Ofsted confirms that deep means depth

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

I have had a response from Ofsted to my query about a curriculum that was balanced / rich / deep.  It was from Sean Hartford HMI, National Director for Education.

He confirmed that a balanced curriculum is still a necessity, even though the Chief Inspector didn't mention it in her first speech earlier this year.  I was relieved to hear this, but hardly surprised; it is, after all, a requirement of the legislation.  That said, no one really knows what balanced means – or, more accurately, perhaps, it can mean what you want it to mean because there is no theory of curriculum (or organising framework, if you like) in operation to guide its determination.  I must stop saying this as, surely, everyone knows by now!

Hartford then wrote:

"In your second question, you ask: 'what do "rich" and "deep" mean to Ofsted in relation to the curriculum?'  The context for what the Chief Inspector is referring to here is the concern, also referenced in the speech, about schools that are narrowing the curriculum and using qualifications inappropriately, resulting in statutory tests and examinations driving the curriculum.  In these cases, the curriculum might arguably still be broad and balanced, but is lacking in depth and quality due to the focus on tests and examinations."

What to make of this?  Well, to start with, it's hard to see how a curriculum that has been narrowed in this way, can then still be broad.  Of course, broad isn't well-defined either.  Then, you have to note that "rich" has morphed into "quality".  This is also undefined in curriculum terms, but I'm resisting the temptation to ask Ofsted what it means.

He adds:

"As you may have seen, the curriculum will now be the focus of an Ofsted thematic review, which will explore the intent, implementation and impact of the curriculum at national, school and classroom levels.  We will also look at problems, including curriculum narrowing ... ."

I hadn't, and I wonder if this is something we can all contribute to.  I shall ask.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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