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Review of Ofsted school inspection reports 2017 to 2018

In England, science is a core subject which must be taught to all children in primary and secondary schools. Despite this, in recent years performance measures have focused more on maths and English, with science receiving less consideration.

This review looks at how often Ofsted school inspection reports commented on science between September 2017 and July 2018.

What’s inside 

  • facts and figures on how often Ofsted reports mention science

    Who this is for

    • UK policy makers
    • anyone who wants to understand how science is reviewed by Ofsted inspectors

    To understand how science is reviewed by Ofsted inspectors, we analysed their reports for 2017 to 2018 and compared how frequently the word ‘science’ was used, compared to ‘maths’ in particular.

    Key findings

    • Mentions of science in primary school inspection reports have increased over the years. In 2017-18 it was mentioned in 61% of reports. This is still much less than maths, which was mentioned in 100% of reports. 
    • In secondary school inspection reports, mentions of science increased to 87%. This is only 12% behind maths.   
    • Ofsted inspections should contribute to raising the quality of science in schools. Every effort should be made to ensure science is mentioned in all short and full inspection reports, and this equals mentions of maths and English. This is a critical part of the accountability system and will help to highlight the importance of science to schools and teachers.
    • Hands-on, practical science is an invaluable part of science education. All Ofsted reports, especially full inspection reports, should comment on the quality and quantity of a school’s provision of investigative or experimental science work.