Transforming Education Outside the Classroom: Responses from the Government and Ofsted to the Sixth Report of the Children, Schools and Families Committee, Session 2009-10 - Education Committee Contents

Appendix 1

Ofsted's response to the Sixth Report from the Children, Schools and Families Committee, Session 2009-10

Recommendation 5. We recommend that Ofsted include learning outside the classroom provision—as part of the curriculum—in its inspection framework, and that the Department include pupils' access to such activities in the School Report Card. (Paragraph 25)


We welcome the Committee's report and are grateful for the opportunity to respond to the recommendation about learning outside the classroom. The Committee will be aware that the proposals for a school report card have been dropped.

We agree with the emphasis that the Committee gives to the importance of education outside the classroom. Our survey report, 'Learning outside the Classroom'[2] which was quoted in the Committee's report, evaluated the importance of such learning in primary and secondary schools and colleges. It identified strengths and weaknesses in practice and showed how schools and colleges overcome common barriers that can limit successful learning outside the classroom.

The Ofsted survey report made the following key points.

  • When planned and implemented well, learning outside the classroom contributed significantly to the raising of standards and improvements to pupils' personal, social and emotional development.
  • Learning outside the classroom was most successful when it was an integral element of long-term curriculum planning and closely linked to classroom activities.
  • The schools in the survey relied very heavily on contributions from parents and carers to meet the costs of residential and other visits and had given very little thought to alternative ways of financing them.
  • The schools and colleges inspected had worked hard and successfully to overcome the barriers to learning outside the classroom, including those relating to health and safety, pupils' behaviour and teachers' workload.

Amongst other recommendations, Ofsted's report indicated that schools and colleges should ensure their curriculum planning includes sufficient, well-structured opportunities for all learners to engage in learning outside the classroom. It is also crucial that equal and full access to learning outside the classroom is ensured for all learners.

The revised school inspection arrangements introduced in September 2009[3] require inspectors to evaluate the extent to which pupils' enjoy their learning and achieve well. Education outside the classroom, in its various forms, contributes to an enjoyable and enriching education. When inspecting a school's provision, inspectors are required to evaluate the impact that its curriculum and teaching have on pupils' outcomes. Specifically, inspectors are required to take account of the extent to which a broad and balanced curriculum is designed and modified to meet the needs of individuals and groups of pupils, and the design, range and depth of the curriculum from the pupils' perspective. Clearly, a curriculum is only likely to have these qualities or attributes if it provides substantial opportunities for pupils to learn outside the classroom.

In addition, since September inspectors have been required to evaluate the extent and impact of a school's external partnerships and links, especially those that impact on pupils' learning. For example, when scrutinising leadership and management, inspectors make a specific judgement about the effectiveness of partnerships in promoting learning and well-being. They also review the extent to which pupils adopt healthy lifestyles, and consider the extent to which all groups participate in physical education and in extra-curricular activities such as dance, sport, music and other constructive leisure activities. Again, this provision is only likely to be evident where there are opportunities for learning outside the classroom.

2   Learning Outside the Classroom, ref. no 070219 published in October 2008  Back

3   The evaluation schedule for schools  Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2010
Prepared 25 October 2010