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Developing Staff Subject Knowledge

Explore where to start when gauging staff subject knowledge and how to build this when gaps are identified with these useful resources.

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Monitoring Start Point: Teacher Subject Knowledge

New to leading a subject in a school or setting and unsure where to start? This pack walks you through how to rapidly gather information about teacher subject knowledge so you can plan to make relevant changes and improvements. Designed to be time-efficient and work around your classroom commitments, this pack supports busy subject leaders who want to quickly assess, enhance or improve teacher subject knowledge in their setting.

Your key subject knowledge questions answered

What do we mean by monitoring teacher subject knowledge?

Monitoring teacher subject knowledge is the process of assessing and evaluating a teacher's understanding and expertise in the specific subject(s) they are responsible for teaching. It’s an essential aspect of the monitoring and evaluation cycle, playing a vital role in determining the most appropriate professional development pathway, with the aim of ensuring teachers possess the necessary knowledge and competence to effectively teach their subject(s) to pupils.

The primary goal of monitoring teacher subject knowledge is to maintain and improve the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom. When teachers have a strong command of the content they teach, it positively impacts pupil learning outcomes, engagement and their overall educational experience.

Why is it important to monitor teacher subject knowledge?

For primary colleagues who can teach 15 (or more!) different subject areas a week, and secondary colleagues who are regularly asked to teach outside of their subject specialism, secure teacher subject knowledge doesn’t just happen. 

To enable their staff team to meet and exceed the Teachers’ Standards in the subject areas in which they teach, subject leaders need to have a firm understanding of the gaps in subject knowledge or where subject knowledge confidence may lack. This is where the role of monitoring comes into play, an essential part of the exploration process to help map out next steps.

What types of monitoring are best used for exploring teacher subject knowledge?

Exploring teacher subject knowledge requires a multifaceted approach that combines various types of monitoring methods. The goal is to gain a comprehensive understanding of teachers' expertise, their ability to integrate subject knowledge into teaching and the impact on pupil learning. You will therefore want to combine a range of monitoring techniques to ensure you have a clear picture of the effectiveness of teacher subject knowledge within your area of responsibility. 

Some effective types of monitoring that can be used include:

  • Classroom / lesson observations or drop ins

  • Scrutiny of curriculum documents and any planning

  • Examining assessments created by staff

  • Scrutiny of pupils' work, e.g. if there are misconceptions

  • Using confidence and skills audits

  • Gathering feedback from staff and pupils

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