Exploring the intent of Ofsted's new inspection framework by Ben Ward
This is the first of three blogs exploring the impact of Ofsted’s new inspection framework on the teaching of Geography in schools. At the GA’s 2019 conference, Iain Freeland, Her Majesty’s Inspector for Geography, told delegates that curriculum had replaced data as Ofsted’s new ‘unit of inspection’, urging geographers to go back and look again at what they teach and how they teach it.
This advice reflected the demands of Ofsted’s new ‘Quality of Education’ judgement, with the now infamous three I's of intent, implementation and impact, which coupled with the introduction of subject ‘deep dives’ have placed curriculum leaders at the heart of the inspection process.
In this blog, I will focus on the first of the three i's, intent; outlining Ofsted’s expectations and linking these to the Pearson Edexcel GCSE specifications.
Starting with why? The best organisations appreciate why they do something, as well as being able to articulate what they do and how they do it. The new framework states that when evaluating a school’s intent, inspectors will focus on the curriculum leadership provided by school and subject leaders.
The judgement will be based on factors that both research and inspection evidence indicate have the biggest impact on progress. Strong curricula will focus on the most important knowledge needed to achieve and progress, they will be designed to address typical gaps in pupil knowledge associated with the school’s local context and should be focused on reaching clearly defined end points. Crucially, the curriculum should stay as broad as possible, for as long as possible, with the aim of ensuring that students develop both the breath of disciplinary knowledge and the cultural capital they will need to succeed in life.
Schools teaching either of the Pearson Edexcel GCSE Geography specifications will undoubtedly be reassured that their Key Stage 4 courses meet many of Ofsted’s intent expectations. Both the specification A and B courses provide a structure for a broad Geography curriculum that builds on KS3, covering physical, human and environmental topics, with geographical skills integrated through all parts of the course. Furthermore, the freedom to choose locally relevant contexts, meaningful case study destinations and pupil appropriate fieldwork investigations, ensures curriculum leaders have the flexibility and opportunity to deliver a Key Stage 4 programme of study which meets their stated intent.
In my own school, the flexibility to focus on our home city of Preston in the Changing Cities topic along with the option to select the Energy sub-unit, which includes the study of fracking, a locally controversial issue, has enabled my school to ensure our KS4 programme remains locally focused, a key component of our intent statement.
Furthermore, the ability to choose India as our Global Development case study has increased the relevance of our curriculum in a culturally diverse region, as well as contributing to our wider SMSC and British Values intent commitments.
More information about Pearson Edexcel Geography Qualifications can be accessed here.
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.