Would you be concerned about Ofstead report?

(59 Posts)
2isamagicnumber Fri 30-Aug-13 18:41:54

My understanding of ofstead reports is a bit limited so wondered if anyone can share their thoughts.

The local primary school where my son will start in 2014 has just had a terrible ofstead report. They have gone from grade 1, outstanding, in pretty much all areas to grade 3, requires improvement.

Obviously I am concerned as to the dramatic change. Has anyone sent their child to a school where this has happened?

Smartiepants79 England Fri 30-Aug-13 18:47:30

How long since the last report?
One thing to understand is that the criteria for reaching the grades is constantly changing. It may well be that little has actually changed in the school but the way in which they have been inspected/marked has.
It is now extremely difficult to get an outstanding grade.
Also they are quite subjective and reliant on who has done the inspection.
I wouldn't judge solely on the basis of the report. Read it. Then speak to the head/staff. Visit and make your own judgments.

Pizzahutlover Fri 30-Aug-13 18:51:40

Ofsted bench mark has gone up in 2011 so higher expectations from them regarding schools but a school that has gone from outstanding to requires improvement would concern me as thats a big jump

nomorecrumbs Fri 30-Aug-13 18:54:28

Yes, Ofsted have gone bonkers with inspection criteria. What are the KS2 results like? How about value-added scores, if they publish this? What is the atmosphere in the school like? How is staff turnover?

2isamagicnumber Fri 30-Aug-13 19:24:30

Thanks for the replies.

Ofstead last full report was 2008 which judged the school outstanding. In 2011 there was an interim assessment which judged that standards had been maintained.

The latest report from Ofstead was conducted in June this year.

The report mentioned that the standard of teaching was variable across the school. Reception, y5 and y6 were noted as still being good or even outstanding.

Pizzahutlover the dramatic drop is what is concerning me. I can understand that the criteria Ofstead use may change over time but wouldn't have expected it would be that dramatic a change.

Hulababy Fri 30-Aug-13 19:28:07

What are the grades in the 4 key areas?

What are the areas to improve?

Wallison Fri 30-Aug-13 19:32:07

I think you need to read between the lines. Quite often Ofsted will say that something is not being done when actually what they mean is that there is no evidence as to what is being done ie they haven't done their paperwork properly. I don't know about you but I couldn't give a flying fuck if teachers aren't filling in the right forms in the 'right' (according to Ofsted) way as long as they are teaching properly. Likewise, I couldn't give a stuff about attendance although Ofsted put a lot of emphasis on that; I know that I send my son into school every day and what other parents do doesn't matter a damn to me. So, I would look at stuff like: are the children happy and secure in school? Is there a robust anti-bullying policy and are all staff including dinnertime supervisors up to speed with it? What about observed lessons? Were they to a high enough standard? I think those are the main things I would focus on. I wouldn't worry too much about SATS - even a fairly high percentage change from one inspection to another would only mean 5 or 6 pupils getting a lower level compared to the year before in a school with single-form entry.

Pizzahutlover Fri 30-Aug-13 19:41:46

Yes i agree op i would feel the same way as you if i had seen that maybe go visit the school from september onwards they will have open days etc go have a look talk to head and staff and parents that children are going to the school they will be able to tell you about the school. If school has local surestart ask their what people think or wait outside the school and ask. Is this the only school your child can go to have a look at primary schools in the area and look at councils website and see distances offered last year and measure that using google but look at how council measures distance as some use as the crow flies etc so look

PoppyWearer Fri 30-Aug-13 19:52:24

This has happened at a school local to me. As an outsider I assumed it was a blip, but according to friends whose DCs attend the school, there are deeper problems and they are assessing whether or not their DCs stay at the school in question.

Sorry, that doesn't help much, but I guess I'm saying "no smoke without fire" in our local school's case anyway!

2isamagicnumber Fri 30-Aug-13 20:12:17

Sorry forgot to reply Hulababy. Of the four key areas three are requires improvement. These are achievement of pupils, quality of teaching and leadership & management. Only behaviour and safety of pupils was good.

Wallison I would like to think it might be something as simple as not having the correct paperwork in place. However the number of areas the report highlights makes me think that's probably not the case.

The school does or at least did have a very good reputation. I will look in to visiting the school.

Also I will look in to alternative schools though I would hope that the issues ofstead have raised would be addressed by the time my son would start next year.

Wallison Fri 30-Aug-13 20:25:10

Achievement of pupils could come down to just a ropey intake for one year; it happens. It certainly happened to our school. However, even with that I'd expect them to be doing something about it - in our school they introduced intensive support for the pupils who were struggling (kids who had never sat at a table, didn't know how to hold a pencil, Christ, didn't even know what a pencil was etc) and that is ongoing now. So I'd be cautious in that case - fair enough if they've got a strategy, not so good if they haven't.

Quality of teaching I'd be concerned about - you need the lessons to be good. However, I'd speak to the school about it and ask for detail. Ofsted can say that there's (for eg) no differentiation or measuring outcomes or suchlike, when actually teachers might be doing that and not recording it, or even recording it but not in the way that Ofsted wants. That can drag down a school's rating even though the teaching is good.

Leadership and management to my mind is mostly about paperwork. I don't see that schools who have visions and strategies etc are necessarily the best place for pupils, especially at primary level. But that's just my view.

If they're being required to improve, they will be having interim overviews with the education authority rep and those will be being communicated to parents and governors and the governors will be responding. I would ask to see them - it will give you a much clearer idea as to what the problems actually are - if it's just people not filling in forms properly or if there really are endemic problems with the school.

admission Fri 30-Aug-13 20:33:42

You do really need to know the school and what is going on in the school. There are plenty of examples of schools previously considered outstanding going to good or requires improvement (the old satisfactory). In some cases it is because of changes to the inspection regime and the greater emphasis on results. In some cases it is about the school having got sloppy and believing its own voice that they are outstanding.
The reality is that the school is not in a category, so the inspection team think that the current senior leadership team are more than capable of sorting out the issues. It could well be that in twelve months time the school will be considered good having been given the kick in the pants it possibly deserved, so maybe not so much to worry about. The key issue is the variable teaching and what they do about it. If it is about say different marking schemes being used in different classes in the school, that is easily solved. If it is about some teaching being good and some not so good, then that could be more of a longer term issue to resolve.

thismousebites Fri 30-Aug-13 20:33:49

I wouldn't be too concerned about this if I were you.
I relied heavily in ofsted report for DS1 as it was deemed outstanding.
However he's not even started there yet and we've had no end if problems already. He didn't even get an induction day.
Total lack if communication and having to chase them up on every detail. They haven't even sorted out the school uniforms yet which have benn paid for weeks ago......they start back next week so it's all a bit crap.
Ofsted not necessarily accurate in my opinion.

ChimneyDeep Fri 30-Aug-13 20:37:50

Are you in Warks, op?

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Aug-13 20:46:07

I'd go a little against the grain here and say that the new rating is probably deserved.

One of the ways in which Ofsted has tightened up is in the way they look at progress within schools. Previously, it was possible (not easy, but possible) to get 'outstanding' based on results that were good because the intake was good.

Many schools that were rated well years ago - and 5 years ago is a VERY long time in education - have not driven for improvement and 'kept up the pace' in the way that lower-rated and more frequently inspected schools have. The fact that the 'oustanding' grade may anyway have been a feature of the quality of the intake may exacerbate that, as treachers will have thought that 'what we are already doing is outstanding, we don't need to do any more'.

A 'requires improvement' today = exactly what would have got a 'Good' up till a couple of years today (the criteria for RI are almost word for word identical to the old ones for Good, in fact in some areas togher). So in reality the school has 'slipped' one notch - it just looks like two because the ladder has been shifted up in the meantime IYSWIM.

I would be more worried about teaching being rated as 3 AND leadership and management the same, because it indicates that the inspector(s) weren't that convinced about whether the current leadership team has the oomph to drive the necessary improvement - and the school is caught a little between two stoold because if they had been put in Special Measures they would have got much more help to improve.

Keep a sharp eye out for signs of activity and improvement. Indication of a structured process of improvement = great, they'll get through this. Efforts to deflect blame, to indicate that the report is unfair etc = run for the hills unless significant leadership changes occur.

Pizzahutlover Fri 30-Aug-13 20:50:44

I do agree thismousebites ofsted are not accurate went to see a nursery which was sopposely got outstanding for parent communication sopposely spoke to parents well went and was insulted and hardly no kids were at the nursery given dirty looks of the kids that were their they were left unattended and this was a GOOD NURSERY

2isamagicnumber Fri 30-Aug-13 20:54:39

Hi chimneydeep, no I'm in Yorkshire.

greensmoothiegoddess Fri 30-Aug-13 21:11:46

Oh god - Ofsted is the government's puppet. It's all politically charged. They have an agenda and that seems to be all about academising schools.

Have been through many an Ofsted. What would have been Good is now Requires Improvement. Have recently seen them do hatchet jobs at close quarters.

Parents - please treat them with the suspicion and contempt they deserve.

lljkk Netherlands Fri 30-Aug-13 21:15:55

I don't much rate Ofsted reports. I'd go with collective parent wisdom & personal experience instead.

SockPinchingMonster Fri 30-Aug-13 21:23:32

OP - are you in West Yorkshire? The school my 5 year old twins attend has recently been downgraded from Outstanding to Requiring Improvement. It came as a bit of a shock as the school had an excellent reputation locally, although I must admit that when my children started last year I did wonder why they were outstanding as it didn't feel like an outstanding school to me.
I think the school was coasting on its reputation to be honest, but now they've had a massive shock and I think this is a good thing as they are frantically trying to improve in all areas which can only be a good thing for my kids. Our school also were marked as requiring improvement in all areas you mentioned and we're in Yorkshire too.

2isamagicnumber Fri 30-Aug-13 21:36:25

Need to have a good read through the replies.

Sockpinchingmonster, no I'm in South Yorkshire.

SockPinchingMonster Fri 30-Aug-13 21:41:08

Ahh not the same school then, but for what it's worth quite a few outstanding schools in our local area have been inspected recently and none of the ones I know of have retained their outstanding status. 2 schools with excellent reputations have been downgraded to Good, and of course ours to Requiring Improvement. So it shows that Ofsted have raised the bar quite a bit.

Hulababy Fri 30-Aug-13 22:15:22

Im in South Yorkshire - Sheffield. If in sheffield feel free to pm me and I'll see if I can shed further light. I work in primary ed. infants in sheffield.

tiggytape Fri 30-Aug-13 22:21:53

Collective wisdom is great as long as you know other parents with children like yours of a similar age who will be honest with you and who know a bit about what is going on in the school generally not just their own year group - and many parents just don't have that feedback to draw on especially for a first child.

The opinion of those with older children in the school may have limits as they've possibly had different teachers and their early experiences are years out of date.
The opinion of the mum of an super confident maths genius may not tell you what the school will be like for a quiet, artistic child.
The views of parents who had the favourite reception teacher may differ vastly from those who had the one who left mid term and then a string of supply teachers. Unless you live in an area where everyone knows the local school and everyone's child goes there (not the case in many towns and citites), it is really hard to form any view from the outside.

Ofsted has limits and the grading is now harsher but on the plus side this has exposed some schools who previously relied on an easy intake to get high SATS scores and Ofsted praise.
A school that was excellent in 2008 may have changed and gone downhill or it may always have been a school that took children above the national average and added very little value. The text of the Ofsted report more than the grades can help explain areas of concern and reasons for the grade. It should be the case that improvements will be made fairly rapidly though so even if you decided the Ofsted is accurate, it isn't static. Things can and do turn around very rapidly.

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Aug-13 22:24:21

The problem with collective parental wisdom / local reputation is that it tends to be somewhat out of date - and does favour 'naice' schools in 'naice' areas (which may well get decent results without actually DOING very much).

In many cases, the very best schools in terms of children's learning are those that are straining every sinew in not-so-naice areas to ensure that every child makes great progress ... these are often 'Good' not 'Outstanding' schools, though, for a variety of reasons i won't bother to go into here (though this is changing).

SPM, I think your experience is fairly typical. Interestingly, my DD's school has gone the other way - up to outstanding from Good. It has typically not been as 'well regarded by parents / the local community' as the school down the road, for reasons ranging from the fact that they don't wear ties and turn a blind eye to stripy socks to the fact that umpteen years ago it was an all-through 3 - 16 school with the senior part being a secondary modern whereas the other school was a primary known for sending kids to the grammar. As I think that changed in the 1970s, you will understand how slowly 'the general public view' can change...

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now