New Ofsted Framework & ‘Cultural Capital’

For the first time ever Ofsted has created a new framework that requires schools to develop their pupils’ ‘cultural capital’. Specific notes within the framework reflect on ‘Personal Development’ and how children are to learn skills and realise talents, develop character and resilience, and learn about British Values, Diversity and Mental Health & Wellbeing, are all encouraging.

The term ‘cultural capital’ immediately fosters feelings of positivity within those of us who continually strive to provide young people with access to the experiences and skills necessary to equip them for life. On the whole, this new framework, coming into force from September 2019,  promotes the notion that schools should support the teaching of the modern definition of what ‘cultural capital’ means; an individual who is knowledgeable about a wide range of culture and is comfortable discussing its value and merits, and someone who through being given a vast array of experiences and access to skill development, will to be able to deploy appropriate knowledge in a given situation.

The Ofsted Education Inspection Framework can be found HERE . Quite helpfully, Alex Ford – Senior Lecturer within the Institute of Childhood and Education at Leeds Trinity University, has written a concise and easy to digest article in which he discusses the key differences between the current and new framework, and the impact for schools. Read Alex’s article HERE.

The Cultural Learning Alliance has also looked more intricately at the academic thinking and definitions of this key term, along with the possible positive and negative implications of using this terminology for assessment within our state schools within their ‘What is Cultural Capital‘ article.

Within their blog, the CLA discusses its reservations about what this may mean for our children in actuality due to the almost passive learning descriptors within the National Curriculum about ‘cultural capital’ learning within the classroom. Along with many other creative education institutions and organisations, they believe that instead of simply ‘introducing them to the best that has been thought and said’, as rather clumsily stated within the National Curriculum, we should:

enable our children to stand on the shoulders of those that have gone before and create new and exciting forms of culture; things which may well help them fuel solutions to society’s problems, build our creative industries and help UK plc to survive the turmoil of Brexit.’ We want definitions of cultural capital to celebrate and embrace the different backgrounds, heritage, language and traditions of all the children living in this country.


Nothing can be more important for our children’s education than ensuring they are supported to be the best they can be within our ever changing, diverse and eclectic  society that ensures everyone has an equal opportunity to live, learn, and achieve.

However, despite some reservations over how Ofsted will in practise inspect each school’s ‘cultural capital’ teaching, we believe this is a positive move forward. On the outset at least, it looks to constitute an opportunity for each school to define the exact cultural capital that their individual children need.  We sincerely hope that Ofsted will want schools to do this practically by providing a range of opportunities for children to participate in arts and cultural activities, rather than simply being introduced ‘to the best that has been thought and said’. At this stage we should recognise these new developments are, on the whole, constructive; Ofsted has identified culture as a primary factor in ensuring a balanced and fully rounded education for our young people. Therefore, we remain hopeful that, our schools will seize the opportunity to be creative and take risks with the curriculum in order to ensure their children have access to high quality learning opportunities.

And when they do, we will be here!