Making curriculum choices in the very best pursuits of youngsters

by admin

Two students in a classroom, one boy and one girl, with their teacher looking upwards in anticipation

Sean Harford HMI, Nationwide Director for Training, discusses how we’ll be judging the curriculum and whether or not size of key stage issues.

There was a variety of hypothesis about whether or not Ofsted has a set view that faculties shouldn’t have a two-year key stage 3 (KS3). That is merely not the case and I need to tackle a number of misconceptions right here.

It’s actually true that underneath the brand new schooling inspection framework (EIF) the standard of schooling judgement begins from the premise that faculties ought to provide their kids a broad, wealthy curriculum.

Via our curriculum analysis, we all know {that a} narrowed curriculum can imply that kids miss out on alternatives to check topics and acquire data that could possibly be beneficial in later phases of schooling, or of their grownup lives. It might even have a disproportionately destructive impact on probably the most deprived pupils – those that usually begin faculty behind their friends.

What’s going to inspectors be taking a look at?

To begin with, there isn’t any ‘most well-liked size’ of KS3. It’s for faculties to determine their very own curriculum and the way it’s enacted throughout the college. The size of KS3 is actually not a limiting judgement in our handbook. Faculties don’t robotically get marked down if their KS3 is lower than three tutorial years lengthy.

We base our closing judgement on whether or not faculties provide pupils an bold curriculum throughout their complete time in secondary schooling – not on the size of any explicit stage. We’ll be trying on the curriculum as an entire. Whether or not it’s wealthy, bold and effectively sequenced – reasonably than when every component is delivered.

That mentioned – and whatever the size of KS3 – our handbook is clear that inspectors will have a look at how the college is ensuring that pupils have the chance to check a broad vary of topics – on the very least consistent with the nationwide curriculum. We would like all pupils to learn from an excellent, well-taught curriculum.

Within the worst-case state of affairs of a three-year KS4, a faculty will merely pull GCSE educating ahead, stretching a two-year course over three. Because of this for some pupils, selections made on the finish of yr 8 are finite. Some won’t ever get the possibility to check an entire vary of topics, sometimes, like artwork, music or languages once more earlier than they depart faculty.

It’s not the years, it’s the mileage

Within the phrases of Indiana Jones, ‘it’s not the years… it’s the mileage’. We’re within the high quality, breadth and ambition of the curriculum throughout a toddler’s time at secondary faculty, by means of each KS3 and KS4.

If faculties can present that they’ve considered curriculum rigorously – that they’ve constructed a curriculum with applicable protection, content material, construction and sequencing, and carried out it successfully – then it’s possible inspectors will choose their curriculum favourably. We’ll even be taking a look at whether or not the curriculum is broad for each pupil.

And on an allied difficulty, we don’t make a judgement in regards to the high quality of schooling in any faculty primarily based solely on its progress with the English Baccalaureate (Ebacc). Although that is, in fact, a think about understanding a faculty’s curricular ambition for its pupils.

school pupils sat around a table, discussing a piece of workNo most well-liked size

We’re severe about not having a most well-liked size of key stage, in follow in addition to in concept. Since September, we’ve seen quite a lot of faculties judged at inspection to be good or higher whereas making a optimistic resolution to supply a two-year KS3.

It’s a mark of how good the curriculum on provide is in these faculties – inspectors thought it higher than some faculties with a three-year KS3. Crucially, these faculties are ensuring {that a} two-year KS3 doesn’t imply a slender KS3.

A few of the widespread themes we’ve seen embody:

  • nice breadth and depth of curriculum – for instance, giving pupils the chance to study quite a lot of overseas languages and humanities topics
  • the broader curriculum being open to all pupils, no matter tutorial capability, and being taken up by the overwhelming majority
  • a larger proportion of pupils taking the EBacc at KS4
  • no topics being squeezed out of the KS3 curriculum, which signifies that pupils proceed to take a variety of topics, together with the humanities, at KS4
  • KS4 programs going deeper into content material and being broader than simply the specs known as for by the examination boards or the nationwide curriculum.

These are all optimistic choices to protect richness and breadth. These faculties have considered how they’ll provide wealthy, thrilling schooling for all their pupils otherwise – reasonably than merely beginning GCSEs a yr earlier, sticking rigidly to the specs and proscribing pupils’ alternative.

It’s additionally truthful to say {that a} three-year KS3 is not any panacea. We printed a thematic research ‘The wasted years’ again in 2015. Our report discovered that, whereas pupils sometimes research a broad vary of topics at KS3, these years are typically a missed alternative – kids should not at all times getting the very best begin at secondary schooling.

In some faculties, educating shouldn’t be constructing on the good points that pupils have made in main faculty, so their progress stalls. Classes in topics like fashionable overseas languages, historical past and geography should not at all times giving pupils the boldness to become familiar with these necessary basis topics. This in fact can have an effect on take-up at GCSE.

So, if you end up being drawn right into a simplistic dialogue in regards to the variety of years KS3 lasts, then you definitely’re most likely having the improper dialog. If, as an alternative, you’re contemplating what it’s you need pupils to study, and whether or not your curriculum is wealthy, bold and effectively sequenced, then you definitely’re possible on course.

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