In recent years, there has been a concerning trend in which education and training providers seem to be misinterpreting the purpose of OfSTED's Education Inspection Framework, specifically concerning curriculum intent. A closer examination of the guidance reveals that curriculum intent is not simply a statement to be posted on a website. If this is the extent of an organisation's curriculum intent activities, it suggests that curriculum planning has not been addressed as comprehensively as it should have been. This article aims to provide a more in-depth understanding of curriculum intent and the associated expectations within OfSTED's framework, drawing on academic research and resources. The primary goal is to support educational institutions in developing a robust curriculum that prepares learners for success.
OfSTED Curriculum Intent: A Definition and Framework
OfSTED defines a curriculum as:
“The curriculum is a framework for setting out the aims of a programme of education, including the knowledge and skills to be gained at each stage (intent); for translating that framework over time into a structure and narrative, within an institutional context (implementation); and for evaluating what knowledge and skills learners have gained against expectations (impact/achievement).”
This definition emphasises the importance of considering curriculum intent as more than a mere list of aims or an overarching document. Instead, it should be understood as a framework for establishing the aims of a programme of education, including the knowledge and understanding to be gained at each stage.
The key to understanding curriculum intent lies in the term "framework". A framework is not a bullet point list of aims; rather, it encompasses the following elements:
Collaborative planning and consensus about the knowledge and skills that learners need.
Clear objectives, outcomes, and apprenticeship standards that define what needs to be achieved.
Measurable curriculum endpoints, with staff aware of the knowledge and skills learners, must acquire to reach these endpoints.
A well-defined method for measuring the effectiveness of endpoint delivery.
A sequenced curriculum that demonstrates how new knowledge and skills build on prior learning and advance towards clearly defined endpoints.
Alignment of the curriculum with other organisational objectives.
Insights from OfSTED's Investigation into Curriculum Intent, Implementation, and Impact
OfSTED's publication "An investigation into how to assess the quality of education through curriculum intent, implementation and impact" offers valuable insights into the findings of the pilots conducted before the introduction of the new Education Inspection Framework. The findings concerning curriculum planning include the following:
Difficulty among some organisations in articulating how to map and build progression.
Curriculum documentation is frequently only designed at a superficial level.
Insufficient consideration of sequencing between components of knowledge that would lead to conceptual understanding.
Curriculum design often focused on delivering content without adequate attention to ordering and structure.
In some instances, curriculum design amounted to little more than copying and pasting key objectives.
Rather than ensuring that activities delivered an ambitious curriculum, teaching is driven by specific activities.
In light of these findings, it is clear that future inspection focus on the curriculum cannot rely solely on documentation and planning documents to understand the extent of curriculum implementation.
The Importance of a Robust Curriculum Intent Framework
Developing a robust curriculum intent framework is critical to ensuring that learners receive a high-quality education that equips them with the necessary knowledge and skills for future success. This requires organisations to move beyond superficial documentation and planning and to engage in thoughtful, systematic, and collaborative curriculum design that takes into account the sequencing and structure of content.
An effective curriculum intent framework will satisfy OfSTED's inspection requirements and result in a more engaging and meaningful educational experience for learners. In turn, this will contribute to improved learning outcomes and better preparation for future education or employment opportunities.
In conclusion, understanding and effectively implementing curriculum intent within the context of OfSTED's Education Inspection Framework is essential for education and training providers. By going beyond a simple statement on a website or a superficial list of aims, organisations can create a comprehensive framework that supports the development of a high-quality educational experience for learners.
To achieve this, organisations should:
Engage in collaborative planning to identify and agree upon the knowledge, and skills learners need to acquire.
Establish clear objectives, outcomes, and apprenticeship standards, outlining the desired achievements.
Define measurable curriculum endpoints, ensuring that staff understand learners' required knowledge and skills to reach these endpoints.
Develop a method for measuring the effectiveness of endpoint delivery.
Sequence the curriculum to demonstrate how new knowledge and skills build on prior learning and progress towards defined endpoints.
Align the curriculum with other organisational objectives.
By implementing these strategies, education and training providers can create a robust curriculum intent framework that meets OfSTED's requirements and improves the overall quality of education for learners. This, in turn, will lead to better learning outcomes, greater student engagement, and a more meaningful educational experience.
OfSTED's Education Inspection Framework: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/education-inspection-framework
OfSTED's "An investigation into how to assess the quality of education through curriculum intent, implementation and impact": https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/936097/Curriculum_research_How_to_assess_intent_and_implementation_of_curriculum_191218.pdf
By incorporating these resources and approaches into their curriculum planning and design, education and training providers can ensure they offer a comprehensive and effective learning experience that prepares learners for success in their future endeavours.