Don’t do your own curriculum deep dives, Ofsted urges

Watchdog also warn advice from consultants can be 'overcomplicated'

Watchdog also warn advice from consultants can be 'overcomplicated'

8 Dec 2021, 11:50

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Ofsted has warned schools against using ‘overcomplicated’ consultants and conducting their own deep dives when developing their curriculum.

The schools watchdog has published a blog post this morning advising schools to ‘keep it simple’ when approaching the curriculum.

Heather Fearn and Jonathan Keay, from Ofsted’s curriculum team, told schools while there will be consultants “offering their own advice” on how to prepare for an Ofsted inspection, this may actually hinder a school’s progress.

“Unfortunately, this advice can often be overcomplicated and can divert your energy from the simple things that matter,” they said.

Instead, Ofsted advises schools simply keep in mind if its curriculum identifies the knowledge pupils need to achieve their education and whether or not pupils have learned that knowledge.

Don’t prepare ‘special documentation’

The curriculum team also reassured schools they did not “not need to prepare special documentation for Ofsted on ‘intent’, ‘implementation’ and ‘impact’” – the three key aspects of a deep dive.

This is because Ofsted describes intent as “simply what you want pupils to learn”, the pair wrote.

“There are no extra forms of documentation needed for inspection because all schools already plan curriculum content and teaching activities designed to ensure that curriculum is learned.”

Ofsted said the pressures created by Covid make it “all the more important that schools focus on what is most important for a pupils’ life chances”.

The inspectorate released its annual report yesterday, in which chief inspector Amanda Spielman warned there had been a “disappointingly small” number of achievements for many pupils last year as they struggled with a “hokey-cokey education” during the pandemic.

Don’t conduct your own deep dives

A key feature of the current inspection framework are “deep dives” to explore if pupils have been taught the knowledge required.

Pupils may have gaps if knowledge was not taught, given “necessary emphasis” or repeated enough. Elsewhere ineffective teaching activities may be behind gaps in knowledge, Ofsted say.

However, Ofsted warns schools against conducting their own deep dives.

The blog post states: “Deep dives help us consider the effectiveness of the quality of education in a specific time frame when we inspect. They aren’t really designed for anything else.

“If schools want to drill down to the quality of curriculum themselves, there are probably better ways of doing this than undertaking internal deep dives.”

Instead schools can “consider curriculum effectiveness” as an “ongoing conversation” as they see the curriculum being taught every day.

Ofsted has come under fire this term from schools claiming it has not taken the impact of Covid into account during routine inspections.

There have also been calls to suspend inspections altogether, or grant automatic referrals upon requests from schools, following the emergence of the Omicron variant.

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