Last week in the education news, it was claimed by two influential system leaders, that Ofsted’s new focus on schools having a broad curriculum would “damage outcomes for disadvantaged children”. The focus of the report was centred on schools that have shortened their Key Stage 3 to two years in order to make way for three year GCSEs; which has been challenged by Ofsted in the new framework. Many schools are now considering and reverting back to two year GCSEs, whilst they review their own curriculum. It has been reported that when looking at Progress 8 across nearly 50 schools, there was very little difference to the P8 scores, whether it was a two or three year KS4. Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national Director for Education, urged caution, and said Ofsted has no “fixed view” on Key Stage length. Ofsted’s stance is that, “Judgements are based on whether a school offers its pupils an ambitious curriculum across their whole time in secondary education: good schools provide a good education and achieve good outcomes.”

The reason I mention this is that the Schools Led Improvement Group (SLIG) spent a considerable time this week considering the topic of KS3/KS4 length, which then led the group to consider the wider discussion about P8, curriculum (subject) choice and EBACC entries and ultimately outcomes. The claims last week were suggesting that having too broad a curriculum, compounded by Key Stage length, would impact detrimentally on disadvantaged pupils’ outcomes. This took me back to the Bristol University research, which suggests that the P8 figure changes dramatically when the formula for P8 includes disadvantage. I suppose this then comes back to the curriculum question about what is actually offered (is it what we have always offered) and ultimately how it impacts on the open bucket. I believe in Camden that the inclusive nature of our schools has been to enter pupils where appropriate for the EBACC subjects and to make choices about the curriculum that favour the needs of the pupils, rather than the league tables. However, SLIG did conclude that ensuring our curriculum is match fit and adapts accordingly, is vitally important.

Reminder that the Camden Learning AGM will be on Tuesday 11th February 2020, 16.00pm-18.00pm at Regent High School. Also, the annual Camden Learning Headteachers Conference will be held in Brighton on 26/27 March 2020, please see flyer attached below for more details.

Jon Abbey

Managing Director, Camden Learning

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