There is an emphasis on quality as schools return to the rhythm of the autumn term. The stakes are high as the new OFSTED handbook becomes a reality. Quality of Education is one of the major changes that inspectors will be asked to focus on. They must ensure that the planning, sequencing and delivery of curriculum content and knowledge delivers breadth, depth and challenge over time.
There is a move away from a focus on data obtained as a result of testing at the end of key stage 1,2,4 and 5. The picture and associated dialogue must be about HOW results that translate into data have been achieved. Amanda Spielman has republished a speech she wrote in June focusing on accountability and autonomy. She suggests that the two are inseparable in the quest for high quality learning in schools and colleges.In other words achieving results that translate into a positive data set in order to define accountability are 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.
“…and government should be able to distinguish between the quality of the system in terms of data, and the quality in terms of substance. We need that balance in the accountability system.”
Autonomy should give all leaders the belief that they can look at quality assurance as part of the bigger picture. In primary schools the foundation subjects must have greater 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.
The three areas that OFSTED plan to focus on are:-
- high quality pedagogy
- classroom management and the behaviour of pupils
- the curriculum and how it is planned and implemented
The indicators they will look out for are:-
- building on previous learning
- depth and breadth of coverage
- pupil progress
- evidence that pupils have opportunities to revisit and practice what they know
However, managing quality assurance in the school system must have a much wider focus if it is to create the right evidence that all the above indicators achieve the desired outcomes for the school. 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 QA process in schools and colleges.
- 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, sequeuncing 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. It is about high quality assessment of the indicators that underpin what is expected within each stage. It is also about the sharing and celebration of successful outcomes. 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.
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Have a look at the Learning Cultures’ Curriculum offer. We have training linked assessment in the primary phase, assessment in the secondary phase. A look at transition from KS1 to 2 and from KS 3 to 4. 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.