Amanda Spielman, HMCI, lanched Ofsted’s annual report on Tuesday of this week. Here are a few short excerpts from her speech that are particularly relevant to us in our secondary context.
Here, as in every other country, the home language and maths are the spine of children’s learning. But they can’t be the limit. They are the gateway subjects to a broad curriculum that includes the humanities, science, languages and the creative subjects too. Children should learn about the events that shaped our nation’s history, the forces that create our natural environment, the key scientific principles that underpin the world and universe around us, the ability to both appreciate and participate in art and music, and develop some practical skills in crafts and technology.
That is why the draft new inspection framework will be based on the expectation that key stages 2 and 3 should be broad and deep. The consultation will also explain how inspection will support the government’s commitment to make study of the EBacc subjects the foundation of the curriculum for key stage 4.
But we also know that there are some young people who will reach 16 having failed to master the basics of English and maths. And there we are confronted with a choice. Do we give up? Or do we re-focus in the final years of compulsory education to try and make up lost ground? For me, the answer has to be the latter. Even when jobs don’t strictly require employees to be highly literate and numerate, these skills still help people to be effective in their first jobs and give them better and wider prospects beyond. For that reason, I support a focus on English and maths in further education for the young people who don’t get a grade 4 at age 16, whether that is done through re-sits or by other means. In fact, my advice to policy makers would be to find ways to encourage all young people, regardless of GCSE grade, to continue to improve their English and maths beyond age 16.
Returning to the substance
Which links back to what has been my central theme as Chief Inspector so far: ensuring that we return to a focus on the substance of education and care.
The substance of education will be at the centre of the draft new education inspection framework that we will publish for consultation in the new year. I will not repeat the case for change here; most of you have heard me outline it many times before. But what I will say is how heartening it has been to hear so many people agree on the need to start putting the curriculum – what children are actually being taught – back at the heart of our inspection of early years, schools and colleges. And that you want us to reward the institutions that are all about education, rather than a numbers game, and to recognise teachers as professional subject experts, not simply data managers – valuable as good data managers are.
[T]he very last thing I want for this framework is to see anyone dashing off to a consultant who promises to sell them the ‘Ofsted curriculum’. Because there is and will be no ‘Ofsted curriculum’. What we will be interested in is the coherence, the sequencing and construction, the implementation of the curriculum, how it is being taught and how well children and young people are progressing in it. So please, don’t leap for quick fixes or superficial solutions just to please Ofsted. That would be the wrong response. From September, we’ll be just as interested in where you are going and how you intend to get there, not just whether you’ve arrived there yet.
Bold is MLP’s emphasis.
Please click here to read the full speech.