Royal Alexandra and Albert School (RAAS) - Ofsted boarding report - "inadequate&quo
We are planning to apply to RAAS for full boarding in Sept 2013. We've looked at many schools and so far, it's well ahead in our top choice of schools. Well, that's until I read the Ofsted report of Oct 2011 that rated its boarding provision as "inadequate". Now I am really stuck. Half of me wants to take the Ofsted report with a large pinch of salt (as I have only ever read amazing comments on this school) and I'm not sure if Ofsted reports are worth the paper they are written on) while the other half of me thinks that I can't simply ignore the report. Could you Mners with children at this school (and I know there are a few!) please comment on the boarding there? The good, the bad and the ugly please! Many thanks!
Ofsted raised concerns about child protection issues which is something it looks at in relation to all schools. Ofsted found that one memeber of staff with access to all children had not been CRB checked by the school, the written policies and training about child protection were inadequate or not followed, parental permission wasn't always sought for first aid treatment and the use of CCTV cameras was questioned.
Of course none of this means anything bad has happened at all.
There was no question that any child had been harmed just the theoretical risk that policies / practice didn't comply with the rules.
When the AMy 2011 inspection was carried out, parents at the school were satisfied with the school and the children said they felt safe and well cared for. All of the things that needed to change would have been rectified almost immediately because child protection issues are taken very seriously and the school would have had to comply straight away. They aimed to get everything in order by September 2011 so I assume it has been fine now ever since.
Thanks Tiggytape! That is quite reassuring. Do you (or other MNers) have children who board there and might be able to comment on the pastoral care and other boarding experiences firsthand? I am comparing the school with another private boarding school and would hate to make the wrong decision based on RAAS being considerably cheaper (which, although let's be honest, does swing it in favour of RAAS!)... Anyone else with any other comments?
I don't think much of it. I know of another person whose child experienced a lack of care and the supervision was appalling and I speak as a teacher. I would not send my child there. When I looked round which was some time ago, the accommodation was very basic alhough a lot of it has been done up now I think. They are a state school. A lot of the boarders are forces children and some are placed their by leas so there is a wide mix which is a good thing but some students will, by the very nature of the intake, may have issues that could impact on others. That is why the boarding is cheaper but the head sells the school as if it is private and does not make this side clear. I think if you have a tough, sociable child who can look after themselves and likeslots of activity and can withstand the deluge of hw then fine but if you have a sensitive flower then I would be wary.
I very much share inaflap's candour, and agree with the view, more or less. RAAS is presented as a hidden gem, highly sought-after in the south of England and all that. Ofsted have just downgraded the school from "outstanding" to "good" in October 2012, this year! Part of the concerns raised seem to focus on the failing academic side, especially in KS3 - one to watch. I would add that the boarding element is adequate, just. I would also caution against sending a child under 8 there. On plus side, heaps of activities and music and riding lessons don't appear to have a waiting list but beware they are taught by outsiders who use the school's facilities. It is not a private, academically-selective school though you may inadvertently get, or be given, this impression. Worth mentioning to be fair that in spite of their fall from the overall top spot, a number of provisions within the school were graded as "outstanding". This may mean demand for places stays the same until the next Ofsted report in 3-4 years, or falls - I have to say that the Head rather seems to expect the former, not the latter, and whether this is short-sighted and flawed remains to be seen.
What ages are your DC? They may find it all very intense and crowded, or they could love it. The school's initial assessment of a child's suitability to board may be regarded as superficial and scant - if, in the course of a term or year a child becomes unable to cope with boarding, the school becomes rather unrelenting in their desire to withdraw a place. Absent becomes the impressive show of pastoral care that you witnessed on the school's DVD or read about in their glossy brochure. You've absolutely got to imagine a setting which MUST work, or else. It is a HUGE school - plenty, plenty of room for improvement to go from basic/adequate to proficient/exceptional, but my observations are for the junior school alone. Also, opportunities available to reward the kids who 'fit', some do but some don't, as with schools in general. Good Luck.
My DD left there last year and to be totally honest, I would not send my younger children there. I think it has gone downhill over the past few years and DD got much lower grades than she should have done, I think because she wasn't pushed as she had been at her previous school. I have therefore sent her to a 6th form college for her A levels.
One major issue I had was the lack of communication from the school. At one point I was living 3,000 away so the lack of communication was a real concern and I felt that certain issues, ie petty theft, were not dealt with satisfactorily.
Hello - Any new views/updates on Royal Albert & Alexandra?
Nalma - you need to find more recent threads. These comments really put me off as we had it number 1 choice for DS. I went into overdrive and spent ages talking to anyone who knew the school and did a revist. When the offer came through in March we decided to accept. He's not there yet he starts in Sept but I am happy it is a good school and more importantly will suit DS and let him flourish
Nearly a third of the teaching staff left this summer- I would be asking questions to the salesman of a Headteacher!
I started this post and happy to report that we found the junior school to be pretty good and pastoral care excellent. The junior boarding house and grounds are spacious and clean and there are good facilities. Kids are kept busy at the weekends with a packed boarders programme - there were so many trips! I can't comment on the academic side of the senior school, though as I only had experience of the junior. Feel free to PM me for specific questions.
BTW, I cannot remember which part of the ofsted report said it was inadequate. But I think that that was a bit harsh for any category.
Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.
RAAS has just offered a place of year 10 for entry Sept 2015. I am struggle to send her there because the 2012 Ofsted report is down grade to Good. I really want to know the update to information about the school. Are there any bullying in the school? Why lots of teachers left school?
Good is actually well , pretty good in the scheme of things lol ! I don't think it has ever been rated higher than that. Was that overall or for boarding only ? There will be elements of bullying wherever , it is how they deal with it that is the issue. You need to visit as it is smaller than it seems on paper and in need of some updating to its buildings but no more so than many other state secondaries and it has had extra funding in recent years. When do they expect her to take up the place ?
The OFSTED criteria changed between the outstanding and good inspections. It depends what you want from a school really.
Apparently lots of teachers left to go to independent schools and because they didn't like the way the Head and governors ran the school. I would ask the school about it and let us know what they say!
They told me the school rating changed from Outstanding to Good was due to the rating scheme of inspection was changed to more tightly then before. It seems that the overall comments of RAAS is not good.
Have you read the report itself ?
By overall comments do you mean here or elsewhere ? I will admit there is often a certain snobbishness towards RAAS and state boarding schools in general but nothing in that report is particularly alarming to me. Year 10 is start of KS4 if that helps
Any latest updates and news about RAAS? And any particular reason why the staff has left?
Hi there, just to add my two pennies.
I boarded from the age of 7 at RAAS and loved it. There is a difference between what RAAS offer and "private" fee paying schools but you point out its cheaper so your obviously aware that your child won't be in 5* digs with a butler. Harrow is quite handy though for that if the budget allows.
He or she will be incredibly comfortable at Gatton Park, supported by a network of House Parents/housemates and offered a super selection of activities backed up by great teachers.
I have incredibly fond memories of my time there and warmly recommend it.
As a parent I did not have a good experience there. In all the schools that I have ever had dealing with this was hard work. My concerns were ignored. My DD has previously attended both private and state schools and we have never had any problems dealing with members of staff or the heads. My DD received outstanding reports and had always been a year ahead of his peers in class, this got him four out of five offers of boarding school admissions.
Things changed when DD attended RAA. DD was happy at the school, but had problems with the boarding aspect. DD's grades stayed the same since attending and in some subjects went down.
DD was quickly labled at the boarding house. Some realised the lable was unfair and changed, others needed to prove themselves right and made things difficult. Communication breakdown made things even worse.
Some parts of the school is good, there are some outstanding teachers. However the boarding side lets the school down. The ofsted report was right. Learnt the hard way!
if your child is attending make sure all your communication is via letter. Never call as when trouble starts you have your letters to back you up. You would find that they may call you when they have done wrong (no tracking) but when you have done wrong they would write to you. This is to cover their backs.
Also monitor your child regularly - allowing them to come home every two weeks at least and they are not always wondering in town unsupervised. The school is large and the children have found ways to fool the adults. The adult may accidently find out.
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