As of September 2019, Ofsted will combine its ‘Teaching, learning and assessment’ rating with the ‘Pupil outcomes’ grade, thus creating a new ‘Quality of education’ measure. The regulator’s aim is to lessen the reliance on exam results as a measure of school quality, by taking into account a school’s broader curriculum offering.
Having found no common definition for ‘curriculum’, Ofsted has come up with the following working definition to help inform inspectors’ conversations with schools about their curriculum:
‘A framework for setting out the aims of a programme of education, including the knowledge and understanding to be gained at each stage (intent) … translating that framework over time into a structure and narrative, within an institutional context (implementation) … [and] evaluating what knowledge and understanding pupils have gained against expectations (impact).’
Think about and discuss your curriculum using the three focal points cited in that working definition, and prepare to discuss your curriculum with inspectors from this perspective.
In practice, that means being clear in how you answer three key questions: What are you trying to achieve through your curriculum (Intent)? How is your curriculum being delivered (Implementation)? What difference is your curriculum making (Impact)? Involve all members of staff early, so that everyone can talk about your curriculum consistently by the time of your next inspection.
Remember that there’s no magic formula for the perfect curriculum – you should always have sound justification for why you are or aren’t doing something, and how this relates to your curriculum intent. What follows are some suggestions for how you might be able to provide a broad and balanced curriculum.
Prioritise phonics and the transition into early reading at KS1, and encourage older children to read widely and deeply. Encourage reading for pleasure at all ages, and feed language, writing and maths skills throughout all subjects.
Offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities, trips and visitors to complement and broaden the curriculum, but make sure that these are purposeful and link with what’s being taught in class.
At KS2, don’t focus too heavily on English and maths to the detriment of the wider curriculum. Similarly, try not to spend a disproportionate amount of time on SATs preparation, such as mock tests and booster classes
Instead, consider offering specialist focus weeks or project days where all pupils come off-timetable, giving you the opportunity to provide broader provision in non-core areas such as technology, science or the humanities.
Imogen Rowley is a Lead Content Producer at The Key – a provider of up-to-the-minute sector intelligence and resources that empower education leaders with the knowledge to act; for more information, visit thekeysupport.com or follow @TheKeySupport