Bill Scott's blog

Thoughts on learning, sustainability and the link between them

The new Ofsted Chief's unimpressive start

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The new head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, having announced a new investigation into the curriculum, gave her first interview last week on BBC radio 4's TWAO.  I didn't find it impressive as her answers were mostly much less precise than the questions posed.  You can listen on iPlayer and form your own judgement.

Her main point, I think, was that there was evidence of a narrowing of the school curriculum to the detriment of young people's general education.  She certainly mentioned 'broad' a lot in the interview; but she also went on about 'deep' and 'rich' as well.  The significant thing about these words is that broad is a key word in curriculum policy in England, but deep and rich are not; wonderful words they may be, but in relation to curriculum terms they have no meaning.  The Ofsted webpage announcing all this quotes this from her speech:

"We know that there are some schools that are narrowing the curriculum, using qualifications inappropriately, and moving out pupils who would drag down results.  That is nothing short of a scandal.  Childhood isn’t deferrable; young people get one opportunity to learn in school; and we owe it to them make sure they all get an education that is broad, rich and deep."

There was no mention of balance in Spielman's interview.  Section 78 of England's 2002 Education Act begins like this:

78 – General requirements in relation to curriculum

(1) The curriculum for a maintained school or maintained nursery school satisfies the requirements of this section if it is a balanced and broadly based curriculum which ...

(a) promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society, and

(b) prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.

It has to be worrying that Spielman stressed 'rich' and 'deep' and 'broad' but omitted 'balanced' as, if you have breadth without balance, anything goes.

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