Fine Tuning Deep Dives | Focus Education UK Blog

Fine Tuning Deep Dives | Focus Education UK Blog

Ofsted has 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 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. However, 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 techniques introduced in logical order, building on what pupils know?


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


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, why, and what enrichment activities they have accessed. It could be helpful for school leaders to consider the range of enrichment activities the school provides. In primary schools the emphasis has been on 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 influence their future work. It could also include discussing any links the school has outside the setting, such as LA or MAT support, sharing ideas and best practices, 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 every policy in detail; 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.

Back to blog