ask for planning?’

Unfortunately, there’s no simple yes or no answer. The reality lies in a complex interplay of factors, including your school’s policies, national guidelines on teacher workload and the broader interpretation of contractual obligations.

Teacher Workload: A Major Cause for Concern

Unnecessary workloads are a significant source of stress for teachers, and rightly so. Independent teacher workload review groups highlighted the importance of minimising tasks that don’t directly benefit teaching and learning. 

The National Education Union (NEU) and other teachers’ unions advocate for teachers to have the professional autonomy to plan lessons that suit their teaching style and pupils’ needs.

Ofsted’s Stance on Lesson Planning

So, where does Ofsted stand on this? It’s essential to note that Ofsted does not require teachers to submit detailed plans for every lesson. Instead, inspectors prioritise seeing evidence of effective teaching in the classroom. High-quality teaching involves thorough planning, but that planning doesn’t always translate into stacks of formal lesson plans.

Why Might Headteachers Ask for Lesson Plans?

There are a few potential reasons why your principal or other members of the senior leadership team (SLT) might ask to see your lesson plans:

1. Supporting New and Trainee Teachers

New teachers or those in training often benefit from more structured guidance and feedback on their planning. Submitting their lesson plans facilitates this support by allowing mentors to identify strengths, offer suggestions and ensure alignment with the school’s overall teaching approach.

2. Curriculum Coordination

In year groups with high-stakes exams or crucial assessments, SLT members may want to ensure consistent curriculum coverage and a suitable pace of instruction. While detailed plans might not be necessary, outlines or brief summaries help verify that essential content is being addressed on schedule.

3. Maintaining High Standards

Some school policies include lesson plan reviews to ensure consistently high teaching standards. This might involve spot-checks, periodic reviews or a focus on specific areas, allowing management to offer support or share best practices based on the plans.

4. Departmental Contingency Planning

In the event of unexpected teacher absences, well-documented plans minimise learning disruptions. Even basic lesson outlines allow supply teachers to quickly understand the lesson objectives, planned activities and any necessary resources, ensuring smoother transitions for the students.

Protecting Planning Time Is Vital

Whether you have strict lesson plan submission requirements or a flexible system, your planning time is a non-negotiable part of your teaching effectiveness. Here’s how to protect this time and avoid burnout:

Schedule Clarity

Ensure your timetable and workload documents explicitly outline your PPA time. If it feels like extra tasks are constantly chipping away at this, discuss realistic expectations with your head of department or headteacher. Be clear about what’s achievable within those hours so work isn’t automatically moved onto your out-of-hours time.

Set Boundaries

It’s healthy and necessary to disconnect outside of contracted school hours. While occasional overtime might be unavoidable (particularly around exam periods), don’t let it become the norm. Set limits for how much planning you’ll take home, and prioritise rest and recharging your batteries when you are off the clock.

Say ‘No’ Respectfully

If additional tasks seriously threaten to reduce your planning time, learn to say ‘no’ gracefully. Instead of just declining, explain why you can’t take on more; for instance, it impacts student learning by reducing your prep time. Be ready to offer alternative solutions, like suggesting someone else who might have the capacity or finding ways to streamline the additional task for less disruption.

Penstripe: Your Partner in Proactive Planning

Planning should be an empowering tool, not a source of overwhelm. By advocating for a sensible approach to lesson planning, you can reclaim your time and energy for delivering outstanding teaching. 

Penstripe can support you in this journey with our teacher planners. These planners are completely tailored to your school’s needs and feature customisable layouts, branding options and various features to help you streamline planning, organise important notes, track progress and promote your continuing professional development. Take the next step to make planning a positive driver of your teaching practice! Contact us today to learn more about how our planners can meet your school’s unique requirements. Call us on 0113 231 0995, email or enquire online.