Investigation: Is Ofsted biased about the curriculum?

Tes is reporting that Ofsted has handpicked 23 schools to help it decide what good curriculum design looks like for its controversial new inspection framework.

The schools chosen were rated as good or outstanding and said to be particularly invested in curriculum design. The research will be crucial to how new school inspections focusing on the curriculum are developed.

However Ofsted has already faced criticism that its sample of schools favours a particular approach to the curriculum. Now Tes analysis reveals it is also unrepresentative in other ways:

  • Seven of the 12 primary schools were academies – 58 per cent of the primaries in the study – compared with  27 per cent nationally.
  • Of the 23 schools visited, free schools made up almost a third (30 per cent) compared with less than two per cent of free schools nationally.
  • There is also a geographic imbalance. London and the East of England is over represented and the North West is significantly under represented.  

An Ofsted spokesperson added: “We identified more schools as being in the knowledge-engaged category than at either end of the spectrum. Some in the knowledge-engaged group also placed a slightly greater emphasis on skills than knowledge.”

However critics of Ofsted’s plans such as Russell Hobby, chief executive of Teach First have suggested that the inspectorate cannot assess a school’s curriculum without having an pre-judged idea of what a good curriculum is.

Read more Tes analysis that reveals the schools are unrepresentative Investigation: Is Ofsted biased about the curriculum?

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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