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A school is not 'good' on the basis that it's high in the local league tables

(69 Posts)
Minifingers Sun 16-Feb-14 07:08:51

...if its results are simply a reflection of the fact that the school is full of children who are bright, middle-class, and well supported at home?

Really sick of people locally talking about particular schools, which they haven't visited and don't know anything about, in these terms.

A 'good' school IMO is one where many children make progress above what might be expected when they arrive at the school. Such a school might actually be quite low in the borough league tables because of having a disadvantaged intake.

It's all about what schools do with the children they have.

afterthought Sun 16-Feb-14 07:16:33

As a teacher, I take OFSTED with a pinch of salt. I think they often have their own agenda before they visit a school (I have no evidence for this, just my own musings).

I worked in a so called 'outstanding' school. It was horrible. The only reason it was outstanding was because the results were good (good intake) and staff were terrified of the leadership team that some stayed up for 24 hours with no sleep just to plan super resources.

I now work in a 'good' school. We'll never be outstanding because we will never meet government targets. The difference in the children when they first walk through the door to when they leave is staggering.

I used to like the value added measure - I don't know why they stopped it (well I have a hunch - probably so they could tell schools in disadvantaged areas that they are rubbish and then could swoop in and turn them into academies).

Minifingers Sun 16-Feb-14 07:25:57

I took my dd out of an 'outstanding' academy with state of the art facilities, where you could smell the stress in the air, and the staff all looked like they were about to disintegrate, and put her in a 'good' but scruffy community school. I can't tell you how fantastic this school is. The teachers are amazingly caring. They do so well for ALL their children.

katese11 Sun 16-Feb-14 07:32:07

I think it's a bit circular - if a school has an "outstanding" ofsted then it attracts bright, Middle class kids who would do well anywhere. So the school's results stay high. Like a Pp I chose a "good" school over an "outstanding" one because I didn't like the stressy atmosphere and the arrogant attitude. Ds' school is un-fancy but lovely and caring and he's reading at the same level as his peers at the "better" school

streakybacon Sun 16-Feb-14 07:38:32

My son used to go to an 'outstanding' primary school and it was woeful. The special needs support was dreadful to the point of being damaging rather than helpful and there were far more dissatisfied parents than happy ones.

In my view, an 'outstanding' from OFSTED sometimes means that the head teacher is outstanding at playing the inspection game and can show them what they want to see. It doesn't necessarily mean that they deliver outstanding education and care to their pupils. It certainly wasn't the case at this particular school.

SapphireMoon Sun 16-Feb-14 07:49:12

I agree totally op. My children go to a 'good' school. Some parents in the area avoid it for completely snobby reasons in my opinion. Their loss.
My children love school and the school does its best and the teachers CARE about pupils whatever their ability or background.

scaevola Sun 16-Feb-14 07:49:22

Everyone makes a different judgement of what makes a school 'good'.

You are not wrong, but neither are those who use different criteria to reach a different conclusion than your judgement.

Dromedary Sun 16-Feb-14 07:51:25

A school that is high in the results league tables won't necessarily do well under Ofsted. We have one local comp that gets much better GCSE results than all the others, though still not great. It is a church school, and lots of middle class children apply there under the C of E first criterion. So the intake is strong. But the Ofsted report slammed the school for doing very little to push the children - just letting them get on with it and getting ok but not good exam results just because the intake was good. Despite having the best results in the city, the Ofsted report was only satisfactory.

FiscalCliffRocksThisTown Sun 16-Feb-14 07:52:18

That is why at secondary school, Ofsted measures. " value added ", the good schools score high on that.

ItitwrongtofancyHarryStyles Sun 16-Feb-14 07:54:13

You are all probably right - we fell for went for the outstanding school and paid through the nose for property in order to get in (I know, I know).

We are however extremely pleased with the school - it's lovely, it's not stressy but standards are high, results are good, dc are happy there in year 7 and 8. So all good.

Still, I think you are all correct that we were blinded by the Ofsted and I feel a bit sheepish (guilty?) about that.

BlackDaisies Sun 16-Feb-14 07:56:29

I agree with what many people have said. But I also think great "value added" doesn't necessarily tell you much, except that the school's main priority might well be data, and getting good "results".

SapphireMoon Sun 16-Feb-14 08:01:15

I think Ofsted do take notice of progress from starting points [though think perhaps not aware of all those that home tutor their children at some schools.. or are they if the quality of teaching doesn't match results? Mmm].
Anyway, our primary got 'Good' recently [under new tougher system- hurrah] and a friend of mines school in a village, with much better bottom line results, got requires improvement. It was down to progress, quality of teaching and the effectiveness of the governing body re supporting and challenging the school.
So, maybe Ofsted not completely blinkered....

mercibucket Sun 16-Feb-14 08:01:29

a lot of people want their kids to go to a very mc school so this will not be life changing news to them

bulby Sun 16-Feb-14 08:02:31

Have to agree that value added scores are also meaningless. In schools where lots of children 'should' get As it is virtually impossible to get a positive VA because you can't get higher. Also very high VAs are often gained by 'playing the game'. Eg all kids do a couple of BTECs.

SapphireMoon Sun 16-Feb-14 08:03:11

Agreed mercibucket, the snobbery from some round here is breath taking...

Retropear Sun 16-Feb-14 08:08:29

Ofsted look at progress and starting point,I thought everybody knew that.confused

There are many Outstanding schools in disadvantaged areas for that very reason.

Our leafy school got downgraded from Outstanding to Satisfactory,loads have.

Either way it's shit,every child deserves a good or better education.

Minifingers Sun 16-Feb-14 08:08:57

Local league tables rank schools primarily by GCSE results.

The schools at the top of the league tables for GCSE will almost always be those with the highest intake of middle class children.

And for a lot of people high scores for GCSE = a good school.

SockPinchingMonster Sun 16-Feb-14 08:10:19

Yanbu, we sent our dc's to a local school which was classed as outstanding and had some of the best league table results in the area. When I looked around the school before applying I didn't really like the atmosphere but was swayed into putting it as first choice by my dh and the opinion of friends who live in the area. When my dc's started I began to help out at school and found the school to be utterly shite, awful atmosphere, talk to the kids like crap, nasty TA's who slag off the parents. I told my dh there was no way this school was outstanding - and I was right, Ofsted came and knocked them down to requiring improvement.
Yes they get good results, but they always will considering the school is in a middle class area so most kids come in already able to read a bit and have parents with high aspirations. Our catchment school which takes kids from a very deprived estate actually got a good from Ofsted around the same time as although the results were not as good the progress of the children was much better as the kids generally come in with very little education up to that point but leave with good levels in year 6.

Minifingers Sun 16-Feb-14 08:10:31

OFSTED may look at starting point and progress and judge a school on those grounds.

Most parents don't. Especially m/c parents.

Retropear Sun 16-Feb-14 08:13:14


Most m/c parents are well informed.

They will see the crap Ofsted and woeful Data Dashboard data as a result of poor progress and run for the hills,leafy or not.

SapphireMoon Sun 16-Feb-14 08:14:33

I think Data Dashboard can be very misleading...

Minifingers Sun 16-Feb-14 08:23:49

Retrobear - every single m/c parent I know locally, bar 2 (who are very left leaning in their political views) had as their first choice school, the one with the highest number of m/c children and the highest ranking in the local GCSE league tables. When I pointed out to a few of them that the average GCSE grade for high achieving children at this school was lower than that of high achieving children at a much lower ranking school with a significantly disadvantaged intake the response was to pretend they hadn't heard.....

M/C parents in my experience don't want to send their dc's to a school with a primarily disadvantaged intake, no matter how well they cater for their more academic kids.

SapphireMoon Sun 16-Feb-14 08:28:11

I agree with you re left leaning middleclasses Minifingers. We have some quite political leftwingers at our school and passionate and lovely they are too.

Minifingers Sun 16-Feb-14 08:32:23

The ones I know are lovely, have great kids, and I'm hugely grateful for them having faith and putting their lot in with the rest of us from our community. Our local schools would be less interesting and dynamic places to learn without these parents and their children.

hackmum Sun 16-Feb-14 08:39:22

Although I agree that value-added is an important measure in that it's more impressive when a school moves kids on from a low baseline, I also really believe that SATS results aren't the be-all and end-all. My DD went to a school where a lot of the kids were from not very-well-off backgrounds, but the school ethos was very kind and warm-hearted and there was a lot more emphasis on things like the kids enjoying learning and also on behaving thoughtfully towards each other than there was on cramming for tests.

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