Exploring the impact of Ofsted's new inspection framework by Ben Ward
This is the final blog in a series of three which have explored the impact of Ofsted’s new framework on the teaching of Geography in schools. Having previously tackled both intent and implementation, I will now move on to the final ‘i’, impact.
The new framework states that a successful curriculum will provide learners with the detailed knowledge and skills needed to achieve well, stating that one of the impacts of effective curriculum design (intent) and delivery (implementation) will be success in national examinations.
However, when judging the impact of a subject’s curriculum, inspectors will look beyond GCSE results. Inspectors will assess whether the implemented curriculum has resulted in learners being ready for the next stage of education, employment or training. In particular, inspectors will be alert to ‘teaching to the test’ strategies, where curriculum coverage has been narrowed and life skills squeezed, in order to increase ‘surface attainment’.
Inspectors will be looking for curriculums which equip pupils with the knowledge and cultural capital needed to succeed in life. Ofsted has suggested that through their curriculum, schools and subjects should be introducing their students to ‘the best that has been thought and said’, helping pupils to ‘appreciate human creativity and achievement’. In the Personal Development section of the framework, Ofsted outline how inspectors will evaluate the extent to which the curriculum enables learners to develop and discover their interests and talents as well as supporting learners in the development of their character and preparing them for life in modern Britain.
Both the Pearson Edexcel GCSE Geography specifications have been designed to meet these impact expectations. Firstly, both courses support progression, with the compulsory and optional topics carefully designed to lay the foundations of knowledge and understanding needed to access a range of post-16 pathways, including A levels.
Furthermore, the real-world focus of both specifications encourages students to apply their knowledge and understanding to 21st century challenges, including urbanisation, migration, climate change and ecosystem loss.
Similarly, UK-focused studies, investigating demographic trends, regional development and inequality, provide fertile grounds for exploring British values and appreciating diversity.
In addition to content coverage, the assessment objectives of both specifications have been designed to prioritise the key skills students will need to access post-16 training and further study, including fieldwork and investigative skills. Both specifications have fieldwork at their core, requiring students to complete both physical and human investigations. For success, students have to be at the heart of this process, devising hypotheses, proposing methods and analysing/evaluating their results.
This focus on high level skills is reflected in the balance of assessment objectives, with the application of knowledge and understanding to interpret, analyse and evaluate geographical issues (AO3) accounting for 35% of both GCSE courses.
About the author: Ben Ward is a Senior Assistant Headteacher in a secondary comprehensive school in Lancashire. Ben has worked as a Geography consultant for Lancashire County Council hosting subject networks, leading CPD and supporting NQTs. Through his role as the ‘Director of Teaching School’ he has worked in partnership with a large number of schools across the North West, supporting whole school leadership as well as working with a number of geography departments on a board range of topics including curriculum, assessment and teaching and learning. Ben has been a member of our senior examiner team since 2004. Between 2009 and 2016 Ben was a GCSE Principal Examiner. In addition to marking, Ben has produced a wide range of teaching resources for Pearson, including curriculum planners, schemes of work and getting started guides. Ben remains an avid geographer and a passionate teacher.