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!

feelokaboutit Wed 09-Jan-13 11:57:26

Just bumping my own thread. Maybe I am naive and all this is old news hence no posts blush.

gordyslovesheep Wed 09-Jan-13 11:59:20

yanbu - poor OFSTED reports are being used to force schools hands unfairly - try this site

TraineeBabyCatcher Wed 09-Jan-13 12:01:59

We have and are seeing this happen to some of our local schools.

JoanByers Wed 09-Jan-13 13:51:57

As I understand it many schools were coasting along, and the new reports are more uncompromising which is a good thing for providing accurate info to potential parents.

Whether that's being used to force schools into becoming Academies, I don't know.

I know that many (most?) of the best-achieving schools are now Academies, so it's hardly the end of the world.

CabbageLooking Wed 09-Jan-13 13:55:19

I know that many (most?) of the best-achieving schools are now Academies, so it's hardly the end of the world.

JoanByers I'd be interested to see what evidence you have to back up that statement.

JoanByers Wed 09-Jan-13 14:50:49

Top 25 schools in the league table:

The Henrietta Barnett School, Hampstead GardensAcademy
Queen Elizabeth's School, BarnetAcademy
Wilson's SchoolAcademy
The Tiffin Girls School, Kingston upon ThamesAcademy
St Olave's Grammar School, OrpingtonVoluntary Aided
Pate's Grammar School, CheltenhamAcademy
The Latymer School, LondonVoluntary Aided
Colchester Royal Grammar SchoolAcademy
Altrincham Grammar School for GirlsAcademy
Tiffin SchoolAcademy
Kendrick SchoolAcademy
King Edward VI Camp Hill School for BoysAcademy
King Edward VI Camp Hill School for GirlsAcademy
The Judd SchoolVoluntary Aided
Dr Challoner's High SchoolAcademy
Newstead Wood School for GirlsAcademy
Reading SchoolAcademy
Nonsuch High School for GirlsAcademy
Sutton Grammar School for BoysAcademy
Dr Challoner's Grammar SchoolAcademy
Chelmsford County High School for GirlsAcademy
Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for GirlsAcademy
Colchester County High School for GirlsAcademy
Wallington County Grammar SchoolAcademy
Colyton Grammar SchoolAcademy

As you can see around 90% of them are Academies.

fiftyval Wed 09-Jan-13 14:56:53

Aren't alot of schools on that list selective? - and not sure how that reassures the op who is worried about her primary school

Panzee Wed 09-Jan-13 14:58:49

YANBU, this is exactly what is happening. Hope all goes well at your school.

JoanByers Wed 09-Jan-13 15:00:42

Yes I think they are all selective. But nonetheless I was pointing out that the best schools in the country have all done this voluntarily.

Charmingbaker Wed 09-Jan-13 16:08:45

Joan Byers, these schools were not underperforming schools which have been transformed by academy status. They are highly selective schools and academy status allows them even more freedom in their admission policies, ensuring they continue to cream off the highest achieving pupils in order to maintain their top of the table status.

JoanByers Wed 09-Jan-13 17:10:26

I'm not sure that the purpose of the academy status was to allow them to alter their admissions policies, given, as you say, they were already highly selective.

Abitwobblynow Wed 09-Jan-13 17:13:55

OP the current education system NEEDS dismantling.

Be happy! This is way better for your children!

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 09-Jan-13 17:18:52

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

Yes... My DS's secondary school was so bad 10 years ago that people fought like cats not to send their kids there. The head was replaced, the new head turned the place around and it converted to an academy about two years ago. Is now classed as 'outstanding'. Sorry your kids are at a bad school.

HollyBerryBush Wed 09-Jan-13 17:25:16

You have to understand the difference between academies and not assuem they are all the same.

This 3rd generation academy is merely the school getting all its funding rather than the borough supplying services and taking a chunk from the budget.

Simplistically - the school decides whether new text books ora new roof is needed.

Don't be misguided that the academy status is a great cure-all.

hackmum Wed 09-Jan-13 17:31:27

When schools first become academies, they usually start off with a pot of extra money (they no longer have to pay the local authority for certain services), and there's often a new head and SMT, so you'll quite often see short-term improvements in schools that convert to academies. Am sceptical about whether they'll be sustained long-term.

diabolo Wed 09-Jan-13 17:56:35

You can choose become an academy if you score Outstanding - a positive thing.

You can be forced to become an Academy if you are not performing at the required level.

2 totally different things.

Check out this one in Burnham on Crouch, Essex. Was failing massively, forced to become an Academy, new head, new governors etc and now a massive improvement in GCSE results.

noblegiraffe Wed 09-Jan-13 18:38:16

Don't be fooled into thinking that outstanding schools are choosing to become academies voluntarily because it's such a good thing. At my outstanding school the head told the whole staff that there was no interest in becoming an academy and absolutely no intention of doing so. A year later we were an academy. We were forced into this by massive budget cuts, the promise of more budget cuts to come (yet I'm sure the Tories said education funding was ring fenced) and the only way for the school to not completely sink was to take control of its finances from the LA. There were still loads of redundancies and I can definitely say that the kids are getting a worse deal after our conversion, despite our conversion.

YorkshireDeb Wed 09-Jan-13 19:24:24

YANBU. It's lovely that you, as a parent truly understand the government agenda behind ofsted & are supportive of your school despite their Low grade. Ofsted (like Sats & league tables) are a way for each government to 'prove' how rubbish the last government was & implement their own ideas to 'turn things around'. If only the government would keep their noses out & let schools decide for themselves how best to educate children (instead of us all dancing to the tune of a dickhead minister for education who's never taught in his life) we'd have the best education in the world. X

gordyslovesheep Wed 09-Jan-13 19:27:55

time will tell - private companies running schools - when they need to make a profit - time will tell

staff pay and conditions eroded
none qualified staff 'teaching'
no money for SEN support, student welfare etc
mass exclusions
companies going bust

time will tell

letseatgrandma Wed 09-Jan-13 19:33:50

We were outstanding in 2007, Good in 2010 and the powers that be have decided that they want us to become an academy so the lea gave warned us that the dfee might well trigger an Ofsted which will find us inadequate so we can be legitimately 'turned'!

Wrong on lots of levels.

Overdecorated Wed 09-Jan-13 19:41:15

At a recent meeting attended by my headteacher, they were told that ofsted would be failing at leasr 50% of schools they inspected. With 'targets' like that I'd say the agenda was pretty clear too OP. I hope all parents are as supportive and non judgemental as you smile

Overdecorated Wed 09-Jan-13 19:41:43


2013go Wed 09-Jan-13 20:04:45

YANBU the government agenda is to ultimately privatise schools. First by forcing academies - two methods: change inspection goalposts is one, starve LEA schools of funding is the other.
Behind the surface improvements of many academies are several factors- one is that they excluded more ( and did it in a more 'unofficial' way, eg disapplying) and took fewer FSM pupils and another is the proliferation of less academic qualifications (note the ebacc figures of many academies- if you can find them anywhere). This has been well researched and you can find the evidence in a number of academic studies.
Our local state school faces massive budget cuts and is being restructured so that staff will no longer be paid tlr payments for taking on additional responsibilities. Meanwhile many academies have inverted pyramid pay structures so that there are layers of managers all on well over £50000 per year. So it's easier for them to attract good staff. Academies in the local area pay AST wages and create AST posts even for staff who haven't passed AST selection procedures. In LEA schools, AST posts are going. Again, good staff can easily be enticed to academies.
Our local school has significantly increased its GCSE results consistently each year for three years, yet 2 years ago was deemed 'satisfactory' and faces another ofsted this year or next, which may well see it graded '3' again, only this time it means curtains- academy stays for a school which is clearly making great strides forwards against all the odds.
Michael bloody Gove!!!!!!!!!!

2013go Wed 09-Jan-13 20:06:03

Oops academy status, not academy stays!

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:

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?

SugarplumMary Fri 11-Jan-13 11:36:49

My DC primary dropped from good last Ofsted - but they were not forced to become an Academy. The drop was odd as parents and DC are happy there and do much better than expected given intake.

The secondary’s in the area have been force - the one massively improving was told it wasn't improving fast enough so was forced to become one despite them not being keen - it’s still improving. The failing one was forced to become an Academy - results still dire, head and teachers still on short turn around and behaviour still an issue - parents try and avoid like the plague but obviously not all can.

noblegiraffe Fri 11-Jan-13 11:50:52

Independent schools do well because they have a nice intake of kids whose parents care enough about education to pay for it, and who can be booted out easily if they disrupt the learning of others.

Payment by results is a bad idea. There are so many factors that go into results that are beyond a teacher's control. It'd be like paying someone in the private sector based on the success of a project that they took over for the last 2 years out of 16 and which they only work on for a handful of hours a week. In a setted subject, anyone who got given the bottom set would be pretty much doomed to failure from the start.

My school, as I mentioned before, was forced to become an academy due to drastic budget cuts. We now have larger class sizes, fewer TAs, offer fewer subjects at sixth form and teachers have to teach more lessons. Morale is pretty low. The financial situation might be even worse were we not an academy but I can definitely say that the academy we are now is not better than the school we were.

feelokaboutit Fri 11-Jan-13 12:16:53

Yes, it seems naive of the government to think that the magic "academy" pill will solve all problems. Naive and somewhat complacent because it bypasses the real effort that it will take to improve the standards of our education system generally at school, local and national level. "Having problems?" they say. "Here you are, take this academy pill (that we are forcing down your throat) and all will be well". It feels a little like being zapped by the aliens angry.
Thank you YorkshireDeb! Hercule, I feel your pain!

feelokaboutit Fri 11-Jan-13 12:23:08
Lilithmoon Fri 11-Jan-13 22:47:02

Abitwobblynow your argument is completely flawed.
Independent schools do well because they are highly selective and have ginormous budgets.

2013go Fri 11-Jan-13 23:03:29

A further flaw abitwobblynow is the argument about who runs schools- why would others except the LEA running schools be any better. I don't think this argument has been proved by taking trains away from British Rail, for example.
No one would argue that schools can't do better, and no one I know in any school ever- teachers, managers, governors, LEA advisors etc has ever spent their working day doing anything other than trying to raise standards and help students learn. The managers at my school, and many of the teachers, are there until 6,7,8 at night doing exactly that, then going home and doing more.
A number of schools which have become academies were already improving and moving forward, and many that have stayed in LEA control have improved more steadily than neighbouring academies.
The question is, does the structure of the education system need to change to a mixed, semi privatised system to improve results, and the answer to that question is no.
The money poured into academies and free schools, to consultancy firms, to making decent and hardworking LEA staff redundant- it's criminal- that money could have been far, far better spent with the system intact.

Abitwobblynow Sat 12-Jan-13 20:37:27

'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.'

And you have been fed a load of brainwashed baloney. OF COURSE schools need to be in charge of their own admissions! They also need to be in charge of their own expulsions, too.

State school teachers are the only professionals I know, who are told what to do by a centralised state body as though they are brainless morons, who are literally NOT ALLOWED to apply their own experience and expertise. Example: the department of education is pushing phonics? They HAVE to teach reading using phonics. And write reams and reams of paper describing (to the central control system) their lesson plans as to how they are 'implementing' 'the plan'. Reality: as ever teacher knows, children learn to read using a mixture of systems: phonics, decoding, looking at the picture, looking at the word shape.

FFS! WHO supports this state control? You have to be insane. Teachers MUST be let go, be the ultimate in charge of the whole school, be a team with parents, be the final say. Accountants, solicitors, no other professional is treated the way teachers are.

YorkshireDeb I am angry right along with you! "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." ... is my EXACT point.

Lilith "Independent schools do well because they are highly selective and have ginormous budgets." you go on believing that if it makes you feel better.

I have experience of both state and private schools. Fact: private school children are worked half to death, in demands that state school children never get a whiff of. As a result, they learn some life lessons, about setting goals, striving towards them, taking risks, not fearing failure, what you put in is what you get out - and whaddayaknow, it results in success. Lilith will call that 'privilege', of course. The way state schools LET DOWN CHILDREN I thought would give me a stroke, and I have thought long and hard on the reasons why (hamstrung teachers, a disconnect between funding and results) and the solution. Which is independence from centralised control, bullshit progressive ideology ['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.'] and overly powerful trades unions. They are shrieking about academies precisely because they signal the end of the control!

I do really hope that the starter of this thread has the guts to return in 5 years time and outline how and why her school has improved. And that her assumptions were wrong and what she feared is no way like the truth.

Lilithmoon Sat 12-Jan-13 20:53:26

Abitwobblynow did you mean to be so patronising?
Are you saying independent schools are not highly selective, that they don't have ginormous budgets? Are you denying these variables have an effect on outcome?
I don't doubt independent schools are highly advantageous to many of the children that attend but perhaps you could explain why they also fail some children if they are so perfect?

YorkshireDeb Sat 12-Jan-13 21:20:19

Abitwobblyrightnow you claim to be angry alongside me & I therefore think you completely missed my point. The thing that made me so angry was your highly offensive comment: "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." I assume you realised I am a teacher in a state school? I'm very interested to hear what you actually do that's so much above and beyond what I do for my pupils, to prove the point that you care so much more than I do. x

Abitwobblynow Sat 12-Jan-13 21:26:52

Lilith: independent schools have those budgets because the parents (note, this is a very very important concept) PAY for those budgets. They INVEST in their children's education.
Result: they take it very, very, very, very seriously. A school and teacher has to PERFORM at the highest level and with the utmost dedication because they will be SWIFTLY SACKED if they do not. Teachers tell parents with great honesty how their children really are. There are no patronising 'he is doing fine'. It is 'your son is able but idle [discussion ensues on what pressure to apply and it is dual] or your daughter is not academic and do not have high expectations lets look at photography etc. or your child has a learning disability [discuss] and this is the teacher whose EXTRA LESSONS you will be liaising with and this is the programme and these are the EXTRA HOURS your child will be required to do.

Are you getting the link between performance and results? The people who pay, drive the process. In Sweden, parents pay INDEPENDENT schools which vouchers given by the state. But they are the ones the school looks to for funding.

At the moment, in state schools, the LEAs pay. Guess who the school turns their back on (the parents and the children) and guess who they pay attention to? It is complete human nature.
And a teacher can be beyond crap, and never get sacked (it took FIVE years for a teacher to leave our school, unhappy parents didn't begin to come into it, a determined governing body full of professionals enforced it. and it took FIVE YEARS).

Don't kid yourself for a second Lilith that it is 'money' and 'privilege'. It isn't. I used to go around my school haranguing parents of able children to write the grammar test. So I broke several right-on heresies: 1. your child is able. 2. your child deserves the best. 3. you must risk failure and try. 'Really? Do you think so? Dare we? Parents had to be given permission and encouragement to have aspirations! Ridiculous. No wonder private school kids sweep the boards (and my bright state children were very bright). The whole state ethos is a shocking waste of talent and the future of our country and the sooner LEAs and teachers unions are smashed out of their complacency the better.

Abitwobblynow Sat 12-Jan-13 21:48:12

Let me be clear: I would like independent schools to be completely unnecessary.

But I understand why they work, why the discipline, work ethos and risking failure culture they have gives children there such a clear advantage, which is why people are prepared to pay those eye watering sums.

I just think every child in Britain should be given those advantages, that is all.

Abitwobblynow Sat 12-Jan-13 21:49:40

argh! posted to soon [and the two bodies that stand in the way are Local Education Authorities and teachers unions]

YorkshireDeb Sat 12-Jan-13 22:13:28

. . . And still no response to my question about what you do to prove care levels are so much higher in independent schools. Can we deduce from this you have no actual evidence to back up this point? X

thesnootyfox Sat 12-Jan-13 22:27:58

I think this is quite concerning. Our local senior school which was previously "improving" is now on a notice to improve. Lots of positive changes have taken place and it's GCSE results are well above the national average and yet it is not rated by OFSTED at all.

My niece attends an "outstanding" academy primary school. Parents are not happy, my sister is looking around elsewhere for somewhere more suitable, bullying brushed under the carpet etc and yet they have been another "Outstanding" grading. Everyone is at a complete loss as to how they have reached this decision, lots of the parents were expecting an "inadequate" grading.

echt Sat 12-Jan-13 22:48:23

Not quite sure why the teaching unions are getting a thrashing by wobbly. Is this reference to the five years it took to get rid of a crap teacher? The unions go for due process. They do not pick their cases to support, and any member is entitled to representation.

What I have seen, time and again, are inadequate staff inadequately managed in schools, who then have a legitimate grievance about misapplied procedures. They go to the union, who defend them on procedure, as they should. Naughty unions.

Lilithmoon Sat 12-Jan-13 23:05:55

Abitwobblynow I am not continuing this conversation because you don't seem to reading what I have written, you have not answered my questions and you have completely contradicted yourself.

feelokaboutit Sat 12-Jan-13 23:39:25

I don't think academies will have the same amount of funding as Independent schools. They might be more like them in terms of attitude and freedom from the curriculum, but they will not ultimately have access to the same money or be able to have such small classes.
abitwobbly I am finding some of your comments a little harsh.
And yes I would come back in 5 years time to report a different finding, I would be more than happy to and I have already said that.
I agree that state schools do not have a massive culture of achievement, or at least the one my kids go to doesn't, and it would be nice to see this change. I think the answer lies in modernising, and improving what we have (as well as more funding, maybe a pipedream in the present climate), not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
It is true that smaller classes would be a dream come true and would automatically give parents more of a voice regarding their child as the teacher would have more time / energy. Can't this be aimed for within the state system, or at least when we start to see the end of the recession (hopefully). Same for the curriculum, yes staff have hours of paperwork which detract from their experience of actual teaching - why do we need to get rid of the state system to fix this?
More interesting reading:

sleepylampost Wed 30-Jan-13 20:58:53

DfE tactics are getting even more heavy handed.
When is this craziness going to stop?

cory Wed 30-Jan-13 21:54:32

Abitwobblynow Sat 12-Jan-13 20:37:27
"'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.'

And you have been fed a load of brainwashed baloney. OF COURSE schools need to be in charge of their own admissions! They also need to be in charge of their own expulsions, too."

And who forces the school to take a child with known health problems, who will make them look bad in the league tables, or a child who will need support to get to the classroom, but does not attract SN funding?

"Are you getting the link between performance and results? The people who pay, drive the process. In Sweden, parents pay INDEPENDENT schools which vouchers given by the state. But they are the ones the school looks to for funding."

It's funny that the new Swedish system is always held up to be such a paragon: yet since it was introduced Sweden has dropped down international league tables and I have yet to find one Swedish parent, teacher or ex-teacher who does not think the change has been for the worse.

sleepylampost Wed 30-Jan-13 22:43:00

The DfE actually told the governors at Roke Primary that it was not in their interests to tell the staff and parents! They were coerced into keeping quiet until the sponsor was announced. Check out this website

PrimaryParent Thu 07-Feb-13 21:13:53

Basically Ofsted have massively shifted the goalposts but without any clear explanation to us the parents!

I have a friend who is head at a school in North London and they got Outstanding last time but she says on new set up they would get Good. To the parents it will look like school is getting worse but its not, its still great.

I am all for reviewing and giving us information about schools but don't make things look worse just for the sake of making us all freak out. It will mean more people doing daft things like tricking their way into the few outstanding schools and just create unnecessary panic - as if choosing a school for your 'babies' isnt stressful enough!! - Thanks Ofsted.

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