Posted on 7th February 2022

Using a resourced curriculum and preparing for Ofsted

11:57 AM, 7th February 2022
Using a resourced curriculum and preparing for Ofsted

English Mastery: Using a resourced curriculum and preparing for Ofsted

Stephanie Keenan, Principal Development Lead

Most people don’t get into teaching because they want to think about being ‘Ofsted-ready’; we are far more likely to be motivated by things like a love of our subject, helping students learn, or a sense of social justice. For the most part, this sense of purpose underpins what we do and gives us faith we are on the right track, day in, day out, in the toughest of terms. And yet, that niggling fear of Ofsted hovers over us, understandably, as we can be judged, and we wish our hard work to be worthwhile and to be recognised as such.

While there is little sense in planning to please an imaginary HMI or operating in a high state of Ofsted anxiety, we should as English teachers and leaders be aware of the Education Inspection Framework the National Curriculum, and the corresponding expectations of us, given the position of responsibility we hold as teachers and public servants. If you are worrying about Ofsted, go back to basics. Read or re-read these core documents to remind yourself of expectations, using them as a basis to reflect on curriculum and pedagogy in your department.

Ofsted have improved communication around expectations, and under the 'quality of education' judgement, the messaging has been clear that the focus is on curriculum, and specifically curriculum intent, implementation and impact. The ‘3Is’ seem obvious:

"For Ofsted, intent is simply what you want pupils to learn: your curriculum thinking and high-level planning. Implementation is the teaching activities you choose to teach your curriculum. Impact is when that curriculum content is learned."​

Yet as any teacher knows, achieving level ‘curriculum content learned’ by all students in the time available, especially through a pandemic is an incredibly complex task.

It is essentially up to you and your school how you achieve what boils down to the deceptively simple question: ​

“Does your curriculum identify the knowledge pupils need to achieve the goals of their education, and have all pupils learned that knowledge?”

If you are using a resourced curriculum like English Mastery, it is of the utmost importance that you:

  • Take ownership of the curriculum
  • Can explain why and how you use the resourced curriculum and how it works for your context
  • Can demonstrate why and how you have adapted for your context
  • Use department time for co-planning so that time is spent exploring and planning how best to adapt the resources responsively for your classes
  • Have curriculum and subject knowledge conversations so that all teachers know what they are teaching and why, and how it fits into the curriculum journey
  • Have considered how the curriculum works for all learners

The English Mastery curriculum is designed to be:

Academically ambitious: building a rich, broad body of powerful knowledge designed to challenge the most able and enrich and empower all students​

Logically sequenced: the curriculum offers a cumulative progression model, building carefully selected and organised knowledge for students, which develops in complexity through the key stage ​

Designed to give all learners access to the curriculum, through the direct grammar instruction of Writing Mastery, the Tier 2 vocabulary building and textual diversity of Reading Study and the Mastery approach in all strands, in which the knowledge students need to know and remember is carefully specified and regularly assessed​

Fully resourced: the carefully researched and sequenced curriculum allows teachers to focus on classroom practice, planning responsively for their specific classes and context and fine-tuning their pedagogy.​

The English Mastery resourced curriculum cannot be a substitute for deep thinking about the curriculum in your context. It is not necessary to hire expensive consultants to conduct high-threat ‘Mocksteds’; it will be more valuable to use that time to talk with the teachers in your department. The questions here are not intended as an Ofsted checklist, but an initial basis for hopefully insightful discussions. It would be even better if you came up with your own questions, having read the EIF and National Curriculum, which are specific to your context.

As a starting point, some questions around curriculum intent could be:

  • What are students expected to know, remember and be able to do having learnt this curriculum?​
  • How does your KS3 English curriculum meet the requirements of the National Curriculum?​
  • What are the principles guiding the design of the English Mastery curriculum? How does this work in your context?
  • How does your curriculum and teaching model high expectations for reading, writing and oracy? ​
  • How does your curriculum prepare students for their future?​

Introductory questions around implementation could look like:

  • How do you assess in English? Why do you take that approach?​
  • How do teachers check students’ understanding & identify misconceptions?​
  • How do teachers know knowledge and skills are being built cumulatively?​
  • How do teachers know students have made progress (acquired knowledge)? How do you build on this progress?​
  • What inferences do your assessments allow you and your department to make?
  • How do you adjust teaching responsively?​

In books or student work you might want to ask for examples of:

  • Students using Tier 2 vocabulary
  • Previous learning being revisited and built upon
  • Students making progress
  • Students acquiring new knowledge
  • Students reflecting on their knowledge / progress
  • Where misconceptions have been identified and acted upon

And in terms of impact, how does your curriculum support students to know more, remember more and be able to do more of what you have specified on your curriculum intent as important – and how do you know?

If you have found this blog helpful and would like to know more, download our Ofsted Preparation Guide.

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