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Shoddy displays, staff seemingly lacking in energy, very little work on display but 86%A-C would this put you off a school.

(65 Posts)
Morosky Thu 01-Oct-09 23:17:52

We have been tonight to view a school for dd, it has a good reputation, the children seemed happy there and results are way above national average.

But both dp and I left very unimpressed, the classrooms were either tired or sterile because they were empty with one or 2 exceptions. The staff seemed tired and in one case overly defensive.

As a teacher mysel I know the spin and effort that goes into an open day so part of me is thinking if this is them doing their best for show what must it be like for the rest of they year.

teamcullen Thu 01-Oct-09 23:35:53

I agree. I went to look at a school tonight. Outstanding and in top 3% with Ofsted. They did have things going on such as science experiments, maths games, spanish cafe and spanish bingo.

The thing that I felt was missing was that there was no spark between teacher-pupil interactions. They had plenty of pupils helping out but they were widely ignored by the teachers.

I know that whenever I go to DDs secondary school, the teachers seem to really respect and have time for the girls helping out.

DS inpressed the spanish teacher by having a conversation with her in spanish, but as for the rest of the teachers, they were not really bothered.

defineme Thu 01-Oct-09 23:47:13

86% a-c that is outstanding if it's not private. Tired staff and crap displays aren't that big a deal surely? Perhaps they're concentrating on getting results rather than decorating?
My dh was 'promoting' his school last night-poor man had been woken up 7 times in the night with our twins and had a lot of crap from various directions that day-I imagine he came across as a little jaded. He gets excellent results and pupils keep in touch with him for years.
What alternatives have you got?
I can't imagine how great it would be to be a student in a school with those results -it certainly wouldn't be uncool to make an effort like it was in my school...

Morosky Thu 01-Oct-09 23:51:22

Yes we had the same, very few staff seemed interested in dd and in one room we went into not one member of staff spoke to us. Noone seemed to be excited by working there. When you walk into my school department you are strucky by our facilities and buildings but also by the fact we all love our subjects and we are really proud of the school. When you work in my room any day neve rmind an open day you are confronted by exciting interactive displays, pictures if students everywhere, examples of success and my excercise books are always out on display on an open evening

These teachers seemed aplogetic and defensive

Morosky Thu 01-Oct-09 23:55:01

They were not just tired , they seemed worn down, I question was answered with an excuse, with the exception of the science department. Of course one or two members of staff could feel tired, but this was everyone we spoke to.

It was a state boarding school, so state but I there is an element of selection as you need to be able to afford the boarding fees.

DD loved it.

Morosky Fri 02-Oct-09 00:00:02

They also seemed to make things up as they went along. We started the tour with an art teacher who mumbled at us incoherently, there were also no children present. We then went to a DT room with a teacher who again did not seem to interact with the students and spent his time chatting to a parent who was an old boy.

Language department had a moan about the fact that languages is undervalued and they do the best they can in the circumstances.

Maths room were uninspiring and the staff stood in a circle chatting to themselves.

The staff within the subject area I teach seemed to lack passion and one in particular talked nonsense.

defineme Fri 02-Oct-09 00:09:56

If you're not happy don't go with it-boarding is an even bigger decision than day.
I'm sorry if I'm wrong, but you do sound as if you feel your school is perfect and no other could compare.
The people at teamcullen's school had put on lots of interesting things, but still they weren't 'connecting' -what exactly do you expect? Teachers are not pr professional they're teachers.

puffling Fri 02-Oct-09 00:10:53

I've never heard of state boarding schools. Who are they for?

Morosky Fri 02-Oct-09 00:18:49

I expect teachers to connect with young people that is what they do. I expect teachers to be excited by their subject.

I do teach in a school that is quite special and I adore, so I am wondering if I am being unduly harsh. But dp felt the same as me, but everyone else seemed to think it was all wonderful.

nappyaddict Fri 02-Oct-09 00:21:46

Morosky what part of the country was it? It sounds a bit like the state boarding school i went to!

Morosky Fri 02-Oct-09 00:23:41

Dorset.

teamcullen Fri 02-Oct-09 08:07:56

Defineme- My DD is in year 9. She gave up her own time to help at her open evening last week.

Whenever I have been to her school, the teachers have always had a good relationship with the pupils helping out. They always speak to them with respect and encourage them to engage with the parents, answering questions, asking if they need any help.

DD has been involved with a few things in dance/drama. She says when walking between classes the Head of drama will always say hello as she passes, even if he is talking to another teacher. This is what I mean by connecting with pupils. The children helping out last night were widely ignored by the teachers.

deaddei Fri 02-Oct-09 08:51:21

Yes our local oversubscribed state schools put on outstanding open evenings- engaging, fun and the teachers really make an effort- contrast with local grammar school, which has marvellous facilities but teachers who give off the impression that "you want to come here more than we want you, unless you are in the top 5% in the area".

thepumpkineater Fri 02-Oct-09 09:28:32

I think if the schools are very oversubscribed they don't really have to make much effort do they?

As someone else said they are prob so busy teaching they don't have much time for PR. I get a bit sick of schools having to be 'all dancing, all singing' and teachers having to act like sales reps. Its a school not a business.

Docbunches Fri 02-Oct-09 09:40:08

I'm assuming that the 86% A-C does NOT includes Maths and English. If it does, that's an extremely impressive set of results! As you know, the percentage quoted can be quite a bit lower when Maths and English ARE included.

But even so, there is NO excuse for putting on a poor show at an Open eveing. As deaddei says, even the over-subscribed schools where I live put on an impressive evening despite there usually being hordes of people in attendance and always having time to speak to parents and prospective students.

Like you, I'd be a bit worried about the school and would look elsewhere - particularly your own school, if possible?

OrmIrian Fri 02-Oct-09 09:45:03

I wouldn't be impressed. Results aren't everything.

Said she who chose a school with mediocre results but huge enthusiasm and a fantastic atmosphere grin The fact that so many students chose to turn up for the open evening to do demonstrations and show parents round means a lot I think. The lively pupil-teacher interactions - ie sparky but not cheeky - were great. Results can improve with a little effort - changing a schools ethos takes much much more hard work.

OrmIrian Fri 02-Oct-09 09:45:35

snap deadei

oshgosh Fri 02-Oct-09 10:04:59

I'm very surprised by your experience Morosky. My DS goes to a SBS and the teachers are (generally!wink) great and have boundless energy. The whole school buzzes. There is a fantastic 'family' atmosphere where teachers, support staff and sixthformers all ensure a caring, nurturing environment.
'Tired' would be the last the description I would ever think of.shock

Are you looking at boarding or non-boarding? (wondering why you mention classrooms and not the Houses?)

Miggsie Fri 02-Oct-09 10:09:44

I chose a sparky lively school over one with the great results...on the next Ofsted the school I had chosen was rated as "outstanding", now it's number 1 in the area and people are falling over themselves to buy houses in the catchement area. So glad I follwed my instinct.

If you didn't like the head, or the teachers and it seemed dull, then it probably won't inspire your child, but they might be very good at drilling them in subjects to pass tests...

stepaway Fri 02-Oct-09 10:12:55

I was going to say run away fast from that school. It doesn't sound good! BUT then you mentioned that your DD loved it. Why is that?

puffling Fri 02-Oct-09 10:15:00

The open evening is an indicator of what the school can offer, but if you were a fly on the wall on a normal school day, things might seem a bit different.
I taught at a school with good committed staff who put on an excellent open evening, but the intake was poor and results were poor.
I honestly think, the best indicator of a school's success is the quality of the pupils.

Litchick Fri 02-Oct-09 11:27:50

I've been doing the rounds recently and the differences in atmosphere are astounding.
I went to one where the tour was well over an hour and in every classroom the teacher stopped their lesson to greet us. And each one made a point to speak to DD.
The Headmistress made a point making a note of a book DD recommended. Okay, she might have binned it afterwards but from DD's point of view it made her feel included.
And this school is madly oversubscribed. I'll be lucky to get a place.

Contrast with another school where frankly, they acted like we were a nuisance. The facilities were state of the art. Olympic sized pool with underwater timers shock, four tennis courts, a library Philip Larkin would have loved.
Yet, they just didn't act liked they cared one way or the other. And I just thouhgt to myself...do I see myself being in partnership with these people over DD's education.

OrmIrian Fri 02-Oct-09 11:53:49

"the best indicator of a school's success is the quality of the pupils"

At intake puffling, or when they've been there a while? The school isn't responsible for the intake. They are responsible for what comes out the other end.

webwiz Fri 02-Oct-09 14:45:23

I think it is always a good idea to trust your own instinct with schools - when we were looking for DD1 we chose a school where we were shown round by the most enthusiastic year 7 I've ever met! Teachers and pupils had a good rapport and it just seemed "happy". At the time it lagged a bit behind the girls school and the state boarding school in its results but it didn't have rude girls who barged us out of the way or students who abandoned our tour halfway round!

Now eight years later DD1 is at university and DD2(year 12) and DS(year 8) are at the school. DD2s year got 91% A*-C in their GCSEs (not sure what the english/maths % is) and it still has that happy atmosphere. Both DCs helped out at the open evening last night as well as a huge number of other kids. The school is oversubscribed but the open evening is still treated as an important event.

teamcullen Fri 02-Oct-09 16:58:56

Puffling- How do you measure the quality of pupils? hmm

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