In this blog post for the NACE community, Mike Sheridan, Ofsted’s regional director for London, previews upcoming research commissioned to identify and share good practice to ensure all learners benefit from a broad and balanced curriculum.
Alongside my reflections on changes to school accountability measures – to be published in the upcoming edition of NACE Insight magazine – I want to make a point that I hope many of you will agree with. Examinations are an important measure within education, but they shouldn’t be seen as the sole or driving purpose of education. Examination results give an indication of the quality of an education, but there is a worry that schools sometimes focus more on the exam itself, rather than the knowledge and skills it is testing.
Earlier this year, the Chief Inspector expressed her concern that too many schools aren’t giving pupils this broad and balanced curriculum, instead focusing very narrowly on exam subjects to ensure the best possible grades. In light of this, she commissioned a piece of research on the curriculum.
This piece of work is looking at how schools interpret the curriculum, to see what is effective and what isn’t. We will share the good practice we find (of which there is much!), but where students aren’t getting a good deal, we want to ensure this is made clear as well. We will publish our initial findings soon.
Rather than being seen as a threat, I hope this research will help calm the anxiety some feel is created by an excessive focus on tests and exams. My belief is that a great curriculum leads to well-rounded individuals who get good grades because they have the knowledge, skills, character and resilience to do well in exams and in life. If you believe the same to be true, perhaps now is the time to be brave so that we can transform our good education system into a world class one. One which fully equips our young people to confidently compete on the world stage.
Mike is Ofsted’s regional director for London. He joined Ofsted as a seconded head teacher in 2007, moving on to become one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors, and then a senior HMI and operational lead for the South East of England. He is a qualified teacher and has held several leadership roles in schools, including the headship of a federation of schools. He’s also worked as a consultant and a trainer for heads and teachers. 

Watch this space for Mike’s commentary on Ofsted’s upcoming research publication on this topic, and get in touch to share your own school’s approach to delivering a broad and balanced curriculum.
Friday, September 22, 2017