Governance under the new Ofsted Framework: the quality of education
With a new Ofsted framework having been released that is markedly different from its predecessor, governors are keen to understand whether their focus should also be shifting.
The new framework is different from its forerunner because emphasis has shifted from ‘quality of outcomes’ to ‘quality of education’. It is accompanied by a detailed document which outlines how inspectors will be reviewing the curriculum. This has led governors to worry that they need to vastly improve the depth of their curricular knowledge if they are to carry out their role effectively. The answer to this is that they do not.
The new framework is structured around the themes of ‘intent, implementation, and impact’. In terms of governance, intent is related to strategic direction. Because the focus is on breadth and sequencing of the curriculum, governors should be expecting to hear from senior leaders on whether all their subject and key stage leads are comfortable with these elements. There should be a shift to governing bodies receiving information on subjects from the whole breadth of the curriculum, rather than a focus mainly on the core. You should be expecting to see school development plans that detail a strategy for the improvement of staff subject knowledge in specific identified curricular areas.
Implementation is the role of leaders and school staff. This is where governors’ duties around accountability come into play – how can you seek information from external expertise, data, and what you see with your own eyes to triangulate and corroborate what is being reported to you about the curriculum’s current strengths and weaknesses by the leadership team.
Finally, Impact. The role of governance here is to ensure that the school’s strategy includes clear milestones for monitoring impact and that the correct structures are in place for the school to be able to gather evidence to report against these milestones.
In summary, the new Ofsted framework focuses on the quality of education provided by the school. Governing bodies should have an understanding of the intent of the school’s curriculum, where they are on that journey, and what is being done to get to its end.