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:
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:
Introductory questions around implementation could look like:
In books or student work you might want to ask for examples of:
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.
Access our guide to help you prepare for a visit from Ofsted. Including, what to expect on the day of inspection, how to prepare yourself and your team and video interviews from fellow teachers.