What does OFSTED really think about 2 year KS3 history courses?

More than half of schools now run lengthened Key Stage 4 history courses, effectively shortening Key Stage 3 to cater for the new, allegedly tougher GCSEs.

OFSTED has insisted it has no rule barring schools with three-year GCSEs from achieving an ‘outstanding’ grade. Well, let’s fact-check this one.

Ryan Kelsall, head of Impington Village College, in Cambridgeshire, recently claimed inspectors would not convert a section 8 visit into a full inspection to be upgraded to ‘outstanding’ because it ran three-year GCSEs.

During an inspection in November, Kelsall claims the inspector asked him if it was a “genuine two-year key stage 3” and warned there was “no way you could possibly teach the national curriculum then”.

“When we got to the final meeting”, Ryan says, “the inspector’s response was ‘you know what it says in the handbook. It says the curriculum needs to be broad at Key Stage 3 and because you do your options at the end of year 8 I don’t think it’s broad enough’. That was the end of the discussion.”

So, as I said in a previous blog- for whose benefit is the 2 year KS3 anyway? Not for that half of the cohort not studying GCSE history  who are denied a third of their secondary history education. And there is absolutely no guarantee that those who do embark on a GCSE history course will really benefit that much more than if they had had a better KS3 preparation. There is only so much jumping through hoops you can do. There is strong evidence that too much revision of the same content turns students off and they start to perform worse at the end of the course because of this. Be careful what you wish for, SLT!  

So back to 2 year GCSEs please. And not because of what OFSTED  might say, but because it is better for ALL.

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