Ofsted 'deep dives': geography (primary)

Find out what Ofsted inspectors might ask during a geography 'deep dive'. Read our curriculum questions – they're based on inspections under the 2019 framework.

Last reviewed on 8 March 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 38834
  1. How deep dives work
  2. Impact of coronavirus 
  3. Questions Ofsted might ask during geography deep dives
  4. Ofsted may not do a geography deep dive

Ofsted inspectors use subject 'deep dives' to inspect your curriculum.

They use them to consider the 'intent, implementation and impact' of your curriculum as part of the 'quality of education' assessment.

How deep dives work

Who's involved?

Your senior leadership team, curriculum leads, subject leads, teachers and pupils.

How will inspectors do this?

  • Conversations
  • Lesson observations (typically 4 to 6 lessons)
  • Work scrutinies (typically at least 6 workbooks or pieces of work in the lessons they visit, scrutinising work from at least 2 year groups)
  • Looking at curriculum documentation

You can read more about how deep dives work in this Ofsted guidance.

You don't need to prepare special curriculum documentation to help inspectors carry out deep dives.

They won't expect to see curriculum planning or evidence in any specific format, as long as they can easily access it, as explained in paragraph 75 of the School Inspection Handbook.

Impact of coronavirus 

Ofsted recognises the challenges placed on schools during the pandemic, including that most schools will have been unable to implement their curriculum in the usual way. 

During an inspection, inspectors will seek to understand how your school adapted and prioritised the curriculum, including:

  • Exploring how you implemented your curriculum remotely
  • Looking at how subject leaders and teachers have identified pupils’ learning gaps and new starting points, and
  • How they have responded to that in their curriculum planning

If you're directly deploying tutors to support catch-up, inspectors will consider how this supports your curriculum's aims. The use of tutors will be integrated into the evaluation of quality of education and leadership and management, rather than being inspected separately. 

This is explained in paragraphs 13 to 15 of the inspection handbook (linked above).

Questions Ofsted might ask during geography deep dives

Ofsted won't expect subject leaders to be specialists in geography, especially in smaller schools. They will be more interested in what you want your pupils to learn in geography, and why.

Inspectors will be interested in things like:

  • Does your geography curriculum match the scope and ambition of the National Curriculum?
  • Are there clear end points? How is content broken down into manageable chunks to build towards those end points?
  • Are those chunks logically sequenced? Do they prepare pupils for future learning?

Geography leads: check out our list of curriculum questions for middle leaders to see what Ofsted might ask you.

Geography teachers: look at our list of curriculum questions for teachers.

Inspectors might also ask about EYFS teaching

Based on our conversations with primary schools, Ofsted's additional geography questions in the past have included:

  • How do children in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) perform in 'understanding the world'?
  • What does your provision for 'understanding the world' look like?
  • How do you sequence learning from the EYFS to year 2?
  • How do you assess progress in geography in each year group?

Ofsted has advised against carrying out your own deep dives to assess your curriculum. However, there's nothing to stop you using them if you have found the format helpful. See our article on conducting your own subject deep dive for more support.

Ofsted may not do a geography deep dive

Ofsted prioritises reading in primary schools. This means that while inspectors will always conduct a reading deep dive, they may not look at geography (although it's good to be prepared). 

When inspectors do conduct geography deep dives, these tend not to be as detailed or focused on particular topics as reading deep dives are, so don't be alarmed if the questions your colleagues in charge of reading are preparing for are more technical than yours.

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