This series of articles analyses Ofsted inspectors’ comments in their judgements about “good” schools.
Other articles have focused on attainment and progress in Reading, Writing, Maths and Phonics. Click here to view the full series
This article has a look at Ofsted inspectors’ comments for “Outcomes for pupils” for other subjects.
GPS (English Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling)
Ofsted’s inspectors commented on English Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling (“GPS” – also known as “EPGS” or “SPaG”) in around a third of these reports. Please note – to improve readability, we have changed the phrase “grammar, punctuation and spelling” in the following quotes to GPS.
Around half of these reports commented on the attainment level at the end of Key Stage 2, some positively:
Pupils’ attainment at the end of key stage 2 in reading, writing and GPS has remained above the national average figures for the past three years.
…the proportion achieving and exceeding the expected standard in GPS was exceptionally high in 2018.
Provisional results indicate that the proportion of pupils reaching the expected level in the 2018 GPS tests was much higher than the previous year and is now in line with the national average from 2017, while the proportion reaching the higher standard was above that level.
In 2018, the proportion of disadvantaged Year 6 pupils achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and GPS was above the average for other pupils nationally.
and some commenting that it needed to improve:
Attainment in GPS was not as strong as in the other aspects of English.
This is because pupils’ progress has been limited by their historically weaker standard of spelling, punctuation and handwriting.
In 2018, by the end of key stage 2, standards in GPS were not as high as they ought to be because, in the past, pupils were not taught well enough. School leaders and teachers are working effectively to fill these gaps but, nevertheless, they remain a barrier to future improvement in outcomes.
However, attainment in GPS remains a little below the national figure.
Inspectors also looked at the impact of GPS on pupils’ work and in writing:
However, pupils’ progress in applying their skills in GPS and handwriting to their extended writing is notably less consistent.
The work in books shows that pupils do not have a good enough understanding of GPS. Too often careless mistakes are repeated and progress is limited as a result.
However, some pupils do not always apply [in other subjects] the skills they have been taught, particularly in spelling and punctuation.
In addition, a few prior low- and middle-attaining pupils struggle with age-appropriate GPS. This prevents them from writing or reading more fluently.
Some older pupils make too many spelling errors and do not use punctuation and grammar as accurately as they should.
Inspectors also commented on subjects outside of reading, writing, maths and GPS in around a third of reports, under the heading of “Outcomes for pupils”.
Science was mentioned in 17 reports under “Outcomes for pupils”, and in a similar number under “Quality of teaching, learning and assessment”.
Pupils effectively apply their English and mathematical knowledge and skills in science. Work in pupils’ books highlights the good progress that they make in science.
Outcomes in science and some foundation subjects are not as high as those in English and mathematics. This is because the quality of teaching, learning and assessment is not as strong in these subjects.
Pupils do not achieve as well in science as they could due to the lack of opportunity for practical and physical science activities.
Pupils also develop their writing skills well in subjects such as science and history. For example, pupils in key stage 2 are becoming more skilled in writing reports in science and developing their ability to analyse and evaluate.
Pupils told inspectors that they really enjoy doing experiments and that they look forward to their science lessons.
History / Geography
Geography was mentioned in 9 reports under “Outcomes for pupils”. History was also mentioned in 7 reports, but usually in conjunction with geography or other subjects.
Current pupils make similar, strong progress in a wide range of subjects. In geography, for example, pupils talk with interest and understanding about their learning. Pupils spoke with confidence when pointing out countries and continents on various maps and were able to explain how their mapping skills had developed over time.
Achievement in writing is much improved and pupils make good progress in writing across subjects. They demonstrate their ability to use new and difficult vocabulary to good effect, for example when explaining in geography why a river meanders.
Over time, pupils make good progress in writing. This is because teachers provide them with opportunities to use their writing skills when learning in other subjects such as history.
Pupils show a keen interest in science and other subjects such as history and geography.
However, they do not achieve well enough in geography or history.
However, they are mentioned more often, in a third of reports, under “Quality of teaching, learning and assessment”, sometimes positively:
For example, older pupils are expected to express opinions for the reasons behind important historical events.
For example, after a whole-school ‘super learning week’ on food around the world, pupils spoke with strong understanding about a range of countries, discussing their cultures, traditions and geographical locations.
Teachers capture pupils’ enthusiasm by using interesting topics in science, history, and geography. However, some activities do not build enough on pupils’ existing understanding.
For example, Year 6 pupils showed a keen interest in their learning about life in ancient Greece. They explained to inspectors that, as well as learning about life in Athens and Sparta, they have made models of figures to be used to make a stop- motion animation of a historical battle scene.
For example, pupils in Year 3 read ‘Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age’ with great enthusiasm and made explicit links with their study of history and geography.
and sometimes saying that it needed to improve:
This is partly because they are not given demanding texts to read, particularly in history and geography.
Teachers do not consistently ensure that pupils develop and refine their subject-specific skills as, for example, scientists, geographers or historians. This means that they cannot always apply their knowledge as well as they might.
Leaders have identified that the next stage of development is to ensure that assessment is used more widely in some subjects, such as history and geography. This is to ensure that all pupils receive work that improves the quality of their learning so that, over time, progress is stronger.
We hope that you have enjoyed this article.
It was based on Ofsted’s Inspection reports from 80 “good” schools published in November 2018.
For the full set of articles on Ofsted Inspections – click HERE