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To be worried about school turning in to academy?

(52 Posts)
OneBigHeadache Sat 18-Jul-15 06:18:36

My ds has just finished Y2 at infant school. The junior school he will be going to in September is the sister school. When I applied for the school the ofsted rating was outstanding. However, last December they had their ofsted visit and it was deemed inadequate. We have now been informed (yesterday!) that it is being forced to become an academy. It is being 'sponsored' by another academy school.

I am really worried. From what I understand, academies don't answer to the local authority. My son has SN and we have worked so hard to get him where he is now. With the help of the lea. I guess I'm just panicking a bit that the new owners of the school will be a law unto themselves and he won't get the help he needs.

Does anyone have any experience of forced academy schools? Please tell me IABU and it's all going to be just fine!

countryandchickens Sat 18-Jul-15 06:20:22

In all honesty I would t want my child going to a school deemed inadequate.

Do you have an alternative?

lightgreenglass Sat 18-Jul-15 06:33:29

Stories of outstanding schools being downgraded and then forced to become academies by ofsted are becoming more common. I would definitely try and find out more.

You're right to be worried about your son's support, I would avoid an academy at all cost if my child had a SN.

tobysmum77 Sat 18-Jul-15 06:39:19

What even an academy chain that specialised in sn light?

OP it really does depend on the academy chain. It is very difficult for Junior schools in the current system and the better the infant school is that feeds into them (or the better the figures are) The harder it is to deliver the figures needed. This is what OFSTED is all about hmm .

Broadly how worried you need to be depends on the sponsor and whether their ethos fits with yours.

QueenOfNothing Sat 18-Jul-15 06:45:15

You're worrying needlessly.

The junior school may or may not be good for your DS regardless whether it's academy or a maintained school.

Does your son have a statement / EHC plan?

Most secondary schools are now academies. More and more primary schools are going that way. All schools are a law unto themself. Some are good with SEN some aren't.

It truly is irrelevant whether or not they're an academy.

countryandchickens Sat 18-Jul-15 06:45:59

I'd say it is relevant HOW they became an academy, though, surely?

tobysmum77 Sat 18-Jul-15 06:53:40

Country a couple of bad years and a switched off HT can lead to any school being deemed inadequate. It happened to my dd's school last year, she's happy and making good progress. It depends how easy it will be to turn in round or if the failure is endemic over generations.

Mygardenistoobig Sat 18-Jul-15 06:58:22

If a school is in special measures they have to become an academy.

Inadequate is one step above that so the pressure to become an academy will be huge.

The staff will have no say in this.

However the staff will the same and teaching style the same so it's not necessarily a bad thing.

The school will not suddenly be allowed to act irresponsibly if that is what you are concerned about.

I wouldn't pay too much attention to the inadequate rating.

The government want local authorities to have less influence over schools and this a way of enforcing/pushing schools down that route.

OneBigHeadache Sat 18-Jul-15 07:11:34

There is no alternative. It was our first choice school so not on any waiting lists. I don't want to jump the gun and look in to changing schools, away from his friends, if there's no real reason to.

He doesn't have a statement. Never felt the need to get one really as we've managed to get him the help he needs. May have to look in to it though.

I guess I just feel a little duped really. When I applied for the school it was outstanding. Granted, the OFSTED rating was a few years old but I never expected it to drop from highest to lowest rating in such a relatively short amount of time.

At the welcome meeting the answer to most questions was "We don't know" although, for the poster saying the staff will stay the same, we were warned that the academy sponsor can easily come in and change the staff. Is this not correct?
Many teachers left the school last year. It's all a bit of a mystery as to why. I'm thinking now, they may have been jumping ship before they were pushed.

It's disappointing. The lack of communication, the uncertainty. Just wish they could give some solid answers!

Icimoi Sat 18-Jul-15 07:17:32

I would be very uneasy about my child being in an academy because IME they are quite ruthless in their drive to perform well in the league tables, which can mean some very dodgy admission and exclusions practices. Also the fact that they don't have to have qualified teachers is a major worry.

tobysmum77 Sat 18-Jul-15 07:19:08

If it was previously outstanding that's a good thing. There will be a new HT ..... etc. Do they know who is taking the school over?

bikeandrun Sat 18-Jul-15 07:19:27

There was a school not far from ours that went from outstanding to requires improvement, forced to become an academy and is now outstanding again! Same kids, mainly the same teachers has the school really changed both negatively and positively that much in a few years or is Ofsted politically influenced in the academy agenda, I have made my own mind up, its up to you.

tobysmum77 Sat 18-Jul-15 07:20:25

Ici it depends on the academy, they are free to have a policy of only employing qualified teachers and running much the same as a maintained school smile .

Rivercam Sat 18-Jul-15 07:29:39

A while back they changed the criteria for Ofsted, so a lot of schools that were doing okay, suddenly looked like they were doing terribly.

Have you read what Ofsted said? when I read the Ofsted from our school, I felt they had made huge assumptions from a fairly brief visit. Ie. Didn't support high achievers. Maybe the teacher hadn't planned extension work,for that particular lesson, but does normally for the rest of the year.

If the school staff and ethos hasn't significantly changed between the two ousted reports, then I think you'll be okay.

I would go to the school, speak to the head etc. and see how they will care for your child.

OneBigHeadache Sat 18-Jul-15 07:45:39

I have read the report. I'm not sure that it was fair to give an inadequate, especially as the inspection was done a few days before they broke up for Christmas. However, I don't work for OFSTED nor pretend to know much about their criteria so it could be right.

My main issue is the forced conversion and not the inadequate. Although the report did say that disabled and SEN children were not making good progress.

tobysmum77 Sat 18-Jul-15 07:47:12

Blimey sounds like dd's but a year later confused . So have proceedings started to take the school over?

Springcleanish Sat 18-Jul-15 07:48:05

Most schools that were previously "outstanding" have been under pressure to become academies and work with "failing" schools. I've seen several schools that have refused to leave the LA and become an academy drop in their next OFSTED rating. Coincidence? Possibly?
If you are happy with the school and their support of your son that is all that matters, regardless of the "tag" given to it. There should be no change to the ways his needs are met, regardless of academy status.

sashh Sat 18-Jul-15 07:57:44

In all honesty I would t want my child going to a school deemed inadequate.

Have a look at recent ofsted inspections, teachers have been saying for years that any school that is not an academy has been given an 'inadequate' rating.

The school at present will have all the same teachers, philosophy. attitudes etc. They will not be happy about becoming an academy but have no choice.

pudcat Sat 18-Jul-15 08:00:56

Many of the schools around here good to outstanding a few years ago. Suddenly many of them became inadequate. Surprise surprise they are now academies and have become outstanding in most areas.

OneBigHeadache Sat 18-Jul-15 08:01:20

Will probably out myself a little but here is the OFSTED report if anyone wants to have a read.

Hope it's ok to post that!

tobysmum77 Sat 18-Jul-15 08:20:36

The only two positives are that there is precious little mentioned about years 3/4 and that the HT has implemented at least some improvement. The governing body sound useless (but they will be replaced anyway).

4EverScottish Sat 18-Jul-15 08:26:21

Not all non-academy schools are rated inadequate. Of the 5 schools that I have experience of, 1 is an academy and chose to go down that route about 7 years ago now. Of the others, they are all good or outstanding and none of them are academies. All have been inspected in the last two years.

tobysmum77 Sat 18-Jul-15 08:38:26

I must admit OP I am quite confused, a quick look at the DFE figures here:
www.education.gov.uk/cgi-bin/schools/performance/school.pl?urn=102962 shows that the numbers of pupils showing 2 levels of progress (bottom 3 numbers) isn't anywhere near as bad as I would have expected for that report. OK the writing one isn't great but the reading/ maths are OK. Above the national average of children got 4s in reading, writing and maths. Yet the report says that the reading skills at the school are poor.

I also had a look at the Academy conversion info and the school isn't formally being taken over yet. This can be found here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/open-academies-and-academy-projects-in-development

OneBigHeadache Sat 18-Jul-15 08:48:34

tobysmum I was confused too! I think the issue is that although most pupils are achieving above the national average, there has been no improvement over the years. When they got outstanding they were achieving well above but the results have slipped slowly over the years. Although still achieving highly! This is why I'm not sure it should have been inadequate. But, again, I'm no expert!

Had a look at your link, it says it was last updated on 15th July. I believe the decision was made by the dfe on the 16th so not updated yet, I'm guessing? I'm just going on the short email sent from the school.

tiggytape Sat 18-Jul-15 08:48:43

Having read the report, I would be more concerned about the school's failings than about any potential changes right now.

Yes, Ofsted have revised how it rates schools but despite the conspiracy theories of mass-academisation-by-stealth, this is often a good thing and this school seems like a prime example to highlight that.

Reading the report it is clear that this school basically has an easy intake of pupils (lower special needs, lower English as an Additional Language rates than other schools) who have a good starting point but who then make poor progress. So their results are fine but not as good as they would be if they made expected progress.

Under the old Ofsted regime, good final results led schools like this to get good Ofsted reports but under the new one, Ofsted dig a bit deeper and find that the good outcome in Year 6 SATS for example is due to pupils who are already well above average making little progress (so still above average but behind where they would be at other schools) and a special cramming session hinted at for the brightest Year 6's to make up for the fact that challenging work at other times is not always provided.

Even from an additional needs point of view, children don't make the progress they should, the school has a poor record of working with the LA and the support given is variable so even if you've been lucky to date, it doesn't seem consistent.

In terms of whether the school has the capacity to put this right if left alone, the report basically says the Governors have been ineffective, the middle managers are not pushing changes and basically it is all being left to a new Head who is good but cannot do the whole thing alone. That's probably why academy status is being seen as the solution.

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