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How objective is ofsted??

(45 Posts)
hellohellohihi Fri 17-May-13 18:56:51

A primary school near me gets outstanding from ofsted. It's in a slightly dodgy part of town with lots of free-school-dinners and non-English speakers.

Talking to a friend about who reckons outstanding there is prob the equivalent of satisfactory or good at the other local school which are in a naicer part of town...

So just how objective/subjective is ofsted??

mrz Fri 17-May-13 19:08:41

Tell your friend that outstanding in the naicer part of town is likely to be the equivalent of satisfactory in the primary school near you ...
incidentally satisfactory no longer exists

jellysmum77 Fri 17-May-13 19:09:32

I would say if a school in those circumstances got an outstanding then they are probably doing s fantastic job with the children.

jellysmum77 Fri 17-May-13 19:10:14

Agreed mrz

schooldidi Fri 17-May-13 19:13:34

It's incredibly hard to get rated Outstanding anywhere. So the school must be doing an absolutely wonderful job if they can motivate children with difficult backgrounds to achieve. I've known one Outstanding Secondary school in a challenging area and I agree it's Outstanding, but there's no way I want to teach there, it's so much more hard work than the Good Secondary down the road in the middle class suburb.

deleted203 Fri 17-May-13 19:19:05

Outstanding means it has ticked all of Osted's criteria to meet the standard. They don't upgrade it because they feel sorry for the poor, black kids.

And no, it doesn't mean it would have just been 'satisfactory' if they were in a 'naice' part of town.

Having said that, Ofsted is a load of shite, anyway. One of the things they will have been looking at is how many levels of progress kids have made based on their alleged starting point. So I would presume that your 'dodgy' school has taken a lot of pupils who are not native English speakers or who came from a disadvantaged background and managed to move them up perhaps 3 levels due to some excellent teaching.

Ofsted are data obsessed, IMO. So my local (excellent) primary school dropped from Outstanding to Requires Improvement based on the fact that 'attendance figures were unsatisfactory'.

No shit, Sherlock. They had chicken pox through the school last year and a nasty sickness/diarrhoea bug. With 80 pupils in the whole school, if you get half of them off for a week or two with chicken pox then your attendance looks poor. Doesn't mean the school is crap.

ipadquietly Fri 17-May-13 22:56:12

It's all down to progress.

If you start with nothing and get all children to above national expectation, then you are outstanding. (Take into account the resources (teachers, TAs, pupil premium) that get thrown at schools where children start with nothing...)

If you are in a leafy green area where children start with some academic capability, you are unlikely to show the meteoric progress of the 'deprived' school. Hence, you are less likely to be graded 'outstanding'.

learnandsay Sat 18-May-13 08:46:13

Maybe true, but I've got to take my hat off to a bit of meteoric progress no matter where it's happening.

seeker Sat 18-May-13 08:49:22

"Ofsted are data obsessed, IMO. So my local (excellent) primary school dropped from Outstanding to Requires Improvement based on the fact that 'attendance figures were unsatisfactory'."

Sorry, but no it didn't. Not based on one year's attendance figures which were easily explained by an epidemic.

mrz Sat 18-May-13 08:53:36

I disagree with ipadquiety ... and would dispute that schools where children start with nothing automatically get resources thrown at them is still very much a post code lottery with entitlement to free school meals being a criterion for pupil premium

seeker Sat 18-May-13 08:53:45

OP look the school up on here.

Have a look at the progress made by low, middle and high attainers. Look at the narrowing the gap figures. You get a much better picture if you read this alongside the OfSTED

StuffezLaYoni Sat 18-May-13 08:55:42

The school's data plays a massive part. If the children aren't making good progress, the school as a whole cannot be graded good. Even if individual lessons seen on the day were good.

In my NQT year I remember working at a school in SM and being shown round an Outstanding school in a really tough area, as part of a course I was doing. I remember thinking "God, the work on these displays is from last year!" And "they don't stick success criteria into their books - how can they be outstanding when we do all this and are not?" Whereas five years down the line, I've come to realise they were a massive school in a very difficult area with high levels of pupils coming and going through the year...but still showed outstanding progress.

mrz Sat 18-May-13 08:59:16

Ofsted have finally become wise to the fact that many "leafy green " schools with supportive parents were "coasting" rather than challenging pupils.

learnandsay Sat 18-May-13 09:02:12

Aren't we back to this differentiation with challenging all pupils. I've read a couple of illuminating discussions on TES about how difficult teachers find differentiation.

StuffezLaYoni Sat 18-May-13 09:03:39

Mrz that is so true. When I moved to my current (leafy but on outskirts of difficult town) school, I inherited a group of girls with 5b targets but who were stuck on 4Cs and Bs. A quick look through their past books showed lots of ticks and Lovely and V. Goods but no challenge! It was the kind of "nice" girls and they really didn't like having their work picked apart this year to begin with, but almost without exception they have risen to the challenge and hopefully got the fives they deserve.

Spongingbobsunderpants Sat 18-May-13 09:08:30

Under the new framework, it is incredibly hard to get outstanding. If your results are not outstanding (based on achievement, not attainment) then you cannot get outstanding in any of the other three categories. The thinking is that your teaching and learning cannot be outstanding if the results are not, leadership of the school cannot be outstanding if they haven't achieved outstanding teaching and learning and outstanding results etc, etc,

Has the school been done under the new framework? (only introduced this year) Lots of previously outstanding schools have dropped to good or needing to improve (no satisfactory anymore). Only one Primary I know of , since January, has retained Outstanding, and no secondaries.

A lot of outstanding and good schools are shitting themselves because they only got 'satisfactory' results last time but outstanding for everything else. Under the new framework, unless they have raised their results, they will lose outstanding and may even go in to 'needing to improve'

learnandsay Sat 18-May-13 09:13:01

It's rumoured that a head killed herself because she feared losing her school's outstanding status.

mrz Sat 18-May-13 09:25:53

It isn't a rumour

teacherwith2kids Sat 18-May-13 09:34:50

I would agree with seeker about the attendance figures. The school I worked in had lower than expected attendance due to its intake, and remained stubbornly below the level generally regarded by Ofsted as 'requires improvement' - and we still rose a level when Ofsted came (from the old Saisfactory to the new Good [which remembering that the levels have changed so that what used to mean an Oustanding now means a Good wasn't bad going])

Ofsted looked very thoroughly at the figures over several years (down to our analysis of attendance by different groups etc), looked at everything that we had done to improve them, looked at the context of the school, and said that attendance was in fact Good in that context. So attendance alone, especially if there is a good 'story' about why it is low, wouldn't change the overall level.

I would agree with Mrz that a school in a difficult area getting Outstanding is almost certainly a 'better school' - in terms of quality of teaching and learnng, care for and focus on individual children, innovative practice - than many schools in leafier areas getting far higher results (in terms of exit grades) but similar or lower Ofsteds. Yes, the absolute 'exit grades' of the children would only allow a school with a different intake to get a Requires Improvement or a Good, but the actual 'what the school does to the children' in the school in more difficult curcumstances in order to get those grades will be much, much more and the Outstanding grading will reflect that.

I would also argue against the idea that it is 'easier' to get meteoric progress with children with lower starting points. Yes, a few of those children will be 'diamonds in the rough' - children who simply need goo teaching to move from a low starting point to a high finishing point. However, the factors that made their starting points low - little or no pre-school education or stimulation or conversation [we had children arriving with no spoken language, having never really conversed with by anyone in their pre-school years], no toys or books in the home, poor housing, low parental literacy, poor diet, lack of sleep due to unsuitable or inadequate housing, little or no experience of the world, parents who are absent or addicted to various substances, in prison or sleeping all day due to working all night (in the normal or 'night' economy), already being carers for even younger siblings, being cared for only by slightly older children than themselves, frequent moves around the country, no parental value placed on education etc etc etc - do inhibit the progress made by many such children, so if a school CAN get metoric progress from such a cohort they are doing very well indeed. And before you say that I am exaggerating - I have encoutered all the above (and more) in only a few years at a school with an only slightly 'interesting' intake. Colleagues who teach in genuinely 'rough' areas will have encountered much more.

teacherwith2kids Sat 18-May-13 09:37:04

Yep, L&S, not a rumour. Head was known to my old head - all involved incredibly shocked.

mrz Sat 18-May-13 09:42:53

She had recently taken over an outstanding school and realised it wasn't "outstanding"

learnandsay Sat 18-May-13 10:11:56

Can't have that happening again. Filling in tests on behalf of kids is one thing to placate silly classifications. But this? No. Enough is enough.

mrz Sat 18-May-13 10:17:22

But it has happened more than once L&S

Wellthen Sat 18-May-13 10:46:16

I have experienced both - schools that have been given a good or outstanding and aren't at all and schools who really struggled to get a good because their school was 'so nice' (the inspector actually said something to this affect, basically suggesting working there was a peice of piss), competely missing the fact that many of their children has less than supportive families and low starting points due to general low ability rather than neglect.

If a school has outstanding their data must satisfy so, short of cheating, they are not the equivilant to satisfactory as they have very good progress. But I agree with the general point that ofsted are not completely objective.

NynaevesSister Sat 18-May-13 10:58:16

Our school recently retained its outstanding under the new framework. It is true that a really good teaching makes up for a lot. The school is inner city classified with high level of child poverty. Lots of free school meals, and English as a second language. But also a very high level of middle class families send their children there (area has a lot of attractive Victorian houses at cheaper prices than North London). We were inspected at same time as a nearby school that, by dint of Londons bizarre geography is in a well heeled, well off area. That school went up from Good to Outstanding. Knowing people there I know they too have very good teaching as well. It can be done.

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