How important is an Ofsted report to you?

(28 Posts)
harryhausen Wed 06-Feb-13 09:23:55

My dcs are in Y3 and Y1. They are both happy and doing well, my dd exceptionally so. They are in a primary in what I can described as area that's not affluent.
When I choose the school the Ofsted rating was 'good'. A year after my dd started we had an inspection and were downgraded to 'satisfactory'. If I'm honest, I was quite upset by it - but as my dd was happy I put it to the back of my mind.

Today we're having another inspection. I feel really nervous and I'm unsure why. I put great store by education (as I'm sure we all do) but I think it's really bothering me how the school will fair in this.

I'm unsure if my nervousness is having close friends in the surrounding areas who have all had their schools inspected recently and received 'goods' or 'outstanding'. Is it just me being competitive or defensive about my chosen school? I think it really matters to me what other people think of my dcs school.

What's not helping, is that in the Ofsted parent view questionnaire they asked to fill in by 11am today - only 16 parents have bothered so far. Out of a pupil roll of 460. I'm really angry by the disinterest of most parents.

So after my long ramble, if your dcs are doing ok at a school but it is given an awful Ofsted, how would it make you feel?

tiggytape Wed 06-Feb-13 09:50:07

Some people seem to hate Ofsted to the point of not just ignoring their findings but actually assuming the polar opposite of anything they say must be true.
I think Ofsted reports are valuable - as long as you bear in mind the limitations - they are a snap shot view and quickly out of date and a tendency to focus on things that many parents simply don’t care about – admin box ticking for example.

Word of mouth and personal experience is important but different people experience the same school totally differently. The parents of a child gifted in maths may love a school that nurtures clever children and focuses heavily on numeracy whereas the parents of a child with dyslexia need may think the school is horrendous because its offers no support at all.

A child who has been allocated very good teachers from Reception up may think behaviour and discipline is fine whereas Ofsted inspectors may witness something very different when looking at teaching in the other classes or other year groups. Parents and children only know about their own experiences whereas Ofsted get to have a good nosey at children and staff in all year groups and all abilities.

Ofsted also makes judgements on other things that parents have little chance to compare or assess for themselves eg how well the school is managed, what the planning and marking systems are like over the whole school etc.

I don’t think you should base your whole opinion on an Ofsted report of course and I don't think you should care what friends in other schools think. Ofsted judges the school not the outcome for any particular child. If it does raise areas of concern though, it seems sensible to take this on baord and see how the school deal with it. Hopefully it will come back fine though.

harryhausen Wed 06-Feb-13 10:35:14

Thanks Tiggytape. Lots to consider and think about there. You're right of course, that I shouldn't worry too much - but look at what concerns the report raises.

From what I could remember last time, it was the early years provision that dragged the report down. However, I didn't seem to recognise much of what the report said (as my experiences were good) but I did notice a huge effort and difference in energy and variety in activities when my ds got to reception so that's good.

I'm not sure why I'm so bothered by what people think. I think perhaps my middle class sensibilities are niggled when I see many other parents at the school so uninterested, and it doesn't take much to tip me into worrying that my dcs are at the 'wrong' school - even though their doing fine.

Argh. I'm annoying myself! My mum says when we were young they never even knew there was a school 'inspector' in let alone worry about it!

PolkadotCircus Wed 06-Feb-13 11:44:17

We're in your position downgraded from Outstanding to Satisfactory.Sadly it wasn't much of a surprise.I kind of felt like you to begin with however we chose the school mostly because it was part of the community,behaviour is good,zero bullying etc not just for the Ofsted report although it helped.

I moved a lot as a child and went to new schools yearly,6 months etc.I know what my children are getting is better than I got in some schools however it isn't perfect.I always wanted my kids to have what I didn't ie to be part of a community and to go to just 1 primary school.Research now says every move can set kids back 6 months.My kids also love their school and the kids at said school really are lovely.

Sooo we're staying put. Beware the m/c Ofsted competition thing,any school can plummet.

What we have done is except it but are very pro-active re our dc's education.I'm not taking any shit to be frank.Our head isn't interested and still thinks they were wronged however we found a fantastic member of the smt who is interested and has been fantastic.I only deal with her now.I refuse to be fobbed off.

Find somebody who,listens and is proactive if you have concerns,if you get no joy go to the governors.Also I'm afraid you'll just need to keep on top of things ie make sure you know what they should be doing for their age,be very supportive with homework,reading etc,ask for levels,progress and to see work regularly.Read up on things.Develop a thick skin,you will be unpopular.I get a bit resentful that I can't just hand over my dc and pay no more thought to their education but really is that the right thing to do anyway?

On a brighter note all my 3 are blissfully happy(I have friends with kids in far fancier schools utterly miserable and believe me that can hold things back),they seem to be making good/better progress this year and actually said school seems to be working hard to improve and are getting support to do so.Still a few things I'm not happy about but they're reducing which is a good sign.

Startail Wed 06-Feb-13 12:03:08

Please remember it is the same school the day after the OFSTED report as it was the day before!

If your children are happy and making progress that doesn't change just because a school is outstanding or in special measures.

OFSTED can and do down grade schools for small failings in localised areas of their practice.

Sadly it's not the lovely wide total overview of the school they would like us to believe.

I know one small primary that lost its good basically on the failure of three DCs to get their L5s. Slightly more exciting English paper or the insane amount of extra maths DD2 did and they would have kept their good.

One group of children failing to make the grade in one core subject at a secondary school can destroy an OFSTED grade when the vast majority of the children are being served very well.

I have been shown an Outstanding lesson at an open day, it was formulaic and tedious, 6 hours a day of that and I would have been climbing the walls.

fatfloosie Wed 06-Feb-13 12:43:21

Hi OP. If your DCs are doing well and are happy I would try not to worry about it. My DD is in Reception at a school that sounds similar to yours - it is currently a Good under the old system but is 2s and 3s in the small print so I wouldn't be surprised if it became a Requires Improvement under the new system.

I tried desperately hard to get my DD into the school where she went to nursery which is also Good but is 2s and 1s and also has much better SATs etc. I thank my lucky stars EVERY DAY that DD didn't get in. She is so much happier at her new school and the teachers are fantastic. Looking at it on paper you would never imagine it would be the better school for her (and me!) but it is by a country mile.

Don't worry about what other people think based on Ofsted etc. They can presume they are at a better school (as I would have done had my DD got in at our first choice) but they can't possibly know.

It's not.

My children school has gone into 'requires improvement'.

But having sat through an inspection (as a governor) the ofsted report does not reflect the school as I know it.

We went into requires improvement because we didn't meet national floor targets as we choose not to enter a child into SATs, because of their additional needs meant they would not have coped with them. So we did not have the number of children sitting SAT's to meet the target.

I have to say I visited a 'outstanding' school and it did not have the friendly, welcoming feel that my children school has. The teachers/head teacher are always available to discuss any issues you have everyday.

The children make massive improvements but as they come into school not at national target, but this is no longer taken into count with Ofsted.

harryhausen Wed 06-Feb-13 14:56:14

Thanks everyone. You've made me feel a lot better.

Yes I must remember that it's the same school as it was last week. I think I've been swayed by all the competitive talk amoung my peers about 'outstanding' this that and the other. There's a lot of smugness around.

I go into schools as a visiting art/illustrator. I've been to outstanding schools that seem really disorganised and the pupils really badly behaved with bullying problems.

Anyway, thanks for giving me a little perspective. Like I said, my dcs are really happy and engaged.

All this and we have even had the report results yet!!grin

harryhausen Wed 06-Feb-13 14:57:31

I mean haven't had the report yet.

I flicked through the OfSTED reports in the local primaries when we were looking at them but didn't give them any more weight than we did the opinions of other parents who already have children at the schools.

I would rather trust the opinion of other parents than a snapshot inspection. I'm closely related to 2 primary teachers and know how unfair and pointless the inspections can sometimes be.

If you are happy with the school and your children are happy there then I don't see that the opinion of OfSTED should make any difference to you.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee Wed 06-Feb-13 18:37:30

Sorry but can I just quickly slide in and do a stealth boast and say my school that I work in got an Outstanding report last week . only one locally . we are an excellent school by the way .

SmileAndPeopleSmileWithYou Thu 07-Feb-13 11:33:03

wheredidiputit your school sounds very much the same as the one i teach at. There are silly things which can affect the result and the issue with entering SEN children into SATs is one that needs looking at. As is the progress children make during their time at the school. Our children also come to us in reception far lower than they should be but make excellent progress and do well when they leave us as yr6's.

Ofsted is stressful for teachers and I have no problem admitting that I get nervous and it probably does not show what I am capable of.
However I welcome the inspections as it does help to give a snapshot of school life and gives parents information on the aspects they wouldn't see or consider as important. (our school was GOOD in 2010, due for another).

I agree with the general opinion here, if your children are happy and all your experiences with the staff are positive then this far outweighs the ofsted report. Give the school chance to make the changes they need to and continue to care about your child's education just as you are doing.
Our parents also don't fill in the parent questionnaires but we are so grateful to the ones that do. The children and parents contribute just as much to a schools success and I'm sure that school does not want to loose your support and your children's positive presence.

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 12:36:16

I also think county who are themselves under pressure throw everything at schools in this situation so you'll be getting the latest,most up to date support and lots of it.

No school is perfect,really they aren't.Arrogance is not good and tbh if a school looses it's arrogance I think it can only be a good thing.

Also as others have said many of the teachers are the same,sadly several have left at our school however I never had a problem with the actual teaching which is still actually deemed as good.

If the teaching,behaviour and bullying levels were shite I would have had walked but none are.I personally wasn't happy with the progress levels,consistency or information(which is still shite) however I'm requesting regular updates which you are entitled to do and last time I asked all 3 of my dc already had made waaaay better progress than last year(OFSED was only last July).

As an aside I had a friend whose dc went to the uber popular,amazing school I considered moving my dc to.She has ended up taking her dd out as she was utterly miserable.

rabbitstew Thu 07-Feb-13 16:04:20

If you live in a county that is fully supportive of the government drive to academise all schools, then PolkadotCircus's analysis of county support is a bit wide of the mark... support to find a sponsor is more likely than any genuine County support to improve the school. And, frankly, it all rests on the children's achievement and progress - they don't give a damn about how nice the school is, really. So long as it APPEARS to be well run on the surface.

admission Thu 07-Feb-13 16:15:24

Rabbitstew that might be your experience but certainly in my LA, they are doing a lot of good work in helping schools to firstly stay out of category but if they do go into a category they are still putting lots of resources into the school. I accept that any school going into a category is going to end up being an academy because of the current political dogma but this LA does care about all its pupils not just those in community schools.
I think also that there is a need to stress that under the latest Ofsted scheme, it is the progress the pupils are making that is the primary driver of the decisions made, not the actual level of attainment. That is why you are seeing more schools with "good" results going into a category, because those good results should be a darn site better than they are based on foundation and KS1 data.

2cats2many Thu 07-Feb-13 16:18:30

As a,parent, I wouldn't be happy if my local school was satisfactory. However, I'm less bothered about the distinction between good and outstanding. Is be equally happy with either.

rabbitstew Thu 07-Feb-13 16:36:59

admission - that's why I stated that it depends on your county. There are one or two counties which have explicitly stated that they want all schools in their county to become academies and which have massively downsized the number of people working at the LA to support schools as a result. I see no incentive there for such a LA to try to help a school stay out of forced academisation.

lljkk Thu 07-Feb-13 16:49:17

You'd hate where we live, few schools rise out of the Satisfactory category.

OP's child are "happy and doing well", one of them "exceptionally well". Regardless of what Ofsted say, the children are doing well. I wouldn't fix something that (for OP) obviously isn't broken.

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 16:49:23

Apologies for loose,IPad woes.

Interesting re the academies thing,I guess we must be one of the lucky ones.

So rabbit what do they do,just leave the school to flounder,how long until they are acadamized??

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 17:09:03

Thing is op you can't turn back time,it's happened and you have to make the best of your current situation ie weigh it all up and go with what would be best for your dc now.

Look at the report to see the weaknesses,if teaching and behaviour are still good then all is not loss.Have to admit the progress thing worried me hence my becoming more of a major pita and keeping an eye on things.It's not hard to check up on though,tis all on computer which they have to share with you and let's face it you and the school will be singing from the same hymn sheet if progress is a worry.

Interestingly that friend's dc I mentioned is now at a fancy smancy private school,her mum showed me his homework/books and I was slightly hmm as my dc's homework was waaaaay better quality ie not scruffy w/s at a level my dc covered eons ago.Gorgeous uniform though!!!!

rabbitstew Thu 07-Feb-13 17:12:56

I'm sure they don't leave the school to flounder, I'm sure they very proactively find a sponsor for it and also use their remaining staff to help keep it going until the academisation is complete, so taking all their attention and support away from all the schools which are supposedly good or outstanding (until they also academise on the basis that they no longer get any support from the LA and then all the remaining staff at the LA can also go into early retirement or be made redundant, because no schools "need" them any more)...

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 17:23:57

But wouldn't the LA kind of want to keep their jobs and surely just keeping it going isn't going to take attention and support from the better schools quite the reverse.I'd have thought trying to improve would take more attention away from other schools.

I admittedly have no idea how LA stuff works though.smile

cox05 Thu 07-Feb-13 20:44:13

I think you have to go with how you feel about the school. My DCs school was recently inspected and came out with "Requires Improvement". In reading the report we believe that it is a true reflection of the school. It confirmed what we already knew and are grateful as it highlighted issues that we had already raised. Prior to the report we were thinking of jumping ship but that was because we had issues. Still not sure if we will jump. The grading itself does not warrant a move - schools seem to change a lot. Depends if you think the issues raised in the report matter to you and your child. Also depends if you think the management of the school is going to implement the necessary changes. At least now we have something that backups up our views - useful when talking to Head. I would be more concerned if the school went into denial about the report...
Hope that makes sense - my first post:-)

rabbitstew Fri 08-Feb-13 13:07:29

PolkadotCircus - their political paymasters have no interest in whether someone wants to keep their job or not if they don't want that job to exist any more... if a County Council has explicitly and publicly stated that it eventually wants all schools in its County to academise, do you really think it will change its political mind because a tiny group of people who haven't already been made redundant are working very hard to do their best with the manpower and resources they have left?

ReallyTired Fri 08-Feb-13 13:26:26

"My dcs are in Y3 and Y1. They are both happy and doing well, my dd exceptionally so. They are in a primary in what I can described as area that's not affluent. "

It sounds like your children go to my children's school or at least a very similar school. The fact that they are happy is really important.

Lots of schools are being labelled as "inadequate" or "requires improvement" under the new ofsted regrime. I think its one of those situations where you have to go with your gut instinct.

My dc school in in the "requires improvement" category because achievement in keystage 2 is well below average. The new Ofsted reports make no allowances for schools in deprived areas. Many low income family children do not get free school meals because they have working tax credits. I also think that the pupil premium needs a couple of years to produce positive results.

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