Ofsted: Small schools must meet our curriculum standard

Ofsted acknowledges concerns but says 'children in small schools deserve to have access to the same broad curriculum'

John Roberts

Ofsted has sought to reassure small schools over new curriculum inspections

An Ofsted director has said small schools should be expected to be deliver the same broad curriculum as any other school.

Mike Sheridan has admitted that staff in small schools are worried about the workload caused by the "deep dives" into the curriculum during new inspections.

Ofsted's London regional director also acknowledged that at some small schools a teacher could be a lead in more than one subject.

He has written a post today seeking to reassure them that inspectors will take their challenges into account.

However, he stresses: "Children in small schools deserve to have access to the same broad curriculum as anyone else. I’m sure no one working in a small school would disagree.

"Many small schools are incredibly creative in finding ways to share burdens and make sure that their offer is rich and wonderful.” 

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Ofsted will carry out the series of deep dives into different subjects during school inspections to examine the curriculum as part of its new quality of education judgement.

Ofsted focus on curriculum

And Mr Sheridan said small schools would be no different.  “It helps us to understand the quality of education you’re offering, and whether the curriculum is achieving what you want it to,” he said.

But his post acknowledges concerns about the new inspections among staff at small schools.

He said: “I know that some small schools are nervous about the new education inspection framework (EIF) and the demands that our ‘deep dives’ will place on staff.

"Some are worried about the workload implications for teachers who are coordinating multiple subjects and balancing other responsibilities as well.

"I understand these concerns but want to offer some reassurance.”

He continued: “Our inspectors understand the unique challenges you face as small schools. They’ll take account of the way you organise the curriculum and leadership of subject areas.

"Inspectors will work with you to understand what’s typical and what’s different because of inspection. For example, if teachers are out of class when they would not usually be.”

Earlier this year, Sean Harford, Ofsted's director of education, said he hoped small schools can get external support to develop their curriculum plans.

Speaking at the Hallam Festival of Education, he said hoped the inspectorate’s focus on curriculum would lead to more help being given to small schools.

In his post today, Mr Sheridan said that he was previously the head of two very small schools in the North of England.

He highlighted how he worked with a group of five other schools to develop curriculum and also entered into a federation in order to share subject leadership across the two schools.

Ofsted’s new inspection framework was introduced last month.

Under the new regime, Ofsted will give schools a judgement on the quality of education they provide.

As part of this, inspectors will look at the intent, implementation and impact of a school’s curriculum.  It will do this through deep dives into particular subjects.

The quality of education has replaced both teaching, learning and assessment and pupil outcomes as inspection judgements under the new framework.  






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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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