Ofsted is extending the grace period it is giving schools to improve their curriculum until the end of the next academic year.
The move was announced in a blog by Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director of education, today. The news came as Tes reported heads' disquiet at the impact of the watchdog's new curriculum-focused inspections.
Tes revealed last month that the inspectorate’s executive board had been debating whether to extend the grace period and was due to make an announcement.
In his post, Mr Harford said: “When we launched the framework in September last year, we wanted to be fair to schools and give them enough time to craft their curriculum plans.
Ofsted focused on curriculum
"That’s why we announced that we’d allow a year’s transition period – so the schools that are making changes wouldn’t be penalised if they were inspected in the meantime.”
He added: “We know that a great curriculum does not just appear perfectly formed overnight. It takes a great deal of thought, preparation and work to plan it.
"I’m also aware, through conversations with the Association of School and College Leaders and the National Association of Head Teachers, that some heads and senior leaders are concerned about getting their curriculum to where they want it to be by this coming September. Some schools are further along their curriculum journey than others.
“We’ve listened to those concerns. So, we’ll be extending the transition period from one to two academic years – taking us through to July 2021.”
Ofsted judges a schools’ curriculum as part of a new quality of education grade.
Inspectors assess the curriculum on its intent, implementation and impact.
The grace period means that when considering a school’s curriculum inspectors can take into account plans or work the school is doing to develop its curriculum that could lead to it being judged as "good" in the future.
They will use this grace period when considering whether to give a school's quality of education a "good" judgement.
Mr Harford’s blog gives examples of when inspectors have used this grace period in their inspection judgements since September last year.
He said: “Some leaders are waiting to launch a revamped curriculum at the end of an academic year, but their planning for their redesigned curriculum is on track or completed.
“We’ve also seen schools that, by September 2019, had clearly identified how their key stage 3 curriculum was narrower in ambition than the national curriculum – but had a clear plan to show how they would broaden it.
“We’ve seen other schools where the curriculum for most subjects is operating perfectly well already and does not need to change – but leaders are working diligently on the curriculum in one or two main subjects.
"Again, this is acceptable, and we have therefore applied the transition arrangements.”