ofsted poisoning our school

(58 Posts)
marchgrove Sun 31-Mar-13 20:38:17

I posted this under 'the staffroom' but hope here more of you will find it and comment...
My local primary has just been labelled 'inadequate' by a recent inspection. I do not recognise this description. It is a lovely happy community. My daughters are both doing well, they love their teachers and the head teacher, who I believe is a great headteacher and highly respected as well as loved by the children. Whenever I have been through the school, I have only seen a hive of learning, children happy and busy.
Ofsted came in with a narrow agenda, failed the school on ONE criterion - 'below average attainment at KS1', and this meant all other achievements were totally irrelevant, and school had to deemed inadequate overall.
Ofsted has become a poisonous and destructive arm of Michael Gove's privatisation agenda. The meaning of words has been skewed reminiscent of Orwell, so that any school that finds itself in the 50% below national average in any one area MUST be labelled inadequate, however fantastic it is in all other respects. Michael Gove is determined to find victims for his privatisation agenda. He cares nothing for the impact this kind of poison has on our schools and communities. I for one, am not going to take this lying down!

ofstedconfused Sun 31-Mar-13 22:33:05

Feel your pain! At the end of the journey you are just beginning - our school becomes a sponsored academy in an hour and a half. Sadly, I'll be leaving, joining all the staff who have already left.

All began with a 'Notice to Improve' and ends with Special Measures and headteacher number 4 (this academic year) starting next week.

My advice? Don't allow yourself to become too involved. Others will now guide the decision making process (ie DfE, academy sponsors, LA etc) - those on the ground at the school will have no real input.

Mutteroo Sun 31-Mar-13 23:12:08

Ofsted so not the animal it used to be. it's now Gove's well trained pussycat & hardly surprising that the two biggest teaching unions have called for votes of no confidence in Gove & the head of Ofsted.

I never used Ofsted as my only source of information, I now wouldn't be prepared to use it at all!

BackforGood Sun 31-Mar-13 23:29:54

There is so much truth in what you have written. Totally true that OFSTED do not go to paint a picture of all that is happening at the school and make a sound judgement on what they find, but have a single, flawed criteria on which they give the judgement, regardless of what it does to the lives and careers of so many great teachers. angry

TeamEdward Sun 31-Mar-13 23:34:57

The lovely family-oriented village school I taught at has been ripped apart by Gove & Wilshaw.

ReallyTired Mon 01-Apr-13 17:51:25

The same has happened to my children's school. Our lovely head has left with a nervous breakdown and now the school is in a true mess and really does need special measures. The same has happened to the children's cousins' school 50 miles away.

I have mixed feelings about the new OFSTED. Critisims of my son's school were completely justified. There are far too many children who fail to learn to read. There is a pupil premium and the children's school used the money to make the playground pretty rather than employing TAs to help the chidlren with learning difficulties.

In dc cousin's school there were children who had been stuck at 3B for literacy for the past three years. Again the school had not tried any intervention to move them on. Both schools had issues with teachers inflating teacher assessments for fear of losing their jobs.

However schools need to be supported rather than destroyed inorder to move on. I would rather have our imperfect old head back than a new head who might be awful. I feel that a head teacher should only be sacked as a last restort. If management accept that there are problems and are prepared to accept help then the school can improve.

learnandsay Mon 01-Apr-13 17:57:54

You're not going to get objectivity from any government dept. But the degree of political dogma varies.

marchgrove Mon 01-Apr-13 20:25:13

Hello all. Gosh your posts sound so depressing. Is it really all a fait accompli?
I wrote to our MP yesterday as well - unfortunately he's a lib dem who seems to have supported the government full hilt at every opportunity so unlikely to be sympathetic.
Anyone seen the Roke Primary School campaign website www.saveroke.co.uk?
This whole use of Ofsted seriously stinks.

admission Mon 01-Apr-13 21:48:24

Marchgrove,
Can I ask have you actually read the whole of the Ofsted report for the school or are you getting second hand information from the school?
The reason for asking is that I am surprised that a school is deemed inadequate solely because the KS1 test results are low, especially as that is a teacher marked in-house assessment.
I inspect schools in Wales and I have to tell you that in many instances the schools that are lovely and the head teacher who is highly respected are actually the worst schools and regretably parents are the last to realise that the education their children are receiving is inadequate.
I agree completely with reallytired that schools need supporting not destroying but there is a need for outside inspection and OFsted is the current name in town.

ReallyTired Mon 01-Apr-13 22:05:07

My children's school is deemed inadequate by the LEA because children are

*failing to make two levels of progress in reading, writing and maths between key stage 1 and key stage 2

*Only 60% of children get level 4 or above in national tests at the end of key stage 2. Hardly any children getting level 5 inspite of lots of level 3s at key stage 1. All teaching is mixed ablity and differentiation is poor.

* special needs are not being intentified and supported properly. (Hence loads of illerate children without statements or being escalted to school action.)

*Teacher assessments have been inflated which has led to year 6 children having ridicolous targets.

* Academic results are substantially below the average of schools in similar areas

Our school has not actually failed an OFSTED inspection, it is at the "notice to improve stage". The local authority has intervened with a sledge hammer.

I agree with admission that parents are not really well placed to judge the quality of teaching. Its easy to get taken in by friendly people, beautiful displays and surroundings. I imagine that effective head teachers aren't always popular as they have the courage to make difficult decisions.

marchgrove Mon 01-Apr-13 22:23:03

hello admission. i'm afraid i do not agree with you. there is more to education than just academic achievement, and I see general well being, particularly at primary level, as far more important than how well the children in any one school can write at KS1.
Did you ever read the Cambridge Study into primary education published in 2009? It found that if you introduce a child to too formal a curriculum before they are ready for it then you are not taking into account where children are in terms of their learning and their capacity to develop. If they are already failing by the age of four-and-a-half or five it's going to be quite difficult to get them back into the system again.
They are not going to learn to read, write and add up if you have alienated them.
The report recommended that children up to the age of six should
instead continue the more informal, play-based education typically
found in nurseries.In Finland, as in Germany and Sweden, children begin school in the year they turn seven. In France, children begin formal education at six.Finland is regarded as having Europe's best education system, with the
country's students regularly achieving top marks for reading literacy
and science in the Programme for International Student Assessment
(PISA).
The outcomes at KS2 in our school were found to be in line with national expectations. I do not want my dd to do nothing but literacy activities in KS1 in order to impress you. I want her to have time for art and music and nature, and time to build happy and healthy relationships not just be told she's inadequate because she can't use correct grammar, punctuation and spelling, or write for a wide range of reasons and at length! It's sick.

ReallyTired Mon 01-Apr-13 22:29:46

If a child does not learn to read in ks1 then they are at a major disadvantage in key stage 2 and are at real risk of being unemployable as an adult.

" I want her to have time for art and music and nature, and time to build happy and healthy relationships not just be told she's inadequate because she can't use correct grammar, punctuation and spelling, or write for a wide range of reasons and at length! It's sick. "

No one has said that your daughter is inadequate. What is inadequate is the standard of education that she is recieving. Its perfectly possible to provide a good standard of education and have happy children. Infact undiagnosed special needs often leads to poor behaviour which makes everyone unhappy.

prh47bridge Mon 01-Apr-13 23:12:59

Children in schools in England follow a play-based education until the September following their fifth birthday.

No-one wants your daughter to do nothing but literacy activities in KS1. I would expect Ofsted to mark down any school that was behaving in that manner.

Like Admission I find it surprising that a school would be rated inadequate purely on the basis of attainment at KS1.

No schools are being or have been privatised. Since Ofsted have given low ratings to some of the new free schools and recently converted academies I doubt that their ratings are part of some plot.

soundevenfruity Mon 01-Apr-13 23:32:51

So does it mean that children achieve good KS2 results but the school takes time to bring them to that level by choosing to built their social skills and develop their creativity at the early stage?

Fairenuff Mon 01-Apr-13 23:54:18

any school that finds itself in the 50% below national average in any one area MUST be labelled inadequate

However high they set the bar, there will always be 50% below average. And 50% above average. It's the rule of mathematics. Therefore, even with a very high standard, 50% will still fail.

The figures are a nonsense. The money is wasted on Ofsted. The inspections are a joke. It's probably the least regulated of all the government bodies and the biggest waste of time and effort.

ReallyTired Tue 02-Apr-13 09:35:07

My understanding is the new OFSTED is like an MOT. A beautiful car which is perfect in everyway but has no brakes is not fit for purpose. Similarly a school which fails to get virtually every child reading in key stage 1 is also a failure.

any school that finds itself in the 50% below national average in any one area MUST be labelled inadequate

That is not true. OFSTED look at the progress of individual pupils and their starting points. Schools do base line assessments in nursery and reception and need to show that the children make progress. OFSTED inspectors also have experience of similar schools which do not see povety as a barrier to sucess.

Many schools have a range of economic background. It is very telling when the rich kids fail to make progress as well as the kids on fsm.

I feel that the policy of automatically sacking the head which discourage teachers from taking up senior leadership. We do not have an infinite supply of super heads.

ofstedconfused Tue 02-Apr-13 09:54:22

Schools are being judged as inadequate on all sorts of technicalities. That's the world we are living in. If you haven't experienced it yet, then you are lucky. But those of us who have know that it is a real and growing political threat to our education system.

No, there aren't enough superheads to go round. Our school is about to meet its 4th head this academic year (the 3rd so-called superhead). The reality is that no-one wants to captain the Titanic and that's what 'failing' schools are being made to feel like in the current climate.

No-one would argue that these schools need to improve, often dramatically, but OFSTED category and academisation is not working, certainly not in the primary sector. Too early for statistics to prove this yet, but I believe, in time, particularly in areas away from the large conurbations, this may well prove to be the case.

stressyBessy22 Tue 02-Apr-13 10:29:40

I think there is a lot of confusion between 'national average' level and the 'national expected' level

tiggytape Tue 02-Apr-13 10:42:56

I agree with Admission - some schools are lovely but still not up to the job. A family feel, long standing Head, happy children and parents are great but if the children aren't learning to read and vulnerable children aren't supported as well as they could then Ofsted are right to highlight this. It is true there is more to education than just academic achievement but there still has to be some academic achievement if only in the form of progress from one level to the next. Not all children are going to get Level 5 in KS2 no matter how great the school but there is no excuse for schools where (in normal circumstances) numerous children have remained on level 3 year after year with no progress and no intervention.

Parents are not always best placed to see this. Many parents have all their children at the same school so do not see what interventions and schemes at other schools can do. Parents of exceptionally bright children may never see how poorly the lower achieving children are supported in the school. Parents of children with unidentified additional needs may not know that the school has failed to spot these. Parents of children in Year 2 may not see that those from Year 3-6 have made little progress and are falling behind.

KittiesInsane Tue 02-Apr-13 10:50:02

That's a very good point Tiggytape makes about seeing what can be done in other schools.

We had our two boys at different schools because of the older one's SEN. When the younger one was struggling and the school put the blame squarely on him, saying there was nothing more they could do, it was so useful to be able to say 'Could you try this, as done routinely at Other School?'

ofstedconfused Tue 02-Apr-13 11:09:39

No confusion between average and expected for me. School was above national AVERAGE - it blew floor standards out of the window. Again, if you are involved in this type of school, you understand the language inside out!

ReallyTired Tue 02-Apr-13 11:36:18

" Tue 02-Apr-13 11:09:39

No confusion between average and expected for me. School was above national AVERAGE - it blew floor standards out of the window"

But what were the standards like on entry? If all the children enter nursery with fanastic fine motor control and able to read then the school should be dramatically above national standards.

Due to assessment being (quite rightly!) confidential parents have no way of knowing what progress is like. It is not OK if little Eric's special needs have been completely ignored even if the rest of the class have level 5s.

I feel that heads should be allowed at least year to turn a school round before being sacked. Improvement takes time especially if imcompetant teachers have to be sacked or retrained. A school cannot go from inadequate over night. However a school can very quickly slip from outstanding to inadequate.

stressyBessy22 Tue 02-Apr-13 12:41:32

' feel that heads should be allowed at least year to turn a school round before being sacked. Improvement takes time especially if imcompetant teachers have to be sacked or retrained'
..but the head must have been incompetent to not have sorted out without being pushed to do so by OFSTED

marchgrove Tue 02-Apr-13 13:19:57

My children started at a Steiner kindergarten. Children are not taught ANY literacy or numeracy until they enter class 1 which is the year they turn 7. My older daughter is now in year 3 at the local school and started in year 2 at level 0 reading and writing. The school, amazingly I think, gave her lots of support (which I think she was not entirely entitled to - after all it was our choice to have her at Steiner for her first 3 years), and she went from level 0 to level 24 in just over a year.
Children are NOT disadvantaged if they do not learn to read and write in KS1. They ARE disadvantged if they are expected to do something they are not ready to do. This is why I am so worried now about my younger daughter who we moved from Steiner into Year 1 for practical reasons. She seems to be happy I am terrified ofsted is going to pass the pressure all the way down the line from head to teachers to kids. And the the kids will suffer. They have LOADS of time to learn later. Why do we have to make them hate school at KS1 by already labelling them? They all know what groups they are in. They know if they are best or worst. We don't need to do this!!!

ReallyTired Tue 02-Apr-13 13:41:12

www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/mar/17/uk-teachers-fear-sack-failing-schools

Surely it is a little extreme to sack a head after seven weeks in the job. This head managed a years' work in seven weeks, but the school was still deemed inadequate. I feel that seven weeks is too little time to assess a head in a failing school. No head will want to take the risk of taking on a failing school if they don't have some time turn it around before being inspected.

"Children are NOT disadvantaged if they do not learn to read and write in KS1. They ARE disadvantged if they are expected to do something they are not ready to do."

A child should be able to read by the end of year 2 unless there are special needs. Children NEED to be able to read in keystage 2 to access the curriculum. England does not allow children to stay down a year.

marchgrove your daughter would be in a very harsh position if she had not learnt to read in year 2. It does sound like your daughter got fanastic support at her school. It is sad that OFSTED does not recongise this.

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