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School on notice to improve

(13 Posts)
yellowsubmarine41 Tue 19-Jul-11 13:26:42

Regular but have changed name as I don't want to out myself and I know a few friends use this site.

My ds will be starting reception in September; the school was put on a notice to improve sometimes after the applications were submitted. It's KS2 results were below the floor target, though have improved this year apparently. A friend of mine has done some supply there and says that they teach a broad curriculum throughout the school, rather than SATS practice test papers throughout year 6.

I know several people with children at the school who are happy with it, and it has lots of strong points ie strong EYFS, strong KS1, good extra curriculum activities, excellent pastoral support etc. DS is excited and likes his teacher (so do I).

I'm very sceptical about the whole Ofsted/SATS thing (school had been satisfactory with good features before) though feel very unsettled about sending my child to an essentially failing school. DS seems fairly bright and capable, and is highly strung and doesn't like being told what to do, so pastoral support very important!

The head and management team have been in place a while; he's not far off retirement but I don't know how far off.

TBH, a satisfactory OFSTED would have been fine for me. There's something about the inadequate that I feel very uncomfortable about.

I'm also sick of friends whose kids are going to different schools slagging it off and telling me that they don't know how I can etc.

Does anyone have similar experiences?

Makingchanges Tue 19-Jul-11 13:37:21

My DD goes to a school which last year had notice to improve - Now has satisfactory. I don't believe a school is all about its ofsted report. The school was given notice to improve based on its SATs results in KS2 - They had lots of staff off sick and therefore a lot of upheaval. My daughter was is in reception and has come on leaps and bounds - she loves going to school.

In addition, I've just trained to be a teacher and seen first hand the work that goes in when a school is ofsteded- essentially a school is judged on its results (which are questionable) and what the inspectors see on the days they are in the school - this is not necessarily what they would see on a normal day.

I would go into the school and see for yourself - what are the children like, what ae the provisions like. You say your child likes the teacher - this will go along way to making them happy and if the issues where in KS2 (I think you said) your DC have along way to go before they reach there

Makingchanges Tue 19-Jul-11 13:39:17

Also you say that DS will be going into reception and that the school has a strong KS1 - That would be my concern as that is where DS will spend the next 3 years. Also, as the school has been given notice to improve, we found that they put a lot of effort and resources into making the improvements and now the school is a lot better for it.

yellowsubmarine41 Tue 19-Jul-11 13:42:21

Thanks - I visited the school several times when I was thinking about schools, spoke to every parent I could, and hung out outside after school (next to park so easy to do) as often as possible to get a 'feel' for it.

I did only focus on EYFS and KS1, as anything can happen as, as you say, KS2 is too far away.

HarrietJones Tue 19-Jul-11 14:25:39

NTI means they have lots of monitoring & at least a LA inspection & a HMI inspection. HMI then decide on special measures/satisfactory. School also gets extra funding

yellowsubmarine41 Tue 19-Jul-11 15:21:45

I had heard this about LA and HMI inspections.

What's the difference?

HarrietJones Tue 19-Jul-11 20:38:52

Local authority don't have the power but will be a guide & can encourage staff in the right direction. They will be acting in a advisory capacity anyway but it should be different individuals

HMI are top OFSTED inspectors & can send a school into SM or satisfactory.

That's the basic view anyway

whomovedmychocolate Tue 19-Jul-11 20:43:13

Schools with notice to improve generally do improve as a result. It's a big kick up the arse and in the main schools do seem to get better. I know of two schools locally that have gone in four years from special measures to excellent because heads and management teams have changed and the whole ethos has changed.

Don't hang your hat on the Ofsted. If you like the school, try it. If it's not what you want after a term you can always request a transfer. In the reception year moving at christmas is not that intrusive on learning. If you are happy, be confident in your decision smile

yellowsubmarine41 Tue 19-Jul-11 22:40:44

Thank-you, that's good advice. Unfortunately, in the area of London we live in transferring school isn't particularly easy, but yes I take your point that I haven't signed him up for 7 years.

I am concerned about the threat of academy status hanging over schools.

I suppose the bottom line is that I'd have thought longer and harder about putting a failing school down as a preference if it had been failing at the point of application, with no impending change of head and management team.

whomovedmychocolate Wed 20-Jul-11 12:25:43

Look, all religious schools have the threat of academy status hanging over them, it's just a trend in state education.

Failing schools are not allowed to go on failing these days.

yellowsubmarine41 Wed 20-Jul-11 17:10:23

I don't understand the relevance of of religious schools.

I'm concerned that taking schools out of LA control weakens the LA and lets the private sector in through the back door. It also re-directs funding from other local schools.

I appreciate that schools aren't allowed to go on failing forever, I just wonder at what cost.

whomovedmychocolate Wed 20-Jul-11 19:43:14

Sorry it's a long term issue - I only know the basics - basically the church of England has been mooting a plan to make all church schools academies so they have closer control of the syllabus.

Taking schools out of LA control will be an unknown quantity and yes it's a risk, but really, most schools are not beyond modelling themselves against the OFSTED criteria when an inspection is coming up. My kids go to an OFSTED outstanding school. The results are good. But if you talk to the teachers they will admit they spend a lot of time preparing for inspections and documenting evidence to retain that level with OFSTED. Personally I'd rather they spent that time teaching the kids.

yellowsubmarine41 Wed 20-Jul-11 20:07:23

Yes, I agree but I guess there's a middle ground to be found somewhere.

One of the reasons I put it as a preference is that is most definitely not a SATS factory and teaches a broad curriculum of art and music etc, but the notice to improve and Gove's plans for academies have happened since we applied.

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