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Would you trust an impressive headteacher at a previously failing primary?

(38 Posts)
Masalamama Mon 19-Nov-12 21:39:33

So we live in area with an outstanding primary school that is heavily oversubscribed. The next nearest school has been Ofsted outstanding for years, just this year almost failing its inspection after a change in leadership and three years of falling results.

In the meantime, another local primary that failed its Ofsted 4 years ago has really upped its game. It has a very impressive young headteacher, who has created a high tech and v energetic team of teachers. The outside space is the best in the neighbourhood, despite being in a "deprived" part of the area. It went straight to Good in 2010 "This is a good and rapidly improving school" and is expecting another Ofsted any time now.

My view is that this school has all the potential to be the best in the neighbourhood. But I am not sure to what extent I can take a punt on my child's future. I'll be watching out for the new Ofsted, and the results in Dec, but do any of your more experienced parents have advice/experiences to share? Ta!

mumchat Tue 20-Nov-12 21:04:37

Boy have I now learnt that The Head, teachers & governors are what matters. Especially the Head. I've seen our "good" ofsted school with a lovely head who did the right thing for the children (not for ofsted/sats results etc) become an outstanding ofsted school BUT the school has gone downhill so much under his (lack of) leadership.

The honest village school where what you saw was what you got is now cliquey, dishonest, full of spin and feels worse than party politics! It has taken four years for it to really filter through but now many parents are not happy and the staff are even voting with their feet. He has ruined a wonderful school.

If you have the option of a great Head I would welcome that with open arms. I will never judge by "good" parents, "good SATs" again. A good head is critical in my view.

CrapBag Tue 20-Nov-12 21:51:14

I don't give a shit if people think I am snobby about a school. When you hear from a friend that your local school had a mum fighting with a 10 year old outside, it is going to make me think twice about it and the people that use it.

Masalamama Tue 20-Nov-12 23:19:13

Rudolphstolemycarrots LittleMachine I have visited them all. Somehow I feel v inclined to this formerly failing one. I organised a visit for me and my neighbours on a school day and the headteacher showed us around for almost 1.5 hrs. The kids were around and we even got a chance to observe them while at play time.

SunflowersSmile I do worry sometimes. Thank goodness for you ladies hmm

CrapBag It's always a tough choice. But I wouldn't go solely with what someone else tells me about what may have happened outside the school gates.

MayaAngelCool Wed 21-Nov-12 00:23:09

Masala, I'm afraid it does sadly make a difference sometimes which 'type' of people are at the school, and I despair over this. I have a thread running at the moment about trying to shoehorn DS away from the more unpleasant, aggressive kids in his class and towards kids who will have a better influence on him. At this tender age it makes a difference because once they get into the habit of mixing with badly-behaved kids of any social class it becomes harder to separate them.

The thing is to get to know the families and trust your instincts. I'm sure there will be plenty of lovely kids at the school you like. Just be aware as the months and years go on of who your kids are mixing with and how they're being influenced. Then don't be shy to steer them away from established friendships if you think they're potentially harmful.

SunflowersSmile Wed 21-Nov-12 14:06:52

Let us know how you get on masalamama.
I am glad the school visit went so well; a Headteacher that really makes an effort to show the school while 'in action' is great.

AChickenCalledKorma Wed 21-Nov-12 15:41:02

I do understand Maya's perspective and that is a very tough position to be in. But please don't confuse behaviour with social class (sorry, can't think of a better term). They are not the same thing.

For what it's worth, the only established friendship which I am currently trying to steer my child away from is with a very wealthy child whose parents unfortunately don't know how to say no to her. Both my children have much more healthy relationships with several school friends whose family circumstances might be described as "deprived". A huge amount depends on behaviour management and the kind of values that are instilled at home and at school.

MayaAngelCool Thu 22-Nov-12 11:21:59

I agree with you about the class thing, Korma, and when I talk about the 'type' of person, for me that doesn't mean class either - it's about the parents' values and how they pass those on. The school is excellent and teachers work incredibly hard to instil caring values, but there's only so much they can do when they are unsupported by a minority of parents.

There are lots of boys from middle and working class backgrounds in DS's classroom, but only a couple of them are aggressive because, intentionally or not, their family cultures tolerate it. <<judgemental hard stare at the parents in question grin>>

CrapBag Thu 22-Nov-12 14:43:25

Masa this wasn't neighbourhood gossip, it was seem by my friend who picked up her friends children from the school. The friend of a friend has since moved her children away to another school.

arkestra Thu 22-Nov-12 16:28:23

I would go for the school on the up without a second thought.

My secondary (state) school was good when I started ("good" in the generic non-Ofsted term as this was a while ago) and then gradually fell apart when in my second year a good head was replaced by one who was perfectly nice but just not really up to the job. The school closed down altogether a few years after I left.

So I would certainly agree that heads make a lot of difference!

You mention "taking a punt" - but nothing is certain. Really you are taking a punt whatever you do, it's about trying to select the best bet. And the school on the up sounds like a good bet from your OP...

SunflowersSmile Thu 22-Nov-12 17:50:22

The thing is Crapbag one shouting abusive parent does not represent a whole school- or even a few abusive parents...
A good Head will jump down hard on inappropriate parent behaviour on school grounds.
I would be offended to be 'judged' by the occasional bad behaviour of a minority of parents at my ds school. The school is still an excellent school with a Head that can kick arse if needed [parent arses that is!!].

CrapBag Thu 22-Nov-12 22:36:04

Yes I am aware of that but the school isn't known to be a good school, hence me not sending my DS there.

Idonthaveenoughtime Wed 05-Jun-13 21:05:42

Even though one of the schools I've been looking at is outstanding, the fact it is in the middle of a council estate means it is under subscribed not oversubscribed. The middle class parents send their children to the 'good' school up the road. This school may be coasting because there is a huge divide between children who don't get their level 4s and the majority who are getting level 5s and above, suggesting some parents may be putting the effort in more than others. The middle class parents also found the outstanding school a bit patronising because of it's overemphasis on reading to your child every night etc etc, which to be honest, seems like common sense. However, the outstanding school is keeping standards high in a area that might normally lead to a lot more variation.
And some people are awful snobs in that they don't want their kids mixing with others who might statistically be more likely to teach them bad habits or lead them down the wrong path! This misses the point that a good mix is better, for the simple reason that they can learn from each other.

Idonthaveenoughtime Wed 05-Jun-13 21:06:45

Also meant to say that the outstanding school is only outstanding because of the head teacher who is fantastic, before she turned up it was awful, now she is leaving it remains to be seen if it will continue to be outstanding.

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