Ofsted withdraws Computing advice even though teacher confidence is low
Bureaucracy works in mysterious ways, but those in education’s computing community are baffled by the news that extremely useful advice about England's new Computing curriculum from Ofsted's head subject inspector David Brown had suddenly been withdrawn.
It’s believed to be the result of a diktat issued by Ofsted to all its HMIs of new and revised subjects, based on the argument that inspectors cannot advise on a subject that isn’t taught yet. The good news for teachers and schools, however, is that the education adviser who first raised this issue, Ian Sillett, from teacher support outfit onefourseven, has already shared the PowerPoint presentation featuring David Brown’s sage observations and it's still downloadable.
Ofsted's behaviour is mystifying because David Brown has enhanced the organisation's reputation with numerous appearances at education events to reassure teachers and schools that widespread worries about Computing are unfounded. His comments have been greatly appreciated.
The first the computing community learned of this development was via David Brown's Twitter stream (@DavidBrownHMI). The explanation? "It is not possible or realistic to provide guidance for computing without subject visits/inspections to provide evidence."
'What criteria are they going to apply?'
Ian Sillett commented:“I have no axe to grind with David Brown. When I heard him speak at BETT this year he seemed a straightforward guy who was happy to answer questions and chat afterwards.
“I can appreciate that, at a theoretical level, Ofsted could (and does) argue that inspections are necessary to provide evidence of good and outstanding subject teaching etc. But what criteria are they going to apply during them beyond ‘I’ll know it when I see it?’
“With the abandonment of levels already leaving schools without any statutory indication of progression in Computing beyond end-of-key-stage statements, an unwillingness for the nearest thing to an 'official' interpretation of how to approach a new curriculum seems, well, odd would be one way to put it. How will inspections assess the teaching and learning of computing during regular inspections? Or will they avoid it?
“Most important, of course, is that teachers, subject leaders and school leadership teams value the guidance of experienced and respected authorities such as this HMI who is also Ofsted National Lead for Computing. At a time when schools are most in need of guidance, it has been withdrawn.”