Department for Education written question – answered on 15th January 2019.

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Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Times Educational Supplement article of 9 January 2018 entitled Heads fear Ofsted will penalise three-year GCSEs, whether his Department has recently issued guidance to Ofsted on the duration of Key Stages 3 and 4.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

Holding answer received on 14 January 2019

No specific guidance has been issued on this matter. The National Curriculum requirements for the length of all key stages is set out in the Education Act 2002, and the current National Curriculum framework and programmes of study were published in September 2013. Although academies are not required to teach the National Curriculum, they are expected to offer all pupils a curriculum that is similar in breadth and ambition, including the requirements to teach English, mathematics, science and religious education.

The Department has concerns about the narrowing of the curriculum in some schools that teach Key Stage 3 for only two years. This was expressed to the Education Select Committee in May 2018, and the more recent Ofsted research on this matter has confirmed that this is an issue in some schools.

In addition, as part of the Department’s announcement of a new model music curriculum on 11 January 2019, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has stated that he wants children to be taught a broad and balanced curriculum up to age 14, taking them to the point where they will consider which subjects to focus on at GCSE. The Department will be working to develop high quality complete curriculum programmes across other subjects, including history and geography, to support teachers to provide a broad and ambitious curriculum across primary and secondary schools, so that young people can fully enjoy these subjects up to age 14.

The Department is working closely with Ofsted as it develops its new inspection framework to make sure no pupils see their education restricted. Ofsted will launch a public consultation on its inspection proposals on Wednesday 16 January.

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