Government using new Ofsted framework to further their own political agenda at the cost of branding schools "inadequate".

(71 Posts)
feelokaboutit Wed 09-Jan-13 11:22:27

Have just come back home angry and upset after a meeting at my dcs' school. In 2008, under the old Ofsted framework, our school was "good". They got the same judgement at the interim assessment last year and so did not have a full inspection. We have now just (in November 2012) been inspected again under the new framework and are "inadequate", a whole 2 points below our previous grade. The improvements which need to be made are in years 3, 4 and 5 in teaching, pupil progress and something else (can't remember blush). The head was very honest about this and talked about the measures which will be taken.

Suddenly, tagged on to the back end of this meeting we (lots of parents attended since we got the report yesterday) were told that before the judgement had even been confirmed, the Department of Education had contacted the school with proposals to become an academy angryangry.

It seems that the new draconian Ofsted inspections are designed to find schools "inadequate" so that the Conservative agenda of dismantling the education system can be rushed through. It is glaringly obvious. Our school might (and does) require improvement in some areas but is good in lots of other areas and certainly does not deserve to be branded "inadequate" overall.

Is it the case that a school can only be forced into academy status if you are found inadequate? What I find offensive is how obvious the political agenda is. In the meantime, the human cost of being branded as "inadequate" in terms of staff morale, parent confidence and overall happiness of the children at school, is found to be of no consequence angry.

Someone at the meeting said that by 2015, all schools in the country will probably be academies. Whether or not this is true, if that is the governments top agenda, can they be less underhand about it instead of making us go through horrible Ofsted judgements to then force us into becoming academies.

That the school has been found to need improvement in some areas is a good thing and will provide incentive for staff to fix the problems. What is sickening is the obvious manipulation of facts to suit the government sad.

If anybody has any positive stories of schools becoming academies then I'd be happy to hear them!

ihearsounds Wed 09-Jan-13 20:07:19

Local academy here was rushed through. Didnt change anything, despite - new building, new staff, head teacher who had turned around other failing schools, new name, uniform, everything. Recent Ofsted still slammed it, even though turned 3 years ago. The problems are still the same.

Major sponsor at one point was a large burger chain, and it was evident, lots of their material in classrooms. Which a bit of a joke considering healthy school meal agenda, which incidentally they don't have to follow and this school does not.. Pizza and chips on the menu every single day.

Not all the teaching staff are qualified, and dont have a clue. It is blatantly obviouus they dont, the students know this and push the staff. How the staff treats the students is abysmal, there is no respect at all (yes they have been reported which triggered ofsted). But the staff might not be happy becuase they arent getting paid as much as those in academy, but stuck because no other jobs.

Sen, is a joke. It claims to care for sen (another reason for ofsted), but in reality rather than dealing with problems students are placed in isolation. One sen student was repeatidly bullied for a year, teaching knew, witnessed everything... Result, hired security and put the sen student onto isolation rather than tackle the behaviour. They dont want to exclude because it looks bad. Doesnt matter that Gcse a-c is less than 40% something that hasn't increased.

Then the lessons. no encouragment at all of independent learning. They are taught in class and that is it, no homework, no field visits. When parents visit for open days, the very disruptive are given the day off, and unavailable for ofsted.

So no, not all are good.

YANBU. Totally agree that privatisation of education is exactly what Govie (tw*t) and Cameron (tw*nt) are after.

dinnermoneyready Wed 09-Jan-13 20:21:14

Agree, YANBU. Our school is currently waiting for Ofsted to come calling and I am not looking forward to it at all. How true this is I'm not sure but if you already are a foundation school or become a foundation school, then you can't be forced to become an academy - many schools around Cornwall and devon are becoming co- operative trust schools to protect them from forced academisation.

whathasthecatdonenow Wed 09-Jan-13 20:28:28

Ofsted are going through Lancashire schools like a dose of salts because the County Council (Conservative) do not want to turn lots of the schools into academies. As soon as they opposed the move, Ofsted set up camp in the county and started finding that lots of schools 'required improvement' or were 'inadequate'.

We've got Ofsted in at the moment. It hasn't even been 3 years since the last visit, when we were graded 'good'. Results are improving year on year since then, so I will be interested in their findings. They observed a colleague's lesson for just 10 minutes today before giving him a teaching grade, which struck me as ridiculous.

Lilithmoon Wed 09-Jan-13 20:28:58

OP this exact thing has happened my DD's primary school last term. The damage caused to the children, teachers and school is devastating sad angry. The school is a pawn in a nefarious political game.

2013go Wed 09-Jan-13 20:42:50

Nefarious is the word for it!

Veritate Wed 09-Jan-13 20:51:42

Improvements in academies have only happened where a lot of money has been thrown at them. They also succeed by blatantly flouting the rules on admissions, ruthlessly chucking out children who they think will harm their League Table status and avoiding taking children with special needs. The big chains have little or no interest in children other than as a means of making lots of money.

What worries me is what happens when they hit financial problems and the sponsors want to pull out. There'll be a load of asset-stripping and they'll then walk, leaving thousands of children without anywhere to go to. They will become the responsibility of local authorities, many of which won't have any schools in which to put them, and there will have to be a massive financial bail-out for the LAs to take the schools over again.

letseatgrandma Wed 09-Jan-13 20:57:34

How can Gove get away with this-it's so wrong. What's even worse is if teachers complain about it then nobody listens because they all think we're a bunch of whingers anyway!!

soverylucky Wed 09-Jan-13 21:01:04

I know of a school that has become an academy because it was failing. New head, new SMT, new uniform, new name and better results. This was because they entered students for FEWER GCSE's and were able to enter pupils for easier courses that were worth several GCSE's. Will be interesting to see what happens to the results when the Eng Bac is introduced properly.

TuftyFinch Wed 09-Jan-13 21:16:38

Most Ofsted inspectors are private consultants.
They are not HMO.
They very often, in my opinion, have an agenda.
Whether the agenda is theirs or part of someone elses it's all about money. And kudos for the people funding them.
Until they get bored.
In South London most of the schools are now academies.
They are Harris Academies. He's a carpet salesman, what does he know about education? Nothing.
He doesnt need to.
Gove knows as much about education as a pig knows about mending a watch.

feelokaboutit Wed 09-Jan-13 23:09:44

Thanks all for messages, information and similar complaints to mine - don't feel so alone! The question is, what can schools actually do about being forced to become academies? The line our chair of governors was taking today was that schools that have gone to court to fight this have generally lost, wasting a lot of energy and money in the process. That after having lost they generally have a sponsor they may not want thrust upon them. Therefore they think it is better (though they are "robustly" saying no to the Dfee at the moment and our LEA is also going to write a letter explaining why we don't need to become an academy) if the worst comes to the worst, to be in the position to choose our own sponsor (which Dfee still has to agree with however)... a sponsor who would support and understand the ethos of our school etc.. etc...

The other thing I don't understand at the moment is all the different types of sponsorship available and what they actually mean. I've been hearing that some schools join forces with another school, maybe an outstanding one - is that what a co-operative trust is? Does a co-operative trust still receive LEA funding and support? It seems to be a minefield of information and the governors in our school are also still gathering information after which they have said they will organise a meeting with parents.

My last question is: are teachers who work for academies still members of and represented by their unions?

I too think that our children are pawns in the political games of people whose children in the main probably go to private school, and who couldn't care less about the man (or child!) on the street sad.

ravenAK Wed 09-Jan-13 23:18:48

Yes, you can still be represented by your Union (although obviously they are another target of forced cackademy status).

We were bullied into it last year. Total bum's rush & in the face of opposition from parents & staff.

It's a grim picture. I'm just glad my dc's school is holding out.

If your governors are 'gathering information' then IME it's a done deal. Sorry not to be more positive.

2013go Wed 09-Jan-13 23:25:20

OP, I'm not sure on effective ways forward, but I think parents voicing their feelings,en masse, is important.
The anti-academies alliance web page may have advice and resources.
Teachers are represented by unions in academies, at the moment. This may well not last and it's blatantly obvious that Gove is at war with teaching unions. They will certainly be undermined as more and more 'teachers' without PGCE qualifications are allowed to take posts in academies and as national pay agreements nd conditions of service are removed.
Again, I'm not sure of this but I gather some types of sponsor are maybe better than others, eg co operative are seen by many as more OK. An Ormiston head in Norfolk brought in the army on a strike day and got a big round of applause in The Sun, so I am not sure where Ormiston are coming from!

2013go Wed 09-Jan-13 23:27:16

As the poster said above ^^ as soon as the governors undertake any kind of feasibility study, you are stuffed, it's a done deal. Parents need to massively lobby the governors.

hackmum Thu 10-Jan-13 08:06:26

Apparently Christine Gilbert, the former Ofsted chief inspector, has published a report saying academies are manipulating the admissions procedure to get better pupils: www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/jan/10/academy-schools-covert-selection-skew-intake

YorkshireDeb Thu 10-Jan-13 08:21:51

Academies do manipulate admissions procedure. Our feeder secondary school became an adademy by choice because they didn't want to end up being the sink school with all the kids that aren't allowed into the academies. And this is supposed to make education better? This type of thing has been going on for years though. Our local "outstanding" primary school was widely known to discourage parents of SEN children from attending - by saying things like they wouldn't receive support & it would be the wrong choice for their child. I'm proud to work for a school where all children are welcome & if that affects our SATs results & therefore the Ofsted judgement of our school & position on league tables so be it. x

2013go Thu 10-Jan-13 10:45:18

The report linked to above is very interesting reading.

Abitwobblynow Fri 11-Jan-13 10:20:34

Feelokaboutit, what has 'the man on the street' got to do with anything? Is 'the man on the street' a special species that responds differently to the realities of life, or what?

Why do you think private schools work so well? Answer: because they are INDEPENDENT.

Independent of what, you may ask? And here is the issue. They are independent of centralised LEA control and of the teacher's unions. That means they are in control of admissions (and expulsion), and in the hiring and firing of their own staff.

This has an extraordinary effect: you see, human nature is such that whatever mantras people utter, people look to and respond to who controls them. So in a state school teachers utter all these platitudes - but respond to central government and the requirements of the LEA because that is who rewards them. The kids come second, and parents? Parents and their wishes are completely ignored as far as I see. There is no link whatsoever between payments and results, so schools and teachers are ultimately insulated from any consequence to what they do. This is completely opposite in independent schools, because it is the parents that pay (so keep them happy by working their kids hard and posting good results). The other result is remarkable: children in independent schools are cared about much much more. State school teachers spout loads about how much they care, but they don't. They do not look after and get involved in a child the way they do in private schools.

The academies - remember it was started by Labour, under the Blessed Saint Andrew Adonis - are a way of circumventing the LEAs and the teachers trades unions. In other words, finally wrenching control back from vested interests, and making them independent of them.

And much, much more power to their elbow. Frankly they haven't gone far enough. Could you have the courage to write back in 5 years time and admit how much better your school is now?

feelokaboutit Fri 11-Jan-13 10:48:25

Hello abitwobbly and others, I feel the Ofsted overall rating of "inadequate" was unfair and that "requiring improvement" would have been more representative of what is actually happening in the school. Our report talks about all the good things but uses this one area (not enough progression in Years 3, 4 and 5) to tarnish the whole school while still talking about all the good things confused.

However I am glad the Ofsted report has highlighted these areas. Very glad even at the cost of the awful "inadequate" because our head is equally devastated and this will push him to improve that area. This will definitely happen. We have known him for a long time and he works very hard and is very conscientious. In fact the school were taking measures to improve progression in that area already but the latest "figures" hadn't come in yet. I still think it is good for them to be given a further "kick up the proverbial" by Ofsted.

What hurts and makes me and the other parents angry is the fact that this Ofsted judgement is not being used to drive standards up generally (which would be and is a good thing) but to push forward a political agenda. Our school does not need to become an academy to improve. It is a lovely school with competent staff, a loving inclusive ethos and is embedded in our local community. The management team will not rest until they can get an Ofsted report they are proud of and satisfied with. Again, we can be shaken up and improved without becoming an academy.

I disagree totally with your point about admissions. Why does a school need to control it's own admissions? The fact that the borough takes care of that makes sure that it is not linked to the school wanting to bump up its results by making sure it only takes on pupils of a certain type. I think this is morally wrong and not why most of us signed up to state school.

I agree that the education system needs to be developed, improved. Dinosaur LEAs modernised etc... Being flung into a situation where the entire system is slowly (or not so slowly) deregulated without an act having gone through parliament, and we are forced to be named after carpet shops will not necessarily lead to improvements. There might be some academies which perform very well but there will be others that do not. It seems that we will lose accountability and enter a no man's land of deregulated chaos where we have to rely on individuals rather than a system which is there to protect us.

Yes by all means ally pay to results but getting rid of trade unions is a good idea??? shock.

I definitely think we have to stick with the state system and take all that is good from it but modernise, evolve and improve all the time.

I do think many conservatives are out of touch with the "man on the street". They live lives very different from ours with access to things inaccessible to many of us. As such I don't think they are in touch with the needs of our local community. What will happen when these new admission policies exclude children who don't fit the high achieving bill? Where will they go?

feelokaboutit Fri 11-Jan-13 10:54:46

And yes, if our school is very good in 5 years time and this is related to becoming an academy, I would have the courage to come on here and say so smile.

McNewPants2013 Fri 11-Jan-13 10:56:58

What is an academy and why is it a bad thing.

YorkshireDeb Fri 11-Jan-13 10:58:44

So angry right now! abitwobblynow how dare you say that teachers in state schools do not care about the children they teach! For some of the children at my school the teachers are the only adults in their life that do bloody care! You're right about the difference between state & private education being independence. Independence in private schools means the freedom to teach a curriculum you believe in, to push children in areas like sport (not just maths & English), to help children discover & develop their talents. Doing this in a state school is bloody hard work, I can tell you, because I'd they don't meet government expectations in maths & English we're beaten round the head with it.

feelokaboutit Fri 11-Jan-13 11:06:50

Also, our school possibly becoming an academy will not mean a reduction in class sizes and it is this that differentiates private from state education the most I think. Of course it is easy to focus on every child more deeply if you are teaching a class of 16 instead of 30.

I still think the egalitarian nature of our school, the camaraderie and the non-rarefied atmosphere is great.

YorkshireDeb Fri 11-Jan-13 11:16:16

And I still think you are a fabulously supportive parent. thanks x

Hercule Fri 11-Jan-13 11:19:16

This is exactly what is happening to our school at the moment.

As a governor I have been fully involved in the process and based on all the evidence would have expected a requires improvement grading, this would have accurately affected the situation in our school. We do have some weaknesses, however we have a new Head (started Sept), very experienced with an outstanding reputation, who has already implemented significant changes, developed a comprehensive development plan and shows clear and unequivocal capacity to vastly improve the school in a very short space of time. In their inspection Ofsted have totally ignored all of this and done what is essentially a hatchet job returning an inadequate grade, purely to force us into academisation.

I only hope this does not result in intrusive micro-management of our lovely, passionate and talented new Head as I fear she could well decide to take early retirement rather than suffer the process. In which case the school will have lost the one driving factor contributing to its future success. How can that possibly be beneficial for the children at the school?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now