How do you quality assure the curriculum?
OFSTED: inspecting the quality of education in 2021
How do you quality assure the curriculum in a school or college? Quality is defined by how well learners have deepened their understanding, are building on prior learning and have the skills to access increasingly complex informaton and who therefore are able to retain knowledge and use skills with increasing competence.
Quality remains high on the agenda as revisions to the OFSTED handbook (April 2021) are published.
“High quality education is built around the connectedness of curriculum, teaching, assessment and standards within the ‘quality of education’ judgement.” OFSTED EIF).”
The inspection methodology for the ‘Quality of Education’ judgement is therefore structured to ensure that inspectors are able to gather evidence of how a school’s activities to deliver a high-quality education for its pupils connect and work together to achieve the highest possible standards. The message remains the same, data as the principle means of accountability is not enough. Measuring quality must look at the excellence of teaching, the depth and breadth of curriculum, the ability of pupils to know how their learning intertwines and connects as well as a focus on the work that pupils produce.
Excellence in senior and subject leadership is pivotal the quest for high-quality education
Responsibility for ownership of the curriculum should be given to all leaders; strategic responsibility to senior leaders and ownership of innovative implementation to subject leaders. The role of both the senior and subject leader in developing systems for highly effective quality assurance remain an essential ingredient that will produce the evidence that the curriculum is delivering excellence in learning and teaching.
In primary schools the foundation subjects must continue to have a high degree of prominence. Subjects should be taught by experts, learning should be sequenced and knowledge and skills carefully built over time. In secondary schools key stage 3 must be seen as a time where pupils build on learning from their primary school and develop the skills and knowledge that will prepare them for future learning and deeper thinking.
Building on the experiences of the last year needs to be carefully woven into the shaping of new pedagogies so that all learners feel empowered to build and make significant progress towards successful futures. We cannot capture lost learning but with high quality systems redesign that encompass the positives from the past and embrace change enthusiastically we will make a difference.
Quality Assuring the Curriculum through the Interconnection of Evidence
Curriculum implementation requires a balance between the systems that exist to ensure seamless learning where there is a focus on ensuring high quality pedagogy and evidence of how the work produced and the atmosphere and management of the classroom ensure deep engagement for all pupils. There are four distinct components that will help in the pursuit of ensuring there is consistency and a shared belief in the pursuit of continuous improvement that delivers a high-quality education, these are:-
- the curriculum and how it is planned and implemented
- high quality pedagogy
- the depth and breadth of pupils’ work
- how well pupils are engaged with their learning
Managing Quality Assurance in the School System
Quality Assurance is a potent phrase, well used in business and industry. In order to make the most of what is a powerful tool for successful whole school decision making and planning the processes need to be translated into a school or education context.
Reliance on external forces such as OFSTED are not enough. Quality Assurance principles are built on all encompassing factors that embrace all staff, pupils and other stakeholders in designing systems that lead to focused collaboration, the pursuit of excellence and opportunities for all those involved to own their part in creating evidence that they are having an impact on the life chances of every pupil at whatever stage in their education.
The Seven Principles that Underpin Highly Successful Quality Assurance in the School System
Here at Learning Cultures we have focused on seven principles that underpin highly successful quality assurance that are tried and tested in all sorts of organisations and should be an integral part of a Quality Assurance process in schools and colleges. These are:-
- A clearly defined policy for quality assurance as part of the structure of strategic management
- A mechanism for defining and communicating the vision for the organisation including how the curriculum intent is integral to the vision and ambition for the organisation
Processes for the design and approval of the curriculum in terms of content, sequencing over time and intended learning outcomes
- Clearly defined standards for classroom pedagogy, behaviour and the management of and assessment of learning
- The management of information and data to ensure that analysis and use of data informs progress, intervention and challenge
- A strategy for assessing staff development needs linked to achieving the school vision and the needs of individuals and teams within the organisation
- A mechanism for sharing success within and outside the organisation
Quality assurance is all about effective communication.
Quality assurance is about high-quality assessment of a series of well-designed indicators that give all those involved with a framework that they can use to identify their potential, build on their strengths and focus on change and how to manage new innovation successfully. Professional dialogue, collaborative team-working and a shared commitment to organisational excellence will deliver sustainable educational outcomes and the related data to be proud of.
As we move out of an unprecedented period of uncertainty, a loss of cohesion, team collaboration and direct contact with colleagues and pupils we need to strengthen our commitment to a shared future. Quality assurance as a deliberate strategy that will support strategic change and recovery creates a highly effective framework that once embraced will undoubtedly lead to data that reflects a high level of leadership skill and harmony across the whole organisation.
CPD that delivers Outstanding Quality Assurance
Learning Cultures have worked closely with leading quality assurance experts to bring you our highly acclaimed course that will provide a framework for all those who will be accountable for the quality of education, have a look below:-
Have a look at other associated Learning Cultures’ Curriculum training. Assessment is a key element in having the evidence of high quality pedagogy and learning. Have a look at out two asynchronous training packages that you can buy off the shelf, Formative Assessment in the primary school, Formative Assessment in the secondary phase. Have a look at our course that focuses on seamless transition from KS1 to 2, find out how to make sure key stage 3 creates worthwhile opportunities for deep learning. We can support you on your primary curriculum journey and your secondary curriculum journey and we can support subject specialists to re-define their approach to curriculum planning.