The EIF: Conveying intent, implementation and impact in your curriculum


The Education Inspection Framework (Ofsted 2019) places greater emphasis on your approach, as a provider, to curriculum, how well it is implemented and how it impacts on the children.

Ofsted had become concerned that providers (whether teachers in schools and colleges or early years practitioners) were placing too much importance on how they were teaching, to the detriment of what they were teaching.

The EIF aims to redress the balance, with Ofsted stating that ‘curriculum’ is what is taught and ‘teaching’ is how curriculum content is taught’.

Providing learning opportunities and developing skills 

Ofsted’s working definition of curriculum is:

‘a framework for setting out the aims of a programme of education, including the knowledge and understanding to be gained at each stage’ (intent)…for translating that framework over time into a structure and narrative, within an institutional context (implementation)…and for evaluating what knowledge and skills children have gained against expectations (impact/achievement).’

Providers enable frequent learning opportunities that are appropriate to a child’s age and stage of development along the way. Practitioners with a good understanding of child development know how to support children as they practise and refine their skills and knowledge in all areas of their learning and development. They support children, using teaching skills and a balance of adult-led and child-initiated experiences. Accurate and timely assessment ensures that activities provided suit children’s needs, interests and abilities.

Practitioners know that individual children have made progress from their starting points. They are confident that the implementation of activities and experiences provided have met their intent at each stage of a child’s development. They are confident that children have gained the knowledge and skills required for the next stage of their education.

Using intent to define the curriculum

When making a judgement about the quality of education, Ofsted will not grade intent, implementation and impact separately but will draw on all the evidence they have gathered, using their professional judgement.

Working backwards from the desired outcome of an assessment goal (intent) helps early years practitioners to define the curriculum, in other words the knowledge and skills that a child needs to acquire to achieve the early learning goals at the end of the EYFS.

A greater emphasis on curriculum means that the setting leader and practitioners must be confident that it is working for every child. When the inspector is talking to the leader at the start of the inspection, they will ask about the aims and rationale for their EYFS curriculum. They will discuss the intent and implementation of the curriculum and will then follow this up by observing practice and talking to practitioners and children.

The EIF explains that the choice of teaching methods is a decision for providers, within the confines of the EYFS. Leaders are judged on how well they assure themselves that their curriculum intentions are met and consequently that teaching methods are effective.

Framing the curriculum within these three headings is in fact helpful as it focuses the practitioner’s mind, making the curriculum relevant and meaningful for every child in the setting. Where providers are already implementing educational programmes (curriculum) effectively, they are likely to continue to be good or outstanding if they are clear about their intent, implementation and impact.

Learn more about our EIF workshops

This post was extracted from Exploring the Education Inspection Framework — a practical guide that aims to provide practitioners with a good understanding of the process of being inspected and the changes that the new EIF has brought into place. For instance, defining your early years curriculum through conveying intent, implementation and impact; demonstrating cultural capital and the new judgements that will be made under the EIF.

Exploring the Education Inspection Framework is available for pre-order from our Shop. 

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Further reading

Cultural Capital in the EIF — what you need to know