The Ofsted report isn't everything, is it?

(22 Posts)
Daisybell1 Fri 14-Jun-13 09:24:25

We are in a very rural area and so are lucky to have a choice of schools for DD. Most people are assuming that we'll send her to the nearest one in the local town which has recently improved to have a 'good' Ofsted report, however my friends amongst the parents aren't completely happy with the situation in some of the classes.

Our alternative is a tiny village school. DD's friendship group is currently based around this school - childminder/nursery and playgroup. The school only has a 'needs improvement' rating however there's a new head in place with masses of new initiatives (forest school, community art classes, school dinners provided by the local pub) and all the parents and governors adore the school.

My gut feeling is for this tiny school - dd will have friends across the year groups and will get individual teaching. But am I mad for ignoring the Ofsted report?

5madthings Fri 14-Jun-13 09:26:04

No you are not mad, i take ofsted witj a pinch of salt.

Besf thing is it go visit the schools in questiom.

Startail Fri 14-Jun-13 09:36:15

Not mad at all.

RI is the old satisfactory. Our village primary was satisfactory for most of the time My DDs were there. Didn't stop it being a lovely school that got reasonable results, did it's best to prevent bullying and offer lots of opportunities to it's pupils.

DDs secondary is in SM, it's exactly the same school except it's getting better results, as it was when DD1 started there and Ofsted rated it good with outstanding features.

I would go with the school that feels right to you.

Daisybell1 Fri 14-Jun-13 10:00:20

Thank you for confirming I'm not completely bonkers!

The village school certainly feels a better fit for us at this point in time. I shall stick with my gut instinct, but I know I need to visit the larger primary for completeness/fairness.

drwitch Fri 14-Jun-13 10:05:16

The regime has got much much tougher i gather, so many schools that would have just scraped a good would now be in RI. The only issue for me would be that too many resources will be spent insuring that they get through the next one rather than actually teaching the children

MadeOfStarDust Fri 14-Jun-13 11:04:48

means absolutely nothing... our school has had 6 heads in 6 years just moved up from Satisfactory to good - on parentview - the Ofsted site for parents to tick boxes - over 60% of those who bothered to respond said they would not recommend the school to others - yet the Ofsted report said parents seemed quite happy with the school.. ha....

curlew Fri 14-Jun-13 11:08:56

But do think carefully about the "tiny school" bit. How tiny is it?

littleducks Fri 14-Jun-13 11:12:09

They are very changeable too. Our school was outstanding 3 years ago, and we were just informed it is now in 'special measures' shock. Really upsetting for some parents of the reception class who chose it with the Ofsted report being a major factor, probably even worse shock for parents who have children due to start in September.

rubyextravagance Fri 14-Jun-13 11:27:07

Well if you look at what lit reviews etc say then Ofsted reports are a very good indicator of a schools performance and correlate with other data about the school (put two ofsted assessors in one lesson and they will give extremely similar ratings.) I always look at the 'key' things that don't change, such as if the school is well managed, pupil behaviour good, rich curriculum, good pastoral care, as opposed to the trendy initiatives like 'group work' or 'RE teaching' which go in an out of fashion, unless of course you value these things greatly.
When visiting a school I also try to avoid open days as these are really just a show. I also try to get to talk to / observe class teachers and get a feel for how their style of teaching will suit my child's style of learning.
Research also shows that children who go to good and outstanding primaries are significantly more likely to get A* to C grades at GCSE regardless of the rating of their secondary school or their socio-economic background.
So....I think I would probably trust the professionals on this one. Especially because my gut instinct frequently tells me things that are based on my emotions, not on rational sense. I usually prefer schools that remind me in some way of my own schooling and then I think, actually my schools weren't great, lol. Of course, choosing a school that fits well with your personal beliefs has positive if you would be more inclined to feel happy about getting involved in by volunteering / mixing with other mums.
HOWEVER, I would say that if an outstanding / good school has a new head teacher or a big staff turnover since last inspection (or it has been a while since last inspection) and if a failing school has had a new head and has not had an inspection for a while, you are taking a gamble either way. In that case the best thing to do is look at Ofsted results data (ofsted data dashboard) for KS1 / 2 results and progress scores (important if lots of lower socio-economic groups / English as a foreign language at the school) because that will show you how likely the school is to be on the up, and how likely to be on the down as results are displayed for 3 years. Also parent surveys are very useful. If 60% of parents give a negative response then the probability is good you might end up one of the 60% of dissatisfied parents.
If the key stage results are improving at the previously failing school and the other school has been consistently satisfactory in the past (and there has been no significant change to the schools organisation) I would probably make or break the decision on: do I like the class teachers and are the results improving at one school versus another.

Daisybell1 Fri 14-Jun-13 12:06:15

Ooh more thoughts, thank you.

Curlew it is teeny tiny - 20 pupils in total. However this is artificially low as many parents moved their children to other schools when the former head was in post. The governors are aiming to double the numbers. The tiny numbers means that children are taught in 2 classes on a very flexible basis - ie they work at an appropriate level for them.

Little Ducks that must be a huge shock, especially for parents who've moved specially for the school. But its an interesting point about how things could go up or down...

Ruby the village school doesn't feature in the league tables as its too tiny, and Ofsted acknowledges that with such a tiny school, results fluctuate a lot. But the pastoral/community/extra curricular activities are rated well.

drwitch the reason that Ofsted gave a RI last time was that pupil attainment was far too low under the old regime. That is improving now, but Ofsted say there's a way to go, although they acknowledge that it will take time. I think attainment will shoot up in a couple of years when the children who were in the infant class a couple of years ago (at the end of the old head teacher's time) are near the top of the junior class - Ofsted has always acknowleged how good the teaching in the lower class is.

We are lucky that time is our side, we can sit and wait for another 6 months to see what happens with both...

lljkk Fri 14-Jun-13 16:50:50

Even 40 on the roll would be too few for me.
NBU on main thread point, though.

ProphetOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 17:09:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TwasBrillig Fri 14-Jun-13 17:15:53

I'd be concerned about it being such a small school, and would seek to avoid that but if that doesn't worry you then that's fine!

ProphetOfDoom Fri 14-Jun-13 17:19:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Leeds2 Fri 14-Jun-13 17:53:48

Personally, I would be wary of a school with only 20 pupils. I am not a fan of mixed year teaching, especially across more than one year group, and I worry about the potential lack of opportunity to represent the school in sporting fixtures when older, or whether there would be things such as a school orchestra or choir. I would also be concerned that the school might, potentially, have to close due to lack of numbers.

But, if after having seen the two schools, the village school seems right for you, then go for it! I would largely ignore the Ofsted report!

curlew Fri 14-Jun-13 20:47:44

20 is just not viable as a school. I would avoid it like the plague. That's less than 3 per year group......

Daisybell1 Sat 15-Jun-13 17:58:25

yes, year groups are small but they mix across the years. The school has always been about 40 pupils until recently - I think it survives because we're still rural.

curlew Sat 15-Jun-13 18:25:44

Honestly- don't do it. You haven't got enough kids for a decent netball team, or a choir, or an orchestra. Imagine if you fell out with all the kids about the same age as you. Or if it happened that there was no one in your year or the year above that you liked....

Daisybell1 Sat 15-Jun-13 19:57:52

but the bigger primary doesn't do any of that either... it's bigger, but still not big, and music really isn't its thing. Nor netball. We know we'll have to travel for any extra-curricular stuff whichever option we choose.

it's a fair point about friendship groups though...

Daisybell1 Sat 15-Jun-13 20:02:22

I've just checked about sports - as most schools round here are too small to field teams there's an area wide sports partnership hosted by the local secondary school which offers a wide range of sports to all the primary schools. They then field an area wide team in competitions.

This would be the case which ever school she went to.

curlew Sat 15-Jun-13 20:35:24

I think the friendship groups are the most important- I only put that in about sport and music because I thought people would be all robust about friendships not being the point of school.......blush. My dd has a friend who went to a tiny primary school and she still says that the day she started at a big secondary was the happiest day of her life.........

lljkk Sun 16-Jun-13 08:48:34

there's an area wide sports partnership hosted by the local secondary school

I wouldn't count on that continuing long, govt. has notoriously flip-flopped, only reinstated it after bad publicity post Olympics.

DC's school has 330 pupils & struggles to muster a decent Netball team, don't think I'd worry about that.

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