Shock OFSTED. What now?

(53 Posts)
Chocovore Mon 01-Jul-13 17:56:49

I did post a while back about something fishy over our schools OFSTED. We finally got the verdict today - Outstanding to Inadequate in one fail swoop. How the hell did that happen? What happens now? Will the Head leave? It says they may be converted into an Academy. Just can't believe this is happening. Wonder whether we should jump ship now or hang on and see what happens? I have Ds2 due to start in Sept and feel like we have all been very let down!

Blimey. i would love to know what happened. Did you have any inkling at all? confused

Have you a copy of the report?

Theas18 Mon 01-Jul-13 18:05:26

One thing for sure there will be structures put in place to ensure it improves by the review date. If you actually haven't been worried about what you child is being given in the way of an education I'd maybe wait and see.

(I'm assuming that there aren't hundreds of unused places locally and this school is on the list for closure)

mrz Mon 01-Jul-13 18:07:05

Outstanding schools that have been coasting have suddenly been called to account?

FadedSapphire Mon 01-Jul-13 18:12:07

I would be interested in how the school respond to the report. There will be a LOT going on and certainly no coasting. You need to find out about the 'Academy' talk and see which direction the school is going and if you are happy with it. Premature to jump ship unless your children and yourself very unhappy with the school personally.

nlondondad Mon 01-Jul-13 18:17:19

As the OFSTED report a public document are you willing to post a link to it?

scaevola Mon 01-Jul-13 18:17:58

You need to see the report and find out in which areas OFSTED have seen weaknesses. There's a big difference between things to do with school management (safeguarding, record-keeping) and the areas of teaching and learning.

Obviously all areas will need to be fixed. But knowing where the perceived problems are may make a huge difference to whether you want your DC to continue there.

nlondondad Mon 01-Jul-13 18:19:24

I would also agree that unless you are personally unhappy with the school you ought not to leave. The school may well be given additional resources to improve.

littleducks Mon 01-Jul-13 18:27:47

This has recently happened at our school. There are very specific reasons why (heavy emphasis on SATs results which were poor last year although predicted results for this year are back to schools 'normal' and there were issues with that cohort).

DofE is now really pushing for school to become an academy.

This seems to mean that either school will improve (action plan in place with LA after poor results prior to OFSTED) and this improvement will be credited as due to school becoming an academy or school will nosedive as parents pull their kids out but "the inadequate rating will no longer matter" and wont show up on OFSTED website as the school gets a new start as an Academy (explanation given by LA rep at parents meeting).

Oh and the new building we have been waiting for and were awarded funding for looks like its disappearing as we will no longer be a LA school.

sad It isn't a pretty picture atm, and I feel so sorry for the staff whose jobs/pensions etc. face an unfortunate future.

ILoveOnionRings Mon 01-Jul-13 18:28:55

I agree with scaevola. Is it not an automatic Inadequate overall if there is a safeguarding/record-keeping issue even if Teaching and Learning is outstanding?

ClayDavis Mon 01-Jul-13 18:34:07

I think that's a myth, ilove. It's certainly a common belief that a safeguarding issue will cause an automatic failure, but I'm not sure it's actually true.

I think you need to read the report to know exactly what's happened before you make any decisions.

Sam100 Mon 01-Jul-13 18:49:48

I think it is actually true - certainly we have been told so at governors meetings. There is a statutory duty to comply with safeguarding rules - if you do not then you cannot be good or outstanding no matter how good the teaching. However it will say as much in the report because teaching will have been graded at 2 or above and say something along the lines of "if it were not for x, y, z safeguarding issues then this would be a good/outstanding school".

There are 4 areas that Ofsted assess:
- achievement of pupils
- quality of teaching
- leadership and management
- behaviour and safety of pupils

What grades has it got for each of these?

Chocovore Mon 01-Jul-13 19:22:01

The report is not on the OFSTED website yet, but we were given a copy today. There is also a 3 sided A4 outlining the schools complaints to OFSTED and also the private company? carrying out the inspection. Main complaints from the school go on for ever, but some interesting ones:

2 inspectors, one of which has only ever taught in secondary and had only done 3 inspections before (all secondary). He could not communicate appropriately with the children and seemed unfamiliar with primary reading. Inspectors were rude and intimidating to staff. When staff asked to speak to them told 'no time' or 'no point'.

One 2 junior classes were observed, one being a supply teacher. 3 lessons of the 10 were inadequate (2 of these by a supply teacher).

Not due to close, no. This is a school which had a major rebuild only 2 years ago costing £1M. They got 4s for everything apart from behaviour and Safety which was a 2.

The Head was absent during the inspection (no-one know why), year 6 were off site and other year groups were doing writing tests.

PenguinBear Mon 01-Jul-13 20:15:14

Definately sounds like something was 'off' op. I am a teacher and it's ringing huge alarm bells with me.

Scarletbanner Mon 01-Jul-13 20:52:49

As stated on previous thread, there must have been an issue in the first place for Ofsted to carry out an inspection at all. The new policy is that outstanding schools don 't need to be inspected unless standards drop. Something has clearly been brewing for a while.

And hmm to academisation making it all better. Academies and free schools are failing too.

Hope all becomes clear, op.

BabiesAreLikeBuses Mon 01-Jul-13 20:59:04

Very strange the head being absent and a supply being inspected...

I'd wait for now unless dc unhappy. You haven't got the full story.

Chocovore Mon 01-Jul-13 21:04:16

Yes, I am pretty sure there is more to it. What about the fact that a private company did the inspection though. Is that usual?

BabiesAreLikeBuses Mon 01-Jul-13 21:14:09

Not in my experience!

mrz Mon 01-Jul-13 21:19:01

No nearly all inspections are contracted to a handful of private companies

HedgeHogGroup Mon 01-Jul-13 21:20:59

Its always a company that does it on behalf of OFSTED. CfBT in the north of England & Tribal in the south of England but there doesn't have to be a reason for an outstanding school to be inspected - they also do random inspections of outstanding schools for quality assurance.
The quality & consistency of OFSTED inspectors is what teachers object to most about the whole inspection process.
The observations in KS2, absence of Yr6 & HT etc are all unfortunate but they look at teaching 'over time'. Its more likely to be the quality of teaching, combined with a lack of progress that has led to the decision.
Schools can appeal (I think - that's why it takes so long for an 'inadequate judgement' to be published).

Movingtimes Mon 01-Jul-13 21:24:57

Nothing strange about a supply being inspected. They will inspect anyone who is teaching, supply teacher, cover supervisor, whoever. Their job is to investigate the quality of the teaching in the school, if that teaching is being delivered by a supply teacher they need to be inspected.

As for head being offsite, well that can happen too with only 18 hours notice of an inspection. For instance, suppose the head was on a residential and couldn't get back in time. They had just better bloody hope their senior management team is on the ball. The inspection would go ahead anyway. Although in this case, it seems from what the OP has said that there is more too it than a simple explanation like that.

mrz Mon 01-Jul-13 21:26:59
ReallyTired Mon 01-Jul-13 21:28:10

OFSTED criteria have changed. There is a far greater emphasis on making progress than in the past. My children's school has failed a mock inspection (done by the LEA) which has resulted in the replacement of the senior management team. My daughter starts reception and I feel sick with worry. The pressure on schools means that there is no ablity to change schools.

Changing school is not a trival thing as children have their friendship groups. I did consider changing schools, but decided not to bother as ds is in year 6.

tiggytape Mon 01-Jul-13 22:13:00

I would see what happens next. Not just what the LA do but how the school responds to the things it has been asked to improve. Some schools do respond very quickly and are very positive - in such circumstances things can be turned around in a very short period of time.

One slight alarm bell though is the 3 A4 pages sent home to parents to highlight the 'unfairness' of the inspection. Yes Ofsted is tougher in some areas than was previously the case (a school cannot be judged outstanding overall when teaching is not outstanding for example - previously it could).
This has led to shock results, but things like inspecting when Year 6 is absent or classes are being covered by a supply is totally normal and totally fair - afterall the school has a duty to ensure standards for all children including those who have to have a supply teacher are high and that everything doesn't grind to a halt when the HT is away.

If the meeting the school promised focuses on the failing of the inspection team, the unfairness of the selection of teachers observed and seeks to minimise criticisms, that's the point I'd worry but until then, there is room to believe things can improve drastically in a relatively short amount of time where there’s the will to make this happen

Chocovore Mon 01-Jul-13 22:26:38

Sorry, that isn't under the 'unfairness' bit. Apologies if my post was confusing. They are disputing loads of issues and things that they say are factually incorrect mostly around data management systems.

Anyway, I will explore other options locally just to see where we stand. The complication is I have DS2 about to start in Sept. If a more local school has a PAN of 20 (composite classes of 30) is that an ICS issue? Or donthey still have leeway as the PAN is 20?

MustafaCake Mon 01-Jul-13 22:38:21

Gosh, how worrying for you OP.

Although you are panicking, I would wait to read the report and see what the issues are.

I am shocked at the schools' "excuses" though. Aside from the alleged behaviour of one of the inspectors, the rest of the "excuses" don't hold any weight at all.

Supply teachers, kids offsite, head away (poss on a conference), kids doing tests, all perfectly normal IMHO.

DS's school were inspected a week before the whole school moved to a new site! Everything was in boxes! According to the HT, the school still got a very fair appraisal though.

MustafaCake Mon 01-Jul-13 22:42:20

Oops posted too soon...

On a positive note, schools that fail their OFSTED do get huge amounts of time/ resource/ mentoring/ checks/ new staff in order to raise their game.

Two of our local schools went from failing to good in a very short space of time because of this.

littleducks Mon 01-Jul-13 22:47:57

"On a positive note, schools that fail their OFSTED do get huge amounts of time/ resource/ mentoring/ checks/ new staff in order to raise their game."

Not anymore, LA man said to us basically that they would support the school in any way the could but their budgets had been cut and they had no money.

tiggytape Mon 01-Jul-13 23:11:25

Chocovore - a composite class of 30 made up of 20 reception children plus 10 from Year 1 does fall under the ICS rules (any class of 30 comprising children from reception - Year 2 age does).
If you do decide to move, you will probably be on waiting lists for any such schools with your position determined by how well you meet their criteria (i.e. normally how close you live). You don't go to the bottom of the lists just because you joined them late.
It does make sense to just hang on a bit and see what will happen however I appreciate it must be worrying with another child due to join

MustafaCake Mon 01-Jul-13 23:16:48

Really Littleducks, that is terrible. Not the case at all here, perhaps our LA has more money. Bad that there is such disparity.

OP you may need to ask what measures will be taken and what support will be given/accepted to turn things around.

Barbarashop Mon 01-Jul-13 23:21:20

This happened to ds's school a few years ago, attainment and, in particular, the teaching of maths were heavily criticised. They had a notice to improve. They worked really hard,took advice, moved around some of the staff (eg. The maths co-ordinator moved to nursery, where actually she has been very effective) and generally got the kick up the arse they needed. I feel they had become complacent.
When they were re-inspected a year later, they got good with some outstanding features. It can be done.

Barbarashop Mon 01-Jul-13 23:28:54

If you look at January 2008 then march 2009 you can see how it is possible to make huge strides.
The interim assessment in 2012 states that they have maintained standards and won't be inspected until at least summer 2013.

PastSellByDate Tue 02-Jul-13 06:43:27


It's worrying - there's no denying it.

But I think as others have suggested you need to consider:

How are your DC's doing in the school?
Are they progressing as you'd like?
Are you generally happy with atmosphere of school?
Are teacher's approachable and appear to know your children?
Are your children happy there?
Are you happy with the environment (upkeep of grounds/ building but also the general atmosphere)?

Finally where do children from this primary go on to Senior School? - this really is critical - it may be struggling right now but if it feeds into the best senior school in the area it may not be worth jumping ship to a school which feeds into a sink senior school.

If the answer to most of this is positive - then I'd hold tight and see what changes come. As someone suggested above - there is a likelihood a lot of resources will be diverted to your school and that may mean being a student at the school during this time is a good thing.

You cannot control how the school is run and jumping ship may be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Great OFSTED results are only good on the day (and as I know school's can put on quite a show for OFSTED bearing no resemblance to normal day to day there) and individual year KS2 SATs results are really only worth noting if the school is consistent - but having said that there can be 'bad' years - or years because of mass maternity leave (as has effected my DD1) - teaching hasn't been as consistent across their time in the school.

Finally I've posted a lot about the disappointment with DD1's progress in Reading/ Maths at our school in YR - Y2. It's meant I've had to really work hard to support it at home - buying workbooks, signing up to on-line maths tutorial, ensuring lots of reading books available (we have issues with books not coming home from school) - and after years of slowly working with her, it has meant that DD1 (now Y5) is doing well - so don't forget that you can also do quite a bit at home to support learning at this stage - it isn't all down to the school. For us school is day care and a social experience for DDs - and we've come to terms with that. We find it very liberating.


MrButtercat Tue 02-Jul-13 09:27:04

What Past said but be aware if said school was previously outstanding there may well be an arrogance that won't go away.This means it's very difficult when trying to work with the school as any criticism(which obviously there may well be) is just brushed aside and you will be turned into that parent.That's fine if you have a thick skin but if you don't frankly it's horrible.

If you're the type to just run a blind eye to things that you may question re your dc's education this won't be a problem.

Chocovore Tue 02-Jul-13 10:04:23

Not the type to turn a blind Eye! And I think you are right regarding the arrogance. In reading their response the report, at no point do they seem to accept that anything needs to change. This is my biggest worry.

My son is very happy there and I think he has done just OK. I have nothing to compare it with though. If I had to guess, I would say he is a bright child who went in above average and hasn't really progressed that much in school. He has not been pushed. We do a lot of work with him at home though and I think this is how he has maintained an above average score. The juniors gets the biggest criticism and this is my fear as he is about to start that in Sept.

No specific secondary school to feed into, we still have Grammars here and it is our hope he would be suitable for that. There is one alternative school nearby which is consistently good but they are pretty much full atm. Saying that, I think we must be near if not at the top of the list geography wise. Am waiting for a call back from the Head. I happen to know that someone who has a reception place there for Sept desperately wants a reception place at our current school so there might be possibility to swap (waiting list criteria dependent I suppose). She may also have changed her mind now of course!

Chocovore Tue 02-Jul-13 10:08:15

Just had an email back from county saying Ds2 is now top of the list out of 7 for waiting list for this alternative school for reception class!

admission Tue 02-Jul-13 10:50:19

Chocovore, I think your latest post sums up the position quite neatly, the school thought it was outstanding, was complacent in not pushing its pupils to achieve the very best they could and Ofsted when they came visiting saw exactly that.
My concern would be why Ofsted did not go for requires improvement, which is what a complacent school tends to get. That is there is nothing wrong fundamentally with the school that as swift kick up the backside will not resolve. To go to inadequate either suggests more fundamental issues or that the Ofsted inspectors for whatever reason have been over harsh with their assessment. Without being able to see the Ofsted report and the school's response it is impossible to tell which may be more appropriate.

Chocovore Tue 02-Jul-13 12:28:27

Thanks all for your help and experience. Yes, it does seem a very drastic plummet. Hopefully I will find out more at the meeting and can update.

Sprink Tue 02-Jul-13 13:10:59

Believe it or not, OP, I think your school is now in a GREAT position. Governments do not like Failing Schools on their books, so your child's school is likely to get a whole heap of "kick up the arse" help.

Changes will need to be made--staff and governors (especially) can become complacent, it's human--and it won't be easy. Like another poster, our primary went shooting down to a 4 in Spring 2012. It was inspected again last week and we believe it's solid 2s with Outstanding features.

It hasn't been easy, but I'm glad we didn't jump ship. I now feel our children are in a school that truly understands what is expected of it and can deliver.

Hercule Tue 02-Jul-13 14:17:41

Admission I'd hazard a guess that the reason why the school got inadequate rather than requires improvement, is that any school getting inadequate will automatically be forced to become an academy. Ultimately that is what the government want.

Our school had its Ofsted last year and should really have got requires improvement. It did indeed require improvement, but a new Head was already in situ ( as of 6 weeks before the inspection) and had already developed a rigorous plan to address the issues and some good progress had been made. We got inadequate. Now we are becoming an academy as from next year.

Some may feel there are ulterior motives at work.

wintersnight Tue 02-Jul-13 14:19:13

A similar thing happened at a school a family friend's children attend.

They went from outstanding to special measures and were then packaged off to Lord Harris as an academy. I don't know the ins and outs but it all seemed a bit dodgy

Sprink Tue 02-Jul-13 14:22:18

It's incorrect that an Inadequate (4 Ranking) automatically becomes an Academy.

I reiterate, our school received a 4 in Spring 2012 and was inspected again, last week, receiving a Good (2 Ranking). It has not been turned into an Academy.

tiggytape Tue 02-Jul-13 14:40:18

The Requires Improvement category is the old 'satisfactory' category so it doesn't always follow that a school with problems should be classed as a 3.
The Requires Improvement label means a school requires some improvement to become a good school but is fundamentally O.K.
The level 4 grade is for schools which aren't just a couple of tweaks away from being good but instead have areas of concern.

MilkRunningOutAgain Tue 02-Jul-13 19:05:52

Happened less dramatically at my kids school about 16 months ago, school went from good to requires improvement, the head left, some staff left, there was an interim ht for 2 terms and quite a few things about the school changed. Afternoon break for ks1 scrapped and replaced with daily golden time (bad) , rigid ks1 reading book lists enforced and books regraded, result, my dd has spent yr 2 rereading all the books she read in yr 1, as have several other kids in her class, achievement assemblies introduced on Friday afternoons when I'm at work and can't attend, very few clubs run and those that ran were subject to frequent cancellation as teachers worked on improving pupil tracking, my son's teacher has been out of the classroom so much improving things that his education is juggled between several support teachers each week and he has gone backwards, as his lovely teacher admitted, parents of teachers of this previously successful class are now in uproar and there are a pile of interminable parent / teacher meetings to sort things out.

Good luck, I'm moving my kids next year , not because of all this but because we are moving house, and can't wait to see the back of the school, it was great before ofsted decided a cohort largely consisting of summer born boys was under performing, from being relaxed and positive, the teachers are now nervous and obviously stressed.

The school has apparently received extra resources to help it improve, perhaps it will given time, but my dcs are there now and can't wait . But it wasn't actually broken prior to ofsted, now it is.

BabiesAreLikeBuses Tue 02-Jul-13 19:32:41

Interesting thoughts milk. Am sure yours isn't the only school ofsted has put in this position...

savoirfaire Tue 02-Jul-13 22:17:16

I'm curious about the Outstanding schools thing - I also thought that Outstanding schools were only inspected if there had been a complaint or massive drop in outcomes or whatever, but it seems I was wrong?

If any outstanding school can be inspected for quality control, and be seen to drop from outstanding to inadequate, why are Outstanding schools not monitored as a rule? Two of my four local schools are outstanding but I have concerns about one of them and technically it could not be independently assessed for years and years and years (if at all). How does this make sense?

admission Tue 02-Jul-13 22:38:32

There are two answers. One is that if Ofsted see the results of the school starting to tail off then they can come in. Also they do inspect a proportion of outstanding schools, so no schools is absolutely safe from having an inspection.
The other thing that needs to be considered is that what Ofsted are inspecting against now is very different from 2 to 3 years ago when many of the schools were considered outstanding.

Chocovore Wed 03-Jul-13 07:52:36

This school was only formed in 2009. Apparently they had a really strong cohort that year with exceptional KS2 results. Subsequent cohorts have been more typical but have been compared to that exceptional year group and therefore the trend in results is by default downwards and erefore by default standards have slipped and by default the teaching must now be inadequate. Seems ridiculous.

Chocovore Wed 03-Jul-13 07:54:02

Oh and for for one of those years there is no data at all as the HT refused to do the SATS!

MustafaCake Wed 03-Jul-13 18:56:13

Have you seen the report yet?

Am very curious how a school can plummet down the ratings so dramatically.

MiaowTheCat Wed 03-Jul-13 20:58:14

Outstanding schools that have been coasting have suddenly been called to account?

Happened to one school I knew very well (did a teaching contract there) when Ofsted went rampaging through the county (and with the number of schools they gave various "fail" grades to - it WAS a rampage!)... school had always had a culture of complacency, picking the kids likely to get the right numbers in the SATs and coaching the living shit out of them while the real "no-hopes" got totally written off at an early age (this was the reason I left - couldn't deal with that morally) - but a really "good" shiny nice well behaved kids, beautiful new building - school.

People were shocked when it got hammered by Ofsted recently - it bloody well needed kicking up the arse tbh.

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