Spielman: Gove's reforms are 'helping schools'

Ofsted chief says controversial curriculum changes introduced by former education secretary are bedding in 'pretty well'

John Roberts

Amanda Spielman says that as far as Ofsted can see Michael Gove's reforms have bedded in pretty well.

Michael Gove’s education reforms are "helping schools" and have contributed to England’s improved performance in the latest Pisa rankings, Amanda Spielman has said.

The Ofsted chief inspector was responding to questions today on LBC radio on the country’s improved performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment rankings last month.

She said that the “encouraging trends” in English and maths in the tables were probably down to "systemic" curriculum changes introduced over a number of years.


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When asked, she said many of these reforms were introduced by Michael Gove.

LBC host Nick Ferrari said: “So Michael Gove was right in what he brought in as education secretary?"

Ms Spielman responded: “As far as we can see, the reforms are bedding in for the most part pretty well.

"Notwithstanding initial reservations, I think it's helping schools really get that structure and that definition around what they do.”

When asked to comment on the reasons for the country's improved performance in the Pisa rankings, she said: “Britain and England in particular did show some encouraging trends in those league tables: English and maths. 

“I think we are probably seeing the beginnings of fruition of some really pretty systematic and thorough changes in curriculum going back for a number of years.

“People have really started thinking and talking about what it is we teach, not just whether we are using the most fashionable ways of teaching, but what is it we are teaching to make sure we get that steady accumulation that really takes children where they need to.”

When asked if this meant schools were going back to basics, she replied: “It's about thinking about that accumulation right from age 4 all the way through to age 16, age 18. What is it that we are building up? What is it that we want children to leave knowing and being able to do? It's about coherence.”

Last month Pisa rankings revealed a significant improvement for England in maths and a smaller rise for reading.

However, the rankings – which compare the results of 600,000 15-year-olds taking tests across 79 countries – marked a decline in science.

It has been suggested that the results from the Pisa 2018 tests are a measure of the success of Mr Gove's reforms, as they tested the performance of 15-year-olds who were just starting key stage 2 when he took office at the Department for Education.

These pupils were also beginning secondary school when Mr Gove's controversial new national curriculum was first introduced and have studied for the reformed GCSEs. 

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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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