Please help - DS starting Reception in Sept and school has gone from Outstanding to Required Improvement

(17 Posts)
choceyes Mon 15-Jul-13 11:06:18

I'm really really worried sad

School was rated outstanding 7 years ago and had a few interim reports in the meantime, the last one 3 years ago which said it maintained it's outstanding status. Now a full inspection as been done and it gone down to "requires improvement".

The gist of the Ofsted report is that the teachers are not setting work at the right level, and the pupils are not progressing sufficiently as a result. Their SAT results last year were below average nationally and locally. I questioned this when viewing the school before applying last year, and was told it was a particularly bad cohort that year. As the school was still rated Outstanding, I didn't let it worry me too much. Apparently they expect better results this year.

The intake of children compromises of a lot of children for who's engligh is a second language. not sure whether that is relevant but, maybe as a result of this a lot of children enter nursery or reception at a standard below average. Good progress is made in the nursery and reception years, even outstanding sometimes, but this progress is not maintained throughout KS1 and KS2.

My DS is quite bright, above average ability I'd say (that's what his current nursery says too), and I'm really really worried that he won't be stimulated or pushed enough in this school. I knew of the catchment/intake before hand, but I held on to this school because of it's oustanding rating and also other parents very positive views of this school.

This school is the first to be inspected in this area under the new guidelines they introduced last year, so the criterea has changed since it's last inspection.

On the plus side, the mums I know who send their kids there are happy with the school. The ofsted report even says that there is a high regard for this school by the parents and feel that their children are happy and safe and progressing in this school.
One of the mums I know pretty well, who is highly educated herself, and has two children in the school said she's always been happy with their progress and always had complete confidence in the teachers. She's even going to write a letter to the school in support. But her children are still in Y1 and younger, so only a couple of years into school, and the report was praising of the early years.

What can I do? Can we ask for a meeting with the head or a teacher to discuss this report? Am I taking a big risk by sending DS (and DD next year) there? Osted has said they will inspect again in 2yrs, but school has invited another inspection in 1yr as they are confident that they can turn this around (I was told all this my by friend who's got her kids there, they had a parents meeting about the inspection).

Any reassuring stories, or do I have to start looking for alternative schooling? The other two school nearby are religious so I don't really want to send my DCs to them. One is "outstanding" and the other is "good", but they were inspected before the new guidelines. Also this school is well known to have a more caring environment, so it was a no brainer for me. But now this....arghhhhhhhh

There is more to a school than its OFSTED judgement. My DD1's school had a terrible OFSTED earlier this year but honestly I did not recognise the school from the report. It's already had at least one post-inspection visit and that been very positive: change for the better is happening already.

I have friends whose children are at 'good' or 'outstanding' schools and they are not at all happy with either the management of the school or the progress of their children.

If I sound deranged defensive it's because I really, really do think that some people rely far too heavily of OFSTED than their own instinct.

That's not to say I'm 100 per cent happy with the school: I'm not. I have a number of issues, based around the way in which friendship problems are dealt with and bullying. The latter was mentioned by OFSTED as being something that the school takes a very tough line on, children are aware of what is expected of them etc. etc.

Oh and just to add: the OFSTED specifically mentioned that progress for bright children in KS2 isn't as good as it should be. Thanks to the mumsnet wisdom, I am not fretting too much as DD1 won't be in KS2 until 2015, so there is time for things to change.

wasabipeanut Mon 15-Jul-13 11:25:00

I wouldn't fret too much, in fact it may be a positive.The junior school mine will go to st 7 has recently been issued with an improvement notice from OFSTED after bring rated outstanding previously. I actually see it as a positive. My hunch (and this applies to their current infant school too) is that they tend to coast a little, secure in the knowledge that the catchment is relatively unchallenging, supportive parents etc.

I think they should be a bit more proactive in maintaining excellence and clearly OFSTED agree. Previous OFSTED inspections were all about the box ticking and I have never been convinced of their value.

BackforGood Mon 15-Jul-13 11:35:15

This is much more a reflection of the latest shift in OFSTED reporting, than a reflection of the school. That said, I would expect any school worth it's salt to be prepared to talk to any parents who wish to discuss their concerns and be able to reassure you about their action plans.

choceyes Mon 15-Jul-13 11:35:20

Thanks you so much for your replies.

Yes my gut instinct from what I've seen of the school and from what other parents have said is good one. A friend of mine is adopting a girl soon who will be in the same class as DS and the adoption team as also visited this school recently had have been impressed. I know it is quite a while before DS is even in KS1, and by that time another inpsepction would have been done and we can wait till then...

Do you think it's worth making an appointment with the reception teacher to ask about what provisions they have about progressing bright children (sorry I feel really wanky saying my DS is bright, and I'm sure he's average or bit above...great in some things, not so much in other things, like all children are), and to voice our concerns about the report?

Personally no, I wouldn't be speaking to his new teacher just yet about dealing with a bright child. The teacher will (should!) figure this out themselves and quickly. What happens in DD1's class is that the tables they sit on are 'levelled', and this happened within a couple of weeks. And you'll find that they figure out what's what themselves!

I do understand your anxiety though - starting school feels like a big deal!

HumphreyCobbler Mon 15-Jul-13 11:41:32

I would talk to them to find out what they are doing about the problems identified in the report. The fact that they have requested another inspection early speaks really well for their confidence.

Otherwise I would go with your instinct. It sounds like a lovely school that is well supported by the parents. Problems that have been identified HAVE to be addressed, this is a good thing.

I worked in a school last year that had required improvement in the inspection before I joined them. I can honestly say that I would be more that happy for my children to have gone to that school. In many ways I think they were better than the grade 1 outstanding school that my dc attend - I have worked in both so feel that I have a good insight.

JuliaScurr Mon 15-Jul-13 11:45:05

dd's last primary gets bad ofsteds; the Head was brilliant and cured dd of school refusing caused by 2 previous schools with good ofsteds. Trust your own judgement
smile

starfishmummy Mon 15-Jul-13 11:46:28

Personally I wouldn't worry too much about the Ofsted report as I am sure the school will be addressing this anyway.

As for seeing the teacher about your ds - I would wait until September. At this stage of term, when she hasn't had a chance to get to know your ds, it seems a little premature.

Don't forget that your nursery might well provide information about your child to his new teacher, even if he is remaining in the same setting.

choceyes Mon 15-Jul-13 12:00:06

Thanks. I won't request a meeting then. I will casually have a chat with the teacher in Sept about the report.
They had an open day in Reception a couple of weeks after the inspection (but ofsted report wasn't public knowledge at the time) and they were saying how they have different ability groups for different ability children, so hopefully they will be on the ball even more now.

The behaviour and safety at the school also got a requires imporovement, even though it was mainly praising. Sometimes I felt that the comments didn't much up to the actual grading.

Thank you so much for your views!

choceyes Mon 15-Jul-13 12:04:07

manchestermummy - DS is in a private nursery. Most of their reception intake is from their own nursery, so they did a home visit for us to get to know DS.

DD1 was at a school nursery for 2.5 days and a private nursery for one (long, long story) and they both did a written report. It's definitely an idea to see if the nursery will provide that. I had to really, really push for one but given that I'd so far spent £30,000 with them (I had two DC there at one point) I really felt that it wasn't too much to ask. They always intended to do one, but I insisted on it being completed and sent to her new school by the end of term. Which grudgingly they did. And allowed me to see it.

BackforGood Mon 15-Jul-13 12:22:17

Sometimes I felt that the comments didn't much up to the actual grading.

^ This ^
Particularly in the last couple of years. I would always advise parents to never take note of "just" a number / grade. At least read the text, which is more telling, and even then,only use OFSTED as one small part of your judgement.

Chocovore Mon 15-Jul-13 13:31:35

Don't panic. Our school has just slumped from Outstanding to Special Measures. In our case it is very unjust and for political motivations ie. trying to force academy conversion. Speak to the Head for some reassurance maybe?

tiggytape Mon 15-Jul-13 13:40:17

On the negative side - alarm bells should always ring when a school tells parents it was "a particularly bad cohort that year" Unless there are only 7 children per class (which massively skews the results), this is not a promising response from any school.

On the plus side - it seems the main problems are higher up the school with older children failing to progress. Ofsted's judgement should lead to rapid intervention and improvements so, by the time your child is in KS2, things will hopefully be much better.

If you had a child in year 4, you might be a bit worried that there's no time to turn it around before it is too late but it seems the reception provision is fine and the chances are the rest soon will be. I wouldn't ask for a meeting unless specific concerns arise once he starts and I really wouldn't look for a new school based on this alone.

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