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If OFSTED rated a school as outstanding but you didn't like what you saw of the headteachers, would you apply there?

(40 Posts)
SnowyGonzalez Wed 29-Dec-10 23:06:44

I (and several others I know) found the head and deputy head at this particular school to be somewhat forbidding, and patronising. From what I saw myself, the school is clearly great for the kids except that it has no warmth, no soul. But it has an amazing reputation among parents whose kids are there, and OFSTED thinks it's the bees knees.

Thoughts, anyone?

BornInTheLGI Wed 29-Dec-10 23:09:46

No, I wouldn't. Gut reaction matters hugely, and OFSTED is not a reliable thing to go by anyway. I'm not sure how a school with no warmth or soul can really be a good thing for children at all.

Ponders Wed 29-Dec-10 23:12:17

No DON'T!!!

Def go by gut feelings. My kids' primary school used to get good Ofsteds, & good SATs too, but the Head didn't like kids (& they knew it) & the staff were very tense & unhappy.

Assuming there is an alternative which you feel is happier, go there!

Earlybird Wed 29-Dec-10 23:13:38

Would be inclined to listen to Ofsted and also opinions/experiences of parents who have dc currently at the school, or very recently departed (do you know any parents well enough to discuss your impressions?). It may be that the head/deputy head have little direct bearing on the classroom atmosphere/warmth.

Have the head and deputy head been at the school for a while? What is the rate of staff turnover?

MyLittleOwls Wed 29-Dec-10 23:15:07

Run in the opposite direction. If you found the HT and DH forbidding how would you deal with them if a problem arose?

Ofsted report is just a snap shot of a school on a particular day when everybody is lovely and shiney and jolly not a true reflection.

Go with your gut instinct and look for a school with happy children and low staff turnover.

bulby Wed 29-Dec-10 23:16:59

Ofsted ratings are to a great extent meaningless. Have worked in 2 outstanding schools, one 'played the game' and had a head who 'talked the talk' wouldn't send my daughter there for love nor money. The school I am currently at is very unlikely to retain its status but it is the most lovely place both for the kids and staff.

BelleDeChocChipCookieMonster Wed 29-Dec-10 23:18:53

Sounds like one of the schools that I have pulled ds out of. It was a little exam factory and the head was a shmoozing expert who only wanted children in there who did as they were told and didn't ask questions because the head wanted an easy life(I was told this by an ex teacher). I'd run.

SnowyGonzalez Wed 29-Dec-10 23:21:50

I agree re gut feeling. So far we've always been 'lucky' with our choices of childcare as we've always gone with our gut.

It's highly likely that we'll get a place at the fabulous school which we love, love, love, despite it being a bit further away than the cold school. But Fab School has a growing ace reputation and I am slightly scared that this year may be a bumper year for them applications-wise. Hence my indecisiveness over Cold School. Our only other option is a lovely school which we haven't a hope in hell of getting into. So it all hinges on Fab and Cold.

Earlybird, I don't know about staff turnover. But parents I've spoken to with kids at Cold School absolutely love it. So perhaps, as you suggest, the heads (who have been there for at least 3 years) don't have much impact on the atmosphere. Come to think of it, the classroom atmosphere was lovely.

(Hi, Ponders! grin)

SnowyGonzalez Wed 29-Dec-10 23:22:27

Good god. How can a school headteacher not like children?


SnowyGonzalez Wed 29-Dec-10 23:23:31

MyLittleOwls: "Run in the opposite direction. If you found the HT and DH forbidding how would you deal with them if a problem arose?" - my thoughts exactly. I got the very clear impression that parents were a necessary inconvenience. hmm

BelleDeChocChipCookieMonster Wed 29-Dec-10 23:24:49

If the children don't know any better then they will love it Snowy.

melezka Wed 29-Dec-10 23:25:26

No, no, no, no, no ,no ,no.

First school I sent my dcs to was too small for Ofsted rating. Incredibly happy time there till headteacher left (as is the way with small schools - often stand or fall because of head teacher). I know I chose it then by standing in the playground and soaking in the atmosphere - and I know if I did the same now I'd walk away.

DD left an "outstanding" secondary school (when we moved counties) to go to another "outstanding" school. While each school is what I might consider adequate - they are not in any way equal in terms of their suitability for her to thrive.

Gut instinct is absolutely crucial, IMHO.

Ponders Wed 29-Dec-10 23:25:54

"staff turnover" is a hard figure to establish, esp in a medium-sized primary. At the school I mentioned, at least 1 teacher was on long-term (stress-related) sick leave all the time - they took it in turns, effectively hmm - but you would not have been able to find that out unless you knew another member of staff socially.

If you get the chance, talk to the children, & any non-professional parents you know. Our parents included GPs, solicitors & barristers & their impression of the school was completely different from that of the hoi-polloi hmm

SnowyGonzalez Wed 29-Dec-10 23:29:02 likely to see one of the parents in the next couple of weeks, before the application closing date. Will definitely speak to them!

Ponders Wed 29-Dec-10 23:30:42

snowy, have just seen your 23.21 post, I think I should know you but where from???

Ponders Wed 29-Dec-10 23:31:42

ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, pedants corner!!!

(phew grin)

SnowyGonzalez Wed 29-Dec-10 23:33:26

Arf! Not stalking you, Ponders, I promise! grin

Ponders Wed 29-Dec-10 23:42:41


wishing you lots of luck with your choice anyway, snowy smile

(it is a minefield...)

NoahAndTheWhale Wed 29-Dec-10 23:50:16

When we moved house I visited a lot of schools. Most rated Good by Ofsted. Really didn't like the Outstanding one I saw. Really did like a Satisfactory one. Ended up at a Good one but I knew straight away the Outstanding one wouldn't have been right.

IndigoBell Thu 30-Dec-10 07:35:44

The Headteacher has an absolutely immense effect on the school. If you don't like him(or her)- definately, definately don't send your child there.

The class teacher more or less has to do what the HT tells them - so if he wants a strict, authoreterian school - that is what he'll get.

Not only that, but of course the HT is the person who does all the hiring - so he will hire teachers who agree with him.

Whereas what does an Outstanding Ofsted report mean? It means that all their paperwork is up to date, they had all the figures and stats done, and when Ofsted spent 2 days walking around they saw things they wanted to see.

It does not mean the kids are happy, or well rounded or even well educated.

My (personal) litmus test of whether a school is good or not is how many kids it has on the SEN register. If a school has well below average (eg below 20%) number of kids on the SEN register - especially comnbined with good league table results - then I would automatically assume that it is not a caring school.

All (state) schools more or less start off with the same number of SEN kids (30%) - but if the school is rubbish/uncaring then parents of SEN kids will move their kids to a better school - because these are the kids who will fail first and most obviously.

StealthPolarBear Thu 30-Dec-10 07:44:40

We went to see an outstanding school where we couldn't stand the head and weren't bowled over by the school - we both came out saying he's NOT going there.
The head was a businessman. His little book of showing parents round told him to interact with the children in front of us and it was completely forced and false.
He told us a story about how a girl who had left came back to set fire to the place - somehow that was meant to show the school in a good light.
He mentioned a little girl with Down's Syndrome - "she brings an extra TA, but she doesn't need her so we just use her generally in the school to up the TA numbers"

DontLetTinselDragOnTheFloor Thu 30-Dec-10 07:51:13

Gut feeling is essential IMO. Thankfully, my gut feeling and my children's school OFSTED rating matched up.

Goblinchild Thu 30-Dec-10 07:51:27

'Whereas what does an Outstanding Ofsted report mean? It means that all their paperwork is up to date, they had all the figures and stats done, and when Ofsted spent 2 days walking around they saw things they wanted to see.'

As a teacher, I agree that OFSTED is almost entirely data-driven. Go with how the school made you feel.
In my primary, school tours on open days are run by Y6 in pairs, so parents can talk to children without getting the party line.
I have been on visits to schools and known within 10 minutes if I wanted to be a part of their setup.

Lamorna Thu 30-Dec-10 08:05:45

Only use the Ofstead as a guide. Visit on a normal working day and go with your gut feeling.

Lamorna Thu 30-Dec-10 08:06:27

Sorry, Ofsted

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