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Outstanding or special measures

(21 Posts)
Iggly Thu 18-Oct-12 09:48:02

There are two state primary schools to me, one of which is outstanding, the other is in special measures.

Now in terms of catchment areas, we're on the cusp of the outstanding one. If we put that one at the top of the list, dont get it, I suspect we'll get the special measures one.

How much of a disaster would it really be? We could afford private at a stretch but our principles say no. All the other state primaries in the borough are too far away and we can't afford a £150k premium to move to another good one.

Anyone here have children in a less than desirable school?

AChickenCalledKorma Thu 18-Oct-12 09:55:55

Have you been to visit them yet? If not, go and make your own judgement. And ask LOTS of questions in the special measures school, mainly about what systems they have put in place to improve.

A school that is under new management and taking big strides towards getting out of special measures can be a great place to learn. Once that is sinking without trace can be dire.

Equally, "outstanding" schools can be absolutely fantastic. And they can also be rather soulless, box-ticking places that are overly obsessed with results.

My children's school is "satisfactory", having been in special measures about 8 years ago. As far as I can see, it's flippin' marvellous. I don't really get what Ofsted are on about.

Devora Thu 18-Oct-12 10:00:53

Well, I guess it's down to why it's in special measures and what things are important to you. I would be concerned and would do LOTS of my own research. For me personally, I would not be prepared to accept a school where behaviour standards were poor, where bullying goes ignored, where children don't get looked after, where the school has no sense of community. But you won't get a full sense of that from an Ofsted report.

Lovingthecoast Thu 18-Oct-12 10:14:48

Everything that Achickencalledkorma just said!
Visit and ask lots of questions. Read the ofsted reports yourself to find out why they have been put in SM. If its because teaching or leadership is poor and there has been no changes then avoid it. Alternatively, if theyve had lots of training and input and a new management team then it may be a very exciting time to be there. The school in SM will be getting lots of support and, crucially, money. A new, inspiring head with a pot of money can work wonders for a school.

On the flip side, an outstanding school may be just that or it may be dull and uninspiring. Visit and see what you think.

Fuzzymum1 Thu 18-Oct-12 10:14:55

Our school went into SM just after DS1 started - they had a whole new management team and mostly new teaching staff and within just over a year were out of SM again and doing well. We considered moving him but didn't and are very glad we stuck with the school and he did really well there.

Iggly Thu 18-Oct-12 10:21:00

Thanks all. I've just booked to have a look around and get a feel for the place in special measures. The outstanding school is fully booked! The site itself looks lovely - lots of green space with a pond etc which is important to me (whereas the outstanding school only has a playground)

Lovingthecoast Thu 18-Oct-12 11:13:10

Oh make sure you ask how they utilise the green space. Such things are like gold dust in a primary school and if they are good they will be using it fully or at least their school improvement plan should talk about how they plan to use it fully.
I would actually also ask the outstanding school how they are looking to improve. If the head takes an arrogant, 'oh we are already outstanding' view then stay well clear. Schools, even those deemed good, should always be looking to improve.

Melmagpie Thu 18-Oct-12 11:46:04

Don't special measures schools get loads of extra attention and resources? I know of a few that have been in sm and then been turned around to become really fantastic, creative, vibrant and academically successful schools. So see what's happening to address the problems and it could turn out to be a good horse to back.

AChickenCalledKorma Thu 18-Oct-12 13:13:20

Frankly, I would avoid a school that was "fully booked" like the plague. So they are too busy to show a prospective parent around? Is that also the sort of attitude they will take when your child has a problem at school? The Head of our "satisfactory" school will always make the time to give prospective parents a tour. Maybe not immediately - you might have to book ahead - but she is proud to show people what we are doing.

mamasmissionimpossible Thu 18-Oct-12 13:23:32

I'm glad you started this thread, as I am in exactly the same position choosing between an outstanding school and one in special measures <wonders if op lives near me> I have just been to visit school rated 'outstanding' and have to say I was impressed from what I could see. I am yet to vist the school in special measures, but will need to so that I can compare and see what is right for my ds. However, the catchment area is so tiny for the outstanding school whereas the special measures school is undersubcribed only 18 children per class! We may have to move just to get a place within the catchment of the outstanding school.

The schools seemed to happy for us to have look around despite it not being the official open day, I think you gain alot from going around yourself and see if the school 'fits' what you want for your dc.

Iggly Thu 18-Oct-12 13:26:30

I'm in south east London <vague> catchment areas are tiny. You'd have to camp on the door step to get a place grin and I'm within a ten minute walk and I think I'm outside of the catchment hmm

Yes I wondered about being too full to come and let me look around hmm

mamasmissionimpossible Thu 18-Oct-12 13:33:28

We're in Brighton, which sounds alot like London. You practically need to live outside the school to get a school place. It's ridiculous. All of our good/outstanding local schools are oversubcribed and we live too far out of catchment to get in. I know where you are coming from, this school problem is causing us a nightmare![

alphabite Thu 18-Oct-12 19:26:39

I would say it depends on why the unsatisfactory school is failing. Look at the Ofsted report. You can be sure they will be getting lots of monitoring visits and they will have to improve. They will be very accountable for everything they do. The Outstanding schools may wait 5 years for another Ofsted visit. Lots can happen in that time. Just a thought!

I worked in a good school with outstanding features and I also worked in a satisfactory school. I know which one the kids were getting a better deal from (and it wasn't the good/outstanding school!). Make sure you visit.

Iggly Thu 18-Oct-12 19:31:44

mama it's frustrating isn't it?! House prices are really skewed in some roads simply for being near a good school. Madness.

That's interesting alphabite. I've got the open days sorted now. Have also read the ofsted - one issue was poor teaching especially of those who are most and least able. And maths wasn't great either...

admission Thu 18-Oct-12 22:49:44

As a rough guide any inspection that is more than two years old, has to be viewed with some suspicion. Things can change so much in two years that the school might be unrecognisable from that detailed in the Ofsted inspection report.
The only way is to visit the schools and see for yourself what is going on and how things are done. Any primary school that only has organised tours and open days I would be immediately wary of, you want to see the school operating on a normal day, not when everything is set up nicely.

wigglywoowoo Thu 18-Oct-12 22:57:51

Our catchment school was in special measures 3 years ago, has now had a lot of input, staffing changes etc and was rated Good by ofstead earlier this year. These schools tend to become successful and given the choice again I would now choose for my dd to go to that school, but that is the benefit of hindsight!

TheBuskersDog Thu 18-Oct-12 23:06:51

How can the outstanding school be fully booked, primary applications don't close until January? Does the school have a set time when parents can make appointments for with no flexibility, if so not a great sign.

ihearsounds Thu 18-Oct-12 23:32:40

Based on various experiences I have had with ofsted inspections, I am very weary of them. I base my children's education on visits to the school, talking to parents of students, talking to the pupils outside of school... Not in some weird loitering around the gates way lol, but going with my own dc's to the parks near potential schools. In school some staff tell pupils what to say. Outside they are freer.

MrsMelons Fri 19-Oct-12 12:14:38

We went for a satisfactory school rather than outstanding even though the outstanding school was our catchment school.

The satisfactory school had a new HT and was generally a nicer ethos. Lots of grass to play on and they do lots of outside activities too. I am really pleased as the latest ofsted was good with outstanding elements so they are doing really well.

lljkk Fri 19-Oct-12 12:25:06

Try to get a feel (gossip, Ofsted report) for what made each school have its rating. Is Outstanding only Outstanding because of excellent intake years ago? Is Special Measure that way because of poor leadership but the old head has left, or other factors that may not be ongoing?

FWIW, the most popular school in our town went into SM 3 months ago, 4 days after a new HT took over. Anyone in the know knows how great this HT is and has no doubts the school will be terrific in 2-3 years time.

FolkGhoul Fri 19-Oct-12 15:05:07

Both of my children attend different schools (primary and secondary).

Both schools are 'outstanding'.

Neither is perfect, but the primary is 'better' than the secondary by a country mile.

The ofsted inspection only gives one picture of a school.

The one thing you can be sure of is that a school is special measures will be having money thrown at it, lots of support from the Local Authority and will be working it's arse off; developing and implementing all the 'best practice' it can.

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