Verulam - recent Ofsted(10 Posts)
Any inside track on how last week's inspection might have gone for Verulam? The report won't be released until after the Secondary Transfer deadline but would be v. interested in outcome before we make our application. Thought school was v. impressive on looking round but can't help but be interested in Ofsted's view
Verulam School adjudged “inadequate” by Ofsted inspectors
This is the worst rating they can give and from what I hear from teachers who have worked at the school recently and from pupils, it is fully justified...poor leadership allows shocking behaviour standards from a section of pupils to go unchecked to the extent that bullying of both pupils and teachers is rife.
This is simply not true - I have been following your discussion on the local facebook group. i understand your concerns but would echo what many others have said - we have 100% confidence in the school, it's leadership and the ability to turn it round.
You don't have children at the school, so please listen to those of us that do.. Standards are not 'shocking' - yes there is a small group of troublesome boys but the majority are polite and well behaved. Bullying is certainly not rife. Attendance and results are way above the national average and my personal experience is that issues have been dealt with very swiftly if they have arisen. This is a blip - nothing more.
BTW Inadequate' is not the worst Ofsted rating - 'Special Measures' is'. Please don't scaremonger.
Verulam has a great and dedicated team. My son attends and the pastoral care there is brilliant and well co-ordinated. Ofsted are not infallible. In this case, they have been unduly heavy handed - in my opinion at least. Have also heard that some of the kids lied on their survey forms as a prank. If that is the case, then the team there have been badly let down. If the school was indeed as lawless as it has been portrayed, it simply wouldn't be able to produce such good results. My own kid - a sensitive soul by the way - is fully supportive of the school also and says the report has been exaggerated. Sure it has pockets of problems and challenges to face. But do I trust them? Absolutely.
Thanks so much for your insights. I've tried to speak to lots of current Verulam families and the overwhelming feedback is that this report is a very harsh snapshot - possibly manipulated by a disgruntled few. It doesn't seem to stack-up with people's actual day-to-day experience, or the school's excellent academic results (apparently several Sixth Formers have received Oxbridge offers this year for example).
I also attended the parents' meeting where the Headmaster set out the school's response and they certainly are acting swiftly and robustly. They hope to be re-inspected within 6 months and for their Good (or better) rating to be re-instated. The Head said the school will even fund its own re-inspection if Ofsted don't return automatically within this time frame. I know previous posters will be aware of this, but just noting it for the benefit of other potential new parents that may come across thread...
So if we do get a place, I am hopeful my son will be joining a school in even better shape than the one we visited and were so impressed by last year.
I’m afraid I have worked in this school and it is as terrible as the inspectors have reported, if not worse. The behaviour at break times is shocking, and this can be verified by the amount of smashed up school furniture you see when you walk around the school. The display boards are vandalised, all the laptops are broken and the place looks run down. The students are rude and undisciplined, I regularly saw kids disrespecting teachers and it is not worth trying to teach the year 10 boys they are that rude. A teacher can manage a couple of unruly pupils but not 10 -14 in a class. The problem I’m afraid is that the management do not see that there is a problem, if you discipline a child you are treated with suspicion and the child’s behaviour is trivialised to make it seem as though it was just an error on the teachers part. The parents who believe this school will be upgraded to good any time soon are living in cloud cuckoo land, it will take years to reinstate good behaviour, the kids have been allowed to run amok for too long.
Pinata, when did you teach there? The school has been rated good in the last 2 inspections and the inspectors were very complimentary about the boys behaviour in the 2014 inspection (exemplary was the word used).
As parents we are not so naive that we don't see periodic issues arise. My ds is Year 11 and was bullied in a minor way in year 9. It was jumped on from a great height by the SLT so I can't agree that staff trivialised the behaviour. The issues with a group of Y 10 boys are well known about and, yes perhaps the eye was taken 'off the ball' for a while but I can assure you it is now being addressed.
lets all let the SLT and teachers get on with addressing what needs to be addressed.
Verulam has had an independent review of behaviour following the October inspection. the findings were that it is a Good school, some text copied from the recent report:
The school is an orderly environment. This is seen in classroom behaviour and attitudes to learning and movement around the school. There are marked improvements in behaviour, which has been supported by revision of relevant policies and procedures relating to personal development, behaviour and safety.
Parents are very positive about the work of the school, as reflected in the most recent Parent Survey, and the supportive reaction to the adverse inspection judgments.
There is a zero tolerance of derogatory, racist and homophobic language by the school. Pupils are very clear about this.
The revised procedures mean that any incidents of bullying are dealt with promptly and effectively. There is great commitment to this approach by the whole staff team.
I know there are a lot of great teachers and a lot of great boys at this school. I have hesitated for a long time before posting but reading all the posts I do feel a responsibility to point out that (having recent inside experience of this school) I personally feel that Ofsted got it right. When I read their comments I really felt relieved that the culture in this school has finally come to light. In my personal opinion, the leadership in this school is poor, just as Ofsted say, and the way bullying of some boys is brushed off is shameful. I really hope that they put right the issues here and the school does right by all the boys there.
A further update for those interested... it's that time of year again and Verulam has just had another full Ofsted inspection whose report (most likely) will be published after the secondary school application deadline. Great timing - again. However, indications are that a much more favourable judgement is looking likely...
We were making tough decisions this time last year for our son and we would have loved to have had a much fuller picture. The timing of the inspection's findings was so unhelpful to prospective parents. In the end we spoke to lots of Verulam families, held our nose over the report and went with our initial positive reaction putting Verulam as our first choice. We're now half a term in and my son - and we - are extremely happy. It will be so gratifying if the excellent school we are experiencing is reflected in the forthcoming Ofsted rating.
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