Inspecting Economics, Business and Enterprise Education

By Griffith-Jones, David | Teaching Business & Economics, Autumn 2009 | Go to article overview

Inspecting Economics, Business and Enterprise Education


Griffith-Jones, David, Teaching Business & Economics


The new framework and methodology for the inspections of schools was introduced this September. As with the old framework, inspectors are required to make a judgement on "how well learners develop workplace and other skills that will contribute to their future economic wellbeing". The draft guidance on this judgement asks inspectors to take account of "the extent to which pupils take an interest in, and pose increasingly sophisticated questions about the 'real world'... how well pupils are developing enterprise capabilities... and the extent to which pupils are developing an understanding of managing money, economics and business".

Schools are asked to provide evidence of how well they are meeting these criteria in their self-evaluation forms. It is important that in providing this evidence schools focus on the outcomes for learners. Schools are often good at describing what they do but less effective in identifying the impact on students' learning. For example, a school might say it provides a number of "enterprise days" but fail to show how these have helped students develop the skills they need in the workplace and in adult life. During the actual inspection, inspectors will seek additional evidence of how effectively students' economic wellbeing is being developed through discussions with groups of students and during lesson observations. Inspectors might, for example, ask Year 11 students about the opportunities they have had to develop and practise their enterprise skills or explore their understanding of issues to do with personal finance. Reports normally include a brief comment on how well students are prepared for their futures, as well as a grade.

Subject survey visits

Each year Ofsted visits around 30 secondary schools and 10 primary schools to inspect business and enterprise education. These visits contribute to Ofsted's national evaluation and reporting. Currently, a major report is published for each subject every three years, with the most recent one for business education appearing last year (Ofsted 2008).

The subject visits for business education in secondary schools consider both the quality of provision being made in examination courses and the development of economic and business understanding and financial capability for all students as part of the statutory curriculum for work-related learning. The current proposals to make economic wellbeing and financial capability statutory from age 5-16, if approved, are likely to increase the importance attached to these aspects of the visits. In primary schools, the visits focus on the provision being made to promote pupils' future economic wellbeing, including personal finance and enterprise capability. In secondary schools, inspectors provide an overall judgement on the quality of business and economic education and subsidiary judgements on achievement and standards, the quality of teaching and learning, the curriculum, and leadership and management. The extent to which the provision is inclusive and meets the diverse needs of students permeates these judgements. The visits also include a focus on a specific issue which changes over time. For the past academic year, the focus has been on how effectively schools are introducing the new programme of study for economic wellbeing and financial capability at key stage 3. The outline criteria inspectors use for reaching their judgements are set out on page 9.

In the visits to secondary schools, inspectors will normally meet briefly with the headteacher and/or line manager for business education to discuss the context of the school, hear their views about the quality of provision and provide an opportunity for the school to raise any issues. A longer meeting is held with the head of business and with the person leading on economic wellbeing (if that isa separate role). Lesson observations are clearly a key part of the visit and inspectors will try and see a range of lessons. These may include joint observations with the headteacher or another senior member of staff, provided they are first agreed with the teachers involved, Teachers are offered feedback where lessons have been observed for more than 20 minutes. …

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