Citizenship, Fundamental British Values (FBV), SMSC and the new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework (EIF)

An Inspector Calls Again: Seizing the New Opportunities

Introduction and Background

The new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework (EIF) will be introduced in September 2019 and schools need to be ready for a return visit from inspectors. The current Ofsted framework emphasises data collection and analysis to showcase pupil outcomes and during visits involves discussions largely between inspectors and school leaders. As a result, there has been little recognition in such visits that Citizenship remains a statutory National Curriculum subject in secondary schools and part of a non-statutory framework with PSHE in primary, and that it can make a major contribution to the promotion of fundamental British values (FBV) and the SMSC (spiritual, moral, social and cultural) development of all pupils. This lack of Ofsted focus has encouraged many school leaders to downgrade Citizenship in the curriculum and detach it from FBV and SMSC provision.

So the key question is will Citizenship provision continue to suffer the same fate within the new Ofsted EIF? On first reading, and from Ofsted pronouncements on how they will approach inspections, the answer is a resounding no. In the wording of the new EIF, and in the outcomes from pilot inspections, there are very encouraging signs that schools will have considerable opportunities to make their Citizenship provision and its contribution to FBV and SMSC an explicit part of the curriculum and the conversations they have with inspectors. Even more encouraging is that those schools that currently do not have such provision and links will have to reconsider their approach if they are to secure strong inspection outcomes.

This raises two further crucial questions. First, what has brought about the new opportunities for schools to showcase their Citizenship, FBV and SMSC provision to Ofsted inspectors? Second, how can those who deliver Citizenship, FBV and SMSC provision in schools, and those who support them, make the most of these opportunities? These questions are answered below based on a detailed look at the new EIF followed by a series of Key Actions that need to be taken.

New Opportunities for Citizenship, FBV and SMSC Provision in Schools

  1. What are the new opportunities for schools to showcase their Citizenship, FBV and SMSC provision?

The answer to this question lies in how the new Ofsted EIF has changed its:

  • foci of inspections
  • judgment areas for inspection
  • inspection methodology

Foci of inspections

The new Ofsted EIF focuses centrally on what pupils actually learn over their results. The emphasis is on schools providing a rich and balanced curriculum that is suitable for all pupils and demonstrating this ‘real learning’, as Ofsted term it, through the ambition, planning, delivery and outcomes of such a curriculum. The new focus is driven by Ofsted concerns about: a narrowing of curriculum in primary and secondary schools; increased teaching to the test/exam; a shrinking of Key Stage 3 to two years; and, the off-rolling of problem pupils, and the implications for pupils in terms of their curriculum entitlement, learning experiences and long-term prospects. 

Judgment areas for inspection

Ofsted will now judge schools on four areas: quality of education; behaviour and attitudes; personal development; and, leadership and management. Quality of education is the dominant judgment focusing on how well the curriculum is conceived, taught and experienced, what Ofsted term the 3Is of ‘intent’, ‘implementation’ and ‘impact’. Quality of education and personal development contain explicit and encouraging reference to Citizenship, FBV and SMSC provision and this is where the main opportunities lie.

Quality of education includes consideration of how far schools are ‘equipping pupils with the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life’ including ‘the essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens’ (EIF Para 176). Meanwhile, Personal development includes the dimensions of ‘developing responsible, respectful and active citizens who are able to play their part and become actively involved in public life as adults’ and ‘developing and deepening pupils’ understanding of the fundamental British values’ (FBV) (EIF Para 214).

For Ofsted the effectiveness of the school’s provision for pupils’ SMSC development will draw together many of the dimensions under personal development, with sources of evidence to include ‘how curriculum subjects such as citizenship… contribute to pupils’ personal development’, ‘how well leaders promote British values’ and the ‘quality of debate and discussion that pupils have’ (EIF Para 222).

Inspection methodology

Rather than focusing on data and discussing outcomes with school leaders in order to judge the quality of education in a school Ofsted will use a three-pronged methodology involving a ‘Top-level view’, ‘Deep dive’ and ‘Bringing it together’.

  1. The Top-level view involves talking to school leaders about the nature of the curriculum they are offering to pupils in the school, how it has been chosen, its ambition, including how it equips pupils with the cultural capital they need to succeed in modern Britain, and its sequencing.
  2. The Deep dive involves gathering evidence of intent, implementation and impact from a sample of curriculum subjects, including Citizenship, topics or aspects, including FBV, SMSC and their contribution to pupils’ personal development. This will include discussions not just with school leaders but also curriculum leads, teachers and pupils.
  3. Bringing it together consists of looking across the collected evidence and identifying any issues, both positive and negative, across the school that may require further evidence and review before reaching a judgment on quality of education.

  1. How can those who contribute to Citizenship, FBV and SMSC provision in schools, and those who support them, make the most of these opportunities?

The answer to this question flows from the opportunities that arise from the new Ofsted EIF having a much more explicit focus on pupils’ learning and how the curriculum, through ‘real learning’, promotes the cultural capital of all pupils in the school for life in modern Britain. This puts the contribution of Citizenship, FBV and SMSC provision, via the Quality of education and Personal development judgments, centre stage in promoting such learning as part of an ambitious, well-conceived, planned and delivered curriculum. Furthermore, the inspection methodology encourages inspectors in their deep dives to observe Citizenship, FBV and SMSC provision in practice and talk directly to curriculum leads, teachers and pupils involved in such provision in and beyond the classroom.

The Association for Citizenship Teaching (ACT) recently tweeted news of the outcome of an Ofsted pilot visit with the new EIF where a school in Dorset was put into special measures because the deep dive showed that it failed to offer a sufficiently rich and balanced curriculum that included subjects and aspects such as Citizenship, FBV and could not fully promote pupils’ SMSC development. This underlines the dangers lurking for those schools that have downgraded their provision for Citizenship in the curriculum and their promotion of FBV and SMSC under the current inspection framework. They are likely to be found wanting under the new EIF.

10 Key Actions for School Leaders to Take

The review of the new Ofsted EIF above suggests a number of Key Actions that those in schools who are involved in Citizenship, FBV and SMSC provision, and those who support them, need to take if they are to be prepared for its inception in September 2019. These include:

  1. Alert School Leaders - Alert school leaders to the centrality of Citizenship, FBV and SMSC provision in the new Ofsted EIF, in relation to the Quality of Education and Personal development judgments and underline to them how Ofsted will be looking at the extent to which such provision in schools is an integral part of a rich and broad curriculum that meets the needs of all pupils.
  2. Review your Citizenship provision - Review the provision of Citizenship in the curriculum and the promotion of FBV and SMSC in your school in the light of the expectations in the new Ofsted EIF and ensure Citizenship and its contribution to FBV and the SMSC development of all pupils is clear and visible to all.
  3. Consider how Citizenship equips pupils with knowledge and cultural capital for life in modern Britain – Consider the pupils in your school and how through the school curriculum you will equip them with the knowledge and cultural capital they need to lead successful lives in modern Britain. Then consider the contribution that Citizenship can make to such equipping in terms of developing pupil knowledge and understanding of democracy, the law, the economy and skills, values, attitudes and aptitudes through meaningful opportunities to participate, engage, work with others, volunteer, discuss and debate.
  4. Consider how Citizenship promotes ‘real learning’ for pupils – Consider how in your school Citizenship promotes ‘real learning’ opportunities and experiences for pupils through the curriculum, both in and beyond the classroom that are relevant to lives and interests and engaging.
  5. Ensure Citizenship is part of the high level curriculum vision – Ensure that Citizenship, FBV and SMSC provision is an integral part (i.e. is visibly linked) to the high-level vision and ambition of your school curriculum, what Ofsted term curriculum ‘intent’.
  6. Ensure Citizenship curriculum provision is logical and sequenced – Pinpoint where the provision of Citizenship, FBV and SMSC makes the most contribution in your school curriculum and how it can be best delivered in a logical and sequenced way in terms approach (e.g. as a separate subject, through other subjects, in tutor time, cross-curricular, extra-curricular or a mixture of these) and delivery so that it builds and reinforces knowledge acquisition and the development of understanding, skills, values, attitudes and aspirations, what Ofsted term curriculum ‘implementation’.
  7. Decide on the outcomes of Citizenship provision – Decide and agree on the outcomes for and benefits of curriculum provision of Citizenship, FBV and SMSC for pupils in your school and how you will capture these outcomes and benefits and ensure that they are visible, recognised and celebrated by all, what Ofsted terms curriculum ‘impact’.
  8. Consider how to make your Citizenship provision visible to Ofsted – Consider how you will ensure that the provision of Citizenship, FBV and SMSC in your school curriculum is visible to Ofsted inspectors through the ‘Top-level view’ and ‘Deep dive’ they will conduct in terms of the practice they will see and the conversations they will have with school leaders, curriculum leads, teachers and pupils. It will need to be logical and sequenced from the ambition, through the delivery and onto the outcomes.
  9. Plug any gaps in Citizenship provision before Ofsted visit - Take action to plug any gaps in your provision of Citizenship, FBV and SMSC (particularly any gaps between curriculum planning (intent), delivery (implementation) and outcomes (impact)) that arise from undertaking the key actions above. Then decide on how you will address them before your school receives an Ofsted inspection visit and what help you may need for those organisations and people who support the provision of Citizenship, FBV and SMSC in schools such as Young Citizens and ACT.
  10. Continue to regularly review, revise and update your Citizenship provision to ensure ‘real learning’ for pupils – if Citizenship is to contribute to the equipping of pupils with the knowledge and cultural capital they will need to be successful in their lives in modern Britain and beyond (as Ofsted see it) then the curriculum provision of Citizenship and the promotion of FBV and SMSC needs to remain current, relevant to the lives of pupils and engaging. This means that it needs to keep pace with changes in society and developments in political, social, economic, legal, financial and cultural spheres and be regularly reviewed, revised and updated as new topics, issues and events arise. Organisations and people, such as Young Citizens and ACT, who support Citizenship provision in schools, can assist in this process.

Hopefully, if you and your school undertake these Key Actions you will be in a prime position to seize the opportunities in the new Ofsted EIF to promote Citizenship, FBV and SMSC provision as an integral part of a broad and rich curriculum that meets the needs of the pupils in the school. This, in turn, should strengthen the chances of Ofsted recognising the Quality of Education provided to all pupils in your school through the curriculum and the contribution to their personal development and ensure strong inspection outcomes.

It should mean there are no nasty surprises within the new EIF and no downgrading of your school inspection outcomes as happened to the school in Dorset. So take the time now to consider and actively seize the new opportunities in the EIF to promote Citizenship, FBV and SMSC before an inspector comes calling again.

David Kerr is Consultant Director of Education at Young Citizens. He was Professional Officer to the Citizenship Advisory Group (Crick Group) that put Citizenship into the National Curriculum. He also directed the Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study (CELS) that followed the first cohort to have statutory Citizenship in schools from age 11 to 18.