Exclusive: 84% of school leaders back Ofsted curriculum plans

But poll reveals concern about how the education watchdog will ensure that curriculum inspections are consistent

School leaders welcome Ofsted's plan to focus on curriculum

Ofsted’s plans to put an increased focus on the curriculum in its new inspection regime have overwhelming support from school leaders, a new survey shows.

The inspectorate is consulting on plans to create a new "quality of education" grade to replace the judgements it currently makes about pupil outcomes and teaching and learning.

Its plans for a new education inspection framework will place greater emphasis on school curriculum alongside exam results.

A new survey of more than 1,000 school leaders, carried out by The Key, shows that 84 per cent agreed with the plan to “introduce a curriculum-focused 'quality of education' measure".

A total of 8 per cent were opposed.

However, the responses also show that some school leaders question how Ofsted will ensure that inspectors are consistent with how they inspect the curriculum.

The survey also asked whether respondents "agree with the proposal to separate the judgement about learners’ behaviour and attitudes from the judgement about learners’ personal development, to enhance the focus on both?"

Ofsted 'moving in the right direction'

Some 78 per cent of respondents supported the plan, while 13 per cent opposed it.

Amy Cook, head of content for the Key, an information service for school leaders, said: “Our members have shown unanimous support for two of the biggest proposed changes in the draft framework -– the changes to the inspection judgements.

"This signals a clear step in the right direction for Ofsted. 

"However, our results also show some hesitation about the proposed logistical changes to inspections.

"Others question how Ofsted will ensure that inspectors on the ground are consistent – especially in how they assess the curriculum."

The survey also asked members what questions they would want to ask Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman. These included:

  • "How can schools maintain a broad and balanced curriculum, in the context of the DfE's ambition for 75 per cent of pupils to take the EBacc by 2022?"
  • "Will Ofsted's intentions to shift the emphasis towards 'the substance' of education, rather than performance data, filter through to inspectors on the ground?"
  • "Can inspectors reliably and consistently make judgements about school curricula?"

The poll also shows less support for some of the other major changes Ofsted is proposing, including giving schools little more than 150 minutes' notice before arriving at a school.

Ofsted has been approached for a comment.

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