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Outstanding schools

(67 Posts)
SpareRoomSleeper Mon 04-Jul-11 18:05:21

There are the obvious differences between schools rated as "good" or "outstanding", but I was wondering whether there is a difference within outstanding schools due to the area that they are in?

Are schools judged according to a national or local standard, so that if a school is very good within a deprived area, it is judged to be outstanding, but if you were to take the same school out of that area and place it in a more affluent postcode, it wouldnt rate as highly?

hiddenhome Mon 04-Jul-11 19:08:39

I think there's probably some sort of national standard to which they have to assess the schools by.

Also, the judgement process is quite subjective and schools make a huge effort in the run up to inspection time.

We removed our ds2 from an 'Outstanding' school to a 'Good' one and the 'Good' one is loads better.

LeoTheLateBloomer Mon 04-Jul-11 19:11:37

Much of it is based on progress made by the children, so you actually end up having more 'outstanding' schools in less affluent areas.

If the children come in at a low achieving level and make sufficient progress that they're above average when they leave, that is considered outstanding.

In more affluent areas the children tend to enter at a higher level so it's harder to make that same outstanding progress.

trixie123 Mon 04-Jul-11 19:15:32

The descriptions come with specific definitions. a school has to meet certain criteria in each area to earn its rating but as said above, much of it is (rightly) about progress, not raw scores. TBH although obviously the OFSTED report is a place to start, its far more important to go and visit, see what you feel about a school, talk to current parents etc. Bear in mind a report might be several years old and a lot can change under a new head for instance.

DeWe Mon 04-Jul-11 20:28:48

An outstanding one might not have very good teaching but they're all up to date on their child protection. grin

SpareRoomSleeper Mon 04-Jul-11 21:14:32

Ah, similar thoughts to what I was thinking all along...I hadnt really bought into the whole concept of outstanding school being the best in every way possible than a "good" school, and was also thinking that it had to do with progress after reading over a dozen inspection reports by ofsted.

Im worried however, that considering where we live, DD will be at a disadvantage going to a local school, as we as parents try our best to give her a wide range of experiences, educational toys and learning activities, but most of the schools around us have children that attend with hardly any english speaking skills. This is not me just making an ignorant assumption, its all there in most of the ofsted reports, alongside repeat mentions of "huge progresses in social and communication skills", which dare I say DD does not need work on at school. Frankly, Im worried that as the school will be so geared towards working on these challenges, DD's learning will suffer in the process.
Somehow, I feel thats a rather selfish and awful thing to say, but I cant help feeling or thinking it.

SpareRoomSleeper Mon 04-Jul-11 21:18:01

Let me hastily correct myself, DD may not need AS MUCH work on her social and communication skills.

<very afraid of a flaming>

grin

IndigoBell Mon 04-Jul-11 21:25:55

I'm not sure that the CVA (value added score) helps to get an outstanding OFSTED.

I think this week they are more concerned with raw scores - ie how many kids get a L4+ and a L5+

I believe currently you can't get outstanding if you don't get good SAT scores -even if you do have excellent value add....

letthembe Mon 04-Jul-11 21:33:47

It's all political bollocks. It's amount how the school 'feels' and whether it fits your child! Data can be manipulated and SATs don't give the whole picture.
Sorry to be so negative - desperately in need of a holiday.

SpareRoomSleeper Tue 05-Jul-11 12:31:04

hmmmm.....I havnt actually visited any schools yet but am curious to see how different they are to each other. letthembe, I get where you're coming from but still it cant be denied that better teaching and learning takes place in some schools compared to others.

Elibean Tue 05-Jul-11 13:26:46

SpareRoom, go and see - really. Its so easy to get all tangled up in rumours and Ofsteds and all the rest, and none of it will tell you much without a visit. I'm not saying ignore Ofsted and reputations, but take them with a pinch of salt until you've visited.

As for EALs, and value added, and all that....I'm certainly not a flamer, but from experience I would say its very possible for a school to have high expectations for ALL pupils, and to support children without EAL or social 'issues', as well as the rest of the cohort. Our EAL children are often amongst the highest achievers by the end of primary, but those who come in with fluent English, socially skilled and doing well, tend to do well all the way through - they don't suffer as a result of the others!

Fennel Tue 05-Jul-11 13:36:13

I really don't think it means much. My dc started in an Outstanding school, moved to a Good, then to a merely Satisfactory (cos we moved twice in quick succession when they were 5/6 ish). The SATS results, behaviour, enthusiasm, general feel of things in all 3 schools has been very similar, we've liked all 3 schools. The difference can be in little things, our current small school was a First School just expanding to a Primary and it wasn't good on those Ofsted box ticking things. It makes little difference to the pupils or parents, and it's always oversubscribed anyway.

ragged Tue 05-Jul-11 13:39:19

Can a school get an Outstanding rating and have average KS2 SAT results? I thought not (?) I thought the Outstanding was heavily dependent on the KS2 results.

mummytime Tue 05-Jul-11 14:30:48

Schools on my side of town all tend to have good SAT results, but vary from satisfactory to outstanding.

Actually from a very quick look, my danger signal would be the parent survey results. As one school which is only satisfactory, despite quite good results, has quite low levels of parental satisfaction eg. only 65% strongly agree to "my child enjoys school" or 54% for "My school informs me about my child's progress". This would worry me.

Sadly I had hoped the school had improved from when I was looking at Primary schools first, and I moved to be in the catchment of a school I preferred.

ninani Tue 05-Jul-11 15:39:30

OP, what you mentioned ' "huge progresses in social and communication skills", which dare I say DD does not need work on at school' sounds great. Such schools put an emphasis in children's language and reading skills. Our teacher told me the same thing (and we had the same thing said in the OFSTED report). Remember that they only so little so their language hasn't yet developed as much.

Jinx1906 Tue 05-Jul-11 16:04:31

Our children are in an outstanding school. I don't mean to sound negative but I don't believe the ofsted report is worth the paper it is written on.

SpareRoomSleeper Tue 05-Jul-11 17:30:48

mummytime If I'm very honest, I hadn't even considered taking the parent survey results seriously. I dont know why! Now that I think about it, its a huge oversight on my behalf, and I'm glad I've posted on here!

niani, I didnt completely understand what you meant <thicko emoticon> ...did you mean that schools that focus on progression in social and communication skills do this through developing reading and language skills? It does make sense.

Elibean..thank you, thats very positive and encouraging to hear from someone who works in education.

Jinx what is it that makes you say that about your dcs school, even though its outstanding?

Elibean Tue 05-Jul-11 17:40:24

You're welcome, but I don't work in Education - at least, not for money!

I'm a Governor, fwiw, and have always been quite involved in my dds' school - but not an expert. Just observation and things I have learnt in my Gov role.

SpareRoomSleeper Tue 05-Jul-11 17:45:24

Ah, ok, makes sense. smile

letthembe Tue 05-Jul-11 19:25:50

I believe it's the overall ethos of a school that matters and that comes from the head and SLT. The head at my DC's school is outstanding - she knows all the children as individuals, strives for the best education for the individual, changes things when things go wrong and is always approachable. I have taught in a school with 80% FSM and nearly 60% SEN, the school was down near the bottom of the league table but the teachers and TAs are/were fantastic, compassionate, enthusiastic and talented! It is NOT just about SAT results. I now teach in a much more affluent area, the actual day-in-day-out teaching is far easier so you can be more adventurous. Please don't just go decide on OfSTED reports and League Tables!!

Lara2 Tue 05-Jul-11 19:37:44

DeWe grin!!! And their covered outside areas!!! wink

hockeyforjockeys Tue 05-Jul-11 19:40:24

lettheme Agree completely that there is a world of difference between Ofsted outstanding and actually outstanding schools. My previous school was outstanding, but Ofsted would never give the rating due to the nationally average SATS results in a very deprived area.

ButWhyIsTheGinGone Tue 05-Jul-11 19:42:28

Hmm. Obviously I am speaking for one school here, but the "outstanding" school in my cluster is ruled with a thoroughly iron fist - I am a teacher and know all the schools in my town to a certain extent. The BLOODY head is, in frankness, a clique-encouraging bully. She spent 95k on an extension in the front entrance including sofas, plasma TVs and a display area, then banned the kids from it in case they dirtied it!
Sorry - this is a very one-sided view, there are some amazing outstanding schools, but I needed a rant and it makes me angry that we are "satisfactory" when we just care about the KIDS!!!

mixedmamameansbusiness Tue 05-Jul-11 19:45:06

Personally I like to read the comments of the inspectors about how staff interact and how the pupils and parents feel rather than the actual scoring.

Both the nursery that I have used and the primary are "good" and the reception at DS1 school has just scored satisfactory (although the rest of the school higher), but my experience does not match to the report so I take it with a pinch of salt. The childrens centre which has been and continues to be our nursery also scored "good" but the comments made by the inspector in the report were so heartwarming and brilliant.

I also think you get a vibe. I walked into both places and just knew they were the place for us - and the childrens centre was somewhere I just thought I would look at but was adamant wouldnt be for us. Gut instinct.

mixedmamameansbusiness Tue 05-Jul-11 19:45:42

Oh and the outstanding school just never replied to my messages - obviously too outstanding.

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