how accurate are ofsted reports in your experiencr?

(29 Posts)
georgedawes Fri 01-Mar-13 16:18:38

Would be interested in both parents and teachers views.

On phone so sorry about grammar btw.

Have been to visit local school which I liked a lot and have no qualms sending dd there. It is also the only real option in any case as live in a rural area. I've spoken to lots of parents and all speak highly of the school too. It's ofsted rating however is only satisfactory.

Like I said, I'm still happy to send dd there as I liked the ethos and feel of the school. I'm just curious how accurate others find ofsteds ratings?

ipadquietly Sun 03-Mar-13 14:02:53

I think Ofsted have lost credibility as the framework has changed too frequently over the past ten years. I don't think you can have a 'regulatory body' that changes tack so much, and changes criteria for excellence so easily.

No-one really knows where they are or what to believe - parents, teachers, head teachers, unions - and, eventually, no-one will give a toss.

This is bound to get worse as academies are inspected - how are the inspections going to account for each school having its own curriculum, when the new national curriculum is being followed in maintained schools? How will Ofsted judge progress?

darksideofthemooncup Sun 03-Mar-13 00:51:55

I have a friend who worked as an OFSTED inspector. She told me that the parameters they have to score within are so rigid that they can never be a true reflection. For example,if there is a high turnover of staff within a year, regardless of reason (they don't account for maternity leave) then the school will lose marks.
The school my Dd goes to had a satisfactory Ofsted report last year but it is a thriving, happy and forward thinking school and I'm glad she goes there.

HSMMaCM Sun 03-Mar-13 00:06:09

DDs primary was graded satisfactory and it was fantastic.

Startail Sun 03-Mar-13 00:02:55

Ofsted certainly didn't look at art or music or drama or give a flying fuck about the schools amazing pastoral care. All things that make school bearable to my sometimes bullied socially vulnerable DD1.

Nor did they stop and thank the staff who give up their time to let DD2 do every kind of sport.

Startail Sat 02-Mar-13 23:55:14

Once upon a time there was a good school with outstanding features, then along came a different bunch from Ofsted who said it was satisfactory. Now another bunch have visited and put the school in special measures.

Nothing has changed except the GCSE results have got better
confused

lljkk Netherlands Sat 02-Mar-13 17:05:30

I am happy enough with DC satisfactory school.
I definitely have lower standards than the avg MNer, though. smile

georgedawes Sat 02-Mar-13 07:20:10

That was similar to what the ht said yesterday. This school has loads of clubs and after school activities, none of which were mentioned in the report.

ipadquietly Fri 01-Mar-13 22:21:30

But it's SO annoying, that, assuming Ofsted inspections are supposed to help people choose schools, they don't even mention the vast range of clubs a school offers or its dedicated, planned, outside curriculum.

In my school, these, among other things, give our pupils a different and (I believe) enhanced experience - totally ignored by Ofsted.

(BTW how much are inspectors paid for cut and paste?..........)

georgedawes Fri 01-Mar-13 20:50:55

Yes I'd say that was a good word for it - bland.

Interesting to hear everyone else's experiences.

ipadquietly Fri 01-Mar-13 20:32:01

Just had ours and it's so bland that it could be a report on any school from Land's End to Newcastle. It didn't mention any of the school's USPs and was very similar to another recent report written by the same lead inspector.

BackforGood Fri 01-Mar-13 18:44:43

Yes. I felt so sorry for the Junior School HT and all the staff when that grading came out. Sadly, a lot of people still think that an OFSTED report gives the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
They are quite big schools, and I chat to lots of parents, and I don't know anyone who has got to know the Juniors, that doesn't consider the Juniors to be a much better school than the Infants, and yet, if you just looked at the 2 reports, you'd think it the other way round.

georgedawes Fri 01-Mar-13 18:23:36

That's really interesting backforgood and a bit of a farce really.

BackforGood Fri 01-Mar-13 18:21:01

My youngest dc is in the final year of her Junior School, which is on the same site as the Infant School, but they have separate HTs and separate OFSTED inspections and reports.
The Infants has an Outstanding report from January 2007 but has not been reasessed. (This is what it says on the Ofsted website about that...
^Some outstanding schools are inspected after three years; others may have their
inspections put back. To help decide whether we can wait longer than three years
before undertaking a full inspection of an outstanding school, such as your child’s,
Her Majesty’s Inspectors look at various sources of information, as listed below. This
is called an ‘interim assessment.’
The results of the interim assessment
In carrying out the interim assessment, we considered the following:
 pupils’ academic performance
 pupils’ attendance
 any visits carried out by Ofsted since the last inspection
 complaints about the school by parents or carers
 any other significant issues brought to Ofsted’s attention.
I am pleased to inform you that our interim assessment shows that the school’s
performance has been sustained and that we can defer its next full inspection^

However theJunior school has recently been given a 'Satisfactory' Rating, because it can't show good enough progress from the childrens levels when they enter the juniors, to their Yr6 SATS. Both these situations are caused by the fact that the Infants record that the children are leaving them working at Level3, when, in truth - from independent markers the school paid for to prove it wsn't just them - the are nowhere near that level when they enter the juniors in Sept of Yr3. Everything else in the report is excellent - from Leadership, to teaching, to behaviour, to parents satisfaction, but the criteria the inspectors had to give the grading on was this 'value added', even though they saw the evidence with their own eyes.
That put the final nail in the coffin for me about ever relying on an OFSTED grading. I'd experienced reports before where they'd missed reporting so many things about schools I've worked in, but previously always felt it was to do with my disappointment as I worked there.

georgedawes Fri 01-Mar-13 18:08:45

All very interesting, thanks everyone. Are you happy with the school lljkk?

One thing I really liked was the space - school was built for 90 intake but only has 60 children a year. Might change of course!

lljkk Netherlands Fri 01-Mar-13 17:54:51

It's the qualitative things that matter; a school described as having poor leadership probably really does have poor leadership. That part was exceedingly accurate for one of the local primaries. Not enough room for reception classes, policies in some area might not be up to date, not stretching middle ability children well enough, etc. The good news is that schools will nearly always make huge efforts to respond to specific criticisms like that, so you know exactly what they are striving towards. Problems you don't know if they are working on are what you pick up from parental gossip: bullying, poor sports provision, too big classes, whatever. Parental gossip is often best way to get most current picture of current shortcomings.

I think something like 70% of schools are "only" satisfactory.
DC primary is Satisfactory & has been for ages (inspected this week & I expect no changes or they'd be trumpeting the result already!).
Local high school is stuck at Satisfactory.
Extremely average KS2/GCSE results, bit below average, often.
Each year, they still get kids with Level 6 grades in yr6 & leavers going onto Oxbridge later.
Make of that what you will.

georgedawes Fri 01-Mar-13 17:34:41

Oh that's interesting, I wondered if you were going to say something else!

As bad as this may sound, I think a community school has a lot of benefits that appeal to me more than results. I went to school in Scotland and much preferred the system there - everyone pretty much goes to their local school and there is no angst about it.
I also think success in life for an individual child (whatever that means) is much bigger than a school's results, however lefty that makes me sound.

I am interested though how accurate ofsted is - I know people who have moved house whilst their children are babies, go to church and so on, even if not religious, to get into an outstanding school. So obviously some people put a lot of faith in it! I just wonder what the reality is.

BackforGood Fri 01-Mar-13 17:34:08

I've never seen a comment that was inaccurate in an OFSTED report but I've seen several that don't give anything like 'the whole story'.
I would take it very much as only one small indicator. I would take a lot more notice of what current parents say (overall - you'll always get someone that's cross about something). I certainly wouldn't take ony notice of the 'score' alone, without reading carefully through the text of the report.

cricketballs Fri 01-Mar-13 17:28:57

Ofsted is a snap shot of two days so how honestly can they rate a school based on that?

As a teacher I have worked in a school in special measures, a satisfactory school and I am currently in a very newly rated good school.

The special measure was not justified - the school had a very low ability intake and worked wonders (the CVA was the highest in the city) with students from very difficult backgrounds, high EAL and 'educated them' rather than being an exam factory. The satisfactory was justified. I am currently teaching in a good school (inspected last month) and there are areas that I don't think are, whilst we do things that I feel on experience are outstanding.

As others have said - whilst the Ofsted can give you an indication, it should not be what you judge a school on when deciding for your DC; results (not the headline figures), visit, speak to others is by the far the best way to decide

SignoraStronza Fri 01-Mar-13 17:28:31

My Dc's school is 'only' satisfactory but imo it is bloody brilliant! We love in a rural area with only one school in the village. There is a tiny Church school in the next village which some snooty parents drive their kids to every day, but don't think it is superior - although it helps to ensure my dc is in a v. small class/year group. grin

I think the 'problem' is a couple of dinosaur due-to-retire teachers and TAs in the upper year groups who perhaps aren't so sparkly, combined with being a bit lax on the box ticking and allowing the odd authorised absence.

School has been v. highly praised on the behaviour and happiness of its pupils and the attainment is pretty good all round too. All in all, can't really see why they aren't at least 'good'. My aged parents (retired primary teachers) have read between the lines of the ofsted report and also spent a week looking after dc and doing the school run. They have no concerns.

By contrast, another school up the road has a flashy head and an outstanding ofsted but I know of quite a few miserable staff and pupils, so wouldn't set much store by it.

Go see the school and get an idea of it before dismissing.

Rowlers Fri 01-Mar-13 17:24:26

I like the school, other parents speak highly of it, I am in rural setting so best option, school is showing signs it's on way up, not down, I send my child there. Done.

member Fri 01-Mar-13 17:09:39

I'd go with feel/how real people rate tbh.

The framework that Ofsted judge against seems to be constantly changing. Unless they've deemed the teaching poor, chances are that "inadequacies" are to do with the school's systems of documenting what they do.

georgedawes Fri 01-Mar-13 17:03:36

I think the sats results were just quite average if I recall correctly (can't double check as on phone). Much improved the following year.

seeker Fri 01-Mar-13 17:02:11

If the SATs results the year before the inspection were not in line with expected progress the school could only have got satisfactory- even if it was outstanding in all other areas. And if the results are on the up then I wouldn't worry.

georgedawes Fri 01-Mar-13 17:01:41

What would you do? Curious now!

Like I say I'm happy so far with how the school seems. I'm just interested in others' experiences.

Rowlers Fri 01-Mar-13 16:57:02

Well, I know what I'd do in your shoes!

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