Assessment and the wider curriculum in the new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework: What are inspectors looking for?

new ofstead framework

As you’re probably already aware, a new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework will come into force in September 2019. You can get an overview of the new Framework in our blog post ‘The new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework: What’s changed?’ We’ve taken a closer look at the Framework, alongside the new School Inspection Handbook that Ofsted inspectors will be using, and have pulled out some of the key points they will consider in relation to assessment and the wider curriculum in Primary schools. 

Assessment: 5 things Ofsted inspectors are looking for

The big headline when it comes to assessment is Ofsted’s crackdown on ‘teaching to the test’. With a significant move away from focusing on internal performance data, the new Framework identifies alternative ways of defining pupils’ progress in line with the new ‘Quality of Education’ judgement.

1) Assessment should be used to check and develop pupils’ understanding, to inform your teaching, and to help pupils embed and use their knowledge fluently, rather than as an exercise in memorising disconnected facts to pass a test.

2) The inspectors’ focus will be on how assessment is used to support the teaching of the curriculum. This means that they will consider how well pupils are doing in relation to the point they have reached in your curriculum. Assessment should be used to help you identify next steps for your pupils and to make sure that they are sufficiently prepared for the next stage in their learning journey.

3) From September, inspectors won’t be spending so much time looking at the internal progress and attainment data collected by your school. They will expect any collection of assessment data to be ‘proportionate’, i.e. that it’s an efficient use of school resources, and will want to know why this data has been collected. They’ll also want to see that it is used to inform clear actions. 

4) Inspectors will be looking out for overuse and misuse of assessment, expecting schools to understand its limitations. Moreover, the Ofsted Inspection Handbook explicitly states that, although national assessments and examinations are ‘useful indicators of pupils’ outcomes’, they only represent ‘a sample’ of what pupils have learned, and this is only valuable in the context of their progress in the wider curriculum. They’re looking for meaningful assessment, not meaningless data.

5) The new Framework has an increased awareness of staff workload and wellbeing, and states that effective assessment should not place unnecessary burdens on you by substantially increasing your workload, for example through too much one-to-one teaching or too much marking.

The wider curriculum: 5 things Ofsted inspectors are looking for

The new ‘Quality of Education’ judgement means that pupil outcomes won’t be the main thing that schools are judged on, but rather that your school’s curriculum will be at the heart of the inspection. They will consider your school’s aims (Intent), teaching practice (Implementation) and your pupils’ progress, which they define in the Framework as pupils knowing more, remembering more and being able to do more (Impact).

1) Inspectors will be looking at how your school’s curriculum equips pupils with the skills and knowledge they need for success in the future, helping them overcome any barriers caused by social disadvantage.

2) They will expect your curriculum to be coherently planned and sequenced to ensure that pupils are working towards defined ‘end points’, so that they are able to move on to the next stage of their learning. Specifically, they want to see what children are going to learn, by when, and how they are going to learn it.

3) Inspectors will evaluate how well your curriculum is helping pupils build a deep web of knowledge that they can recall and draw on to make connections. They’ll also be paying attention to whether you are noticing when there are any gaps in this knowledge and the action you take to fill these, to secure pupils’ readiness for future learning. 

4) Breadth is the by-word for an outstanding curriculum in the new Framework and inspectors will be looking out for any narrowing or ‘watering down’ of the curriculum. They will expect high ambitions for all pupils, irrespective of their starting points, and particularly when it comes to reading as a vital tool for accessing the rest of the curriculum (find out more in our blog post: Reading and Maths in the new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework: What primary school teachers need to know). 

5) The ‘Intent’ aspect of the ‘Quality of Education’ judgement allows for schools that want to adjust their curriculum in response to the Framework’s shift in focus, during a transition period up to Summer 2020. Inspectors will expect leaders to demonstrate a plan and to show that they are taking action to implement changes to the curriculum.


Want more details? The Ofsted Education Inspection Framework and School Inspection Handbook are available in full on the gov.uk website.

Download the Ofsted Education Inspection Framework 

Download the Ofsted School Inspection Handbook

Get support from Oxford 

We can support you with a range of resources that meet the requirements of the new Ofsted Education Inspection framework. Book an appointment with your local Educational Consultant now