'Cultural capital': what Ofsted is looking for

Ofsted will consider ‘cultural capital’ when assessing your quality of education, but what does this actually mean? Read on to find out how inspectors will evaluate it in your school.

Last reviewed on 27 July 2023
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 39202
  1. What is cultural capital?
  2. How will Ofsted inspect it? 
  3. How can we evaluate our current offer?

What is cultural capital?

How Ofsted defines it

Ofsted added the term 'cultural capital' to the inspection handbook in 2019. In paragraph 237, it defines it as:

... the essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said and helping to engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.

In her speech in 2019, Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman explained what the term means in practice:

By [cultural capital], we simply mean the essential knowledge, those standard reference points, that we want all children to have.

... So for example, it’s about being able to learn about and name things that are, for many, outside their daily experience.  

Decide on what's 'essential knowledge' for your pupils

To decide on the knowledge that your pupils need, make sure you consider

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