Exploring the implementation of Ofsted's new inspection framework by Ben Ward
This is the second of three blogs written to explore the impact of Ofsted’s new framework on the teaching of Geography in schools. In the previous blog, I outlined Ofsted’s intent expectations and showed how Pearson Edexcel’s GCSE Geography courses help to provide the structure for an engaging, progressive and broad and balanced curriculum. In this blog, I’ll be digging deeper into the research base of Ofsted’s second 'i', implementation.
Amanda Spielman, at the launch of the new inspection handbook, framed this ‘I’ as the action taken to ensure students ‘know more, remember more and can do more’, linking curriculum content to the way it is taught and assessed.
When judging the implementation of the curriculum, inspectors will primarily evaluate how the curriculum is taught at a subject and classroom level. Inspectors will assess whether the subject curriculum is designed, sequenced and delivered in such a way that allows pupils to build on existing understanding, transfer key knowledge to long-term memory and master new skills.
Perhaps the biggest change from previous frameworks is the purpose of assessment. Teachers are encouraged to view tests not as data collection exercises, but as learning opportunities; a chance for students to apply their understanding, to ‘use their knowledge fluently’ and revisit themes throughout the curriculum in order to develop mastery. Internal assessments should be low stakes and learning focused, not solely data collection tasks for the tracking of attainment.
Uniquely, Ofsted backed up their new framework with a research document which outlines the educational research which underpins their inspection criteria. This invaluable document outlines a range of evidence-based approaches which schools can use to maximise the impact of their curriculum. Ofsted argue that related content should be ‘spaced out’ across the course, whilst interconnected themes, skills and concepts should be ‘interleaved’ throughout the programme of study. These ‘distributed’ approaches promote regular retrieval practice, strengthening memory and turning taught content into learnt knowledge.
Pearson Edexcel’s GCSE specifications provide numerous opportunities for implementing these recommendations. The topic structure of Specification A allows schools to break up components 1 and 2, leading to a ‘cycling’ curriculum of physical and human units. For example, spacing the sub topics of unit 1 (e.g. Rivers Yr10 and Coasts Yr11) promotes the retrieval of overlapping processes and management strategies, strengthening schema connections and memory. Equally, the splitting of tropical rainforests and deciduous woodlands allows for the interleaving of key concepts (the Gersmehl model) and themes (species adaptation). This approach leads to the spacing of related content and the regular retrieval of overlapping knowledge.
Similarly, the enquiry-based structure of Specification B interweaves core geographical content through scaled issue based investigations, gradually building up students’ skills and geographical understanding. For example, broad concepts introduced in the ‘Challenges of an urbanising world’ are revisited in the ‘UK’s evolving human landscape’ and often interlink with the synoptical Paper 3 decision making exercise.
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.