Where did the transition arrangement apply?
The transition period was initially created to acknowledge that schools might need time to adjust to the new curriculum focus in Ofsted inspections when the EIF launched in 2019. It was about giving credit to schools that were working hard to improve their curriculum. It was originally intended to last for a year but was extended by two more years because of the Covid pandemic.
The transition arrangement was applied when it was clear that a school was well on the way with its curriculum journey – but isn’t quite ‘there’ yet. It was not an amnesty for schools where teaching is weak or pupils’ outcomes aren’t good enough.
The arrangements applied to the descriptors of what good looks like. They do not apply to outstanding and inadequate judgements. Essentially, these are schools that would otherwise be rated as requires improvement for the quality of education, because they aren’t as far along with their curriculum planning.
The transitional arrangements applied to four of the curriculum intent (not ‘impact’ or ‘implementation’) descriptors and are clearly marked in the school inspection handbook; they appear in square brackets in each of the four grade descriptors.
Ofsted criteria for being good on curriculum intent include:
Leaders adopt or construct a curriculum that is ambitious and designed to give all pupils, particularly disadvantaged pupils and including pupils with SEND (special educational needs and disabilities), the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life. This is either the national curriculum or a curriculum of comparable breadth and ambition.
The school’s curriculum is coherently planned and sequenced towards cumulatively sufficient knowledge and skills for future learning and employment.
During the extended transition period, Ofsted inspectors have been able to rate a school as “good” for curriculum intent if, on the above points, “this is not yet fully the case, it is clear from leaders’ actions that they are in the process of bringing this about and are making any necessary amendments in response to the pandemic”.
You might also be interested in our CPD The Ofsted Ready Leadership Team
New Grade Descriptors for ‘Good’
Ofsted have introduced a new grade descriptor in the quality of education judgement to formally acknowledge the longer-term impact returning children and young people to the curriculum intended will have. The following is the wording in the school inspection handbook, but similar changes have been made in the non-association independent school handbook and the further education and skills handbook:
‘The curriculum may undergo necessary changes (for example, following a review by senior leaders or to take account of COVID-19) and certain aspects may be more developed than others. Where this is the case, these changes do not prevent all pupils having access to an appropriately broad and ambitious curriculum. Where adaptations to curriculum breadth are made for particular pupils, there is a clear rationale for why this is in those pupils’ interests, and, where appropriate, there is a clear plan for returning all pupils to studying the full curriculum.’
Transition arrangement on curriculum will come to an end
This transition period will come to an end in September 2022.
Arrange for a Mock Deep Dive in your Curriculum area
Contact our Inspection team to arrange a ‘Mentoring Dive’ to reassure your team & allay any fears
What does this mean for my school?
- Ofsted will expect to see your curriculum intent clearly translate into practice i.e. is implemented and will no longer gives schools & colleges the benefit of the doubt.
- It will be a lot harder to explain away any inconsistencies in delivery or curriculum provision
- The Deep Dive process is likely to be much more rigorous and challenging
- Middle leaders in particular will need much more robust answers to questions on the breadth and depth of the curriculum
- Covid can no longer be used a complete explanation or justification, they are expecting business as usual.
- Clear reasons for any child not receiving the full curriculum must be given
- A clear plan for returning all children to a full curriculum must be supplied.
- Although ‘Good’ doesn’t mean ‘perfect’ (Christopher Russell, Ofsted National Director, Education) it needs to be pretty close.
- Many schools who would have previously been graded as good are likely to receive requires improvement
What can we do to feel secure in our own self evaluation and judgements?
- Focus on upskilling your middle leaders, we provide training and mentoring for HODs on the Deep Dive process– what to expect and how to secure the best outcomes
- Improve staff understanding of outstanding pedagogy and implementation through CPD
- Gather evidence clearly showing how your curriculum intent translates into practice, building this into meaningful lesson observations and work scrutinies
- Make sure your process of self evaluation and school review is robust, especially if you think the school is on the border of good and requires improvement
- Draw up an action plan for returning all pupils to the full curriculum you intended
The feedback given to departments was of very high quality and we were very impressed.M. Naylor, Deputy Head, Standards, Achievement & Curriculum, Stone Lodge Free School
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