Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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Schools offer broader, more vocational KS4 curriculum that better matches students’ needs

The Key Stage 4 Curriculum: increased flexibility and work-related learning found that a more appropriate curriculum, particularly the provision of vocational courses, has re-engaged many students.  Behaviour and attendance have improved and achievement has been raised among particular groups of pupils, particularly those who are at risk of disaffection or disengagement. The overwhelming majority of students surveyed were very positive about changes to their curriculum.

 The report is the result of a two-year survey and found that sixty per cent of schools visited in the second year, 2005/06, provided a good curriculum.  This is a more positive picture than the previous year. Compared to the previous year they offered a more diverse range of qualifications and work-related learning had greater breadth.

 Most schools expected that a more engaging and better taught curriculum would raise the attainment of all students and over half of those visited chose to offer courses which allowed students to follow their interests and develop their skills, even though the qualifications might accrue fewer GCSE ‘points’.

 Across the two years of the survey, however, curriculum development in a small minority of schools visited was constrained by a perception that change would not maximise success in public examinations or performance tables. Consequently, these schools offered a narrow curriculum with little or no access to vocational qualifications.

 Miriam Rosen, Ofsted’s Director of Education, said:

 “Greater numbers of schools are offering a more diverse range of qualifications, particularly vocational subjects, which are re-engaging students in learning and increasing their motivation.  

 “However, some schools remain reluctant to expand the range of qualifications they offer, while others are not making vocational options available to all, and they must now broaden their curriculum to ensure the needs of all students are met.”

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