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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!

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.

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.

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.

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!!].

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...

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.

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>>

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

LittleMachine Tue 20-Nov-12 17:25:18

Oops sorry should have had a full stop instead of a comma there, my phone screen is cracked and I can't see what I'm doing!

LittleMachine Tue 20-Nov-12 17:24:26

I would ask to visit while the children are in if possible, this gives you a great insight into the ethos of a school and how it feels,
It sounds very similar to the school that I teach in. We are in a very deprived area - the upshot of this is that we have had enormous amounts of funding over the last 5 years (less so now), so we are incredibly well resourced and very highly trained. Our reputation as a good school has taken a while to embed within the community, but we are now over-subscribed.

marquesas Tue 20-Nov-12 10:24:24

I think everyone has already said it but yes, I would go with the impressive head. A local school to me (not the one my DC attended so I can't speak personally) really changed when the old HT retired. He wasn't a bad head by any means but his replacement was 20 years younger and really reinvigorated the school.

sparkle12mar08 Tue 20-Nov-12 10:17:57

A school is pretty much only as good as it's head. That is, a great head can turn around a poor school, and a poor head can quickly damage a great school. So the demographic of the children and parents would bother me a lot less in general than the performance of the head.

Ponders Tue 20-Nov-12 09:56:41

head knowing kids' names is a massive plus smile

SunflowersSmile Tue 20-Nov-12 09:49:45

Sounds like you have your head screwed on masalamama grin.

CaseyShraeger Tue 20-Nov-12 09:10:15

I would snap up "Good and rapidly improving" before everyone else caught on and it became oversubscribed. The head makes a MASSIVE difference to a school.

Masalamama Tue 20-Nov-12 09:06:20

Thanks so much! You've confirmed my thoguhts. I would rather go to a school that is showing ambition and drive. The kids that attend are mostly from local council estates, but it won't be long before the school is deemed outstanding and the (snobby) middle class types swoop in I reckon. I have had advice to the tunes of "go at 3:30pm and see if those parents are the types you want to have tea with". Astounding stuff. Does it really mater at that tender age?? The kids seemed adorable to me, play time was very energetic and the ehad knew the kids names...

Luckily for me, I have tea in my office, where I work Mon-Fri!!

exoticfruits Tue 20-Nov-12 08:19:44

I wouldn't worry about the snobbery-some parents were like that about my DC's school -some then changed when our school got the outstanding-it was quite funny!

SunflowersSmile Tue 20-Nov-12 07:08:32

Gosh- there is some snobbery from a couple of posters here about 'parents one would like to mix with'.
Visit the school op- it does sound 'on the up' and a vibrant non coasting school.
You don't want to end up at a school that coasts due to its middle class intake....[ie parents do the work and school can sit pretty either doing bugger all or being a SATs factory to satisfy pushy parents].

izzybobsmum Tue 20-Nov-12 02:41:05

Yes, definitely! My dd's school had an old-fashioned head with old fashioned ideas, and the Ofsted came out Satisfactory. Cue Head's retirement and appointment of younger, energetic, dynamic new Head, and the school has made big leaps forward. Everyone likes her, and wants the school to do weLl and as a consequence, teachers and pupils both try really hard...

steppemum Mon 19-Nov-12 23:19:58

school actually sounds great, vibrant inovative. the head makes all the difference.

BUT the intake may be a lot of kids whose parents weren't bothered enough to move them away fprm a failing school, so I would look round and see what you think.

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