Telling the Story: The Ofsted English Subject Report 2024

We are more than aware that English in our classrooms is far greater than simply learning to read and write. It involves a broader spectrum of skills, including critical thinking, communication, language proficiency, linguistics and a deep appreciation for literature, empowering our children to contemplate, articulate and express their thoughts about the world. Wow, it's a lot, isn't it?!

This foundational skill set forms the cornerstone of effective learning. However, while English certainly remains at the heart of learning in our schools, despite concerted efforts, there remains a stark discrepancy in literacy outcomes for some children. Those from disadvantaged backgrounds in England are more likely to exit primary school without securing proficiency in reading and writing than their non-disadvantaged peers. So what can schools do?

The recent Ofsted subject report on the quality of English, released in March 2024, highlights many positives and steps forward that have been made, but also shares where "there is more to do if we are to make sure that all pupils achieve well."

As a school leader or English co-ordinator, subject leader or department lead, you'll want to have a good understanding of the findings from this report, so what do you need to know?

What are the key findings from Ofsted's 2024 English subject report?

  • The teaching of reading has improved, but schools are unsure how to build fluency and comprehension well.
  • The writing curriculum is "less effective", with complex tasks introduced too early and spoken language and fluency in transcription being less considered.
  • English is not always valued as a subject in its own right, with the main focus sometimes misplaced on English in its supporting role.
  • Exam focus "unhelpfully" determines the curriculum at the expense of developing the underlying knowledge pupils need, resulting in wasted time and resources.
  • There is a disconnect between reading, writing and spoken language, with limited recognition or appreciation given to how a pupil’s prior knowledge of one modality affects their ability to learn another.
  • English subject expertise is highly valued, but training is not always provided to develop staff knowledge on how to teach all aspects of the subject effectively.

Do any of these statements feel familiar?

In response to the findings above and your own internal data and evidence-gathering exercises, you may be looking to improve literacy across your setting. This comprehensive Improving Pupil Literacy pack, suitable for both Primary and Secondary schools, includes full guidance underpinned by EEF research, the DfE's The Reading Framework, and key Ofsted commentary, which will support you in understanding how literacy improvement can be achieved across different literacy disciplines.

Improving Pupil Literacy Pack - Honeyguide School Leader Support

What do Ofsted recommend that schools do to make improvements in English?

  • Implement national curriculum requirements for spoken language, emphasising competence in speaking, including teaching conventions like presenting, debating and explaining thoughts.
  • Incorporate foundational knowledge and skills from the national curriculum into reading, writing and spoken language, providing ample high-quality opportunities for high-quality practice in the planned curriculum.
  • Design a reading curriculum fostering fluency, linguistic knowledge and a broad understanding of the world, avoiding limitations to exam-style questions.
  • Cultivate a reading habit by encouraging pupils to explore a diverse range of books once they achieve fluency.
  • Facilitate quick catch-up for pupils entering key stages 2 or 3 with limited fluency, addressing gaps in phonics knowledge and providing additional practice for those reading too slowly.
  • Ensure that early-stage writers and older pupils not fluent in transcription practice transcription skills in isolation to prevent working memory overload.

How can Honeyguide help you to develop your English offer?

While we can’t plan your curriculum for you, we have created several supportive guidance packs to help you on your curriculum journey.

Literacy Intervention Audit Bundle - Some pupils find reading and writing challenging, which can be down to a multitude of reasons. If you're looking to investigate how to support struggling readers and writers, this bundle will support you - it contains audit-style questions for you to investigate the strengths and weaknesses of your current provision, allowing you to create an action plan to help pupils who need the most support.


Initial Information Exploration - New to leading English in a school and unsure where to start when monitoring? This pack walks you through how to rapidly gather information about your subject so you can plan to make relevant changes and improvements.

Monitoring Teacher Subject Knowledge - Designed to be time-efficient and work around your classroom commitments, this pack supports busy subject leaders who want to quickly assess, enhance or improve teacher subject knowledge in their setting.

Evaluating Impact and Planning Ahead - Explore subject self-evaluation and the crucial next steps, including cyclical improvement, action planning and how to develop staff in your setting.


Deep Dive and Subject Knowledge Bundles - Sometimes, doing some quality assurance on your current curriculum offer to spot areas for improvement can be a really beneficial process, particularly when key findings like these appear from nationwide research. If you're considering this, conducting an internal deep dive can be extremely useful and the following packs support that process from start to finish:

Tailor-made for English subject and department leaders, these packs will help you to consider intent, implementation and impact questions across the breadth of English, allowing you to consider areas of strength and weakness so you can plan for improvement and (if you feel you need to) prepare for Ofsted.

 Primary English (Writing, SPAG and Spoken Language) Deep Dive Bundle by Honeyguide School Leader Support

“Without literacy, it’s hard to live the life you want.”

National Literacy Trust

Let's ensure that together, we open every page and every chapter for our children, and pave the way for limitless possibilities.


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