Schools will fail Ofsted if they do not offer 'full and total curriculum', warns education secretary

2 July 2020, 17:39

Gavin Williamson was speaking during the government's coronavirus press briefing
Gavin Williamson was speaking during the government's coronavirus press briefing. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Schools that do not offer a "full and total curriculum" when returning in September will not succeed with Ofsted, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has warned.

The Cabinet minister was speaking from Downing Street on Thursday at the first coronavirus press briefing since they were dropped from the government's daily schedule after 23 June.

School pupils "will not see vital subjects cut out the curriculum" and it will not be "watered-down", Mr Williamson insisted.

He warned that if schools do not offer a thorough curriculum then they will not succeed when it comes to an Ofsted inspection.

However, in guidance published earlier on Thursday, schools were told that providing children with a safe environment during the lockdown is the main priority and that any teaching is a bonus.

The Department for Education guidance states: "No school will be penalised if they are unable to offer a broad and balanced curriculum during this period."

Read more: Teachers terrified of being coughed and spat at by pupils as schools return

Speaking from Downing Street, Mr Williamson said: "It is going to be a full and total curriculum that is going to be delivered for our children across all subjects.

"It's incredibly important that we have the same standards and rigour across our education system as we come out of lockdown as we had going into it.

"We are not going to be in a situation where we see vital subjects cut out of children's education.

"So, the idea that there will be a watered-down curriculum is totally, totally untrue."

Earlier on Thursday, the education secretary also said there will be no "dumbing down" of the curriculum in the next academic year and pupils will be taught a "full, broad and balanced curriculum" including arts and sports.

Speaking to MPs in the House of Commons, he said: "I want to assure her [newly-appointed Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green] in terms of the curriculum about the importance that it has to be a full, broad and balanced curriculum.

"And that includes the arts and humanities. It includes sports. It includes so much because we recognise that to give children the best opportunities to succeed in life they have to have that breadth of curriculum and we should not be seen to be dumbing down or reducing it.

"We have to give children choices. That is good for their future attainment, their future life chances but also for their mental health as well."

It comes after the publishing of safety rules for schools in England that involves classes and year groups being kept apart in separate "bubbles".

Under new rules, school attendance will be compulsory with penalty fines if parents do not comply.

Earlier this week, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said parents in England who do not send their children back to school in September will face fines "unless there's a good reason for absence".

It also states that if a school has two confirmed coronavirus cases in a two-week period then all the pupils in that "bubble" will be sent home.

In some cases, the whole school will need to be sent home.