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Arts Council repeats calls for Ofsted to restrict top ratings to schools with ‘strong arts offer’

Arts Council England has reiterated calls for Ofsted to only award a good or outstanding rating to schools that have a “strong arts and cultural offer”.

It makes its latest argument in a response to a consultation taking place into how the education watchdog will inspect schools in the future.

As part of its response, ACE makes a series of recommendations, that include urging the inspection body to include arts subjects in its definition of a “broad and balanced curriculum”.

“Arts subjects, cultural experiences and creativity should be recognised for their contribution to learners’ wider personal development, particularly in support of good mental health,” it states, adding: “No school should be awarded a good or outstanding judgement without a strong arts and cultural offer.”

It references research it has commissioned from the Royal Shakespeare Company, which it says will be completed at the end of the academic year and looks at the arts offering in outstanding schools across England.

ACE has previously called on Ofsted to ensure the arts factors into its schools’ ratings, with former chair Peter Bazalgette calling for it five years ago [1].

Last year, an education charity also echoed the calls [2].

In its response to the consultation, which has now closed and will feed into how it inspects from September, ACE also warns that “extra autonomy afforded to academic and free schools to develop their own curricula…risks creating a more pronounced divergence of the arts and cultural offer across this part of the schools ecology”.

It states that academies and free schools should be expected to “provide a broad and balanced curriculum including the arts”.