Satisfactory OFSTED

(45 Posts)
MrsBeaver Thu 29-Nov-12 21:46:12

The school at which DD is most likely to get a reception place has got 2 consecutive Satisfactory/Requires Improvements OFSTED ratings despite a change in Head in between those reviews.

When we bought our house 8 years ago this school got a Good rating and seems fine when I have visited it. I now feel lousy that I will most probably be sending my PFB to a school which "is not good".

Can anyone cheer me up???

admission Thu 29-Nov-12 22:05:56

I think you do need to be positive and believe that the school is getting better. Schools are being pushed hard to improve and most do.
I would go and have another look around on a normal school day. What is your gut feeling on whether the school has a buzz about it and whether the pupils are well behaved. Are there lots of displays, that are recent, do you get a good vibe from the school. It would start there, not with an Ofsted report which can be out of date and unrepresentative of the school very quickly.

I would read the OFSTED report again and see just exactly what was examined and where the school has to improve.

Also, don't discount your gut feel and give the school a chance. Perhaps a question to ask the head when you are looking around is how and what his/her addressing the gaps underlined by the report.

MrsBeaver Thu 29-Nov-12 22:17:44

Thanks, school seems fine to me, similar to the school I went to and turned out ok!

Just feels strange that I can't truthfully say that I send my DD to a good school.

If the school doesn't get a Good at the next review, does it go into special measures or have I misunderstood that?

Pooka Thu 29-Nov-12 22:21:16

If you think its fine, then it is fine.

Our school was satisfactory. Got a good in last ofsted. But the goalposts have been moved, and we expect to be very lucky to get good if we are inspected imminently.

I would say that the school now (new head, ace initiative, scrutiny and monitoring) is better than it was when was given a good, and way better than when we got satisfactory. But the criteria are more rigid now IMO and many schools that were good are now "requires improvement" and moving up a rating is super hard.

All I will say is that some parents busted their gut and ensured their child went to the theoretical Outstanding OFSTED school in our area only to discover that it wasn't quite the outstanding place the reports made it out to be.

The school really knew how to play the OFSTED game and perhaps a view was taken that doesn't necessarily translates to good value for the pupils. I am under the impression that nothing can be more important than a look around and a gut feel for a school

Propitious Fri 30-Nov-12 12:28:00

You need to do some networking and find out from existing parents of pupils at the school (who share your mores/are of a similar outlook) what the place is really like.

Ask about: staff turnover - low or high (it'll be high for a reason); the head - makes a huge difference to the prospects of a school (but recruiting good heads is difficult now esp for OFSTED 'satisfactory' schools); pupils transferring to other schools prematurely - never a good sign.

Read the OFSTED report. Sometimes a school falls over because of stupid, niggling bureaucratic issues (not having the correct policies written down etc) but in general, nowadays, an OSTED 'satisfactory' is the kiss of death and there may be deep problems that need addressing. You need find out.

If there's a new head it may take time to turn the school around if it's struggling, and if the new head isn't up to it then you might want to look elsewhere.

Agree with others - go with your gut feeling having considered all of the above.

Haberdashery Fri 30-Nov-12 13:00:31

I sent my daughter to the 'Satisfactory' school near us by choice. We would also have got in on distance to a 'Good with Outstanding features' and might have got into one or other of the two 'Outstanding' schools if we'd hung around on the waiting lists. I just liked the feel of the one we chose. It was a friendlier, smaller, more homely place and I could see that it would suit DD better. If the school seems fine to you, it probably is fine!

marmiteandhoney Fri 30-Nov-12 14:46:23

Mine go to a 'satisfactory' school. It's miles better than the 'good' school they went to before.

crazymum53 Fri 30-Nov-12 14:55:31

OFSTED keep on moving the goalposts. So schools now have to do more to stay at Satisfactory than they did a few years ago.
I would look at the comments about the teaching and leadership. If they are OK then there isn't really a problem.

maizieD Fri 30-Nov-12 15:02:09

Does it teach most of its pupils to read competently? Have a look at its KS2 English SATs. If they have a large percentage of L3 or below (I'd say 10% or more) avoid it like the plague unless you intend to schoolproof your child by teaching her to read yourself.

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Fri 30-Nov-12 15:06:59

Our school is good with many outstanding features. If you speak to the parents though, many are not really that happy.

The ethos, and the community is fine, the education secondary to the "look" of the school and the pretty facilities. Teachers who are lazy and let the children correct their homework as they are reading out the correct answers. Parents who feel that the onus is on them to support their childrens learning if they have a problem with something, like numeracy, rather than addressing these in school; parents are asked to go to WHSmith and buy books to work with their children at home to a very large degree. Teachers who suggest paying for private tuition to address issues that the school is not handling. Parents who feel that some children are singled out and given a hard time by the teachers because they are not "a favourite".

To be honest, our school has excellent SAT results, but that is because 75% of the parents are paying for private tuition throughout year 4, 5 and 6, planning to send their children to independent secondary schools. The primary is benefiting enormously from this. Those who dont go down the independent route aim for Faith secondaries, and to those pupils, their standard of education does not matter as they will be accepted purely based on going to Church 3-4 times per month.

There is a lot more to a school than Ofsted ratings.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Fri 30-Nov-12 15:10:45

I find it sad that satisfactory is not actually satisfactory.

Conversely, I think there are many schools which have been given goods or outstandings which are a total misery to work in, and by extension the children could be a lot happier also.

BackforGood Fri 30-Nov-12 15:15:06

I agree with others who say "read the report" and don't look at the headline grading. My dc3 goes to a superb school, really fantastic on so many levels - the leadership, the pastoral care, the teaching, the extra curricular stuff, the fostering sense of community and also giving to others. She is the youngest of 3, and, through being a teacher myself and through having moved house, I've got experience of a lot of schools and this is by far and away the best school you could imagine. However, at the start of this year, OFSTED rated it 'satisfactory' PURELY because they couldn't prove a high enough 'value added', even though the Junior school (this school) has clear evidence the Infant school massively over inflates the "levels" it sends the children up with, so it looks as if they are starting about 3 sublevels up from the level they are actually working at.
The school were devastated, as they are aware that some parents just look at the grading / rating, but if you speak to parents of children at the school, and add to that your gut feeling when you look around, you will get a truer picture of the school than any OFSTED grade.

CailinDana Fri 30-Nov-12 15:21:59

Having been a primary teacher I would advise you to take OFSTED reports with a HUGE pinch of salt. I used to do a lot of supply work and so I taught in a lot of different schools and usually looked up the OFSTED of each one beforehand out of interest. The reports rarely if ever reflected what the school would actually be like. Some of the "outstanding" schools were horrible places where the children were stressed out and the staff were mean and bitchy while the nicest school I ever taught in, by a very very long way, was a school that was teetering on the edge of special measures.

The best thing to do is to visit the school, suss out the head teacher, try to talk to parents of children already attending and try to make your decision based on how the school feels. Every time I went to a school I could tell within about 10 minutes what it was like, just from how I was greeted, how the children seemed to be, what the general vibe was. IMO the headteacher is absolutely crucial - they set the tone for the school and if they are a bad manager that will filter down into everything. The OFSTED report is only a snapshot of how the school is doing and the things they measure are quite irrelevant to day to day teaching and the sort of experience your child will have. They have very limited use IMO.

Startail Fri 30-Nov-12 16:17:04

both our secondary and our senior school have gone from good to satisfactory on these new rules.

Nothing has changed at the secondary in this time that I can see.

The primary got in trouble simply because it didn't push its Y6s to get a few more K5s.

It's a small school years differ wildly.

This was DD1s cohort they were still growing up, yes they might have done better if pushed or some of them might have freaked out.

They were not DD2's mature smart alex bunch. Had they been Ofsted might have had a different answer. Despite it being the same teachers.

You need to visit, read the whole report and talk to people if possible.

Are children happy, are children of all abilities achieving, is behaviour reasonable, is bullying dealt with.

And as others have said staff turn over, can indicate sstaff nit hapoy with the HT

Startail Fri 30-Nov-12 16:17:45

L5s (not K5)

Startail Fri 30-Nov-12 16:21:06

I don't like this kindle fire, the text is tiny and it has a red line round it's text box.

This obscures the spell checkers read line, hence that amazingly dyslexic last line.

Startail Fri 30-Nov-12 16:21:31

red, I give up

pointythings Fri 30-Nov-12 18:34:12

The primary school my DDs went to was Satisfactory all the way through until OFSTED in DD1's very last year, when under the new rules it jumped to Good with Outstanding features. It was exactly the same school that I'd sent my DDs to confused.

DD1's Middle School (now closed, gone 2-tier) never got better than Satisfactory but again, was a lovely school.

I am very very hmm about OFSTED. I always was, and I am even more so now that OFSTED is cheek by jowl with the Idiot Gove, who wants all schools to be Academies.

LatteLady Fri 30-Nov-12 20:39:15

In all honesty, you know whether this is the right school for your child when you walk in there. When I inspected the first five minutes told you so much as you can see, hear, smell, taste and touch a good school, the atmosphere when you arrive just bodes for what is to come. Obviously this is underpinned by your PIC (Pre-Inspection Commentary) but if you like the school and children are happy... ignore the Ofsted report. As others have said, they now have a political agenda, which is not necessarily in the interest of pupils... I am so glad that I no longer inspect but so privileged to have done so.

learnandsay Fri 30-Nov-12 20:50:56

I went through lots of angst over an issue like this. For me it was over two good schools and one outstanding one which we had no hope of getting into. The problem was that our catchment good school specialised in SEN and was a very successful school. But we live in an 11+ area and our good local school has some of the poorest 11+ pass rates in the county. In the end we got into a different school which is also good but has some of the highest 11+ pass rates. I believe parental income is a factor. Virtually no SEN is a factor. That's not because SEN equals low 11+ results but I think our local school directed a large part of its resources into SEN and not into boosting academic performance whereas our new school doesn't do that. One of the main things was that I had very clear ideas of what I wanted before my daughter started school. I had no expectation of her getting into our new school. But I'm very glad that she did.

alcofrolic Fri 30-Nov-12 22:21:06

learnandsay you can't judge a school of 11+ results.
a) a school doesn't 'teach' the 11+
b) school statistics (nor national statistics) do not/cannot measure attainment or progress by 11+ results
b) so many children are tutored for the 11+ these days, that the whole selective system is corrupt and favours those with money.

MrsBeaver Fri 30-Nov-12 23:30:56

Neighbours say school is ok, not great, but ok, and their children are happy there. New head is dynamic but how long will it take for new leadership to make an impact - two years or 5 years?

Percentage achieving Level 4 or above in both English and mathematics is in the low 80 % so higher than national average.

LatteLady Fri 30-Nov-12 23:52:27

Mrs B... a new head will show change within the first year... two to five years is just too long.

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