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Can you smell an ofsted/academy rat at your school??

(59 Posts)
bexa Tue 22-Jan-13 22:03:11

Roke school in kenley is being forcibly turned into an academy after falling from long standing "outstanding" into special measures in their latest ofsted inspection.

Ofsted hadnt even been back to inspect whether any improvements had been made before handing the school over to David Cameron's personal friend and Tory donor, lord Harris. Smells pretty fishy! The governors were told they would be sacked of they objected. Smells oven more fishy!

Is roke alone? I heard a similar thing happened in coleford. Just wondering if anyone else knows of other schools where this has happened? Either ofsted not returning to do a follow up inspection before declaring academy status or schools falling from outstanding to failing so fast???

Is roke the only one?

bexa Wed 23-Jan-13 22:31:58

I think my original question has got a bit diluted in this thread. Does anyone know of other schools where this has happened? Ofsted downgrading? Ofsted not revisiting? Governors getting no say in academy sponsor? Just trying to work out if roke situation is a one off or part of a larger scale thing. Anyone got names of schools where this has happened?

CalmChaos Wed 23-Jan-13 23:08:24

Did your school put up any resistance to takeover, if it was only attendance that was the problem? Is there anywhere we can read about your school takeover?

prh47bridge Wed 23-Jan-13 23:08:49

I am not defending Harris, simply stating the facts. I have no opinion on Harris Federation either way.

A school that converts voluntarily and is not in special measures (i.e. most of the new academies) does not need a sponsor. Indeed, such schools are encouraged to not have a sponsor. One of the reasons Labour objects to such schools is the lack of a sponsor. It seems they believe in sponsored academies but not those with no sponsor, although that may change when they decide their policies for the next general election.

SminkoPinko Thu 24-Jan-13 14:14:26

I think Harris has done a good job with many South London secondary schools, mostly with a deprived intake.

However, I am not surprised that people are starting to speculate about political influence operating over ofsted, DfE and the academy programme. My children's secondary school (a converter academy) very recently got a "good" ofsted report, yet the school features today in this list of schools with the worst GCSE results in the country. Seems as if ofsted gave them massive benefit of the doubt. And I'm not displeased about that- hopefully these results are a blip and the school will do better in future.

Yet with LA schools it seems that very little benefit of the doubt is given and the powers that be are swift to suggest forced academy status.

daisymaybe Thu 24-Jan-13 19:59:22

I'm not sure if this has been said already or not... but the same company that OfSTED is farmed out to are also academy consultants.

daisymaybe Thu 24-Jan-13 20:01:36

sleepylampost Thu 24-Jan-13 20:20:43

There is a big fishy smell coming from Ofsted lately... It gets worse the more I read.

prh you know an awful lot for someone with no opinion on anything.

SminkoPinko Thu 24-Jan-13 20:26:49

That's shocking, Daisy. Surely they can't use the same company that helped a school convert into an academy to inspect it? There must be a rule on conflict of interest there, surely?

prh47bridge Thu 24-Jan-13 20:41:41

daisymaybe - Tribal provide a range of education-related services. They are not the only such business. I wouldn't agree with your phrase that Ofsted is "farmed out" to Tribal but they are one of three companies that do inspections on Ofsted's behalf, the others being CfBT Education Trust and Serco. I agree there is a potential conflict of interest here. I would hope there are suitable safeguards in place but I have no idea whether or not there are.

sleepylampost - I read a lot. I take an interest. I learnt years ago to check the evidence for myself rather than relying on what others say. And if you look around you will see that I am a regular poster on Mumsnet and have been for several years. You can probably find out a bit about me if you look hard enough.

I already know a lot about education through helping parents with admission appeals. It didn't take much digging to find the facts about academies.

Contrary to your implication I have no ulterior motives.

yellowsubmarine53 Thu 24-Jan-13 20:48:31

Conflicts a go-go between Ofsted and academy chains at the moment...

daisymaybe Thu 24-Jan-13 20:53:43

I don't see how the fact that they provide a range of education-related services makes a difference. Also thank you for the comment that they are not the only such business....

yellowsubmarine53 Thu 24-Jan-13 20:56:05

Gladstone Park in Brent has academy chains sniffing around it after it was judged to be inadequate in November '12. Given these results, it's very, very difficult to see why.

SminkoPinko Thu 24-Jan-13 21:00:32

prh47bridge is an extremely well-respected, knowledgeable and helpful long-term mumsnetter.

I must say I had no idea either that ofsted subcontracted out inspections to private companies or that there were private companies who help schools convert into academies. Who pays the latter? If the school wishing to convert pays them, where does the funding for that come from, I wonder?

prh47bridge Thu 24-Jan-13 21:07:25

daisymaybe - I wasn't suggesting the fact they provide a range of services makes a difference, just filling out the picture a little.

SminkoPinko - Thanks for those comments! Regarding your question, the school will pay any consultants they use. The school gets £25,000 from the DfE towards the school's conversion costs. They are free to spend that how they wish.

SminkoPinko Thu 24-Jan-13 21:23:24

Thanks for BBC article, yellowsub. Interesting stuff. I feel increasingly despairing! IMO/E we are very very bad in this country at getting inspection services right- CQC regulates much of my area of work and there have been some problems with them missing big scandals in care homes etc. We so need our inspection services to be robust and trustworthy. I think that starts with them being independent and conflict of interest free.

SminkoPinko Thu 24-Jan-13 21:32:49

You are more than welcome, Ah yes, have a vague recollection of the converter fund and seem to recall that was one reason the senior management team at my children's school gave as a reason for converting- that they would lose out financially if they stayed as they were.

Tribal definitely did the ofsted report for my children's school. I know as I emailed them my views as a parent (and they did not reply). Is there a way I can find out who, if anyone, provided academy converter advice for the school, does anyone know?

prh47bridge Thu 24-Jan-13 21:45:50

SminkoPinko - You can make an FoI request to the school. They could try to argue commercial confidentiality but I don't think that would wash unless you were after details of the contracts.

yellowsubmarine53 - The Ofsted report suggests that there are serious problems in Y3, Y4 and Y5 resulting in pupils falling behind and behaviour issues, but pupils are given extra support in Y6 so that their attainment is broadly average by the time they leave. I have no idea whether or not that is a fair picture of the school.

yellowsubmarine53 Thu 24-Jan-13 22:22:44

The data for Gladstone Park shows that the children achieve above the national average in terms of numbers reaching L4 and L4, and the progress measures are also above average.

yellowsubmarine53 Thu 24-Jan-13 22:24:24

On Tribal, a friend of mine works for an FE college, which was judged 'inadequate' by a sub-contracted Tribal inspector.

The very same Inspector immediately offered the college expensive Tribal educational consultancy to help them remedy their inadequacies.


admission Thu 24-Jan-13 23:00:04

Sminkopinko, if you actually read the inspection report, then you might understand why the school is in a category. The teaching and learning in years 3,4 and 5 is inadequate and it is the catch up that is done in year 6 that is allowing them to come up with what are not bad results. But if the three previous years were any good then the results would be much better.
Really interesting comments about the governing body who were the people who had to push the SLT to instigate changes to improve outcomes in years 3,4 and 5. Leadership is obviously also not a strong area.
The bottom line regarding Tribal is that they are definitely going to have been responsible for the inspection because they have the contract for organising all the inspections in the south of the country, some 5000 per year.
Whether they should have that contract and then be able to offer their consultancy services to the schools is a very different question and one that I do think there is a big conflict of interest around.

directaction Fri 25-Jan-13 08:20:31

Our story:-

Results below floor for several years so obviously warned to improve rapidly or face closure/conversion. We were given a year to make this improvement. Staff, governors, pupils, parents, all working together in order to bring about rapid improvement. Termly data starts to show real progress.

So................... suddenly OFSTED arrive. Notice to Improve because of achievement levels, although all other areas deemed satisfactory or good and recognition that school has capacity to improve. Governors given choice to back academy status or be sacked - democracy in action! Academy status agreed before SATs results show a massive improvement taking school well above floor and national averages and local averages - we achieved what we had to achieve in order to avoid academy status/closure, but it was forced upon us anyway. This story is being repeated almost word for word countless times.

This really is happening everywhere. Time to wake up!

prh47bridge Fri 25-Jan-13 10:31:01

Yes, it is happening a lot. Whilst it has been the assumption for years that a school giving cause for concern (to use the official phrase) should in most cases become a sponsored academy, being forced to do so if necessary, this government has extended the assumption to primary schools and is pushing conversion more aggressively than the previous government.

CalmChaos Fri 25-Jan-13 19:35:28

A nice essay title: Ofsted is completely neutral and independent of the DfE. Discuss.

CalmChaos Fri 25-Jan-13 19:36:07

A nice essay title: Ofsted is completely neutral and independent of the DfE. Discuss.

SminkoPinko Fri 25-Jan-13 20:05:52

admission- I am talking of a different school and I have most assuredly read the ofsted report. Many times, seeking reassurance on a school about which I am very worried as my teenage boys attend it. I find the report somewhat unconvincing in the light of the evidence available to me so far, most especially the school's GSCE results, though I am trying to keep an open mind. Why wouldn't I- I want my children to get a good education and if possible some qualifications. I want to support them and their school. I know it has some excellent features and my children have been happy there, mostly.

But the ofsted report does not mention that the GCSE results are so low as to put the school in the bottom 200 nationally, merely alluding to a "significant dip" in the context of a difficult year because the school chose to switch year 11 students to new courses and could not put on revision sessions. A grade 2 good rating for achievement was given by ofsted and indeed all aspects of the school were rated at 2 or better. I think it is very unusual for a school with even one year of very poor GCSE results to be rated as good in terms of achievement. I also do not see why a decision was made to switch lots of year 11 students to alternative courses and why that constitutes a difficult year or excuses the school. It sounds like a really bad decision which resulted in many children underachieving, if anything.

I thought this was relevant in the context of an ofsted/academy thread as the school in question is an academy. Thank you for your advice, however. Reading and re-reading can never be bad.

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