Pupils losing out as schools prepare for GCSE early, says Ofsted

Some children never study history, geography or a language after the age of 12 or 13, the schools inspectorate warns

Eleanor Busby

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It is unnecessary to shorten key stage 3 to make more time for GCSEs, Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of Ofsted, has said.

An investigation by the schools watchdog has found that schools are often shortening KS3, which means “some pupils never study history, geography or a language after the age of 12 or 13”.

The intensity of exam preparation is getting in the way of pupils receiving the subject knowledge they need, the watchdog has said.

Narrowing the curriculum

Ofsted today published the preliminary findings of its review of the curriculum. It found that:

  • Schools are narrowing the primary curriculum by placing too great a focus on sitting practice Sats, rather than learning English and maths and encouraging reading for pleasure.
  • Low-attaining pupils are often deterred from doing EBacc subjects at GCSE in order to take qualifications that score more highly in league tables.


"We have not yet seen any analysis of the consequences of a shortened key stage 3 in terms of what pupils are learning. Are we all clear about what is being lost from that missing year and are we happy to lose it?"  Ms Spielman said in the commentary.

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Eleanor Busby

Eleanor Busby is a reporter at TES 

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