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ofsted reports -are they worth the paper they are written on?

(31 Posts)
sausagesandwich34 Fri 09-Nov-12 22:43:08

DCs school had ofsted in recently and the report that came back is brilliant

however the best children were picked to read to the inspectors & talk to them in a group

they also discussed with their teachers what they would discuss with the inspectors before hand

why don't the inspectors just walk into a class and go 'you, you and you' rather than let the teachers pick

-this isn't a teacher bashing thread by the way, I love my dcs teachers and also recognise that when my RM walks in at work there is a flurry of activity to make sure he sees the best side of everything

I was just wondering because some parents put so much emphasis on ofsted reports when picking schools

alcofrolic Fri 09-Nov-12 22:45:45

I thought the new ofsted was the 'you, you, you' approach! Is your school outstanding and going to become an academy?

TINKERBELLE33 Fri 09-Nov-12 22:48:45

Ours was this week and we had no say about who was spoken to. The inspectors spoke to the kids during lesson observations, as they met them in hallways and at a school council meeting. We weren't told what they would be asking them either.

TuftyFinch Fri 09-Nov-12 22:49:11

In answer to your question, no, they're not. It's a game, some schools are better than others at playing it. The teachers who talk to Ofsted are also chosen by their manager and primed. Then told to feed back immediately. Often the grade is known before the visit even happens. They are consultants.

sausagesandwich34 Fri 09-Nov-12 22:51:23

apparently not, the children that were going to be reading knew the day before

school not outstanding but was poor 8 years ago and has been steadily on the up ever since -the report is really pleasing

they got a phone call at lunch time to say inspectors coming the next day and the children knew before hometime

Gentleness Fri 09-Nov-12 22:52:44

I'm afraid when I see an outstanding ofsted grade now, I think, "There is a school with senior managers who know how to jump through hoops." Doesn't mean it is a bad thing, just doesn't mean that the kids necessarily come first there.

TuftyFinch Fri 09-Nov-12 22:58:14

I agree with gentleness. When I see 'Outstanding' I think they must play a good game. I moved DS from an 'Outstanding' school to a 'Satisfactory' school because the children and their happiness weren't a priority at the Outstanding school.

Fizzypop001 Sat 10-Nov-12 03:13:58

Yes I agree can't trust ofsted reports when I was looking for a new nursery few months back due to moving I found a nursery 5 mins from my house looked at ofsted it was a good nursery with outstanding features one including talking to parents and careers and went to the nursery to view and it was really really bad children unattended low staff ratios and really rude staff that were very unprofessional my dd also been to satisfactory nursery before and was Way better then that nursery

RiversideMum Sat 10-Nov-12 07:58:14

I think it is possible for schools to be "good" and have very different approaches and attitudes towards the children. The "good" is based largely on data.

Sparklingbrook Sat 10-Nov-12 08:01:08

I still think that Ofsted should go in with no warning whatsoever. Why do schools get any warning at all?

cumbrialass Sat 10-Nov-12 08:26:23

Quie simply because they need to interview the governors ( many of whom will have full time jobs elsewhere and will need to arrange time off work) that the Head needs to be in the school and available at all times rather at meetings elsewhere and finally because of all the data that they require ( and in the form that they require it) which needs updating before they arrive ( it's no good saying "here are the results from September assessments but I'm sure the children will have improved since then", you need to prove it! )

Sparklingbrook Sat 10-Nov-12 08:28:16

But could they do a 'spot check' to sit in on lessons and talk to the children, have a look round the school? With all the rest done at a different time.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 10-Nov-12 08:33:01

A lot of the decision about what a school will get is made by analysing the data from the school in the weeks before they come in. the visit is simply to back this up so the school picking the kids like you describe will hardly make any difference

learnandsay Sat 10-Nov-12 08:35:12

Sometimes it's better to have a system even if it's a playable one than to have chaos.

HanSolo Sat 10-Nov-12 08:37:00

I thought there were announced, and unannounced inspections.

redskyatnight Sat 10-Nov-12 08:42:30

DD's school was inspected by Ofsted recently and they only found out the day before. DD was chosen to talk to the inspectors (and yes, the school chose the most sensible children, who can be trusted to actually talk coherently and sit still, but I'm sure the inspectors expect that! ). When DD came home I asked her what they'd talked about and she said she'd been asked about her targets - and replied that she couldn't remember them. The school still got the grading they expected smile

cumbrialass Sat 10-Nov-12 08:42:51

The lessons and chats are such a small part of the decision that there's little point in them being done, other than to make a show of being "inclusive" As Shipwrecked says, the decision is made based almost entirely on data, even if the Inspectors saw outstanding lessons throughout, the children were little angels and the reading was first class, if the results aren't outstanding, then the school isn't!

jomidmum Sat 10-Nov-12 09:20:02

I think there are many schools assessed as outstanding, but certainly aren't outstanding!
In the school my DCs were at, it was assessed as outstanding in all areas......but no reference to unresolved ongoing bullying problems, poor support for children with dyslexia, boredom being very common amongst boys in school years 4-6, etc.
I wonder how a school with these issues can be outstanding? I'm now very sceptical about ofsted reports.

Hulababy Sat 10-Nov-12 09:26:46

We have had some LEA inspections, based on the new OFSTED frameworks and the children were not handpicked. We were told register numbers for each class - so maybe 4, 9 and 22 for example - and you had to send those children and/or books.

Likewise the teachers spoken to were key positions in the school - leadership, head of xxx, etc.

All classes were observed. Key focus on phonics.

Hulababy Sat 10-Nov-12 09:29:26

Last time OFSTED came they did the same btw - one little boy chosen from the class I work in was a child with elective mutism. We still had to send him to meet the inspectors.

alcofrolic Sat 10-Nov-12 13:12:01

I wonder what box that ticked, hula! Did they try to communicate with him? Any feedback?
That is unbelievable!

StarlightMcKenzie Sat 10-Nov-12 13:22:51

Because ofsted inspections aren't inspections, they are tools to validate whatever the latest government policy is based on whims and what voters feel is acceptable.

I bet that inspections carried out in the first term of government carry more 'unsatisfactories' than those in the last term.

clam Sat 10-Nov-12 13:28:18

Are they worth the paper they are written on?

ROFL grin

BarrelOfDwarves Sat 10-Nov-12 14:54:44

I'd be careful about going on the headline grade alone. Inspectors judge schools in four "key areas", which get melded into one overall judgement. To get "outstanding" overall, it's potentially enough for a school to only get "good" in most areas but have "outstanding" achievement rates. Basically it's four broad pictures combined into one even broader picture.

E.g. with Jo's experience about dyslexia support, the inspectors might have noticed the problem, but it's only one aspect of disability/disadvantage support, which in turn is only one aspect of the "Quality of Teaching" area. So the school could well get an "outstanding" grade that was highly misleading to parents of dyslexic children. The full written report is supposed to reflect that kind of nuance. Whether it does or not depends on what the lead inspector thought was most notable.

Most of the documents about inspection processes are on the Ofsted website, if you have the stomach for reading civil servant speak. This is the main handbook for inspectors:

StarlightMcKenzie Sat 10-Nov-12 15:13:52

If a school is strong enough with good enough leadership to stragically play the ofsted game, then it is 'usually' also able to do well for the children that attend.

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