A quality of education is much broader than results, Ofsted’s regional director has warned, after a drive away from “teaching to the test” was confirmed in its new inspection framework.
Final details of the new review system were revealed last week, with a focus on curriculum, behaviour and development. One of the biggest changes will be around a benchmark assessing school’s offering of a “broad and rich curriculum”, rather than on data and results.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post over the impact, Ofsted’s acting regional director has said it could give a greater recognition to efforts by schools in some of Yorkshire’s most disadvantaged areas.
“We want to refocus on what children and young adults really learn, rather than teaching to the test,” said Katrina Gueli, leading for Yorkshire and the Humber as well as the North East.
“Our new quality of education judgement is going to look much broader than test or exam results, and make sure that follows from a broad and rich curriculum.
“We know that education is more than preparing for tests, it’s about preparing for the next level of education or moving or moving into the world of work as a well-rounded adult.
“We think that shift of focus should allow us to more easily give recognition to those schools that have high numbers of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds by focusing on their wider offer.
“A quality of education is much broader than results. It will allow us to celebrate some of the work these schools are doing in very challenging circumstances.”
The long-awaited framework, which follows Ofsted’s biggest ever consultation with 15,000 responses, confirms a number of changes for inspections.
Alongside the new ‘quality of education’ judgement, there will be further measures around behaviour and personal development.
Inspectors would be looking at whether school leaders created an orderly environment and, if bullying is reported, it is challenged effectively, Ms Gueli said. The second aspect would look at the whole school offer in terms of sports, music and extracurricular activities.
“We know that bullying does happen in schools,” she said.
“It’s really important that leaders create a culture where pupils have the confidence in adults that things will be resolved, so that they feel safe in school and can enjoy their time in education.
“The really important thing about the new framework is that it’s very much looking at what schools do and how they build their curriculum.”
The framework has caused controversy, with initial plans for on-site preparation scrapped in the wake of opposition, and a measure of relief afforded to small schools who will be exempt from longer routine inspections. Further concerns have been raised by headteachers’ unions that it may prove “unworkable” in practice, warning too much is being asked of inspectors.
The response more widely, Ms Gueli adds, is broadly positive.
“It’s still early days, but we will be going out to talk to leaders,” she added. “Absolutely, at the heart of the new framework, is children’s interests. I’m very positive about it. The focus, on curriculum, behaviour and pupil development will enable us to really celebrate that substance of education and focus on things that make a difference to children.”