Respond to the OFSTED Consultation by 5th April Deadline

We’re sure you’re aware that the Ofsted consultation period on the proposed new inspection framework closes on 5th April. The Bacc for the Future campaign strongly encourages as many campaign supporters as possible to respond to the consultation. We are extremely concerned that the EBacc has been enshrined in the (proposed) Ofsted framework for the first time, particularly as we know it is a failing policy that is squeezing out creative subjects from our schools.

To aid your responses, the Bacc for the Future campaign has produced both a short guide response (detailed below) and a long guide response (see below for Word doc available to download) to the consultation document. Please adapt and amplify the points relevant to your own sector or organisation where appropriate. After you have submitted your response, please email us at baccforthefuture@ism.org to let us know!

Short response: main points

1) Quality of Education judgement introduced

We welcome the introduction of a Quality of Education judgement and Ofsted’s renewed focus on a broad and balanced curriculum. We acknowledge and welcome Ofsted’s proposal to remove the data-driven ‘outcomes’ judgement and to move schools away from narrow and restricted curricula and teaching to the test.

2) The EBacc is included in the proposed inspection framework

We are extremely concerned that, according to the draft Handbook, inspectors will scrutinise what state-funded schools are doing to prepare for government targets of EBacc uptake (75% by 2022 and 90% by 2025). Ofsted's decision to judge schools' preparation for large-scale uptake of EBacc subjects is at odds with their stated desire for a curriculum that is 'broad and balanced'.

The EBacc policy is not based in evidence and is failing on its own terms. As shown by the recent report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Music Education, take-up has been roughly static since 2014 at just 38% of pupils, and the pass rate was just 16.7% in 2017/18.

As has been evidenced through research by the APPG for Music Education, University of Sussex, ISM, Education Policy Institute, BBC, and others, the EBacc's exclusion of creative, artistic, and technical subjects, has caused a damaging decline in uptake and provision of these subjects. If Ofsted adds to the pressure on schools to increase their EBacc uptake to meet these challenging government targets, this will further accelerate the decline in uptake of creative subjects to the point where they will disappear from our schools entirely. We therefore urge Ofsted to drop their proposal for inspectors to understand what schools are doing to prepare for the EBacc to be achieved.

3) Key Stage 1

We are disappointed that the new handbook restricts its expectations for a broad rich curriculum to Key Stages 2 and 3, overlooking Key Stage 1 by stating that “curriculum breadth and balance are less important at this stage”. This is not in line with Ofsted's proposal to challenge the negative effects of a narrow curriculum, nor to ensure continuity, progression and sequencing of learning across and between key stages.

4) Key Stage 3

We stress the importance of a three-year Key Stage 3 that includes a sustained high-quality curriculum offer of creative subjects and raise our concern at any relaxation of this expectation.

5) Inspectors’ expertise of the arts and creative subjects

With Ofsted’s renewed curriculum focus and subject expertise for teachers, we seek further information about how (and whether) sufficient inspector expertise of the arts and creative subjects will be in place by the time of implementation in September 2019.

We ask for a lead HMI for each arts subject to be reinstated, to bring parity of support and status for each area of the curriculum.

6) Cultural capital

Although we welcome the inclusion of cultural capital in the new framework, we have concerns that the definition of cultural capital is too narrow and is limited to the aims of the National Curriculum. Cultural capital is more than knowledge of the best that has been thought and said; it also includes engaging in arts and culture and developing self-confidence, resilience and independence. We would therefore welcome a broader definition of cultural capital, in line with academic thought, to ensure a broad, rich and balanced education for pupils.