Schools are misusing Ofsted language and “exporting pressure” onto teachers by judging lessons based on curriculum intent, leaders are warning.
Teacher Tapp statistics published this week revealed that around one in five teachers reported receiving feedback on curriculum intent following a lesson observation
More than one in 10 have been asked to judge a lesson on its relevance to the curriculum.
Curriculum intent was introduced under the 2019 new inspection framework as part of the quality of education judgment.
It is described as the extent to which a school’s curriculum “sets out the knowledge and skills that pupils will gain at each stage”.
But a 2019 Ofsted blog titled “Busting the ‘intent’ myth”, states that when evaluating intent “inspectors will primarily consider the curriculum leadership provided by senior, subject and curriculum leaders”.
Schools ‘misusing Ofsted language’
Dan Morrow, chief executive of Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust, warned that schools were “misusing Ofsted language in school improvement”.
Morrow said that it “isn’t the role” of classroom staff to focus on intent and it would be “harmful” for them to focus on this aspect of curriculum. It means “they will be less focused on pedagogy and delivery, and therefore less focused on meeting individual pupil needs”.
“School leaders need to be worried about Ofsted, classroom practitioners need to be worried about the children in front of them,” he added. “If we conflate the two, all we are doing is exporting pressure onto all of our teams in a way which is counterproductive.”
A Teacher Tapp survey in December revealed the extent to which the concept of curriculum intent has permeated schools. Eighty-five per cent of teachers reported they had heard the phrase since September.
Stuart Guest, headteacher at Colebourne Primary School, in Birmingham, said part of the issue was that schools were “trying to cover their own backs” ahead of an Ofsted visit.
Stephen Chamberlain, chief executive of Active Learning Trust and a former Ofsted inspector, added that there will always be “unintended consequences” from a framework as “people always interpret that Ofsted are looking for a particular thing”.
An Ofsted spokesperson said: “When looking at curriculum intent on inspection we will talk to leaders to find out whether the curriculum is broad and balanced. We don’t make judgements about the quality of individual lessons.”