With Ofsted releasing their new Inspection Framework, there has been a lot of discussion about how it will impact on teaching in schools. One of the main changes is the new ‘Quality of Education’ judgement category which places the curriculum at the heart of the inspection process. Ofsted will be monitoring that schools are teaching the whole curriculum and teaching it well.
What do Ofsted say about the curriculum?
Inspectors will be looking for evidence that children have access to a broad, balanced and knowledge-rich curiculum. The inspection will not just focus on core subjects but will also explore the planning and teaching of the foundation subjects.
There are three areas that the inspectors will consider, the intent, the implementation and the impact. This is simply, what knowledge and skills you intend the children to learn, how this will be taught and assessed and then the outcomes that the pupils achieve.
The school inspection handbook also places a large focus on the teaching of reading both discretely and across the curriculum.
Reading is prioritised to allow pupils to access the full curriculum offer.
Inspectors will assess the quality of education and curriculum by carrying out ‘deep dives’ into selected subject areas.
So, what are deep dives?
The deep dives are one of the ways in which inspectors will collect evidence by seeing the curriculum in action. They will explore how the curriculum flows from intent to implementation to impact. As previously, inspectors will talk to leaders, teachers and pupils as well as visiting lessons and looking at pupils work.
In primary schools, inspectors will always carry out a deep dive in reading. They will also carry out deep dives in one or more foundation subjects and there is likely to be one in mathematics. The number of deep dives will depend on the size of the school.
So, what does this mean for me?
As a subject leader or as a class teacher, you might be asked to contribute to a deep dive. Make sure to direct the inspector and use it as an opportunity to showcase your curriculum.
The main focus for a deep dive will be to explore the intent, implementation and impact of your subject area. Here are some key areas to consider:
Be clear about the rationale for your curriculum. It should be planned taking into account the pupils in your school and what is important for them. What skills and knowledge do you want your children to learn and achieve? It is also important to consider the structure and sequence. Think about how and why learning is sequenced as it is, for example, how do the skills and knowledge taught in history differ between Year 1 and Year 5?
Subject leaders will need to be clear that their subject is being taught and assessed across school in a way that matches their intent. There must be coverage across all year groups and knowledge should be built on prior learning. It is also important to check that children are learning the skills and knowledge that are planned for.
Teachers and subject leaders should evaluate the impact of the school curriculum by monitoring the progress of children over time. This can include being clear about what progress in each subject will look like and how you will know the children have learnt what has been taught.
The changes to the framework acknowledge the value of teaching the whole curriculum and plans to celebrate schools who provide a clearly planned, broad and balanced curriculum.