Dear Ofsted: Enquiry-based learning is not the same as scientific enquiry

A presentation given by Matthew Newberry, Ofsted’s science lead, at the ASE conference this week was seen by some to contradict the (welcome) message from Ofsted that they don’t have a preferred teaching style. Greg Ashman wrote about it here.

Sean Harford responded that scientific enquiry is on the national curriculum and so it’s reasonable for inspectors to look for it, and he reinforced the message that Ofsted are not looking for a particular style of lesson.

Here’s what I think: two very different things have been conflated: “scientific enquiry” and “enquiry-based learning”. Scientific enquiry is a curriculum area whereas enquiry-based learning is a style of lesson.

This is a slide from the ASE conference that seems to advocate enquiry-based learning for delivering science curriculum:

This is the sentence that gives me concern:

“Timetables in a significant minority of primary and secondary schools visited did not allow enough time…

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