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Do you rate Ofsted reports

(24 Posts)
likessleep Thu 02-Oct-08 15:26:37

Pardon the pun, but I just wondered whether you think Ofsted is a good judge of a schools performance?
Not meant to be a contentious thread, just genuinely interested in looking at various local primary schools. Is it worth travelling further for a 'good' school or to use nearest 'satisfactory' school.

MaloryDontDiveItsShallow Thu 02-Oct-08 15:29:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

likessleep Thu 02-Oct-08 15:31:50

Thanks Malory.
So is there anywhere else I can look for some information on which to make a decision/know what different schools are like?

LynetteScavo Thu 02-Oct-08 15:33:09


MaloryDontDiveItsShallow Thu 02-Oct-08 15:33:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

likessleep Thu 02-Oct-08 15:36:05

thank you.
our son is only 1 anyway at the moment grin, but considering moving anyway to be nearer to family. we love where we live at the moment, but just trying to make a long term decision really.
thanks for responding.

MaloryDontDiveItsShallow Thu 02-Oct-08 15:39:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

likessleep Thu 02-Oct-08 15:43:29

that's what i am trying to get to grips with now (like reading in a foreign language!).

Kathyis6incheshigh Thu 02-Oct-08 15:44:21

It depends on what you mean by 'rate'. I believe that they are likely to be accurate and truthful where they say what they've observed, but I would never forget that this is only one day and they don't necessarily share your values (eg they are likely to put a lot of emphasis on having the correct paperwork).

My opinion of OFSTED changed sharply after the nursery where my dcs go got a satisfactory OFSTED having previously got a really high rating, and when DH and I investigated thoroughly it was clear nothing in the actual nursery had changed, just the framework against which they were assessed. Eg they fell down because the staff didn't all know what the learning outcomes were meant to be for the under 2s; we personally don't believe that under 2s should have learning outcomes. On the other hand, I am sure they were completely accurate when they said that the staff didn't know what the learning outcomes were!
So I think you can look at what they say and put your own interpretation on it, depending on what you think is important.

AbbeyA Thu 02-Oct-08 15:46:12

They are useful as a first port of call. They are not necessarily correct, e.g. our local infant school got outstanding for leadership because the Head is good at paperwork and yet she is horrible to work for,she completely lacks people skills. The junior school next door only got good and yet the Head is much better at the job but not as hot on paperwork! You can guess which is the happy school!
There is nothing to beat having a tour on a normal working day.

LadyGlencoraPalliser Thu 02-Oct-08 16:55:52

Over the past seven years our school has moved from satisfactory to good to outstanding. In our case it genuinely reflects clear and measurable improvements in every area of school life; not just test results, but the children's all round experience at school, the pastoral care, the range of cultural activities, after school clubs etc have improved out of all recognition. I was interviewed by the Ofsted inspector for the most recent inspection and I can tell you that he did notice and did care about the overall atmosphere and ethos of the school, and it played a large part in the rating we got. One of the things he was particularly keen on was the kind and caring outlook of the children and the lovely way inwhich the older children interacted with the younger ones
Having said that any prospective parent who visits our school can see and feel that atmosphere for themselves and make their own judgement. There is no substitute for a visit on a normal working day.

AbbeyA Thu 02-Oct-08 17:37:03

LadyGlencora's example is a good reason for not listening to local opinion-some may be going on the 7 yr old reputation. In my area certain people wouldn't touch my DSs school with a barge pole (they never even visited it!). It consistently beats the other schools in the neighbourhood. It is graded outstanding and it is outstanding.

MrsMattie Thu 02-Oct-08 17:47:41

I think Ofsted reports are one piece of information you may wish to take into account when choosing a school. They certainly aren't the be all and end all for me.

I pored over the reports when considering which primary schools to apply for for my DS and became obsessed with league tables and 'Outstanding' ratings and all the rest of it.

Then I went and visited the three schools nearest to us and the one with the least good Ofsted was by far my favourite. Ok, it isn't a 'failing school' or anything, but it has a bog standard Ofsted compared to 'Outstanding' reports for the other two. The 'Outstanding' ones had great facilities, lots of computers, were very shiny and sleek and modern looking, and there were lovely neat mounted displays everywhere of all the 'outstanding' work the kids had done. Oh, it was all just so fabulous smile. But I felt slightkly uncomofrtbale on my visists, like everything was for show and all about targets.

The school we liked was much smaller - only one form entry - cosy, a bit ramshackle building-wise, but with a big playground, a dynamic, friendly head teacher and happy, smiling, genuinely nice teachers who seemed interested in me and my son. he has recently started at the nursery attached to this school and we could not be happier with it. The teachers are caring, the environment is positive and warm, and the children seem relaxed and happy. Couldn't ask for more, really.

Ofsted just can't tell you these sorts of things.

LittleBella Thu 02-Oct-08 17:49:36

No. I've seen OFSTED in action and been unimpressed.

Elkat Thu 02-Oct-08 20:08:56

I always use Ofsted in reverse. I think a lot of schools know how to really play the system, and some are much better at playing the system than others... so a 'good' school might not necessarily be a good school, but can pretend to be by playing the system.. so I would use it as a basis, but look into it further. That said, if Ofsted found a school to be not very good, I would probably look at why, but probably would rule it out.

Hulababy Thu 02-Oct-08 20:10:01

If used on there own I think they are of limited use.

If used in conjunction with other research about the school they can be beneficial to eithe rback up or go against what other sources say.

Heated Thu 02-Oct-08 20:21:40

Always look at the reasons behind the grading. Dcs nursery is now outstanding, having been good previously. The difference? Better paperwork/documentation which I'm not at all interested in - in fact I'd prefer less form filling for the staff, freeing up more fun time with the children. It is a fab nursery but I didn't need ofsted to tell me that.

Likewise the school where I teach in is rated outstanding but you'd be hard pushed to see the difference that makes it so.

amicissima Thu 02-Oct-08 21:01:34

Read Chris Woodhead's book. You may not agree with everything he says, but it provides food for thought.

TotalChaos Thu 02-Oct-08 21:05:43

agree with Hula. I was mainly interested in SN provision when looking for primary schools- as DS has mildish language related SN - so I found some of the Ofsted info v. useful - in that I felt a school with affluent, high-achieveing intake at entry and low number of pupils with SN was not likely to be right for DS.

singersgirl Thu 02-Oct-08 23:32:51

Our school has just got outstanding, from 'good' 3 years ago. The school is as fab as it's always been - and, as always, is constantly striving to improve provision - but the paperwork is now brilliant too. The assessment data, the 'hot spotting' of children, the analysis before and after intervention - those are the things that I think OFSTED really want to see.

It is an excellent school, but we always knew that.

AbbeyA Thu 02-Oct-08 23:53:12

I can't stand Chris Woodhead!

LadyGlencoraPalliser Thu 02-Oct-08 23:55:57

Agree, AbbeyA. And he is SO pleased with himself all the time.

AbbeyA Fri 03-Oct-08 07:33:46

He actually said something I agreed with the other week, it was a really good point-unfortunately I can't remember what it was!

schneebly Fri 03-Oct-08 07:40:20

DSs primary school is rated as outstanding and I would tend to agree from my experience of it but I am sure there are other schools who deserve this rating who have been overlooked because of some beurocratic detail just as I am sure there are schools who maybe get better than they deserve just because they know how to polish up quickly when they hear of an inspection.

I personally think that the best way to consider a school is, as others have said, to go and see it and see how it 'feels'.

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