The Government committed itself to implementing its recommendations. Tony Powell, consulting educationist, outlines the recent Ofsted survey and considers the implications for inspection.

In June 2014, Lord Young, advisor to the Prime Minister on small business and enterprise, presented his report Enterprise for All. His introductory rationale emphasised the role of education as preparing pupils for the world of work.

“The world of those now leaving education will be one in which self-reliance and creativity will be rewarded and the education system will have to adapt. Nothing in this report will undermine the present curriculum; indeed the most employable skills of all are the three Rs — but they, by themselves, may not be sufficient unless accompanied by an enterprising attitude.”

Getting ready for work

Two years later, Ofsted carried out a survey Getting Ready for Work investigating the availability and effectiveness of enterprise education and work-related learning in secondary schools. The report, published in November 2016, was highly critical. The evidence base was limited but designed to be representative and the findings should apply to the great majority of secondary schools.

The key findings listed below are largely the result of inaction in implementing the recommendations of Lord Young’s report. The survey makes recommendations for the DfE, employers, secondary schools and even Ofsted practice, and in doing so identifies weaknesses in all. This article focuses on the recommendations for secondary schools and the implications for inspection.

Key findings

  • The extent to which schools used their curriculum to prepare pupils for the world of work was largely dependent on whether school leaders considered it to be a priority.

  • Even where schools were delivering enterprise education, it was often unclear whether this was having any impact on pupils’ knowledge, understanding and skills.

  • Opportunities for pupils to take part in meaningful work-related learning or work experience were limited at Key Stage 4.

  • Business involvement in some of the schools visited relied too heavily on the personal networks of teachers and parents, potentially resulting in disadvantaged pupils missing out.

  • A lack of co-ordination across local areas has created an environment for schools and businesses that business leaders described as “chaotic”.

  • Schools appear to be more likely to promote apprenticeships than in recent years, but parents and pupils are concerned about the quality and reputation of apprenticeships.

Recommendations for secondary schools

School leaders are familiar with the Ofsted improvement strategy from the structure of their reports. Typically, these start with a list of the school’s main strengths and then the weaknesses preceded by a statement such as: “It is not yet a good/outstanding school because …”

This is followed by the section on: “What does the school need to do to improve further?,” which takes each of the main weaknesses and gives the school an associated list of key tasks. The logical link between the weakness and improvement is provided by the word “by”.

Writ large, this is the structure for Ofsted survey reports. Therefore, schools that are vulnerable to these criticisms should adopt the recommendations as priorities within their improvement plans.

Secondary schools should:

  • ensure that there is a coherent programme to develop enterprise education, including the economic and business knowledge, understanding and skills of all pupils

  • develop stronger links with business by using local networks provided by, for example, the chambers of commerce and LEPs, and set clear objectives for the intended outcomes of these partnerships

  • make the most effective use of the expertise of their specialist teachers in delivering these programmes and ensure that all teachers involved in delivery have access to appropriate professional development

  • ensure that these programmes have effective mechanisms for monitoring and assessing progress in relation to developing knowledge, understanding and skills.

Alongside each of the broad priorities write the word “by” and then list the key actions needed to achieve it. These can be easily identified through a detailed study of this and other Ofsted surveys and the report Enterprise for All. For example ensuring the school has a coherent programme might include in the early stages.

  • Raising the profile of enterprise education with governors, all staff, parents, employers and pupils through a shared timetable suspension day.

  • Appointing a senior member of staff with responsibility for enterprise education.

  • Agreeing a common definition of enterprise education across the school based on Enterprise for All.

  • Ensuring a commitment to the knowledge, skills and attitudes central to enterprise education is promoted in the school’s mission statement and values.

Implications for inspection

One of the recommendations of the survey report was: “Ofsted should ensure that inspection judgments take greater account of the coherence and rigour with which schools prepare pupils for employment and self-employment.” That is happening but Ofsted will not leave this to chance. Inspectors will receive reminders, guidance materials and training to ensure that judgments are consistent across schools.

Grade descriptors

HMI who are specialists in inspecting economics, business studies and enterprise education have devised subject-specific grade descriptors for survey visits. These give a very good insight into what inspectors will look for when carrying out ss.5 and 8 inspections and they can easily be generalised to fit that purpose. There are some examples below but please note the full descriptors are very comprehensive and detailed.

Leadership and management — outstanding

There is excellent co-ordination and management of programmes to prepare pupils for the world of work, including the wider provision for enterprise education (the promotion of economics and business understanding and enterprise and financial capability) and work-related learning to develop employability skills. This includes rigorous evaluation of the quality of provision and its impact on pupil outcomes.

Leadership and management — inadequate

There is no clear vision for the development of economics, business and enterprise education. Provision is not inclusive because the school has not considered or promoted effectively the involvement and progress of different groups. Consequently, significant groups do not participate in, succeed in, or enjoy economics, business and enterprise (including financial capability and economic and business understanding). Key statutory requirements for the subject are not met.

Achievement — outstanding

In secondary schools, all pupils, including those not taking formally assessed economics and business education courses, are developing excellent understanding and skills in relation to enterprise education (the promotion of economics and business understanding and enterprise and financial capability) and work-related learning, including very good employability skills, as a result of the school’s planned provision.

Achievement — inadequate

In relation to their age, pupils in primary schools have a weak understanding of the world of work, including basic economics and business ideas and managing money, and older pupils are not yet beginning to develop enterprise and employability skills.

The full descriptors can still be located through the internet.

Inspection evidence

Inspectors will use the same evidence base but will tailor their investigations to evaluate enterprise education. In particular, they will be looking for commitment, planning, a very well organised curriculum, consistency of implementation across the school and impact on outcomes for pupils. Outcomes include a body of knowledge and skills but crucially they are also about attitudes. Read the first paragraph of the executive summary of Enterprise for All for an excellent definition of some of the elements of an “enterprise attitude”.

Last reviewed 27 February 2017