Ofsted

(45 Posts)
sittinginthesun Tue 08-Oct-13 18:00:26

Evil evil evil evil.

That is all.

spanieleyes Tue 08-Oct-13 18:28:18

wine

goldmum Tue 08-Oct-13 18:51:07

Totally agree. How can all schools fit their increasingly narrow criteria on what is 'good' or 'excellent'? Makes my blood boil.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 08-Oct-13 19:02:54

<crash bang squeak>

(sound of goalposts moving)

NickNacks Tue 08-Oct-13 19:04:15

Better the devil you know is how I'm feeling at the moment.

louby44 Tue 08-Oct-13 20:27:14

Oh yes! I have been through five of the things in my 17 year teaching career!

Vile 100%

stillenacht Tue 08-Oct-13 20:28:08

Sympathies.

Bastards.

teacherwith2kids Tue 08-Oct-13 20:37:09

You see, I quite liked our Ofsted inspector. But he was a proper HMI person, who wanted to give us an opportunity to show him what the school was like (so suggested e.g. new ways to look at the data for him to check out an idea) and LOVED spending time with the children.

Rare, though.

pointythings Tue 08-Oct-13 21:00:19

OFSTED has always been bad, but currently it's mostly Michael Gove's cyberpoodle, equipped with poison fangs. Occasionally it finds fault with an Academy or a Free School to convey a false impression of impartiality, but that's it.

If OFSTED told me the pigs don't have wings, I'd go out and buy a reinforced umbrella.

sittinginthesun Wed 09-Oct-13 08:38:13

They're still in school, but I don't think they've actually looked at the school once. They have an agenda - one figure they don't like (progress in one subject), everything else, including attainment fine, but they won't let it go.

The inspector is the most bitter and evil man I have ever met.

tiggytape Wed 09-Oct-13 09:06:18

Arguably though progress is more important than attainment or at least as important. I don't think it is a bad thing that this has become a new focus. And if the one subject that lacks progress is English or Maths then it is fair enough the school are treated harshly for this - that would be a major problem even if everything else was fantastic.

Plenty of other schools have coasted along over the years with easy intakes of children who start school able to read, are way above the national average and who leave (unsurprisingly) with good results. Some of these schools are great but some add very little value at all and the children, whilst attaining well, don't always make the progress they could have done.

Ofsted is a daunting process for the teaching staff and SLT. I don't envy anyone the stress of being in the midst of an inspection but I don't buy the whole "it is evil Gove's master plan to make good schools look bad and academise them" spiel. Yes the goal posts have moved - progress not just attainment being rewarded is an example of that.

sittinginthesun Wed 09-Oct-13 09:35:20

Don't get me wrong, I agree that the progress is not good enough. I am a governor, and we have raised this with SLT. arrangements are already in place to improve and we are tracking.

It is just the attitude that gets me. He was not prepared to listen at all. He is basically doing a demolition job on a school which is fantastic in many many ways, has already identified the weak area, and is dealing with it.

If he sounded reasonable it would be so much easier, but he just came in on the attack.

ShoeWhore Wed 09-Oct-13 09:47:15

I think for me the problem is that the focus is so very narrow now and the process isn't very clear to parents.

Our school got a 3 because the latest set of results wasn't good enough. Fair cop. But since then the school had put in loads of changes which has really tightened up teaching but got no credit for that whatsoever because there wasn't enough evidence. So the inspector agreed he had witnessed consistently Good or better teaching during his visit but there was no mention of that in the report. So parents read the report and think oh my child's teacher is crap, which isn't quite an accurate picture really. (Thankfully this year's results are good and next year's predicted to be even better so hopefully it will be OK when we get reinspected.)

Another Head told me that when she tried to tell her inspector about all the enrichment activities they do (bearing in mind this is infants we are talking about), the inspector said "I'll stop you there - we're not really interested in all that" shock

I agree btw that the new focus on progress is much better. And that HMIs seem to be much better than contracted in inspectors (I've met quite a few over the last year or two!)

ShoeWhore Wed 09-Oct-13 09:50:48

sitting I totally understand where you are coming from re the demolition job.

Our school isn't perfect and to be fair the Ofsted judgement has given an impetus to push change through which is great. But the things it is good at (really lovely supportive atmosphere, brilliant at building children's confidence, turning children into independent learners) get no airtime at all.

Elibean Wed 09-Oct-13 09:58:14

I quite liked our lead inspector too (am a Gov). He was an ex-Head, and absolutely human.

Most of all, he clearly felt irritated with the new goalposts, the box ticking side of things, and the way he was restricted in his ability to credit 'soft' stuff like ethos with brownie points. He did a lot of that 'I couldn't possibly say but' and added he'd love to send his kids to our school if he lived in the area.

But of course, it all still leads to that narrow focus on 'good' v 'outstanding' anyway.

tiggytape Wed 09-Oct-13 11:11:41

sitting - The idea, I think, is that Ofsted will come down harshest on the schools where the SLT, governors or particularly the Head refuse to acknowledge a weak area or don't give great enough emphasis to addressing it. Normally (although I know it varies) where a school is upfront about addressing one weakness, the Inspectors won't ignore it but won't dwell on it either.

I suppose if it does happen though and the Inspaction team get their teeth into one problem, it can be as if the other things get sidelined.

pointythings Wed 09-Oct-13 11:12:38

What worries me is that teachers need to demonstrate progress in the space of one lesson. That's just madness. Just because a child appears to have grasped a new concept in that space of time does not mean that they can apply it consistently and independently in their work from there on in, which is the bit that matters. Conversely, just because a child does not grasp the concept immediately, that does not mean that the teaching is bad - just that more teaching and practice is needed. It's why schools constantly revisit previous work - to ensure that the foundations are there erady to be built on.

sittinginthesun Wed 09-Oct-13 11:42:30

I know exactly what he wanted us to say - that the school requires improvement. I was happy to say completely upfront that the writing progress requires improvement, and that this has been identified and is being addressed, but it clearly wasn't enough.

I just hope so much that the head and SLT take this on the chin. My boys are at the school and love every inch of it. If the confidence of the school is dented, it will have such a negative impact on the children. Gutted really.

Elibean Wed 09-Oct-13 11:49:01

Sitting, perhaps your job will be to help the SLT take it on the chin....totally agree, confidence makes a huge difference at every level.

In our case, the school missed 'outstanding' by a whisker. It doesn't actually matter very much, in the bigger picture, it all makes sense in terms of our development and box ticking, but there was a definite dip in spirits at school for about a week.

Then everyone bounced back and started loving school again (I'm talking adults here, the kids were fine!). Apart from a very few who are still reacting to their disappointment.

I hope your school bounces back just as fast, and is enjoying the challenge of their new post Ofsted plan within weeks.

sittinginthesun Wed 09-Oct-13 17:48:55

Level 3 hmm

teacherwith2kids Wed 09-Oct-13 17:59:34

Sitting,

Just sending sympathy. A (dedicated) head I know in a secondary school (in a very, very challenging area) had to withstand 2 days of being screamed at in every meeting (the final meeting to agree grades took over 3 hours), completely irrational demands (hysterical demands for data that they had already been provided with, including spitting in the head's face when they said that it had already been provided) and general nastiness (e.g. walking out of lessons that were going well, after a couple of minutes, in order to be able to say 'I can't grade that', and battening onto every even slightly weak lesson in order to be able to grade it. Oh, and graded a lesson as 'serious weaknesses' because 'my son would have found it too easy' -this was a lesson for the bottom set in Y7, all level 2 or below in Y6.

All becaise the head refused to allow them to publish the pre-prepared report they came with that said to put the school into Special Measures DESPITE a consistent 10 % year-on-year rise in results....

sittinginthesun Wed 09-Oct-13 19:11:25

Teacher - that sounds horrendous. I just don't know how these inspectors can sleep at night.

As I say, I'm all for improvement and agree that coasting is not acceptable, but this is just crazy. That's four primaries in our village/small town that have been downgraded to a 3. And nobody wants to send their children to the "outstanding" school, as the children are miserable and stressed.

Still, tomorrow is another day. I have bought biscuits for the staff room, and with any luck I'll bump into our local Tory MP in the supermarket and give him a piece of my mind.

Thanks everyone.

pointythings Wed 09-Oct-13 20:04:13

All becaise the head refused to allow them to publish the pre-prepared report they came with that said to put the school into Special Measures DESPITE a consistent 10 % year-on-year rise in results....

teacherwith2kids that is horrifying! I knew things were rigged, but this badly?

teacherwith2kids Wed 09-Oct-13 20:51:40

It was an LEA with virtually no academies, and a forced academisation through going into Special Measures was VERY politically desirable..

To an extent, all inspectors come with a 'pre-written report' - the information they get from the published data about the school, and queries it has thrown up. What was different in this case was that it was 'written in stone' - definitely a case of looking for evidence to confirm the worst case scenario, rather than allowing any conflicting evidence to be weighed in the balance.

Honestly, I don't know how that head made it through. A less obdurate and principled character would, I suspect, either have crumbled or been taken ill with the stress.

how many schools are Ofsted in nationwide on any two day period? I'm wondering is sitting s school is our school sad

ShoeWhore Thu 10-Oct-13 09:30:31

Oh yes at our Ofsted it definitely felt like the inspector had already made his judgements before he turned up and was looking for evidence to justify them.

Having said that, it was shit at the time and a big shock to everyone but x months down the line and the school is much improved as a result. So in our case, painful as it was, it was probably the best outcome for the school - it could have been handled better though.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Thu 10-Oct-13 17:30:45

ShoeWhore

Same here. We are not feeling better yet but fingers crossed. I was like a grenade was thrown into our happy, optimistic school.

PickleFish Thu 10-Oct-13 19:17:08

Have you seen this take on Ofsted yet?

Fascinating Aida's Ofsted Song

(warning - bit rude in places)

christinarossetti Thu 10-Oct-13 20:41:59

I think that's it. If the school had identified that they need to improve a particular area, it can be no surprise that Ofsted do the same surely?

My dd wad very happy in reception and doing very well when her school went into SM, but I can honestly say that in the longer term it was the beat possible thing for the school overall in terms of improvement.

Sorry, you probably don't want to hear that OP, but I don't think it's that unusual for children and parents to,love a school which provides a very mediocre standard of education.

BrigitBigKnickers Fri 11-Oct-13 00:07:23

OFSTED style so called outstanding lessons can be very boring.

I work with a very, very dedicated teacher whose lessons are planned within an inch of their lives.

She has all the ingredients to tick the outstanding boxes.
Learning objectives, success criteria,talk partners, reference to previous learning,next steps marking for every piece of work,progress in the lesson, AFL blah blah blah. (I doubt she has time for any life outside the classroom...)

But her pupils are like trained automatons- yes they are being stretched, yes they make good progress but-

there is no passion
no awe and wonder
no fun

These are nine year olds... sad

NoComet Fri 11-Oct-13 00:14:32

"I don't think they've actually looked at the school once. They have an agenda - one figure they don't like (progress in one subject),"

DDs school was put in SM for the progress of one group, rather than one subject.

They knew exactly what they wanted to see, did very short lesson obs and claimed to have found it angry is an understatement as it's cost us our lovely HT,

NoComet Fri 11-Oct-13 00:21:00

Brigit you can't have fun! We came very close to losing the schools two best extracurricular activities.

If you are not behind a desk being board to tears you are not learning.

I strongly suspect the lesson I went to at a neighboring schools open day would have been outstanding.

God, it was formalistic and dull. I couldn't believe the DC sat there and listened, we would have been chatting and doing our HW because we knew exactly what was coming next.

sittinginthesun Wed 23-Oct-13 16:02:42

well, report officially out now, and actually more positive than I expected. The level is of course devastating, but they have concentrated solely on the one thing they came in to find - the progress in one subject not "exceeding expectations". They are apparently happy with everything else.

as a parent, I wouldn't be particularly concerned, but we'll see.

NynaevesSister Wed 23-Oct-13 17:03:31

That's really sad. Am a governor for an outstanding primary and if our kids weren't happy, confident and passionate I'd want to seriously look at the teacher concerned.

LittleSiouxieSue Wed 23-Oct-13 17:58:11

Having been a governor I know Ofsted is stressful, but OP I think you need to take into account what the school has been doing since the last inspection. If the governors and head have only just realised that progress is not what it should be, then you will be in trouble even if you are working on it. Improvement is continuous as is scrutiny of data I'm afraid. It is relentless and, believe me, all schools do the soft nurturing, caring stuff well, especially those with challenging families/children. I think progress and good or better teaching is key and, let's face it, many schools do achieve Good from Ofsted. Clearly something in your data rang alarm bells! Progress is a better tool than results to judge a school but you, as a governor, have to ensure the school knows where any problems lie, early, and make sure your teacher assessments are thorough and peer reviewed so plans can be drawn up to tackle weakness before it becomes a calamity. In challenging schools Ofsted never cared about soft stuff....they always wanted progress and satisfactory was never good enough in the classroom, especially for challenging children. No excuse for rudeness though.

choccyp1g Wed 23-Oct-13 19:01:03

sittinginthesunWed 23-Oct-13 16:02:42

* the progress in one subject not "exceeding expectations". *

That is nonsensical. If they EXPECT a school to "exceed expectations" even if does exceed expectations, it won't have, because that was what they expected and they want results to exceed the expectations.

sittinginthesun Wed 23-Oct-13 20:41:51

Choc, I know, it did make me smile.

Don't get me wrong, everyone. I know I was completely shocked and stunned by the actual inspection, because I had never met such a cold and nasty person in my life.

I think the actual report is far fairer than I had expected, because it does make it clear that the progress results for last year were cause for concern and that we were all already aware of the issue and were addressing it.

Thing is, it was one year's results. The previous year's were fine and the LA had made it clear they were happy. They're pretty furious too as they were criticised in the report!

shebird Wed 23-Oct-13 20:55:15

Does the amount of work required to please OFSTED actually distract from teaching our children? Surely if schools are spending so much time tying themselves in knots with paperwork they have little chance of actually working towards raising standards. If as much time and energy could be put into just teaching then schools would be a whole lot better.

BrigitBigKnickers Wed 23-Oct-13 21:03:51

Very very true. shebird but we are actually expected to do both- paperwork and raise standards- the main reason why so many teachers are on their knees. sad

shebird Wed 23-Oct-13 22:06:07

It is very sad and worrying that everything in schools is focused on OFSTED. There must be a better way because this just isn't working. I did not grow up here so only know the present system - but was there life before OFSTED and was it better/ worse? Have standards improved since they arrived?

shebird Wed 23-Oct-13 22:12:05

So the head of OFSTED has a keen interest in academies mmmmm......

Chocovore Thu 24-Oct-13 10:42:01

Yup, we had a letter on the Head's desk from an academy broker before we even got our judgement! The whole thing is a farce.

NoComet Thu 24-Oct-13 11:18:53

shebird I think Ofsted started as a necessary evil, both DH and I's primaries and my comp. left a huge amount to be desired.

But, with the governments, encouragement they have let power go to their heads!

"All pupils will receive a good education" is a wonderful headline.

But it's a mathematical impossibility!

If you define good in terms of hard data, progress and exam results, half of schools are going to be below average.

That's how fucking averages work.

I have nothing against all schools being asked to strive for excellence and for as many schools as possible to try and get close to the national average 5 A-C figures.

You can compress the bell curve of results such that very few schools are getting genuinely poor results, simply because they have low expectations of their pupils and that is right and proper, but you can't stop 50% of schools being below average.

sittinginthesun Thu 24-Oct-13 13:33:14

I think it a never ending cycle. As soon as you move up the dashboard, another school has to be at the bottom - they stressed that it was the dashboard that they based their findings on.

As for academy status, we looked into this in detail earlier this year, and went to several seminars etc. The difficulty we, and other small local schools, have is that we would have to employ someone to manage the accounts. We simply do not have the funding to do this without losing a member of staff.

So, it's a choice of becoming an academy and losing a teacher, or carry on as we are. No brainer, regardless of your political views.

Bit too much stick and not enough carrot.

NoComet Thu 24-Oct-13 13:53:20

But schools mustn't improve too much, or headline A-C figures go up and there is an out cry exams are getting easier.

Cue the English grades and speaking and listening fiascos.

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