ofsted and faith schools(27 Posts)
I keep hearing about how much harder it is to get outstanding under the new Ofsted regime.
However, in my local area I know of at least 4 (probably soon to be five) secondary schools, including the one where I teach (though currently on mat leave) which have been given outstanding....and they all have one common factor...they are catholic schools.
I suppose I should know as I teach in one of them and have done so for 7 years, but as I haven't taught outside of the RC school system I am wondering what it is that these RC schools are doing that others are not...
I am not Catholic myself and so my own dcs will not attend an RC school. Our local secondary is in a v well heeled middle class ton but is still only ''good" according to Ofsted.
So anyone got any ideas what RC schools are doing so that children in non rc schools can benefit?
"Our local catholic secondary doesn't give priority to children in local authority care"
Sounds illegal when stated that way. However, they are allowed to make a distinction between Catholic looked-after children and other looked-after Children, and that effectively does the same job if you take the reasonable view that children in care are less likely to have had baptism as a family priority in their early years.
The over-subscription criteria for my local Catholic primary are: ...
1. Catholic looked-after children
2. Catholic siblings
3. Children baptised Catholic within a year of birth, who also have a priests reference from certain parishes to say they're practising Catholics.
4. Children baptised Catholic within a year of birth, who also have a priests reference from other parishes to say they're practising Catholics.
5. Children baptised Catholic within a year of birth who don't have a priests reference to say they're still practising.
6. OTHER LOOKED_AFTER CHILDREN
7. Other Christian Children
8. Children of other faiths
9. Anyone else
As its an outstanding school, and very oversubscribed, in reality they don't admit any children beyond category 4. So, looked after children don't tend to get a look in unless they can prove they're Catholic.
The twelve month baptism rule is particularly pernicious. Lots of 'proper Catholics' fall foul, whereas the sharp-elbowed ones looking for school places tick every box.
Don't have a problem with them teaching catechism or whatever they want to do, but the selection procedures are very divisive. (And also very hypocritical, given that in a few areas, because of demographic trends, Catholic schools are actually majority Muslim, and this doesn't seem to bother them or make the diocese shudder and turn the school over to the LA, rather than educate heathens.)
"So anyone got any ideas what RC schools are doing so that children in non rc schools can benefit?"
There is massive selection to keep difficult/ chaotic families out at many top catholic schools. For example giving priority to children who have baptised within the first year of life. Insisting on regular church attendence, no sibbling rule for non faith places and a priest's reference. The church attendence requirements also keeps immigrant children out because it is quite hard to prove regular church attendence if you have just come from Poland or Romania. (Even for devout catholics!)
Our local catholic secondary doesn't give priority to children in local authority care which I believe would have disgusted Jesus.
So OP, back to your original question, if you consider yourself an Outstanding teacher, then perhaps the best thing you could do to help other local schools to improve would be to go and work at them, and encourage some of your colleagues to do the same.
"The top results and Ofsted ratings are highly correlated"
I suspect you might be including schools rated Outstanding under the old regime in that assertion. Many currently "outstanding" schools will get a shock when they find themselves downgraded at their next Ofsted inspection.
"Ultimately very many parents want a school without too many of the wrong sort of children"
Too true, but at least the new Ofsted framework is a step in the right direction, with its value-added measure.
Unfortunately many teachers want to work in those types of schools too, and so leafy schools potentially have a greater choice of applicants. However, the Pupil Premium is another step in the right direction. Schools with low numbers of FSM pupils now have less money, and in some cases are struggling to afford more experienced teachers.
What we need are more direct ways of incentivising the best teachers to work in (or provide consultancy to) struggling schools. The London Challenge and City Challenge schemes proved that works.
The top results and Ofsted ratings are highly correlated. Also a school with top results will always be oversubscribed, even if the Ofsted is mediocre.
Ultimately very many parents want a school without too many of the wrong sort of children. Catholic schools achieve that through social selection under the guise of religion.
"There are schools which take in a low ability, high deprivation, high everything challenging intake, get results which look average compared with many schools, and are 'Outstanding' schools."
Yes, agree. Especially if they've been assessed within the last year since the new Ofsted framework was introduced, because now they measure "value added" rather than results.
However, "value added" still can't be completely separated from socio-economic factors, because children's home lives stay with them throughout their school career, and it's hard to separate the value added by the parents from the value added by the school. Some schools are whistling into the wind, despite excellent management, which is why, in my opinion, an Outstanding school with a deprived intake should still be considered a greater achievement than an Outstanding school with a leafy intake.
Aside from all that, schools need to be extremely well organised to prove their "value added" credentials. They need to do lots of testing and tracking, and data analysis, to show that results are improving. Not all schools are up to speed on that. If you consider that the RC schools in the OP's area are effectively a "chain" with the same management overseeing them then it's perhaps not surprising that they have similar abilities when it comes to tracking. The Local Authority (or academy trusts, if the other schools aren't maintained) could perhaps learn some lessons. However, that doesn't mean the RC schools are doing well because they're RC. Like I said earlier, in my area there are many outstanding community schools. They have been well managed by the LA, and (some) by their respective academy trusts.
But top results and Ofsted rating are totally different things.
There are schools which take in a low ability, high deprivation, high everything challenging intake, get results which look average compared with many schools, and are 'Outstanding' schools.
And schools which get excellent results , have well behaved leafy children, and do not get good Ofsted rating, because the results are a reflection of the intake, not the teaching or the management of the school.
I don't think the Oratory is typical of RC schools.
And although it's easy to have a pop at the leafier examples, there are also numerous examples of extremley diverse schools (new immigrants, high ESOL, FSM). The overall demographic is pretty typical of all schools.
But the thing that does mark them out is a much lower level of exclusions. So I suspect that if there is a common factor it is in their approach to pastoral care and this is explicitly linked to their religious ethos.
The Oratory, from what my friends with children there tell me, is very strict, and expects very good behaviour from its pupils. This doesn't suit some children, as it can be a strait jacket, but for most it works very well, as the there is no disruption in lessons, and everyone gets the chance to learn. However, it makes in the Open Evening a point of telling everyone how strict it is, and how hard the pupils need to work. There is much stricter criteria for admission too; not academic but expectations of the parents' religious observance. I don't think it is surprising that they get such good results as they really do have a very very selective intake in terms of the sort of parents that get through the admissions process. But the parents are not necessarily rich, just committed. And once they are there they have to continue to be committed. But you still have to have good pastoral procedures and management, however committed the parents are. Which the Oratory usually does.
We have four Outstanding catholic schools in our local area (spread over two boroughs). They don't exclude difficult children, certainly not in the admission process. However, it is likely that anyone who gets in will be baptised, as the schools are oversubscribed, and first choice goes to the baptised.
Baptised children can be as difficult as the next child! They can have SNs, they can be poor.
However, they might be baptised long before the issue of secondary admissions even came up, so they might care about belonging to a church community, which might predispose them to be better members of a school community, which might help the school run more smoothly...
Pupils might be more obedient, their parents might be more respectful of authority. I'm not saying any of this has to be the case, but it might be.
The schools I know of are very well run. They have very strong management, and they were not always Outstanding. The outstanding comes from the the morale of the teaching staff, pastoral care AND selection. The three feed into each other.
Not all Catholic schools are Good, as Adikia says.
It's very simple what the top RC schools are doing, and it's excluding difficult children in the first place. The London Oratory school, supposedly comprehensive, has such rigorous selection procedures, supposedly for religious reasons, that it has a higher ability intake than several grammar schools behind the 11+.
That's it. Not magic diocesan support. Just social selection that effectively ensures a high ability intake.
We haven't had the section 48 yet, waiting for it any time now.
Could it be partly because catholic schools receive money from the diocese so can offer opportunities some schools can't afford? Also wouldn't you have had a section 48 inspection as well as Ofsted? so the section 48 report may have given some tips before ofsted came in.
It's not true in all catholic schools though and my local one is so bad that even though I'm catholic and desperately wanted DD to attend catholic school I've ended up paying for a private, CofE school.
Interesting reading thank you. I can't view the map as on phone, will try on pc later.
loulou, without knowing which area you're in it's hard to be sure, but it may well be something to do with this.
When I said 'we' I meant the staff in my own school, I wasn't speaking on behalf of all rc schools.
I assume that's what you were getting at when you mentioned stereotypes?
Yes I am aware of the criteria.
I have also read the reports.
But the number is disproportionate and I was just wondering if anyone had any non sarky ideas as to why that is.
Diocesan management probably goes some way to explaining it...
Also, when were they awarded their Outstanding grades? Unless it was within the last year they would have been tested under the old Ofsted regime, not the new one.
OP, it could be a) a coincidence or b) the result of good local Diocesan management or c) a bias in the local inspectorate. Or none of the above.
As you're a teacher, I'd hope you'd know what makes a school Outstanding, but here's the Ofsted Framework so you can look it up.
In the meantime, if you tell us the names of the schools, and the not-so-outstanding ones you're comparing them to, then when we get a spare moment we'll read all the reports for you, analyse them and tell you the answer to your question. (Or instead we could just offer up some biased opinions based on our entrenched views and some stereotypes).
In my area there are more outstanding Community schools than Catholic schools. What does that tell you?
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