Deeply dippy about the ‘deep dive?’

How are you all ensuring your department is deep dive ready?  This question seems to be on everyone’s lips at the moment so hopefully this is a guide to the deep dive.

So what is a ‘deep dive?’

The purpose of the deep dive is to assess the quality of education. A deep dive ‘involves gathering evidence on the curriculum intent, implementation and impact over a sample of subjects, topics or aspects. This is done in collaboration with leaders, teachers and pupils. The intent of the deep dive is to seek to interrogate and establish a coherent evidence base on quality of education.’(Ofsted: Inspecting the Curriculum’ p4)


What is your curriculum rationale? 

What is taught and why. Why is the subject of value? 

We spent time in the summer term thinking about why we teach our subject.  A further opportunity to debate the purpose of RE! What do we want from our learners when they leave our school?  Doing this as a team helped all teachers understand the rationale behind what we teach.   It was also important that we thought about our learners in our school context.  As a Humanities faculty we also came up with something that would unite us all in our aims and purpose of our subject.

We then thought about what it is we want from our learners in RS when they leave our school.

To have the time and space to have this dialogue enabled us as a school to really consider the value and importance of what we teach and why.  If you expect your students to retain what you’re conveying, you must also reveal to them why it matters.” Robert John Meehan


So tell me about your curriculum?

What will I see in your lessons?

Many schools have spent time redesigning their KS3 curriculum, thinking very clearly about what fits where and why?  I have seen a number of ways in which subjects have shares their ‘curriculum journey’

See Michael Chiles’ Geography learning journey here…

We have produced simple, single sheet of A4 which mapped out the curriculum for 7, 8.9,10,11 so we can point out where knowledge was built upon across and between years and show links across subjects.  It can also show the increasing challenge of the assessment tasks.

For example year 9

Year 9 Topics Rationale Links
HT1 Science and the

Philosophy of religion

To address misconceptions that an Empiricist worldview is the only view to take and that Science has all the answers to everything!  This unit gives students an opportunity to engage in classic arguments to the existence of God, which will form a basic understanding for the A level Philosophy element.  It will also develop their ability to construct a logical argument. How do we know what we know? Philosophy, Science, History,

Proud strands (Respect and Achieve)



The most important thing is to know your curriculum really well and how you have sequenced the content, be able to discuss how you are ensuring students are retaining knowledge and making progress. Ensure all staff know this too!

As a school, we have adopted Rosenshine’s principles to support our learning and teaching.

Deep dive feedback has also shown that inspectors are keen on ensuring that the school’s provision is good enough. Please see NATRE statement on the New Ofsted Framework 


What will I see in your books?

How would you measure the impact of your curriculum? What is the tangible effect of your curriculum? 

The feedback suggests that there will be no comments made on frequency or quality of marking so the emphasis is on how you will show progress in books.  Teacher feedback and DIRT tasks could evidence where misconceptions have been identified and progress is made.  Read ‘Progress without data – How it can be ‘shown’ & benefit the teacher in the process’

In one case books were not even looked at but the impact the subject had on the well-being and behaviour of the students was questioned.

In short

Curriculum thinking should be a regular professional dialogue between teachers and colleagues in schools. Wherever you are on your journey, these questions could stir your thinking. 

Bear in mind, “If you’re doing something because you think we want to see it and it does not benefit your pupils, then please, do not do it. Continue doing what you’re doing to give children the best, broad-based education possible and inspection will take care of itself. (Ofsted) 

Finally, if you want to read more, NATRE has been monitoring references to RE in both primary and secondary school Ofsted reports under the new framework.

Are you a NATRE member? Click the link, login and download ‘Understanding the new Ofsted framework in the RE classroom’ a document written to support teachers of RE, subject leaders and coordinators in all schools.  Not member? Join today.

Katherine France, Head of Faculty (RS, Citizenship, History, Geography and MFL) The Queen Katherine School, Kendal, NATRE RE Ambassador for the North @KathFrance1975

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