Ofsted’s new inspection framework — with its focus on broadening pupils’ horizons beyond the classroom — means the DofE can play an even bigger part in helping schools excel.
A new school year’s under way – and brings with it a new Ofsted inspection framework for England.
Inspectors will now spend less time looking at exam results and test data, and more focusing on how schools and other education providers achieve those results.
The framework includes a new category assessing how well schools provide for pupils’ personal development.
Inspectors will look at the range, quality and take-up of extracurricular activities, how schools develop pupils’ character and prepare them for the future, and students’ understanding of equality and diversity.
To be judged outstanding, schools will have to offer a “wide, rich set of experiences” in and outside the curriculum, and make sure the most disadvantaged pupils benefit.
It’s great that Ofsted has recognised the importance of expanding students’ horizons beyond their classrooms — and of giving those opportunities to all pupils. A guiding principle of the DofE is that it’s achievable by any young person, regardless of their background, abilities, circumstances or anything else.
The DofE difference
Inspectors will look at how well schools develop pupils’ character and build their confidence, resilience and knowledge so they can keep themselves mentally healthy.
They’ll look at whether schools promote an inclusive environment, help pupils become active, responsible citizens and prepare them for their next steps in life.
If you’re involved with the DofE, you’ll see the parallels already.
The DofE takes young people outside their usual circles, giving them new skills, amazing experiences and a positive approach to overcoming challenges.
They choose their own activities and set their own goals, helping develop commitment, self-motivation and an ability to reflect on their actions and choices.
They learn teamwork, grow in confidence and — by volunteering, joining teams or clubs or travelling for their expeditions or residentials — gain a deeper understanding of beliefs, experiences and perspectives beyond their own.
What young people and teachers say
In our survey of more than 14,500 Award holders and alumni in 2017:
– Three quarters said doing their DofE helped them understand their strengths and weaknesses better.
– 85% said it improved their teamwork skills, and 76% said it boosted their communication skills, and two thirds said it improved their motivational skills.
– 77% said volunteering helped them feel more responsible and two thirds kept doing it after achieving their Award.
– 61% said they were fitter as a result of their DofE.
– and 64% said it helped them understand others better.
But giving all students the chance to do their DofE doesn’t just benefit them – it boosts teacher-pupil relationships, school life and the wider community.
When we surveyed DofE Leaders working in teaching, 78% told us running the DofE had improved understanding and respect between teachers and students, more than half said it had improved the way students responded to them in lessons, and 70% said it had improved their job satisfaction.
The DofE often features positively in Ofsted reports — and it’s mentioned in the new handbook as an example of a high-quality extracurricular opportunity.
But — with the vast majority of UK secondary schools now running programmes — what will really help them stand out is how well the DofE is opened up to all pupils and supported by the whole school.
Find out more about running the DofE in your school.
Read more about the links between the DofE and the Ofsted framework.