Ofsted inspection framework grants grace period for new curriculum reviews


Schools will be given time to implement a new curriculum before facing Ofsted judgements, the watchdog has said.

The school regulator has revealed proposals that include a grace period of at least one year before rating schools based on what they teach, instead of pupil outcomes.

The plans suggest that schools which can show ‘plans’ to review their curriculum or which are demonstrating ‘genuine action’ to review will not be downgraded.

Such an approach will be implemented until at least September 2020, Ofsted has suggested.

A focus on curriculum

Ofsted has also confirmed that an overall ‘quality of education’ judgement will replace the current ‘quality of teaching, learning and assessment’ that is used for inspections.

Putting more of an emphasis on the curriculum has formed a key part of Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman’s approach since taking the role two years ago.

She has continually said that the new framework will reward institutions based on the “substance and integrity” of their education provision.

The latest reassurances come in response to concerns that schools would be able to implement changes to their curriculums in the necessary time scales.

Ofsted has recognised that schools may want to “review their curriculum” and that any changes would require “time and careful consideration”.

As a result, what it calls ‘intent’ grade descriptors will be used as part of the ‘quality of education’ judgement.

“While we are phasing it in, the judgement will not be negatively affected if it is clear to an inspector that leaders have a plan for updating the curriculum and are taking genuine action to do so,” Ofsted has stated.

A call for greater clarity

The school leaders’ union National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has welcomed the plans, but the organisation’s Nick Brook called for greater clarity in terms of what schools need to show.

He said that more “understanding of what will constitute that schools are moving in the right direction” is required.

Geoff Barton, of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), also praised Ofsted for the move but voiced concerns that more time would be needed for schools to adequately implement any curriculum changes.