Fine Tuning Deep Dives | Focus Education UK Blog

Ofsted have recently identified six areas that they will focus on during inspection when carrying out a deep dive in a subject. The stages of a deep dive are well known: the top-level view; the discussion with the subject leader; learning walks; work scrutiny; pupil voice and discussion with teachers.

Now inspectors refer to six areas of focus which are being exemplified in aide memoirs for each subject, together with information from the relevant research review where this has been published for a specific subject.

The six areas are:


The emphasis here is on clear subject progression from one year group to another, with pupils building on prior learning. But there is also a focus on the sequencing of knowledge, skills, and conceptual understanding within units of work. Schools should also be able to show they have planned clear ‘end points’ within their curriculum enabling pupils to ultimately meet end of key stage expectations. Inspectors will look for the different types of subject knowledge as defined in the relevant subject review e.g. declarative, procedural, or conditional.


Inspectors will explore whether there has been clear thought given to how to teach the subject and the rationale for this. They will look to see how this is being implemented in the classroom e.g. in maths are instructional approaches systematic with new approaches introduced in logical order, building on what pupils know?


With the focus on workload, inspectors will want to make sure assessment is efficient, purposeful, and meaningful without taking up too much teacher time. They will ask how teachers use assessment e.g. do plans incorporate opportunities to assess core knowledge, and how often do summative assessments take place.


The focus here is on enrichment, developing a love of the subject and pupils’ enjoyment of learning. Inspectors could ask how proficiency in a subject is celebrated and how future careers or success could be linked to a subject. Pupils could be asked about which subjects they enjoy and why, and what enrichment activities they have accessed. It could be useful for school leaders to consider the range of enrichment activities the school provides. In primary schools the emphasis has tended to be towards sport and PE, the arts and humanities, with fewer opportunities in STEM subjects.


This area focuses on professional development for staff, their subject expertise and subject leadership. Subject leaders will be asked about their awareness of subject research reviews and how this might be influencing their future work. It could also include discussing any links the school has outside the setting such as LA or MAT support and sharing of ideas and best practice, or membership of subject associations. This area could also include how the school communicates with parents and keeps them informed of their child’s progress and achievements.


This is not a paper chase reading in detail through every policy; rather it is looking for the impact of policies on practice leading to consistency across the setting. This could be in marking and feedback, use of resources, behaviour and learning environments. This consistency is evidence that the policies are being followed as a result of leadership introducing them effectively. Inspectors might be interested in how the school has developed certain policies and involved stakeholders.

If you attended the first of the school leader briefings I ran earlier this term you will have seen more information on this development, but this gives you an overview of the latest information Ofsted are utilizing during the inspection process.

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