School on the Rocks

(15 Posts)
SoonToBeEaster Fri 11-Apr-14 21:20:09

OK so what would you do. Top 100 comp - declining. Wrong head. Poor behaviour. Teachers leaving. Awful communication. SLT a shambles - to the point that the Deputy Head and Assistant Head were caught at it on premises by staff and the whole school knows - Deputy supposed to be on secondment but Assistant still there. It's a CofE School. Governors pathetic. Not sure what planet they are on. Parents not awfully impressed but nobody doing anything. Nothing can be talked about. PTA are a bunch of sycophants. This is "outstanding" since 2012.

WWYD. What's likely to be going on behind the scenes. Will this get better.

GnomeDePlume Sat 12-Apr-14 20:47:14

My experience was of a school at the opposite end of the spectrum (second worst school in Britain no less)

The key is the head. IMO if parents are spotting problems then chances are the school has already started to go over the cliff. We had a dreadful head, a damply apologetic incompetent, we still have him.

As a parent all you can do is focus on what is happening to your own DCs. All complaints/concerns (and god knows we had enough) have to be expressed in terms of how they affect your DC.

My advice would be to listen to your DCs about what is going on in school. Ask them about their day. Really get to know about the school. The second you have a concern then raise it. Now is the time to become one of 'those' parents. We didnt do it enough. DD1 did very well at GCSE but has struggled at A level because of gaps.

If you have concerns then get on to them quickly. Be businesslike in your dealings. Now is not the time to be friendly or gentle. Get to know the procedure. Do you raise concerns to form tutor/HoY/HoD? Find out and be prepared to do it.

Only address issues which directly affect your DCs.

minecraftismysaviour Sat 12-Apr-14 20:53:23

Is it a DC issue or employment? In both cases - jump. If the SLT have no direction then neither do the rest of the school. Anyone that will be trying to steer ( and there will be people who want the best for the students, depts and community) will be shouting in the dark. They won't have the right ears to communicate with (mixed metaphors!). Schools that trade on historical reputations without maintaining them always falter.

senua Sat 12-Apr-14 21:34:04

You can express your opinions on the Ofsted ParentView. I'm not entirely sure of the procedure but I think enough negatives can trigger an inspection.

MillyMollyMama Sun 13-Apr-14 19:16:57

With a weak Head it will not get better. Parents will leave if there are better alternatives they can get their children into.

Parents, sadly, can do very little. You could maybe do something by becoming a Governor but usually C of E schools stitch that up because so many are church appointees. Also you may be a lone voice and be totally ignored. The Head is probably used to having Governors as cheerleaders and they are taking the easy route. If SLT and Head are poor, who is going to deal with parental complaints effectively? There is no-one. I would try and leave. They will get a "requires improvement" at next Ofsted if teaching and learning are not good enough, but even that may not bring about a quick change and is probably several years down the line.

SoonToBeEaster Sun 13-Apr-14 21:15:05

No hope then? These are our children - it makes me really cross there is nothing that can be done.

I've posted on parent view - no other parents this year. Does no-one else care - I think they do from the gossip.

Are school governors totally useless and in a vacuum.

How can this possibly happen - surely the LA/Church/Governors must know.

Am tempted to send this anonymously to the Chair of Governors, Ofted and the LA (who are investing massively in this school at present). If nothing is done, do we just assume that people want a once superb school to fail.

It used to have 9:1 applications but the school no longer publishes that number on the website and it is growing, funded by the LA, who are financing it at present, so that says a lot as far as I am concerned.

It's really hard, becasue dd will leave at the end of this year for a private 6th form so hands are tied for references, etc. Can I report once she is at new school becaus this is the most shocking scandal.

MillyMollyMama Mon 14-Apr-14 15:13:58

My DDs very ordinary C of E junior school failed to give her a reference for her new school at 11. She went to a boarding school and the Head was dead against that sort of school. Her new school just laughed. They had done pretty thorough interviews and tests before offering the place though. Ask how important the reference is for her new school. Before DD even started at this school, parents were complaining at the gates of the feeder, and brilliant, infants school. For example, the parents knew there were two poor teachers, that they taught a different style joined up writing from the infant school meaning children had to relearn it, that they never told parents anything, that they did not want parents in school, that children did not learn anything in certain classes. I could add they did not record children's progress because they did not assess it, they did not give the brighter children any differentiated work, and they definitely did not monitor the quality of teaching or learning. Ofsted came along and agreed with everything we knew was wrong. Improvements then were made and the two teachers failed capability. The Head should have tackled this years before. Good teachers leave because issues are not tackled. Heads have to take hard decisions for the sake of the children. Some, especially when appointed out of that school's staff room, will not, or cannot, do it.

There are thousands of pupils being taught in declining schools. A secondary school near me had similar issues and it took a disastrous Ofsted to bring it to its senses. You have to remember that C of E schools have a large cohort of C of E appointed Governors. It is likely that they appointed the Head. They are in the worst position to challenge the school and the Head or SLT and hence they act as cheerleaders for it. The LA probably need to have more places for children so are enlarging it. This is not necessarily any reflection on its success or otherwise,more a reflection on a need for school places in certain localities.

I tried very hard to get parents to get involved and complain about my DDs junior school. The Governors were high handed with parents, (the God Squad were in control) and many of them were not parents. The number of parent governors in C of E schools is often a minimum. I would contact the Diocese as they may have more influence. As your DD is leaving, do you want to make waves or do you have another child going through the school?

I have also been on a Governing Body in a serially disastrous school over decades - appointed as an additional LA Governor.I appeared to be the only one who thought it was a disaster zone! You would be amazed at how people try to avoid facing the cold, hard truth that the Head is useless and so are they. They also will not look critically at the progress of the children and keep making excuses for poor results. In my school the Head never gave any progress information and the Governors were happy with that. It was one of the worst schools in the country. Absolutely the children deserve better, but guess who had to leave the GB for making waves? They became an academy in the end and a new GB took over. I hated every minute of the meetings because they never looked at how to improve the education the children received. It was all finance and minutiae. The Head barely gave a report to us and when he did it was good news only. You could ask to see the GB agendas,minutes and supporting papers to see what they ARE talking about in your school. They are probably sleepwalking to disaster.

cejay Mon 14-Apr-14 21:02:23

You can do something. We had a very similar situation last year at a once 'outstanding' school which was run into the ground by the head. You should get as many parents as you can to write to the chair of governors demanding an open meeting for concerned parents. If they are an academy, go on Ofsted Parents view, if not, go to the LA. You could set up a facebook discussion forum to keep parents informed, but be careful this does not become a forum for personal attacks on the school - keep it professional. It is possible to establish a parents council which is not the PTA but has a more consultative role. We ended up with a new Head and leadership team and things are now improving.

SoonToBeEaster Mon 14-Apr-14 21:39:27

Thank you for further responses. It's a bit familiar isn't it. I think I'd be tempted to go down the parents' council route if we had more than four terms left and younger children coming up the rear but we don't.

It think it's awfully sad that complacency allows this to set in. I have put a review up on "parent view" - no others for this year, yet I know many many parents feel the same as me, so I doubt that will have impact.

There's little one can do I think but I'm sorely tempted to print off this thread and send it to the Chair of Governors and possibly copy it to Ofsted, the diocese and the LA with the name of the school written across it.

It makes me so cross that poor heads and lazy governors who take it in hook line and sinker are in a position to do so much damage to our children and to so haphazardly destroy what were fabulous schools.

SoonToBeEaster Mon 14-Apr-14 21:42:12

Oh, they are publishing the number. It's down to just under 5:1 and when DD applied it was about 6.5/7:1 with a smaller intake. It's so sad.

MillyMollyMama Tue 15-Apr-14 00:34:25

The problem is though, that although parents complain, many will not stand up and be counted. No parent actually did anything at the schools I was involved with. At the first it was probably because I said quite a lot at the annual meetings and at the school where I was a governor the more articulate parents had got their children into schools elsewhere. When we had the Ofsted meeting with the Lead inspector at the junior school, I was amazed at how many attended and agreed with the complaints a few of us put forward. Not one of them would have rocked the boat if the staff had been present. It's a shame Ofsted meetings and Governors annual meetings are no more. That inspector definitely took notice. The Governors always find excuses though and some of them are staff so it becomes difficult to criticise. I am glad you had some success though cejay because I have found it so difficult to make a difference when I can see things are going wrong.

senua Tue 15-Apr-14 09:19:28

Have you done the survey mentioned on this thread, OP?

HolidayCriminal Sun 20-Apr-14 22:33:45

"so what would you do. Top 100 comp - declining."

Honestly? I'd do nothing. Sheesh, you mean it might fall to only being in the top 300? Struggling to get knickers in a twist about that.

MumTryingHerBest Mon 21-Apr-14 17:41:47

HolidayCriminal :-0 at what point would you step in then? When it drops down to the top 1,000?

The sooner the declining trend is reversed, the less damage will be caused. It will be much easier to get the school back on track (not to mention a lot cheaper) if action is taken sooner rather than later.

I think HolidayCriminal may have just demonstrated why a lot of parents are having a moan amongst themselves but not really taking any action.

HolidayCriminal Mon 21-Apr-14 17:50:19

I'm not one of those who would have a moan with anyone, MTHB.
I would look at top 100 place as a blippy freaky thing, not something that was ever sustainable in long run.
I'd "step in" when I knew that my kids were personally being badly affected. I haven't noticed OP saying that has happened yet.

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