Carole Jones is an active member of the #iwill campaign’s Education Steering Group and Headteacher at Yeading Junior School, Hayes, a school which puts character education and social action at the heart of the curriculum. Read her reflections on the consultation, as well as what her own school has learned from years of prioritising social action.
The Ofsted consultation on the Proposed Education Inspection Framework 2019 is an encouraging step forward. I also welcome Ofsted’s holistic approach to determining the Quality of Education hope that Ofsted will now acknowledge the schools who are doing great work in these areas.
There is a challenge ahead for Ofsted in determining what constitutes ‘good’ social action. They will need to define this clearly at the outset, requiring them to have good knowledge of what is already happening on the ground in schools. In respect of my own context, at Yeading Junior School, our children are already acting, leading and debating at a really mature level.
It is also encouraging to see that inspectors will be trained to acknowledge the role that communities and faith groups also play in the development of children’s social action.
It is certainly positive to see the recognition given to youth social action, however, given the steps some schools have already taken, this ‘mention’ could be even more explicit, so that schools could more explicitly champion the work they are doing. Hopefully, through the consultation process, social action and service will assume a greater importance for all schools as well as a greater focus for the inspection.
Many Primary schools, such as my own, have already made great strides in developing Character Education and embedding it within the ethos of their school. Many have also harnessed social action as part of providing a rich and wide curriculum. I had hoped, therefore, that there would have be a greater recognition of the development of character and youth social action reflected in the Quality of Education judgement.
I do feel that the framework needs to give greater clarity on how pupil voice will be captured, as well as how this will impact on judgement, as learners are great advocates, both for their school and for their own actions. These young voices are well-equipped to explain how social action enhances their learning and are key in articulating the schools vision, values and journey.
At my own school, where we already emphasise social action, children are passionate and skilled at doing good; they are driven by a strong moral purpose to support others. They are reflective children and carefully consider the outcomes of their actions.
Our children discuss and debate issues that have an impact on their lives, community and local areas across our curriculum. Our learners already draw up action plans for delivering projects and campaigns, approached in a cross-curricular manner. I’m pleased to see the new framework endorse this approach, and I hope it will be embraced as best practice.