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September 2019 saw the introduction of Ofsted’s new Education Inspection Framework. This new framework focuses on the real substance of education: the curriculum. The EIF encourages schools to offer all pupils an education that is broad, rich and ambitious, and that gives them the knowledge and cultural capital they need to thrive as British citizens.
This framework also aims to shine a light on schools that make curriculum decisions that are not in pupils’ best interests.
Schools in England have made real improvements over the past two decades. However, an accountability system that is over-dependent on performance data is a barrier to further improvement.
There is ample evidence of the extent to which the accountability system has diverted schools from the real substance of education.
The focus on data across the system means that what young people learn is too often coming second to the delivery of performance table data.
The school culture of defending and managing outcomes has extended into defending against and managing Ofsted inspections. Far too much time, work and energy is spent on preparing everything that Ofsted might possibly expect to see.
Over time, the main thrust of the typical inspection conversation has come to be about recent outcomes, assessment of current ‘pupil progress’ and expectations of future progress.
Schools have responded to this with workload-intensive management models that focused on data and prediction. Perhaps most important of all, these distortions have the greatest negative effect on the children we should care about the most – the most disadvantaged and the least able.
The four judgements in a nutshell:
QE: How the school’s curriculum sets the knowledge and skills that pupils gain at each stage, how that is taught and assessed, and the standards that pupils achieve as a result BA: How the school creates a safe, calm, orderly and positive environment in which pupils can learn PD: How well the school provides for pupils’ development beyond the academic, technical or vocational L&M: How leaders and those responsible for governance act with ambition and integrity, supporting and developing staff to teach the school’s curriculum
Note: we will also continue to make judgements on: Early years Sixth form
In Ofsted’s extensive curriculum research over the last couple of academic years, we have been using this working definition because it recognises that a school’s curriculum passes through different, interconnected, states: it is conceived, taught and experienced.
Ofsted’s working definition of the curriculum shows, too, what it is not.
For example, often when providers talk about a ‘creative curriculum’ they are actually discussing teaching activities (pedagogy) or desired, high-level outcomes and not what children need to ‘know’ and ‘know how’.
At the subject level, a good curriculum is based on proactive thinking. It will be the product of clear consideration of the sequence of content necessary for children to make progress. [n.b. the last bullet does not imply primary schools can’t teach by topic or theme but there does need to be attention to effective subject based curriculum progression in the planning.]
If a school is teaching the national curriculum well – that will work with the right emphasis on progression and sequencing (i.e thinking about the ‘what’ in terms of content selection, emphasis and sequencing).
Ofsted’s understanding of the curriculum has informed the development of the Quality of Education judgement. The curriculum covers the intent and much of the implementation of the quality of education provided, but it is distinct from the impact, which is a measure of how well the curriculum has been learned. The curriculum is, therefore, integral to, but not the whole of, a judgement on the quality of education.
The Quality of Education judgement also looks at how well the curriculum is taught over time. And it includes consideration of assessment, which is a means of evaluating whether learners are learning, or have learned, the intended curriculum. The curriculum and assessment need to work hand-in-hand. It is important that assessment supports good teaching of the curriculum without getting out of hand and becoming excessively burdensome or an end in itself. It is the curriculum that is the progression model, not assessment.
1. Intent – remind delegates of the points made about intent on the previous slide, then make these points. In evaluating the school’s educational intent, inspectors primarily consider the curriculum leadership provided by the school, subject and curriculum leaders (para 171) Further details about how inspectors evaluate intent are in para 172 - 181
2. Implementation You will see that this is where pedagogy and assessment sit within the QE judgement. Remember that effective pedagogy is that which is right at a given point in time to enable pupils to memorise the content selected for them to store in long-term memory. We do not have a view about what that might be. We have conducted research which shows that it is more difficult to achieve this with some pedagogies than others, but that it not to say it is impossible to achieve learning if those ones are used. This is also where we begin to consider wider aspects of the EIF, such as leadership and workload issues. Are leaders ensuring the intent is implemented is such a way as it is effective and sustainable? You will see the high profile of reading in this section of the descriptors. This is because research shows us that reading is the foundation stone of knowledge and so to the whole curriculum.
3. Impact And here is where you will find reference to high-level outcomes and qualifications. Impact is shown in what pupils know and can do as a result of the design and delivery of the curriculum.
NOTE: It would be unhelpful to: have roles and responsibilities assigned around intent, implementation and impact. have school development plans built around intent, implementation and impact This is because such actions break the crucial line of sight from intent to implementation and then impact. A much more helpful natural way to divide school curriculum management would be by subjects!
Ofsted are aware that not all schools will have completed the process of adopting or constructing their curriculum fully by September 2019. To ensure that schools are treated fairly during the introduction of the new framework, a transition arrangement is in place. It applies to the school’s curriculum intent. It does not apply to the delivery of the curriculum or its impact.
Curriculum intent includes the school’s curriculum content and planning.
It is not only the school’s broad ambitions or vision (an emerging ‘myth’ in the sector). – it is about what leaders have actually done to enable that vision to be realised (i.e. everything up to the point of delivery). Intent includes the planned knowledge for future learning in each subject i.e. ‘how the curriculum ensure pupils are ‘ready’ for the next bit of learning. Intent that is all about dispositions (such as ‘resilience’, ‘independence’ etc) is not laying the foundations for a curriculum that has enough scope, coherence and rigour. For a curriculum to be effective, it must enable pupils to develop knowledge.
Transition statements appear in square brackets in each of the four grade descriptors for intent. These statements are likely to apply when, based on clear actions to improve curriculum, the quality of education in the school could reasonably be expected to be good in two years’ time.
The transition period applies only to the ‘good’ grade. To be graded outstanding for Quality of Education, a school must meet all of the criteria for good and should also be exceptional.
The transition period lasts for one year from September 2019. It is anticipated that inspectors will have greater expectations of schools as the transition period progresses. The transition period will be reviewed in summer 2020, and may be extended at that point.
In schools with primary aged pupils, transition arrangements do not apply to reading, writing and mathematics. Ofsted has been clear for some time that the teaching of reading holds the very highest importance, so if the school’s teaching of reading does not meet the good judgement, the school would not be good. Therefore, in infant, junior, primary and middle schools deemed primary, transition arrangements can only apply to science and the foundation curriculum.
We have carefully considered all responses and the positive findings from piloting, on balance, we have decided to proceed with inspectors not looking at non-statutory progress and attainment data during school inspections.
However, to seek to allay concerns, we have made clarifications in the school inspection handbook. We have recognised that school leaders draw on a variety of sources when considering pupil performance, including internal assessment information. We have explained that inspectors will consider the actions taken by schools in response to whatever internal assessment information they have and to review the impact of those actions without reviewing the assessment information itself.
There was concern about published national data, which can be dated, carrying more weight under the education inspection framework 2019. This is not the case. Inspectors will use nationally published data about pupil performance as a starting point – and only ever a starting point. Consequently, an absence of national, published data will not disadvantage those schools that do not have it.
Concerns have also been raised about the fact that published national data has particular limitations in certain types of schools. For this reason, the handbook makes clear that, where a school is in the process of improving from a low point (sometimes referred to as schools in turnaround), nationally generated performance data may lag the current quality of education in the school and so inspectors will view the national data in this context. In addition, we have amended the section in the handbook that relates to junior, middle and studio schools, and university technical colleges, to highlight the particular caveats and limitations in nationally published progress data in relation to these schools. Inspectors will take this into account.
We realise that this change is a significant and important one and so it has been a focus during pilots. It has worked well during piloting. Where schools have made changes since national data was published and current pupils know and can do more than the previous cohort, or have no published data, leaders have explained their assessment of current progress and attainment to inspectors. Inspectors are able to listen carefully to this assessment, some of which may have been drawn from the leaders’ understanding of their internal assessment information, exploring and probing leaders’ actions effectively.
What inspectors are most interested in, in relation to leaders’ use of internal assessment information, is the conclusions that have been reached and the action that has been taking based on those conclusions. Inspectors have then focussed on seeing first-hand evidence. What inspectors have not done, is carry out an in-depth analysis of the school’s data or what leaders believe it is saying about current pupils’ progress or attainment. This is the essence of this change. We are putting the emphasis on inspectors testing whether the leaders’ actions have led to improvements or sustained high performance in the context of what is really going on in a school.
The school inspection handbook has been updated to better reflect the intention of the proposal and how it will work in practice, and to clarify how the sources of evidence and the range of inspection activities will be used to gather evidence and arrive at judgements.
So as to align with the approach to be taken in school inspections, in further education and skills providers, inspectors will not look at internal progress and attainment data on GCSE and A-level courses where fixed-time terminal examinations comprise the entire assessment of the course. The further education and skills inspection handbook has been updated to reflect this.
In May, Ofsted published a document that is crucial to understanding the EIF, ‘Inspecting the curriculum’. It sets out the methodology that inspectors will use to evaluate the quality of education. We will summarise this on the next few slides.
Key within this is the concept of a curriculum ‘deep dive’.
Actually, 4-6 curriculum deep dives which, when put together with other evidence, give us a picture of what is systemic about the evidence we are gathering (more on that ‘systemic’ word in a moment).
Inspectors conduct a detailed evaluation of a sample of national curriculum subjects. This approach gives inspectors a detailed understanding of a set of typically four-to-six subjects in each school.
These ‘deep dives’ into curriculum subjects help inspectors form hypotheses about the quality of education. Nevertheless these are just hypotheses. An evaluation of the quality of education cannot be made until inspectors have looked at other subjects/key stages/classes/phases on day 2 to confirm or challenge the views that these issues may be systemic.
A deep dive is a series of connected inspection activities that provides rich evidence that informs inspectors’ judgements.
The choice of subjects for the deep dives is agreed with leaders in a school, but is informed by the lead inspector’s pre-inspection work.
A deep dive consists of six elements. When these are properly connected, inspectors can validly identify the strengths and weaknesses in the subject.
When inspectors have looked at all these elements, the deep dive is not complete until they have reflected the evidence back to what the curriculum leaders have stated about their subject.
The elements are: evaluation of senior leaders’ understanding of the quality of the curriculum in this subject or area and how they are ensuring and assuring that quality evaluation of curriculum leaders’ long- and medium-term thinking and planning, including how they ensure and assure appropriate content choices and sequencing in each subject visits to a deliberately and explicitly connected sample of lessons work scrutiny of books or other kinds of work produced by pupils who are part of classes that have also been (or will also be) observed by inspectors discussion with teachers to understand how the curriculum informs their choices about content and sequencing to support effective learning discussions with a group of pupils from the lessons observed about what they have learned from the subject curriculum.
As you can see from this diagram, the discussions with senior leaders happen before the start of the inspection.
The importance of connectedness cannot be over stated (it is not simply triangulation).
Instead it is:
Connecting the evidence back to the intended curriculum that was articulated by curriculum leaders
b. Making sure lesson visits are connected to work scrutiny and discussions with teachers – via the same pupils.
c. Connect the range of evidence from the deep dives into the holistic view of the QE that was articulated by senior leaders before the inspection.
EIF and deep dives
The Education Inspection
Deputy Director, Schools
Herts for Learning - 23 September 2019 Slide 1
Herts for Learning - 23 September 2019 Slide 2
…If their entire school experience has been
designed to push them through mark-scheme
hoops, rather than developing a deep body
of knowledge, they will struggle in later
The Education Inspection Framework 2019
What young people learn has too often come second to
delivering performance data.
This data focus leads to unnecessary workload for
Teaching to the test and narrowing of the
curriculum have the greatest negative effect
on the most disadvantaged and the lowest
Herts for Learning - 23 September 2019 Slide 3
The Education Inspection Framework 2019
Herts for Learning - 23 September 2019 Slide 4
Quality of education Personal development
Behaviour and attitudes
The Education Inspection Framework 2019
Ofsted’s working definition of curriculum
‘A framework for setting out the aims of a programme of
education, including the knowledge and understanding to be
gained at each stage
…for translating that framework over time into a structure and
narrative, within an institutional context
…and for evaluating what knowledge and understanding
pupils have gained against expectations.’
The curriculum isn’t…
…just the subject or qualification offer
…the same as teaching activities: the curriculum is WHAT is
taught and not how it is taught
…about devising extra or more elaborate or creative activities
…vague – it is a specific plan of what children need to know
in total, and in each subject.
Herts for Learning - 23 September 2019 Slide 6
Curriculum design, coverage and
Teaching (pedagogy) – contribution to
delivering the curriculum as intended
Assessment (formative and summative)
Attainment and progress (including
national tests and assessments)
Curriculum is at the heart of QE
Quality of education
Herts for Learning - 23 September 2019 Slide 7
The transition arrangement
Not all schools will have completed the process of adopting or
constructing their curriculum fully by September 2019.
To ensure that schools are treated fairly during the introduction of
the new framework, a transition arrangement is in place.
It applies to the school’s curriculum intent.
It does not apply to the delivery of the curriculum or its impact.
It also does not apply to reading, writing and mathematics in
Herts for Learning - 23 September 2019 Slide 8
Education inspection framework Slide 9
‘Inspectors will not look at non-statutory
internal progress and attainment data’
Inspectors will not look at a school’s
internal progress or attainment data.
Inspectors will use the IDSR in their pre-
They will not refer to any other
externally produced data.
The deep dive methodology helps
inspectors gather powerful evidence
about what pupils know, remember
Herts for Learning - 23 September 2019 Slide 10
Curriculum ‘deep dives’: what do they include?
Herts for Learning - 23 September 2019 Slide 11
Connecting back to the big picture
3. Carry out the other deep
dive activities in whatever order
you need, jointly with school
and curriculum leaders.
Hola Lesson visits
Connect what you see to
what curriculum leaders
expect you to see.
1.Begin with the top-
about the intended
whole curriculum offer.
2. Discuss the curriculum
content and sequencing
Herts for Learning - 23 September 2019 Slide 12
Useful resources available online
‘Inspecting the curriculum’:
Curriculum roadshow – slides and videos live on website now:
Videos about key topics (e.g. curriculum, data) – live now:
Education inspection framework Slide 13
Ofsted on the web and on social media
Herts for Learning - 23 September 2019 Slide 14