Can you trust the Ofsted reports?

(67 Posts)
MunchMummy Wed 10-Feb-10 15:55:26

I'm looking at moving house into the countryside about 30 miles away. I do not know anything about the local primary schools there so have to look at the Ofsted reports on the internet to get a guide as to what they are like.

My question is does anyone know if the reports are accurate to the school or not really. My favourite village's school has an overall rating of 3 (slightly under average achieving). Does this really matter.

I don't want my DDs to go the 'best of the best sir' kind of school, but on the other hand I don't want to give them a bad start either.

Any advice on Ofsted reports would be much appreciated.

MunchMummy Wed 10-Feb-10 16:00:48


Pancakeflipper Wed 10-Feb-10 16:04:25

I see them as a snapshot of that time when the Inspection was held ( I did work on an Inspection team for Further Education).

Problem is when Ofsted start moving the milestones - then you can not compare unless all schools have the very recent reports with the same criteria to meet.

They are helpful but still go and visit and decide what your priorities are and what you want from your school... pushy target meeters, high level of pastoral care, looking at children as individuals and finding their individual strengths and weaknesses etc....

Our village school got Ofsted'ed recently. Was all very good except the Reception class bits which is where my child is currently. But then reading it - I didn't like the criteria they were marking against. So I'm still happy cos' I'd hate for them to be teaching the way Ofsted want Reception to do.

Hullygully Wed 10-Feb-10 16:05:39

Definitely not. I know of at least two "bent" inspectors who have benefitted from the PTA efforts.

GothDetective Wed 10-Feb-10 16:11:29

IME (of 2 primary schools only) Ofsted reports have been spot on, more so than SATs scores/league tables. My SIL who is teacher said she would pay more attention to an Ofsted report than a league table.

I wasn't happy with DD's old primary school for 18 months before I took her out. I'd been back and forth to the school and got nowhere, lots of promises but no action. Her last day at school was the day the Ofsted report was published, I never took her back. It was the last straw. They got given a notice to improve and everything I'd had a problem with was criticised in the report. This was a school very high up in league tables. However I reckon its very easy to "teach to the test" and get kids to get a good SATs score and it doesn't mean that they are brighter than a kid at another school that doesn't focus on SATs tutoring as much.

I moved DD to a school with a better Ofsted report but as its so small they aren't included in league tables, nor do they publish SAT scores. DD has moved on in leaps and bounds since being there and in 6 months has gone from being a year behind where she should be to now being one of the most able in her year and doing some lessons with the year above.

I would read the report carefully in full though not just go on the overall score. It may be that they've lost marks over some stupid area that you wouldn't care about anyway, its not all about effectiveness of the teaching.

BrigitBigKnickers Wed 10-Feb-10 16:20:09

Band 3 is not slightly underachieving- it's satisfactory.

Since when did the word satisfactory mean underachieving?

The school where I work was deemed satisfactory for years(up until last September when we were put up into the good catagory largely as we had just had a super bright year 6 who had achieved amazing SATs results.)

If my school was in the town where I live I would always have rather sent them there than the so called "outstanding" school my DDs attend at the moment.

You need to visit and get a feel for the place. Ofsted and league tables are not all that.

WowOoo Wed 10-Feb-10 16:22:07

Have worked in schools with less than ideal Ofsted results and would've been happy to send my child there.

Having said that ds now goes to an outstanding pre school and it really is superb.

Depends on when report was done. May have improved loads since then and similarly an excellent school may have gone a bit downhill.

Good luck. It's all a bit of a worry, isn't it?

activate Wed 10-Feb-10 16:23:15

No I think Ofsted inspections aren't worth the paper they're written on

DorkTurnspit Wed 10-Feb-10 16:26:41


slug Wed 10-Feb-10 16:28:19

While I agree that the Ofstead Report is far more reliable than the league tables, having survived several of them inmy time as a teacher, I can tell you that Ofstead inspectors get an edited view of the school. Scratch any teacher and they'll have tales to tell or have heard rumours of disruptive students being shipped out for the day, hopeless teachers on sick leave and excessively coached classes.

Here's the best tip I ever had. Check out the toilets. Even if a school has a massive SEN/free school meals/second language speaking ratio if the little things are cared for then odds are the bigger issues get the same attention. It's also worth bearing in mind the OFSTEAD cycle is around 5 years. That means it's only a snapshot of the school as it was on that day. My second choice for DD was a school that had a fairly poor report. However it was several years old and there had been a new head teacher in the meantime. The next report was Good with some Very Good aspects. Clean, well stocked toilets as well wink

Different children thrive at different sorts of schools. Go with your gut instinct.

carocaro Wed 10-Feb-10 16:35:47

I think they do tend to gloss over stuff and not mention bad things.

Our school had OFSTED in December, and when I read the report I though about 20% was not really how I felt about the school, 80% was pretty bang on.

The best thing as others have said it to visit and see what you think and how you feel. We have two great schools, we visited both, one the head was very lack lustre and depressing, the kids seemed uninspired and the playground was right next to a busy road. School 2, the head showed us round for over an hour, the kids were all happy and chatty with her, massive big playground and field, she told all about the plans for a new astroturf and music club.

Also hang out at the park/coffee shops etc local to the schools you are interested in, after school time best, and just ask parents of the kids in school uniform, most people are happy to tell you what they think

I have just moved my dd from a school that, whilst riding extremely high in the league tables, received an overall grade 4 in their Ofsted and was placed in special measures.

The school she is currently at is consistently placed in the middle of the league and yet is an outstanding service provider according to their report.

The difference is huge, imo. The 'outstanding' school may not acheive the results, due in part to their refusal to teach to the test, but dd has developed a real love of learning and a whole new enthusiasm for school.

So ime the ofsted reports were accurate and reliable.

MunchMummy Wed 10-Feb-10 16:44:07

Many thanks everyone.

I think I will have to go and visit the schools in the villages I like and see for myself.

As I said, I'm not looking for the 'perfect' school, just want to make sure its not a bum one as once we move to a village we don't want to be moving again or put them in a different villages school with a long school run.

Time to start ringing round them I think just incase we ever manage to sell our house.

Many thanks everyone.

cat64 Wed 10-Feb-10 16:47:10

Message withdrawn

piprabbit Wed 10-Feb-10 16:48:24

I think they are a useful starting point. You must go and view schools IMO, but the report gives you some indicators as to what to look for and questions to ask.

GothDetective Wed 10-Feb-10 16:52:59

Hadn't realised that 3=satisfactory. Assumed from the description of "below average" it must be on a notice to improve.

I'd be happy with a 3. I think a 3 probably is the average score. Its very rare to get outstanding and apparantly increasingly harder to get a good rating.

penguin73 Wed 10-Feb-10 16:58:58

Having been through one recently as a teacher I would never trust one. Staff worked continuously from the minute the call was received until the team left producing paperwork, policies, procedures etc that they knew the team would be looking for so did well on the inspection. That paperwork is now gathering dust, the procedures fell by the wayside and teaching has now reverted back to 'normal'. We are a good school that serves the pupils well (IMO) but our Ofsted doesn't reflect us, it reflects 72 hours of no sleep and lots of stress and hassle so we could 'play the game' when the team arrived. And yes, pupis are taken off-site when the team are in if it is felt they might cause problems, lesson planning is micro-managed and funding/resources appear that might not normally be there, and promptly disappear afterwards! Ofsted is truly a waste of money that cause more stress and problems than it resolves.

QOD Wed 10-Feb-10 17:09:35

It's a load of faked up poo. The school knows when they are coming, they gloss it up, get special lessons planned and certain kids selected to speak

DorkTurnspit Wed 10-Feb-10 17:11:55

Yup listen to QOD they really really do.

activate Wed 10-Feb-10 17:20:23

School gets 48 hours notice of a visit

GothDetective Wed 10-Feb-10 17:32:24

They may only get 48 hours of the actual date but they know when its due. At DD's old school her teacher said to me in July that they would have an Ofsted visit either the following term or soon after Xmas. He was right.

activate Wed 10-Feb-10 17:36:25

That's because they know that they're due that academic year which is hardly surprising as they're inspected every x number of years

Doesn't make it a bloody fix you know

FimBOW Wed 10-Feb-10 17:39:42

Where I used to work, the playgroup supervisor was "dynamic" according to Ofsted and it was awarded outstanding.

The supervisor was a moody beast who was anything but dynamic. The committee hated each other, certain routines were definately not followed but outstanding was awarded.

Tis a joke.

GothDetective Wed 10-Feb-10 17:41:42

I haven't said its a fix, only that they can have enough time to prepare. Which my dd's old school obviously didn't do well enough as they knew roughly when they were coming and still did crap.

Smithagain Wed 10-Feb-10 18:30:32

My daughters' school is graded 3, with grade 2s for some aspects.

All the neighbouring schools are graded 1 "outstanding".

From everything I've heard about them, I'm convinced our Grade 3 school it providing a much more pleasant - but still rigourous - education.

Admittedly the Grade 2s are for things like leadership and potential to improve, so I may be seeing the benefits of that.

Some schools may well 'gloss it up'.

Our school was awarded a deserved outstanding imo, no need to hurriedly plan special lessons as every week already involves a wide and varied range of challenging lessons and focus days.

My last school's attempt to 'fake it' were completely transparent and judged to be so, certain criteria cannot be faked at short notice imo.
Funny, they were of the opinion that the report wasn't worth the paper it was written on either hmm

RoseWater Wed 10-Feb-10 18:47:48

When the DCs school was given notice of an inspection the whole team worked through the weekend publishing documents and policies - I and a number of other parents were asked to sign / back date three terms worth of IEPs that we had been asking for for a long while.

Some parents and children are actively selected to speak positively to the Inspectors. That said, we do get a questionnaire home to complete for the inspectors - although as it gets returned via book bags to the secretary I'm not sure whether they always reach the inspectors without being vetted.

I can understand why a school team work so hard to get a good ofsted report because they like SATs are what the outside world judges them upon.

I think that you need to see the individual school and judge for yourself. Hope the move goes well for you.

lovecheese Wed 10-Feb-10 18:49:25

No, total shite IMO, although I wonder how parents know how varied and challenging the lessons are every week

wordsonascreen Wed 10-Feb-10 18:50:18

DD's nursery on the day of their Ofsted inspection bore no relation to any usual day.

New equipment (a new climbing frame/multi cultural dolls/puzzles etc), staff were bought in on their days off.

As soon as the inspector left it was like a French farce with the other nursery managers arriving to claim their stuff back.

lovecheese Wed 10-Feb-10 19:53:44

right, are you ready for this;

my friend is a teaching assistant in yr2 at a private very well regarded school; they had 9 MONTHS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! to prepare for fuckofsted; whereas as has been correctly quoted here my DH is a state head and gets 48 hours notice; my friend said that the "Priming" of the kids is ridiculous, whereas teachers in thestate sector have to think on their feet and what they see is what they get. How can 2 or 3 retired teachers or whatever they are POSSIBLY know a school after 2 or 3 days? I personally think its a load of crap.


a) we have lots of parent/teacher communication
b) I work in a school so am able to make comparisons (am a TA)
c) I volunteer 1 day a week so witness it myself
and most importantly
d) my daughter comes home every day full of enthusiasm about what she has learnt

Tbh I would be concerned about a nursery that has to bring in equipment and extra workers. Does that mean they are usually insufficiently staffed?

X posts
In answer to you wondering how I know what goes on in the school

wordsonascreen Wed 10-Feb-10 20:02:49

But Crack.. you don't need an report to tell you that then if you know already !

(dd's nursery was sessional care so she went for 2 hrs a couple of times a week.. tbh she just liked the playdoh)

The reports from both my dd's primary schools just confirmed what I already suspected.
The op wanted opinions on the accuracy of ofsted, I was just saying that in my limited experience they have been spot on.

wordsonascreen Wed 10-Feb-10 20:13:48

Fair do's

I moved my DD from a school which is good graded with outstanding features, she had been their for 5yrs. When I read their last Ofsted it bore no relation whatsoever to what we know the school to be like, we were gobsmacked at Ofsteds comments on the partnership with parents specifically the questionnaires that parents provided. In 5yrs my DD never brought home a questionnaire, we were never asked our opinion nor were the parents of any other child that attends the school that we know. It was like reading a report on a totally different school.

Their SAT results are in the top few for our area, however the teachers are undermined by HT, so many of the original staff have left as they don't agree with the ethos. It got to the stage where DD would constantly cry (she is not a softie either) had constant minor ailments, headaches, leg ache, tummy ache feeling sick etc, I had to physically prise her off me in the playground to get her into school. We decided to take her out she now goes to another local school with the naffest Ofsted I have read in a long time, lowest sat results in the area and a very high level of transient families.

However DD gets up at 6.30, gets herself ready for school gets her own breakfast, hasn't been ill and more importantly comes home every day excited about what has happened, the teaching staff spend time getting to know her even teachers that she doesnt have ask if she is ok, the HT is in the playground every am and pm (often picking up dog poop) to great the children and parents - most of whom he knows by first names - this is a school which my DD is proud to be part of and has respect for the teaching staff.

So I would agree Ofsted reports can give an overview, they don't tell a day to day story, I would visit get a feel for the place and look at how the children and teachers relate to each other for me pastoral care and personal attention and true enthusiasm in teaching staff is way more important than teaching to test results.

ellokitty Wed 10-Feb-10 21:06:08

I think they can be a good starting point to look at doing further research, but I wouldn't use them in isolation.

I'm a teacher and I've been through the OFSTED process four times now, and by and large I think they were generally about right on most things. Yes, all the schools I worked in tried to pull the wool over the inspectors' eyes. Sometimes they got away with it, but mostly not.

I'm in exactly the same position - moving house to a new area, and having to choose a new school. I've been using OFSTED reports almost in reverse, of course all schools set up a showpiece of what they do for the inspectors, but if the best they can pretend to be is graded not to be great (and a 3, whilst technically satisfactory, is not what the govt wants) then I would be a bit worried and do a bit more digging. I wouldn't rely on it totally, but I would use it to help me ask more questions, focus my research and so on...

MammyT Wed 10-Feb-10 21:46:48

I sincerely hope you can't trust them as I have chosen a 'satisfactory' school over an 'outstanding' school with similar results.

I read the Ofsted for the chosen school and saw an anti-middle class theme run right through it. If the same inspectors did all the schools in the same area, they might be worth something; otherise, forget it IMO.

swill72 Wed 10-Feb-10 23:07:36

It's laughable. One of my local schools had an Ofsted last term with ONE inspector for ONE day for a 5 form entry junior school - 600 children and ??? staff. They were given outstanding in every area. How? How can that 1 person possibly make realistic judgements on what he sees in 1 day in a huge school? It's a farce.

SE13Mummy Wed 10-Feb-10 23:11:14

Ofsted reports can make quite good scrap paper but that's about it... I've been through a few as a teacher too and am always disappointed by the inconsistency (and that's within the same system, never mind all the modifications). I've taught in a school that Ofsted put on a notice to improve in spite of the fact that our KS2 results were phenomenal considering the projected levels for our pupils (high SEN, non-Eglish speaking, mobile intake) but because we didn't meet the LA floor targets we couldn't be considered satisfactory. Absolutely gutting. I now teach at a different school which Ofsted believe to be 'good' and yes, it is good but I don't think the teaching is as personalised, imaginative or challenging as in my old school nor is the SEN provision, the EAL input or the behaviour management systems because they can get away with it. Not all teachers take that attitude but Ofsted were far more accommodating to teachers in my new school than they were to those in my old because the KS2 results were perfectly acceptable.

When we chose a school for our DC my DH (also a teacher) and I didn't even consider looking at the Ofsted reports or KS2 results. I would prefer to judge a school by my own snapshot of it, not one driven by data and targets.

Smithagain Thu 11-Feb-10 09:34:20

SE13Mummy - I'm interested in your comments. My daughters' school has a very high proportion of SEN and increasing percentage of ESL families. Also a contingent of travellers and high level of mobility generally. There are a lot of families who struggle (or in a few cases frankly can't be bothered) with supporting their childrens' education.

I've heard it said that in these circumstances it is next to impossible for the school to get more than "satisfactory", because some of the targets that you have to hit are just out of reach, no matter how well you support the children's learning. Is there any substance to this, or is it just a case of those of us at "satisfactory" schools clutching at straws wink?

At the same time, my own kids (and others from supportive, stable families) are doing absolutely fine. More than fine, in fact. I keep waiting for the moment when I think "she needs more challenge", but it hasn't arrived yet and she is in a happy, supportive and stimulating environment, with a great Head and a strong sense of purpose.

The same organisation got an "Outstanding" for its children's centre, but only "Satisfactory but Good in parts" for the school. Which seems odd.

Rollmops Thu 11-Feb-10 10:46:00

Qoute OP: "I don't want my DDs to go the 'best of the best sir' kind of school..."
Why? Why won't you want your child get the 'best of the best' education?

ellokitty Thu 11-Feb-10 11:58:15

SE13mummy, Do you think there is a certain bias amongst OFSTED against very working class type schools? All the schools I have worked in have been middle class schools, good exam results, good kids, good places to work / study and all have got good or better in the OFSTED inspection. I do often wonder whether there is a bias built into the system?

ellokitty Thu 11-Feb-10 11:58:49

Or should I say, how much of a bias, because actually I'm pretty convinced there is!!

snorkie Thu 11-Feb-10 12:08:55

One local secondary school achieved an Ofsted 'satisfactory' last month. At about the same time league tables showed just 25% pupils there achieved 5 A*-C GCSEs (inc maths & english). It's not in a very deprived area or anything, free school meal take up is below national average etc. Some local primary teachers report childrens parents bringing their children's current work back to show them two or three years after they have left and it is worse than when they were in year 6. I really can't see how such a school can be judged as 'satisfactory', so I don't think ofsted always get it right.

Hassled Thu 11-Feb-10 12:15:01

I'm gobsmacked by some of the anti-Ofsted views here.

Yes, schools have notice of an Ofsted in as much as they know it is coming within a 365 day period, minus holidays. Beyond that, they get 48 hours. A school cannot get its procedures into place, the safeguarding systems sorted and create the data Ofsted want to see within 48 hours. It's either there or it's not.

But it's not a snapshot and it's not a fix. The Ofsted inspectors make their assessments based on the facts - not just how that year's SATs went, but how much that cohort of children have improved since they entered the school. These kids are tracked to within an inch of their lives - the data to show improvement, whether they started below average and ended only slightly below average, or whether they started well and didn't improve, is all there.

This is the Section 5 Evaluation Schedule, which shows more about what it is Ofsted look for.

Re the OP - yes, Ofsted is relevant. I do agree that a visit to the school and a sense of whether you like the atmosphere and whether the kids seem happy is more relevant.

Smithagain Thu 11-Feb-10 12:48:08

Rollmops said: Qoute OP: "I don't want my DDs to go the 'best of the best sir' kind of school..."
Why? Why won't you want your child get the 'best of the best' education?

I am not the OP, but I feel the same about schools. In my case, it is because I want my children to enjoy their childhood and build self-confidence and the ability to enjoy life to the full, because I think that will set a good foundation for their mental health when they are old enough to get sucked into the relentless world of work.

I don't think that the schools that Ofsted rates as Outstanding are always very good at getting that balance right. There are a lot of exam factories around here.

ShoshanaBlue Thu 11-Feb-10 12:55:41

For me, I would view it as a valid source of information about a school. I wouldn't use it as the sole one though. Same thing with SATs results - just a different source.

I was shocked to think that some people thought that OFSTED were only concerned with SATS - I once worked at a school that had an outstanding from Ofsted, but had very low scores.

One of the few schools in our area that has an Outstanding for Ofsted is the school-on-a-rough-council-estate that no-one wants and everyone complains about if they are given that school if they are allocated it and they didn't want it. I think that Ofsted has done a lot to challenge myths about only good schools being in nice areas.

I do sometimes think that Ofsted inspectors do get things wrong, or have bees in their bonnets about certain things - I remember the year when every single display had to be placed with a piece of writing showing a context, now no-one cares. Now school councils are the 'in' things as are 'having your own pair of wellington boots within accessible reach'! Also there was a school very local to me that had a wonderful ofsted report and having worked in that school, I did wonder 'why?' and 'how?'.

The school I did choose for my child had an outstanding for its pastoral care and I thought that reflected the ethos of the school very well. It doesn't have top of the table results and it never will but it does have a very caring environment and a dedicated team of teachers and a headteacher that will fight and strive to make sure her children are given the best opportunites that she is able to give and that her children can develop their potential.

Ofsted is relevant, as are SATS results but the atmosphere of the school is perhaps the most important factor.

BadGardener Thu 11-Feb-10 13:08:09

I pretty much lost faith in Ofsted after my dcs spent a term at a horrible nursery when dh was on sabbatical and then the horrible nursery went on to get a great Ofsted report, whereas the lovely one they usually go to did badly. When we looked into it, it turned out the nice nursery was being marked down on things like 'staff in the baby unit' (ie for the under 2s)'aren't always aware of what the learning outcomes are for the activities.' FFS! Whereas the inspectors at the other one had totally failed to pick up on the fact that babies were constantly left to cry, for example.

My dd is currently at a very popular village primary school that was given a notice to improve in its latest Ofsted report. They had done badly in one set of SATS (and as it is a tiny school, the level of random fluctuation is going to be bigger than at a large school - because a small number of atypical results will throw the average out more) and new OFSTED rules meant it couldn't score higher overall than the grade achieved in those SATS.
They will get another inspection in a year, the SATS will be better, they will be categorised as a 'good and improving' school, and the head will be praised for turning things around in a short time.

cat64 Thu 11-Feb-10 14:15:27

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cat64 Thu 11-Feb-10 14:17:25

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cat64 Thu 11-Feb-10 14:18:06

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By Smithagain
I don't think that the schools that Ofsted rates as Outstanding are always very good at getting that balance right. There are a lot of exam factories around here.

I couldn't disagree more.
Ofsted are looking for a much broader and varied style of education. They promote pupil led learning, have been responsible for the change in foundation stage from formal teaching to a more play based style, and are currently encouraging the extension of this into y1.
My dd was at a school that you would probably label an 'exam factory', consistently placed in the top 5 in our LEA. The school was placed in special measures by the inspectors on the grounds of the unsatisfactory and unimaginative teaching, and the lack of a broad curriculum which would allow pupils to transfer skills learnt in one subject to another.

In my area there is definitely no middle class bias, in fact most of the outstanding providers are in areas of relative social deprivation.

SE13Mummy Thu 11-Feb-10 17:03:44

I would be reluctant to use my experience of Ofsted to claim that they have some kind of bias against schools that weren't middle class... because of my experience I wouldn't ever use an Ofsted report to inform my choice of school for my children.

OneMoreMum Thu 11-Feb-10 17:12:20

I moved my kids from a 'satisfactory' state school to an 'good with outstanding features' independent school and in both cases the OFSTED reports read exactly true to our experiences.

Bearing in mind satisfactory is 3rd out of 4 ratings I think it's safe to assume that it really means below average.

First school was pretty lacklustre but not terrible, current school excellent although by no means perfect.

So in my limited experience they were spot on!

Smithagain Thu 11-Feb-10 19:20:37

MoreCrack - I am truly glad to hear that the system is working better in your area than it seems to be around here.

Very interested in Cat64's analysis. If an Outstanding requires scoring above a benchmark based on results across the LEA, I can see why my daughters' school is never going to get one. This is a tiny pocket of social deprivation in and otherwise highly affluent, professional, educated area. So the odds are stacked against them, aren't they?

cat64 Thu 11-Feb-10 20:08:38

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penguin73 Thu 11-Feb-10 22:32:03

ref Hassled's comments, believe you can make a lot of stuff 'appear' in 48 hours, you just get very little sleep and have some very stressed staff! Having been given 14 new policies to read and digest in 24 hours I speak from experience....Caretakers in almost continuously fixing and painting things, staff given duties that don't normally exist and that promptly disappear once the team have gone and staff and parent questionnaires filtered before being handed to the team. I could go on! Some things (exam results etc) cannot be fixed, but the school's day to day running can be and frequently is.

wastwinsetandpearls Sat 13-Feb-10 10:33:29

I have been through 3 ofsteds.

The first was many years ago when we were given lots of notice and it was fixed. We sent most if our naughty pupils to an army experience in Wales. Under less notice I think the school got a satisfactory ( which was IMO right and then a good)

I then taught in a school that was judged to be satisfactory- this was only a few years ago so 48 hours notice. We scraped that satisfactory and became a national challenge school. It was a school most MNers would not send their child willingly to and if it represented the average school I would be horrified. Surely noone a teacher or not goes to work in the hope they will be satisfactory.

My current school has just been awarded an outstanding which I think we did deserve. I did spend hours getting ready but I do this every night anyway. My classes were not taught in any way differently to how they would be normally.

The advice we have been given from OFSTED has all been taken very seriously and acted on.

Miggsie Sun 14-Feb-10 21:43:25

I think the head teacher is the best indicator...and, I agree with slug...the toilets!

Also, look at the school website and polices if there are any to get the tone of the school...amount of extra curricular activities offered and the outdoor and exercise facilities are worth consideration.

Builde Mon 15-Feb-10 15:10:02

Grade 3 does mean satisfactory.

My dd1's schools was graded 3. The connected nursery (where dd2 is) was graded 1. I feel the school is much better than the nursery but - because Ofsted seem to be biased towards good sats results (which generally only reflect the intake of the children) they had to score the school down.

Actually, I love the school and some of Ofsted's criticisms were bizarre; one of them being that the school didn't encourage the love of reading. This is a school that has the best school library in the town, a dedicated librarian and a visting author every month. It's even one of Bloomsbury Publishing's favourite schools.

Anyway, it's never been popular (childen considered rough) but my dd thrives there and is doing very well and the approach the school takes puts another, more popular school to shame.

Lottie38 Fri 26-Feb-10 16:07:45

After working in 3 nurseries as a nursery nurse and then becoming a primary school teacher 8 years ago and working in 2 different schools, my opinion is that ofsted reports should be taken with a pinch of salt.
The nursery managers/staff prepare well in advance for everything to be wonderful when they are expecting a visit from ofsted.Then many slack off because they know the inspectors are not coming again for 4 years !
Although you can of course trust the SATs results and such, to see if kids in primary school are achieving.

Oblomov Fri 26-Feb-10 16:20:53

Take ofsted reports with a pince of salt. They are only one aspect. Speak to locals and get the goss on the local schools. I would do this before I even considered moving anywhere !
Ds1's school is fab. best reputation. he is happy. and thriving. we are very pleased.brilliant head. sought after to get in. yet only good ofsted. outstanding in many areas but adverage good.
so what does that tell you. bugger all !

emy72 Fri 26-Feb-10 16:49:19

I have visited loads of Ofsted Outstanding schools before I chose a school for DD1 and found they were so immensely different from each other. The thing I found was that what Ofsted measured against wasn't necessarily what I found important/wanted to know about, so my advice would be to visit and get a feel for them. One particular school was shocking in that they had no TAs, and had mixed classes up to 45 kids - they were supposed to have 2 teachers but they we only saw one teacher both time we visited and they were saying both times that the other teacher was sick....the kids looked disenchanted and the level of noise terrible. I am sure they didn't have that when Ofsted visited lol

IAmTheEasterBunny Fri 26-Feb-10 20:11:36

We had a boy leave Y1 last year - around 1B/ average in maths and english. He has since returned..... the work he has done at his interim good/outstanding school is appalling. It is barely marked - no objectives, no marking to objectives, house points for crap work, worksheets, no creative writing, a Y2 project on tape recorders.....
How does this happen? - we run a creative curriculum, do loads of interesting activities, mark to objective with improvement points.... and we'd only be satisfactory/good.
Is it because the expectations in an inner city northern school are lower than those in the south east? If so, it's not fair!!

Rache1804 Sat 27-Feb-10 14:06:30


I am a primary teacher and have to agree that the reports are a good indication of how the school is performing at that time. If a report is a couple of years old, then they are not as useful. The two inspections I have been through were very thorough. They looked at every aspect of the school and observed every teacher. I would certainly use an Ofsted report to judge a school if I was looking for a school for my children, probably more so that the SATs results.

Mind you, you can't really do better than go and visit the school yourself. I actually chose my son's school because I was impressed with the headteacher and the children in the school all seemed happy and enjoyed being there. I was also impressed that they trusted their year 6 children to show parents around the school during the open day. They clearly had nothing to hide and the students involved were well mannered and articulate

support1 Wed 03-Mar-10 15:42:37

Personally I would not take too much notice of OFSTED reports. They often get it wrong. You need to ask to visit the school. Look at toilets, signs of graffiti, level of noise emanating from classrooms and if possible speak to at least 3 different parents with children at the school.

OFSTED are preoccupied with paperwork and if the school ticks enough boxes, has all its policies in place it is likely to get a high score regardless of whether it is a good learning environment.

In conclusion: Be very wary of OFSTED

ex lecturer, nursery school chairman, etc

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