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Our first choice primary school has just been placed in special measures

(17 Posts)
MrsJThornton Mon 18-Mar-13 20:12:26

Have just found out that the school we have applied for for DS1 as our first choice has been assessed by Ofsted in January and put into special measures. To be honest the failings seem to cover a wide range of areas - pupils behaviour and safety, standards of teaching, leadership at the school.
The previous report in 2011 assessed the school as satisfactory with some areas assessed as good. It's our catchment school and we visited all schools in the area (all of whom had similar ofsted reports as this school's 2011 report) and we decided on our first choice as we got such a good feeling about the school and its headteacher.
However, now I just feel that our judgment must have been way off and all I want to do is choose a different school.
Does anyone have any advice or suggestions as to what I could do? The applications round has obviously closed and we won't find out which school ds1 has got into until 17th April.

SandStorm Mon 18-Mar-13 20:24:04

I'm no expert but if I were you I would find some current parents to talk to - are they happy, are their children happy, do they agree with OFSTED?, that sort of thing. Chances are the head will be replaced but if you had a good feeling about the place I would hold on to that. The school will receive all sorts of help from the education authority and the only way now for them is up.

MrsJThornton Mon 18-Mar-13 20:33:55

Thanks that's really good advice. I spoke to other parents when I was researching schools and they were generally very positive so I will go back to the same people and ask what their views are now. I don't want to just have a knee jerk reaction to the report, it's just the scale of how bad the report seems to be that has shocked me. Thanks again

MerryMingeWhingesAgain Mon 18-Mar-13 20:53:32

This happened to me two years ago. I applied to the (very) local catchment school, it was 'Good', by the time DD started there it was in special measures and all upside down. It has been ok, though I still have significant concerns.

If you can, I would strongly recommend considering trying to get on the Governors, so you can find out what is really happening (good or bad) and be involved as they try to turn things around.

MrsJThornton Mon 18-Mar-13 21:29:02

Thanks merry, I will follow up your suggestion re: governors board if he does get into the school (i am pretty sure he will as we are very close to this school too). Sorry this happened with your DD's school too and that you still have concerns, I hope they can be resolved.

DanFmDorking Mon 18-Mar-13 21:50:08

1) The worst is over, the school is now getting better,
2) The County Education Dept know the problems and will be pouring extra money/time/resources into the school to take it out of special measures
3) the Staff and Governors know the probs and are sorting them out now.

Remember:- Because of the extra money, time and effort put into the school, when the school comes out of ‘special measures’ it will arguably be the best school for miles around.

beautifulgirls Mon 18-Mar-13 22:05:00

DDs infant school has been a brilliant school. It went from Ofsted outstanding to satisfactory only at the last inspection last year. All the parents were up in arms about the judgement and not one person I spoke to could believe the drop in level that had been passed by the inspectors as we all clearly felt the school is a very good one. I think the newer inspection criteria are very strict and it is a lot harder for schools to come out with great scores. I appreciate I am not talking about a school going into special measures, but to us the school is still the same school we trust to teach our children well and the Ofsted is perhaps not that relevant. In response to the inspection report however the school has been actively looking at areas where criticism was issued and have worked hard to ensure that they will not fall down on those areas in the future. I'm sure that the same will be said of any school that cares about its children and its reputation. If it felt right when you visited then that it is probably still the right school.

MrsJThornton Mon 18-Mar-13 22:29:49

Thanks, I think I just need to hang on to the reasons we picked the school in the first place as has been suggested. General consensus of opinion of parents whose children currently go to the school seems to be shock with most people saying how happy they are with the school so hopefully it was just a really bad assessment visit and like you say Dan things can only now improve! Thanks again everyone.

ReallyTired Mon 18-Mar-13 22:41:19

Schools go up and down. My dc children school has recently been put under a local authority improvement plan, yet 3 years ago it was deemed "good with outstanding features". dd is due to start reception at that particular school next sept. Both the head and the deputy head are being replaced and at the moment it is chaos.

If you want your child to go to a different school, there is the second continuation run which you can apply for a different school. You can put your child on the waiting list for a different primary if you are worried. Unless you live somewhere like London which is stupidly short of school places, then its usually possible to find another school.

The assessment criteria for Ofsted has got far hasher than in the past. Being in a deprived area is no longer considered an excuse for achieving below the national average. The present governant forgets that 50% of schools will have below average attaintment.

niminypiminy Tue 19-Mar-13 09:54:50

The school my children go to has just been done and I would share these thoughts:

The new ofsted framework means that they have to link all the judgements together, so if attainment is not where they think it should be (ie the percentages of children at the required levels -- regardless of how much progress they have made, and where they started from), they will then say that teaching cannot be good. Even if they see good teaching, that teaching cannot be good if the attainment isn't where it should be. And if teaching isn't good, then behaviour can't be good either (regardless of whether they saw any bad behaviour). And all this means that management can't be good.

It's an agenda driven by the government imperative to force schools to become academies.

So it is entirely possible that the ofsted judgement entirely misrepresents a school which is actually doing better than it was at the last inspection, because as ReallyTired says, the criteria are now incredibly harsh and designed to punish schools in difficult areas.

lisad123everybodydancenow Tue 19-Mar-13 09:59:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ReallyTired Tue 19-Mar-13 13:09:30

"Our main concern was how quickly staff started jumping ship, at one point they had no head, no deputy, and staff were stepping in, which meant a downfall on teaching levels. "

That sounds exactly what has happened to my childrens' school and it has only failed an LEA inspection. It is horrific for the children.

I feel that putting so much pressure on heads and schools is counter productive. There is not enough LEA advisors to give support to "failing" schools and I am sceptical that academies is a magic answer to under achievement. Who in their right mind would take on a school with a satisfactory OFSTED or a notice to improve.

niminypiminy Tue 19-Mar-13 13:19:14

I've just checked the Ofsted dashboard for my school, and it shows results rising consistently for the last three years. In terms of progress at KS2 it is in the highest 25% in the country. The 'good' school down the road has results flatlining or going down. It is in the bottom 25% in the country for progress in KS2. it's a complete and utter mockery of experience to say that this school is not good enough angry

harryhausen Tue 19-Mar-13 13:23:18

Try not to panic.

My friends dcs school was placed into special measures 18 months ago. The report was pretty damning. However, her dcs were happy there and doing well. She stuck with it and got much more involved in the PTA and went in to the classroom lots to do voluntary reading etc.

They've just had a new Ofsted. They had a great report and are now rated 'good'. Things are on the up.

Don't discount your gut instinct. Often special measures will mean a reboot for a school and its not all bad.

ArbitraryUsername Tue 19-Mar-13 13:27:17

It may say nothing about the school whatsoever. It's almost certainly part of the nonsensical ofsted reclassification of satisfactory as not good enough (because they obviously don't possess a dictionary). And also because gove wants to force more primaries to convert to academies (only 6% have opted for this voluntarily, so he's using ofsted to force them now).

I'd wait and see what information emerges about what's going on.

Startail Tue 19-Mar-13 13:33:51

We have exactly the same good, satisfactory, SMs saga with DDs secondary.

Nothing has changed except A-C results have got better. It's quite mad.

Maybe the management were getting complacent and needed a shake up, but it really does seem a sledge hammer to crack a nut.

MrsJThornton Tue 19-Mar-13 19:38:41

Thanks everyone for your replies, they've really helped me to see that I shouldn't be making any hasty decisions to try and change our preferred school at this late stage of the process. I spoke with the school today as I wanted to establish what their plan was with regard to the report and they've invited us to the meeting they are holding with parents of existing pupils next tuesday evening so I'm hoping this will help put our minds at rest.
I had no idea of the politics behind all of this and to be honest I'm getting quite angry reading up on it now. I dislike Michael Gove even more now! I'm sorry so many other people are in a similar boat too. We all want to feel our children are going to be inspired, motivated and safe at school, so anything that makes you question if that's the case is such a worry. Thanks again

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