Ofsted Inspection Framework: for Computing Subject Leaders

Inspecting Computing

The Ofsted Inspection Framework [3] came into effect in September 2019.  With the emphasis on ‘offering a curriculum that is broad, rich and deep’, here I take a look at its implications for Computing Subject Leaders.

Ofsted & Computing

Quality of Education

Computing subject leaders in England have a statutory duty to provide a computing education to pupils from the age of five. Leaders need to demonstrate an intent to follow the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 along with effective implementation and impact evidenced by good results.

Computing as a subject is composed of three strands: information technology, digital literacy (incl. eSafety) and computer science.

A complete curriculum ensures that all three strands are covered. Computational thinking should be a key component of a computing curriculum as it is not only useful for helping develop algorithms and programming but is also develops problem solving skills that can be used in all aspects of life.

Curriculum Intent

When considering end points the curriculum is building towards, leaders can use the Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 objectives as a basis and then drill down into further detail as discussed in my post on ‘How to Plan a Computing Scheme of Work‘. Planning a scheme of work with progression, sequencing and end points is a key aspect of your curriculum that Ofsted will be evaluating. Too often schools deliver ad-hoc computing lessons which have no relationship to each other and frequently involve pupils following online tutorials or using copy-code approaches.

Ofsted are looking at “how leaders have ensured that the subject curriculum contains content that has been identified as most useful, and ensured that this content is taught in a logical progression, systematically and explicitly enough for all pupils to acquire the intended knowledge and skills.

As a curriculum designer I create schemes of work for computing mastery. This means acquiring a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of computing. See my blog post on computing mastery and computing pedagogy for mastery for more details on that.

Curriculum Implementation

In evaluating the implementation of the curriculum, Ofsted inspectors will be focusing on curriculum delivery: teaching, assessment and feedback. Key to this is support provided by Subject Leaders, teacher subject knowledge and how implementation of the curriculum leads to long term learning.

This area of the inspection framework will be the most concerning for schools where computing has been neglected. There are many reasons why computing is still not taught properly despite being statutory since 2014 but the overwhelming reason given by teachers and schools, as detailed in the Computing Education Project Report (The Royal Society, 2017), is lack of support and confidence.

When considering confidence, a common response from teachers (the Royal Society, 2017) was that they lacked subject knowledge. With subject knowledge explicit in the framework, how can Leaders ensure they are providing the support necessary for them to acquire and develop good subject knowledge?

Implementing a computing curriculum designed to develop the subject knowledge and confidence of the teachers as well as the pupils has been one of my approaches to encouraging schools to embrace the subject and see the positive impact teaching computing has on pupils and all areas of the curriculum.

I developed iCompute in 2013, the first commercial computing scheme of work in the UK, because I knew that the National Curriculum was being introduced and the vast majority of primary teachers had never been trained to teach it. At the time there was minimal support and resources available so I designed detailed schemes of work with step-by-step lesson plans and comprehensive resources to support the least confident teachers. My hope then, as it is now, that this support enables teachers to acquire good subject knowledge and go on to use the lesson plans as inspiration; to put their own twist on things and develop their own lessons and activities.

CPD has historically been thin on the ground for Leaders and computing teachers; however, following the Royal Society’s report and plea for government funding the National Centre for Computing Education was established in 2018 with a budget of £84m of government funding, over four years. The NCCE are responsible for implementing School Hubs around the country to develop and deliver CPD as well as content and resources to support the teaching of computing. The project is promising and I recommend Leaders look for CPD opportunities in their area.

Curriculum Impact

Impact of the curriculum will be evaluated mainly by what pupils have learned. This will be determined by a number methods with the focus being on pupil progress (knowing more, remembering more and being able to do more). Inspectors will be looking for first-hand evidence of how pupils are doing, drawing together evidence from:

  • interviews
  • lesson visits
  • work scrutiny
  • documentary review
  • discussions with pupils about what they have remembered about the content they have studied

Inspectors will not use internal assessment data as evidence of curriculum impact, rather they will be looking for rationale behind assessment procedures/information gathered, what they draw from data and how it informs their curriculum and teaching.

The outcome of a well designed and well taught curriculum will be good results. Inspectors will be looking for evidence that pupils learning builds on prior learning, lessons are sequenced for progression and that all learning builds towards and end point. Also that the curriculum offers equity for all groups, all pupils can access it and they are prepared for their next stage of education.

Be Outstanding at Computing

Many of our schools have had an Ofsted ‘Deep Dive’ for computing and reported excellent results. You can find out more on that by reading my post ‘How to thrive during an Ofsted Deep Dive‘. Our acclaimed primary computing schemes of work will not only develop excellent subject/pedagogical knowledge and computing skills, but also save Leaders masses of time (years in my case!) in designing and planning progressive schemes of across the primary phase. This enables them to focus on more important things such as being a passionate advocate of computing in their setting and beyond because inspirational teaching begins with ‘teachers who know and love their subject’[2].

Ofsted Deep Dive

Download my guide on how iCompute can help your school demonstrate a quality computing education through the ‘Three I’s’ and during a Deep Dive.

Computing Mastery
Computing Mastery

Download our introductory pack – iCompute Let’s Get Going to get an idea of the comprehensive primary computing support and resources we offer to help your school teach a broad, rich and deep computing curriculum creatively and with confidence.

Also explore the rest of my blog for details of computing pedagogy for mastery, achieving computing mastery, how to assess primary computing, how to thrive during and Ofsted Deep Dive and lots more.


[1] Pye Tait. 2017. After the Reboot: The State of Computing Education in UK Schools and Colleges. Available at: https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/computing-education/

[2] Department of Business, Innovation & Skills. 2010. Science and mathematics secondary education for the 21st century. Report of the Science and Learning Expert Group. London: DBIS.

[3] GOV.UK. 2019. School Inspection Framework. See www.gov.uk/school-performance-tables (accessed 17 July 2019).

About Liane O'Kane

Liane is a Computer Scientist (BSc (Hons)), Software Engineer & author of iCompute which supports schools with a computing curriculum and resources for teaching computing in the EYFS, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. ERA Awards Finalist 2016-2021, BETT Awards 2014-2018. Featured on BBC Bitesize for Primary Computing and The Hour of Code (code.org)
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