The UK government’s chief inspector of education has criticised schools for “gaming” to improve their performance in league tables and urged them to focus on a more rounded curriculum.
In her annual report published on Tuesday, Amanda Spielman, said: “We must guard against restricting education excessively. Exam results are important but have to reflect real achievement. We should not incentivise apparent success without substance.”
She criticised schools for “cutting back drastically” in languages, music, art, drama and the humanities to the notable expense of the most disadvantaged pupils.
Ms Spielman highlighted examples including schools requiring every child to take sports science and even insisting native English speakers take English for speakers of other languages to boost grades.
Her comments follow criticism that inspections by Ofsted, the government’s education watchdog, and political focus on narrowly defined data on exams were edging out wider benefits of education that are less easy to measure.
Ofsted last September introduced a new education inspection framework that de-emphasised performance data in favour of curriculum quality.
The report stressed that the “great majority” of schools were performing well during 2018/19, with 86 per cent judged good or outstanding.