Ofsted will not "downgrade a bunch of schools" in September because they have failed to overhaul their curriculum in line with its new inspection framework, the inspectorate has promised.
Chris Jones, deputy director of research and evaluations at Ofsted, said that the inspectorate was "mindful of the fact that some schools are slightly further behind on their curriculum than others".
Ofsted is planning to refocus its school inspections on the curriculum from the next academic year. It expects to begin a formal consultation with schools in January with a view to bringing in the new framework in September 2019.
Speaking at an event in London this morning, Mr Jones responded to concerns that the new framework could result in schools getting poor inspection results if they failed to get their curriculum in order from September.
"We’re completely mindful of the fact that some schools are slightly further behind on their curriculum than others," he said.
"For some schools this is not new, this is what they have been doing for decades.
"For other schools this will be the first time in a long time that they’ve given a lot of thought to curriculum issues.
"What we are not planning to do is turn up in September and send out a bunch of inspectors to downgrade a bunch of schools, that’s not the intention here."
Instead, he said in its early inspections Ofsted would look for evidence that schools are thinking about their curriculum and have a plan for it.
"What we will be looking for particularly in September and for the first tranche of inspections will be evidence of that curriculum journey, evidence of how the school or the college or FE is making its way through that journey, has planned that journey, that they have a clear idea about the end point for that curriculum journey and they’ve put things in place to get to that end point.
"We absolutely don’t want to be in a situation where we’re suddenly in September saying the education system has gone from being pretty good to pretty rubbish."
Pressed on fears that some teachers will feel they need to work over the summer holiday to re-design the curriculum, he said: "We’re very mindful of that and we should be able to say more when we launch the consultation."
Mr Jones also said that Ofsted's research had found that some schools were relying too much on their headteacher to plan the curriculum.
"What we found in some schools was that it was the headteacher who did all the thinking about vision and ethos and how that translated into their curriculum intent in particular," he said.
"Obviously that’s no good if that headteacher then leaves, but at another level we found that a lot of subject leads were equally happy and willing and interested in taking a leadership role."
He said sharing the load with subject leads was a "more sustainable model".