What does Ofsted really want to see in a “deep dive”?

The look of abject fear on the art leader’s face says it all, she’s a recently qualified teacher, pretty green and even the word Ofsted brings her out in a cold sweat. So when – in the 90 minute pre inspection phone call – I was told there would be a deep dive into art, the response from her was not particularly enthusiastic.

Obviously a senior leader’s role is to prepare your subject leads for this eventuality, but however much you have coached and mentored and triangulated and monitored and evaluated… it can still scare the crap out of an inexperienced, and sometimes experienced, subject lead. 

So let’s break it right down. There have been vast swathes of CPD around deep dives  since the new framework was introduced, but we have moved on some way since then and Ofsted have recently shared their expectations again.

5 key aspects of a deep dive

The focus will be “what do you want your pupils to learn and why?”

  1. Inspectors will discuss the curriculum with you, does it cover the “ambitious” National Curriculum requirements and can you evidence that this is broken down into clear chunks that lead to end points? This about progression. It is vital to show how your subject sequentially builds on knowledge as children progress through the school. 
  2. How do you know children are achieving the end points and making progress through the school? This isn’t all about internal data, to be honest Ofsted are barely looking at data. However, you must be able to share that you know how well the children are learning. Evidence of monitoring reports which detail planning scrutiny, book looks, lesson observations will support this. Tracking groups, such a Pupil Premium, Girls, Boys, Summer Born, low, middle and high attainers. Tracking the progress in your subject of 3 pupils in each group as they journey through the school is a really powerful tool.
  3. Sticky learning – how do your children remember their learning? Ofsted’s focus s very much on the sequence of learning and building a foundation of knowledge and skills form which to access the next step in that subject. You need to be able to share how your children are given the opportunity to remember  learning. How many chances do they get to recall and revisit a skill or theory to really ensure it is embedded in memory? Is the learning memorable within a context the children will engage with? Can the children articulate the learning…this is so important. It is not just the books that evidence this, but in talking to the children it is quickly clear whether they have a clear memory of their learning and can recall. Don’t rehearse this – it doesn’t work! 
  4. Keep it simple!

    Does your curriculum identify the knowledge pupils need to achieve the goals of their education, and have all pupils learned that knowledge? Subject leaders do not need to prepare special documentation for Ofsted on intent, implementation and impact. For Ofsted, intent is simply what you want pupils to learn: your curriculum thinking and high-level planning. Implementation is the teaching activities you choose to teach your curriculum. Impact is when that curriculum content is learned. There are no extra forms of documentation needed for inspection because you already plan curriculum content and teaching activities designed to ensure that curriculum content is learned.

  5. Smile, be passionate about your subject and confident in the curriculum you have planned. You will show Ofsted the evidence of sequential progress through your knowledge and sharing good teaching. The children will talk about the subject with confidence and their books will show progress through the school. 

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