Headteacher Blog 19.03.19Posted on: 19th Mar
I hope you and your families are well. I have just arrived back from the annual Headteachers’ Conference in Birmingham, feeling invigorated and a bit more optimistic about the future for education. I had the opportunity to listen to a number of speakers, ranging from Head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman to Lenny Henry. There was also an address from the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds. I was heartened to hear him say that he was going to fight hard to address the issues of increased funding for education and the pressures of accountability – let’s hope that his words turn into actions. A major focus of the day was the proposed Ofsted reforms which I would like to outline in this issue of the blog, and was a subject I raised at our recent parent forum.
The prospective and I believe positive changes to the curriculum were recently outlined by Amanda Spielman. “Twelve years of education should give children a lot more than a disposition to learn and some ill-defined skills,” she said. “Yet the evidence from the first stage of our research this year is that the focus on knowledge, on the substance of what we want young people to acquire is often lost…” “…If the entire school experience has been designed to push them (students) through mark-screen hoops, rather than developing a deep body of knowledge, they will struggle in later study.”
So why change the curriculum now? In essence, Ofsted is saying that going forwards, they feel that schools and particularly teachers –who are the subject matter experts - should be given greater freedom as to what and how they teach their students. This new improved curriculum would allow students to have a greater and broader understanding of their subject matter, and give the teachers more freedom in when and how they teach it.
Ofsted believes there is currently a lack of curriculum knowledge and expertise, and the curriculum is being confused with assessment and qualifications. Ultimately this leads to a narrowing of the curriculum and teachers having to teach children solely to pass exams, something which completely contradicts, and is at odds with our new school vision.
I welcome the proposed changes to the new inspection framework because it goes beyond performance measures, and focuses more on students developing a deep body of learning. This will create life-long learners who are prepared fully for their future lives. The consultation period ends in the summer.
On other matters, I wanted to let you know that for the third year in a row, we are very proud that 100% of our Year 13 students who have applied for a university place have received at least one offer from their chosen university. Indeed, the majority have received all five offers, giving them a greater choice on where they want to study when they move on from The Downs School. Well done to them and the Sixth Form team for all their hard work.