Can you trust the Ofsted reports?

(67 Posts)
MunchMummy Wed 10-Feb-10 15:55:26

I'm looking at moving house into the countryside about 30 miles away. I do not know anything about the local primary schools there so have to look at the Ofsted reports on the internet to get a guide as to what they are like.

My question is does anyone know if the reports are accurate to the school or not really. My favourite village's school has an overall rating of 3 (slightly under average achieving). Does this really matter.

I don't want my DDs to go the 'best of the best sir' kind of school, but on the other hand I don't want to give them a bad start either.

Any advice on Ofsted reports would be much appreciated.

MunchMummy Wed 10-Feb-10 16:00:48


Pancakeflipper Wed 10-Feb-10 16:04:25

I see them as a snapshot of that time when the Inspection was held ( I did work on an Inspection team for Further Education).

Problem is when Ofsted start moving the milestones - then you can not compare unless all schools have the very recent reports with the same criteria to meet.

They are helpful but still go and visit and decide what your priorities are and what you want from your school... pushy target meeters, high level of pastoral care, looking at children as individuals and finding their individual strengths and weaknesses etc....

Our village school got Ofsted'ed recently. Was all very good except the Reception class bits which is where my child is currently. But then reading it - I didn't like the criteria they were marking against. So I'm still happy cos' I'd hate for them to be teaching the way Ofsted want Reception to do.

Hullygully Wed 10-Feb-10 16:05:39

Definitely not. I know of at least two "bent" inspectors who have benefitted from the PTA efforts.

GothDetective Wed 10-Feb-10 16:11:29

IME (of 2 primary schools only) Ofsted reports have been spot on, more so than SATs scores/league tables. My SIL who is teacher said she would pay more attention to an Ofsted report than a league table.

I wasn't happy with DD's old primary school for 18 months before I took her out. I'd been back and forth to the school and got nowhere, lots of promises but no action. Her last day at school was the day the Ofsted report was published, I never took her back. It was the last straw. They got given a notice to improve and everything I'd had a problem with was criticised in the report. This was a school very high up in league tables. However I reckon its very easy to "teach to the test" and get kids to get a good SATs score and it doesn't mean that they are brighter than a kid at another school that doesn't focus on SATs tutoring as much.

I moved DD to a school with a better Ofsted report but as its so small they aren't included in league tables, nor do they publish SAT scores. DD has moved on in leaps and bounds since being there and in 6 months has gone from being a year behind where she should be to now being one of the most able in her year and doing some lessons with the year above.

I would read the report carefully in full though not just go on the overall score. It may be that they've lost marks over some stupid area that you wouldn't care about anyway, its not all about effectiveness of the teaching.

BrigitBigKnickers Wed 10-Feb-10 16:20:09

Band 3 is not slightly underachieving- it's satisfactory.

Since when did the word satisfactory mean underachieving?

The school where I work was deemed satisfactory for years(up until last September when we were put up into the good catagory largely as we had just had a super bright year 6 who had achieved amazing SATs results.)

If my school was in the town where I live I would always have rather sent them there than the so called "outstanding" school my DDs attend at the moment.

You need to visit and get a feel for the place. Ofsted and league tables are not all that.

WowOoo Wed 10-Feb-10 16:22:07

Have worked in schools with less than ideal Ofsted results and would've been happy to send my child there.

Having said that ds now goes to an outstanding pre school and it really is superb.

Depends on when report was done. May have improved loads since then and similarly an excellent school may have gone a bit downhill.

Good luck. It's all a bit of a worry, isn't it?

activate Wed 10-Feb-10 16:23:15

No I think Ofsted inspections aren't worth the paper they're written on

DorkTurnspit Wed 10-Feb-10 16:26:41


slug Wed 10-Feb-10 16:28:19

While I agree that the Ofstead Report is far more reliable than the league tables, having survived several of them inmy time as a teacher, I can tell you that Ofstead inspectors get an edited view of the school. Scratch any teacher and they'll have tales to tell or have heard rumours of disruptive students being shipped out for the day, hopeless teachers on sick leave and excessively coached classes.

Here's the best tip I ever had. Check out the toilets. Even if a school has a massive SEN/free school meals/second language speaking ratio if the little things are cared for then odds are the bigger issues get the same attention. It's also worth bearing in mind the OFSTEAD cycle is around 5 years. That means it's only a snapshot of the school as it was on that day. My second choice for DD was a school that had a fairly poor report. However it was several years old and there had been a new head teacher in the meantime. The next report was Good with some Very Good aspects. Clean, well stocked toilets as well wink

Different children thrive at different sorts of schools. Go with your gut instinct.

carocaro Wed 10-Feb-10 16:35:47

I think they do tend to gloss over stuff and not mention bad things.

Our school had OFSTED in December, and when I read the report I though about 20% was not really how I felt about the school, 80% was pretty bang on.

The best thing as others have said it to visit and see what you think and how you feel. We have two great schools, we visited both, one the head was very lack lustre and depressing, the kids seemed uninspired and the playground was right next to a busy road. School 2, the head showed us round for over an hour, the kids were all happy and chatty with her, massive big playground and field, she told all about the plans for a new astroturf and music club.

Also hang out at the park/coffee shops etc local to the schools you are interested in, after school time best, and just ask parents of the kids in school uniform, most people are happy to tell you what they think

MoreCrackThanHarlem Wed 10-Feb-10 16:37:45

I have just moved my dd from a school that, whilst riding extremely high in the league tables, received an overall grade 4 in their Ofsted and was placed in special measures.

The school she is currently at is consistently placed in the middle of the league and yet is an outstanding service provider according to their report.

The difference is huge, imo. The 'outstanding' school may not acheive the results, due in part to their refusal to teach to the test, but dd has developed a real love of learning and a whole new enthusiasm for school.

So ime the ofsted reports were accurate and reliable.

MunchMummy Wed 10-Feb-10 16:44:07

Many thanks everyone.

I think I will have to go and visit the schools in the villages I like and see for myself.

As I said, I'm not looking for the 'perfect' school, just want to make sure its not a bum one as once we move to a village we don't want to be moving again or put them in a different villages school with a long school run.

Time to start ringing round them I think just incase we ever manage to sell our house.

Many thanks everyone.

cat64 Wed 10-Feb-10 16:47:10

Message withdrawn

piprabbit Wed 10-Feb-10 16:48:24

I think they are a useful starting point. You must go and view schools IMO, but the report gives you some indicators as to what to look for and questions to ask.

GothDetective Wed 10-Feb-10 16:52:59

Hadn't realised that 3=satisfactory. Assumed from the description of "below average" it must be on a notice to improve.

I'd be happy with a 3. I think a 3 probably is the average score. Its very rare to get outstanding and apparantly increasingly harder to get a good rating.

penguin73 Wed 10-Feb-10 16:58:58

Having been through one recently as a teacher I would never trust one. Staff worked continuously from the minute the call was received until the team left producing paperwork, policies, procedures etc that they knew the team would be looking for so did well on the inspection. That paperwork is now gathering dust, the procedures fell by the wayside and teaching has now reverted back to 'normal'. We are a good school that serves the pupils well (IMO) but our Ofsted doesn't reflect us, it reflects 72 hours of no sleep and lots of stress and hassle so we could 'play the game' when the team arrived. And yes, pupis are taken off-site when the team are in if it is felt they might cause problems, lesson planning is micro-managed and funding/resources appear that might not normally be there, and promptly disappear afterwards! Ofsted is truly a waste of money that cause more stress and problems than it resolves.

QOD Wed 10-Feb-10 17:09:35

It's a load of faked up poo. The school knows when they are coming, they gloss it up, get special lessons planned and certain kids selected to speak

DorkTurnspit Wed 10-Feb-10 17:11:55

Yup listen to QOD they really really do.

activate Wed 10-Feb-10 17:20:23

School gets 48 hours notice of a visit

GothDetective Wed 10-Feb-10 17:32:24

They may only get 48 hours of the actual date but they know when its due. At DD's old school her teacher said to me in July that they would have an Ofsted visit either the following term or soon after Xmas. He was right.

activate Wed 10-Feb-10 17:36:25

That's because they know that they're due that academic year which is hardly surprising as they're inspected every x number of years

Doesn't make it a bloody fix you know

FimBOW Wed 10-Feb-10 17:39:42

Where I used to work, the playgroup supervisor was "dynamic" according to Ofsted and it was awarded outstanding.

The supervisor was a moody beast who was anything but dynamic. The committee hated each other, certain routines were definately not followed but outstanding was awarded.

Tis a joke.

GothDetective Wed 10-Feb-10 17:41:42

I haven't said its a fix, only that they can have enough time to prepare. Which my dd's old school obviously didn't do well enough as they knew roughly when they were coming and still did crap.

Smithagain Wed 10-Feb-10 18:30:32

My daughters' school is graded 3, with grade 2s for some aspects.

All the neighbouring schools are graded 1 "outstanding".

From everything I've heard about them, I'm convinced our Grade 3 school it providing a much more pleasant - but still rigourous - education.

Admittedly the Grade 2s are for things like leadership and potential to improve, so I may be seeing the benefits of that.

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