Cultural Learning Alliance

In times of crisis, only imagination is more important than knowledge.

Albert Einstein
ImagineNation: The Case for Cultural Learning


Schools – Changes to Ofsted

Published 24 October 2011

All change at Ofsted this month (the national body responsible for standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) with a new Chief Inspector, a new inspection framework and a new website for parents to express their views on their child’s school. This post gives you a quick summary of the reforms, the cultural learning implications and some of the sector’s responses.

Ofsted has appointed a new head and Chief Inspector of Schools for England - Sir Michael Wilshaw. You can read Mike Baker’s blog about the appointment here. It has also published a new assessment framework – which will replace the old one from January 2012 onwards.

The Schools Network (formerly SSAT) has pulled together a good digest of the key reforms. As we suspected, headlines are that school Self Evaluation Frameworks (SEFS) will no longer be mandatory and schools judged as ‘outstanding’ will be exempt from regular assessment. Here is the response from the National Association of Headteachers and from the Association of School and College Leaders.

We would be really interested to know what you think of the new framework. A quick skim from a purely cultural point of view does look positive. Inspectors must continue to consider the pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development at the school alongside their four new key assessment areas; achievement; quality of teaching; leadership; and behaviour and safety.

Amongst other things schools must offer students opportunities to:

  • reflect on the experiences provided by the school, use their imagination and creativity, and develop curiosity in their learning
  • respond positively to a range of artistic, sporting and other cultural opportunities, provided by the school including, for example, developing an appreciation of theatre, music and literature
  • understand and appreciate the range of different cultures within school and further afield as an essential element of their preparation for life

Ofsted have also launched a new website which lets parents share their views about their children’s school with Ofsted – and publically with one another. Parent View went live this week:

On a side note, a couple of our key recommendations to the Henley Review of Cultural Education specifically relate to Ofsted:

  • No Children’s Centre, School, Youth Service or Academy or other setting should be judged beyond ‘satisfactory’ by Ofsted unless they provide a broad and balanced curriculum / offer which includes the arts and culture.
  • The CLA to work with Ofsted to develop criteria for this assessment and work to integrate cultural learning specialists and Specialist Subject Associations into the assessment process alongside inspectors. Suitable indicators will be local and bespoke to different communities and arts organisations, but examples of commitment will include Artsmark and Arts Award.

We look forward to seeing whether these make it into the immanent report, and subsequently whether they are adopted and taken forward by the Department of Education.



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Young Musicians taking part in our 5th Birthday celebrations 2009, The Sage Gateshead. Photo: Mark Savage
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