Ofsted 2019: the year the curriculum fell into the inspection spotlight

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By Fe Luton
Director of research and content for Subject Leaders (www.subjectleaders.co.uk)

As you all know by now, in 2019 Ofsted provided the education world with a new, curriculum-focused framework. This change of direction has thrust subject leaders firmly into the spotlight and left school leaders considering the direction, reach and ultimate aim of their school’s curriculum.

Teacher in a classroom

What does this mean for schools in reality?

The curriculum, Ofsted says, needs to be broader and will be judged as such:

We will look at how schools are deciding what to teach and why, how well they are doing it and whether it is leading to strong outcomes for young people. Ofsted Feb 2019

For tested subjects (mainly maths and English) this is a step away from the concept of teaching to the test, while for foundation subjects, it provides an opportunity to take centre stage. For many subject leaders this is a positive. For others, it can feel quite daunting suddenly being the focus of attention.

Is Ofsted expecting every school to completely re-design their curriculum?

The short answer is no. Ofsted’s curriculum-focus may be new but your curriculum doesn’t have to be, and it is unlikely that your existing one is completely unfit for purpose. It will probably just need a few tweaks here and there. Take the time to review your current offering, focusing particularly on what you already do well and where each subject sits in the school’s curriculum overall.

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