In September, schools across England woke to life under a new Ofsted Inspection Framework which features a shift away from data-driven outcomes and towards a broader ‘quality of education’.
As part of this there is a renewed focus on the breadth and balance of subjects, the development of cultural capital, and the shaping of a curriculum that ‘extends beyond the academic, technical or vocational and provides for learners’ broader development, enabling them to develop and discover their interests and talents’.
Throughout the consultation period there was much cautious optimism about the opportunities the framework might provide for arts, heritage and cultural organisation. Now, just about a full term and 900-plus inspections into life under the new approach, it seems there are two key areas worth a closer look.
Firstly, supporting schools with the enriching of the curriculum that is a feature of many outstanding judgements:
‘Pupils remember how visits to interesting places have helped them understand more about the subjects they learn’
‘They enjoy the wide range of trips and activities on offer. Pupils have new experiences that bring their learning to life. This prepares them well for the next steps in their education’
‘Range of extra-curricular that adds to learning and wider development that help pupils to understand and feel part of the community beyond their home and school’
‘Pupils enjoy a wide range of visits, clubs and activities which have been thoughtfully planned. Pupils learn to realise how culture can enrich their lives’
The second comes in developing subject specific professional development for teaching staff. The shift to a greater focus on curriculum means more attention on the knowledge children should learn and remember across all subjects and its sequencing. It’s a great opportunity for those Foundation subjects like art, music, history and geography that have been rather side-lined in the past.
However, many teachers and subject coordinators in primary schools, who are often generalists first and foremost, can feel they currently lack sufficient knowledge and confidence. Consequently, they are keen to find support from specialists and this provides a real opportunity to build new and lasting relationships with schools.