How to thrive during an Ofsted Deep Dive for Computing

Ofsted will be “deep diving” into a selection of subjects during their inspections with the “curriculum at the heart of inspection” focusing on curriculum intent, implementation and impact. I’ve previously written an article on this called inspecting computing. Here, I explore what a deep dive for computing is likely to look like with the aim of helping prepare computing leads.

According to Ofsted the aim of the deep dive “is to allow inspectors to gather the evidence necessary to form an accurate evaluation of how education flows from intention to implementation to impact within a school“. Inspectors will always carry out an inspection of one or more foundation subjects.

The deep dive will include evaluating leader’s planning, discussing rationale for curriculum content and sequencing. Then discussion with teachers about how the curriculum informs their choices about content and sequencing for effective learning. Inspectors will also be looking at “deliberately and explicitly” connected sample lessons and work scrutiny. They will talk to pupils about their learning from observed lessons with a likely focus on the content of their lessons and retention of prior learning.

Ofsted Deep Dive
Ofsted Deep Dive

Quality of Education

A good place to start for computing leads is Ofsted’s curriculum indicators expected to be associated with curriculum quality. Whilst not specific to computing, the indicators offers some insight as to what inspectors will be looking for and allow leaders to begin to assess the quality of computing education they are currently providing.

As a curriculum designer and computing leader, what leaps out to me from the indicators are:

1c – importance of knowledge progression and concept sequencing
1d – inclusive and progressive
2a – Meets the NC at the very least

3a – have clear roles and responsibilities
3b – have subject knowledge, expertise and skill
3c – regularly review and QA computing
4a – provide CPD
4b – enable expertise to develop throughout the school
5a – curriculum resources enable effective curriculum implementation
6a – curriculum has sufficient depth and coverage
6c – curriculum mapping ensures full coverage of NC
7c – the curriculum is delivered as planned

Work Scrutiny

Scrutinising the product of computing can be more challenging for computing given that often the work will be digital. I’ve written extensively elsewhere on this blog about how teachers can manage digital artifacts and organise work in such a way as to demonstrate progression. The key points for an Ofsted deep dive are that computing leads need to be able to show that the work builds on prior learning, the pupils’ work shows that a broad range of topics are being learned, progression is being made and pupils can regularly revisit and practice what they know.

Quality Computing

Every subject leader is tasked with being an advocate for, champion of and expert in their subject. Computing presents its own challenges as a ‘new’ subject that few teachers have been trained to teach. It has been statutory since 2014 and many schools are still falling well short of expectations.

I welcome Ofsted’s focus on subject leadership and ‘the three I’s’. For too long, ICT and computing have been shoved to the sidelines by schools in favour of other subjects depriving pupils of their statutory right.

The new framework and its subject deep dives puts the responsibility for the quality of computing education where it should be: in the hands of the computing lead. It encourages them to look carefully at the curriculum and resources they are offering, its delivery and its effect on pupil progression. Ultimately, it empowers leaders to make the necessary changes to ensure they are providing the high quality computing education their pupils are entitled to, deserve and need.

Ofsted Inspection Framework: for Computing Subject Leaders

Inspecting Computing

The new Ofsted Inspection Framework [3] comes 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.

Continue reading

Primary Computing Provision

Good or Better Primary Computing?



Computing Observation

Inspired by the great set of questions produced by Miles Berry – for school experience tutors to ask when observing trainee teachers in Computing – I’ve produced my own set for schools to reflect on regarding their computing provision which, hopefully, can be used to inform future plans.

The questions cover most of David Brown’s (former HMI lead for Computing) thoughts for inspecting computing – with a few tweaks!

Continue reading

Primary Computing Curriculum Coverage

Have you got it covered?

The primary computing curriculum has now been statutory since September 2014 with the introduction of the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.  All schools should now be teaching a broad and balanced computing curriculum that provides full curriculum coverage of the aims and objectives of the National Curriculum for Computing.  But are they?


Think you’re “doing” Computing?


Continue reading

Understanding Primary Computing and Ofsted

David Brown, Ofsted National Lead for Computing recently presented how computing will be inspected.   Here I highlight some important points for primary schools to consider.  Please note that italicized text are my own comments.

The three strands of computing as defined by most educational and industry experts have taken root and are:

  • Computer Science
  • Digital Literacy
  • Information Technology

Computing Strands

Click to download iCompute’s breakdown of computing strands against NC objectives for primary computing


For Good or Better teaching, teachers have an enthusiasm and passion for computing.  Teachers use a wide variety of innovative and imaginative resources and teaching techniques.

Subject knowledge is excellent, continually up-to-date and demonstrates a high level of technical expertise – a challenge for primary teachers, most of whom have never been trained to teach computing.


The curriculum is broad and balanced and covers all three strands of computing.  It is imaginative, stimulating, progressive and set in contexts meaningful to the children.  The inspectors will be aware that older children will not have benefited from being taught a full computing programme of study for the preceding key stage.

Children use their knowledge, skills and understanding in realistic and challenging situations.  Pupils have comprehensive knowledge and understanding about how to stay safe when using new technologies.

Subject Leadership

High levels of subject expertise and vision with a strong record of innovation in computing.  CPD is well-targeted – accessing CPD in computing is difficult as there is currently a severe lack of primary computing experts nationally.

Access to computing equipment is outstanding and the school is likely to have promoted the use of mobile technologies – note this is ‘likely’ and can be achieved by using a small number of low-cost tablets.  Many of my schools with limited budgets use emulators (see iCompute’s Year 6 iApp unit) to teach children the benefits of mobile technologies where they are unable to physically use them.

There is an engaging, age-appropriate e-safety curriculum in place – In my opinion, this should not be a stand-alone curriculum.  E-Safety issues should be addressed, in context, in subjects and situations where pupils engage online (see more in this post).  This clearly will be in all areas of the curriculum, however computing presents obvious opportunities to discuss and develop understanding and skills about how to stay safe in a digital world.  In my curriculum, I clearly flag e-Safety issues where they are likely to occur in computing lessons and give guidance as to how to address them as well as provide, free, discrete e-Safety planning for schools who wish to cover e-Safety as a discrete subject (e.g. part of PHSE).

E-safety is a priority within the school and promoted throughout.  Staff receive regular training and rigorous policies are in place.