2019 Summer Term

The know zone

  • Primary focus
    ASCL's newly appointed Primary Specialist Tiffnie Harris shares starting points for primary leaders when considering 'curriculum intent' following the publication of the new Ofsted framework. More
  • The end for BTECs?
    The government's consultation on the review of post-16 qualifications closed on 10 June. As we await the outcome with bated breath, we wonder: was this just an attempt to sacrifice the Applied General Qualification (AGQ) on the altar of T levels? Kevin Gilmartin examines the bigger picture. More
  • Due diligence
    An important element of forming, joining or merging an academy trust is to ensure that a comprehensive due diligence process has been undertaken. This way, says Hayley Dunn, schools can reduce, manage or avoid any pitfalls. More
  • Its in our DNA
    With an ever-growing focus on teacher recruitment and retention, it's important to ensure, now more than ever, that you are looking after the wellbeing of your staff. Here MAT CEO Jeremy Rowe shares top tips from his schools' Staff Charter. More
  • RIP for AGQs?
    We are concerned that the government's review of post-16 qualifications could result in Applied General Qualifications (AGQs) being discontinued. Do you run AGQs in your sixth form or college? What are the benefits of these qualifications? What would be the impact if they were discontinued? Here, ASCL members have their say. More
  • Sending a clear message
    Senior leader and ASCL Council Member Margaret Mulholland says disadvantage isn't simply about circumstance or special educational needs and disability (SEND), it's more than that - it's about being individual - a message policymakers should take on board More
  • Give me a break
    Every year as exam season finally comes to an end and sports day and prom night have been and gone, we can at last start looking forward to the summer holiday. But do we really, actually, ever, get a break? More
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ASCLís newly appointed Primary Specialist Tiffnie Harris shares starting points for primary leaders when considering Ďcurriculum intentí following the publication of the new Ofsted framework.

Primary focus

Itís a privilege to have been appointed as ASCLís Primary Specialist and Iím excited to be able to build on this area of ASCLís specialisms. Prior to my appointment, I spent 22 years in education, beginning my career as an English teacher and going on to influence whole-school outcomes in middle and then senior leadership. My experience spans a wide range of schools from a variety of demographics, including British Forces schools and inner-city academies. My last position as assistant headteacher in a high school had specific responsibility for data, assessment, reporting and examinations and leading the English department. Being part of a three-tier multi-academy trust (MAT), leading on transition and working alongside other leaders, kept me up to date on curriculum, assessment and accountability across all key stages. Seeing the dedication and commitment of how my ASCL colleagues are working to support our members makes me exceptionally proud to be a part of this team, and I look forward to working with our primary members.

ASCL provided invaluable professional development support to me when I was a senior leader. I remember the first time I attended ASCL Annual Conference and the positivity that lasted a long time after the weekend had ended. You will understand, therefore, why Iím keen to get even more primary-specific professional development opportunities up and running, so do keep checking the website (www.ascl.org.uk). Planning for the next ASCL Primary Conference is also well under way, and I hope many of you will attend this fantastic CPD opportunity tailored specifically to meet the needs of primary colleagues. Part of my new role will be to support recommendations made by the ASCL Commission on the Forgotten Third. I was a member of the commission and the final report will raise some strong concerns about what happens to our young people who achieve below the GCSE Ďstandard passí grade 4 in English. The commission has led us to look at the educational journey of a young person from as far back as early years and through Key Stages 1, 2 and 3. We feel that childrenís experience of early language acquisition has ramifications for the rest of their lives. The importance of confident communication through talk and being able to close the word gap is essential in changing the life chances for our young people. Iíll be asking for your views on the primary-related aspects of the report when itís published. 

As I write this, Iíve been in post for almost three weeks. Iíve already met some of our elected Council members and theyíve raised some key issues affecting our primary members, including Reception Baseline Assessment, SATs (including Labourís recent announcement to remove them), Relationships and Sex Education reforms, ongoing funding and recruitment and retention concerns.

New Ofsted framework: top tips for primaries

Additionally, following the publication on 14 May 2019 of Ofstedís new framework, the new focus on Ďcurriculum intentí is unsurprisingly emerging as one of the greatest challenges among primary colleagues. Considering this, here are some top tips to support primary leaders, specifically on curriculum intent in the new framework:

Curriculum planning
Leaders need to focus on the three Ďiísí of curriculum: intent, implementation and impact. Being confident in how your school curriculum can positively impact pupils will now be more important than ever.

Your curriculum intent should be built on your schoolís values, and your curriculum building decisions should be based on informed and deliberate choices, which are evidence-based. 

Consider the needs
Think about the needs of your pupils and how your curriculum can address these. Additionally, when considering the disadvantage gap, you should focus on the importance of oracy. Developing speech and vocabulary from as far back as early years go hand-in-hand in improving the outcomes of young people at the end of Key Stage 4.

Quality discussions
Develop the quality of curriculum thinking within your school and within your senior leadership team discussions. This is not a task that can be completed over a weekend by one person. For small primary schools, there is the additional challenge of expertise, and leaders will need to consider this carefully.

Stay positive 
Look at this as a positive prospect and take time over it. Your curriculum should not be rooted in intuition and should be for the good of the children in your care, and not whatís good for Ofsted. I very much look forward to supporting you and meeting with you soon. 

Tiffnie Harris
ASCL Primary Specialist