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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??

Elibean Sun 19-May-13 16:11:04


A lot of variation depending on area, by the sound of it? Which makes it all a bit hit and miss.

Our recent Ofsted (London) seemed, admittedly to my own surprise, to be reasonably fair and humane. By the old framework, we would have been 'outstanding', as it was we missed it by a whisker - and only because of points that were already being addressed by the school and governors.

But it sounds as though it depends a lot on the individual inspectors, and maybe the political arena in the local area. Which is frustrating and depressing.

wheresthebeach Sun 19-May-13 16:02:29

Our 'outstanding' school makes great progress. That's because of the tutoring that goes on (parents who don't tutor have been known to be told to start). A tutor agency comes in on year 4 to encourage the kids to join with letters sent to parents. So are the results down to the teachers or the tutoring? Prob a combination but some parents recently told that the school only teaches the NC so their child who was gifted in maths could not be catered for. So of course they started to tutor!
School gets a great rep and parents spend a small fortune.

Startail Sun 19-May-13 13:15:12

Sadly, I don't think Ofsted are objective at all. I think Ofsted now have only one aim - to continue, what ever party wins the next election, to exist.

The only way to do this is to keep finding excuses to up and down grade schools, even when no reason exists. They know what grade they are going to give a school before they walk in the door.

DDs secondary has gone from good with oustanding features, through satisfactory, to SM.

The only change, GCSE results have gone up and are the best in the area.

MilkRunningOutAgain Sun 19-May-13 10:05:07

The village school was graded requires improvement in 2012. Due to not making sufficient progress in ks1, though ks2 results good. Looking more into it, the yr 2 class about whom most of the criticism was focused was, by chance, composed two thirds of summer born boys. It's a small school and so this type of thing happens every few years, the intake varies. Perhaps there was more to it, I'm just a parent and don't know the details, but according to the letter ofsted sent round and to the minutes of the governors meetings I got hold of, that was the reason. It seems odd to me. Until the requires improvement the school was stable and had lots of experienced teachers. Now it's a mess, haemorrhaging teachers, pupils and with cross parents. We've stuck it for a year, but probably not much longer.

schooldidi Sun 19-May-13 09:25:06

That should be SMT, not SME.

schooldidi Sun 19-May-13 09:24:28

It's been 7 years since my school was last inspected and our 'outstanding' from back then has clung to us and helped us keep our pupil numbers up in a time when all the neighbouring schools have falling pupil numbers due to a low birth rate those years. We've had 2 new heads since then and the SMT have ALL changed from a very experienced SME to now none of them are over 40. The school feels very different now to 7 years ago, yet we still have the 'outstanding' tag.

We were inspected this week and while I know the grading I'm not allowed to say (they said I personally am 'good'). It will be interesting to see how that affects our pupil numbers for the next few years til the next inspection.

teacherwith2kids Sun 19-May-13 09:12:53


If you read the detail of what Ofsted means by Good, it now contains pretty much the same words as used to be in the detail of 'Outstanding'. And I'm not absolutely up to date, as that was in the revision before the most recent - the bar keeps rising. In the newest version, the different areas are much more interdependent so you cannot get a higher grade overall if certain things are at a lower grade.

However, I would say that in its implementation, especially with the re-naming of Satisfactory as Requires Improvement, there is a small category of 'lower end of Good' which is fairly like the 'old' Good, but it IS small. Most schools now getting 'Good' have achieved a standard equivalent to the old 'Outstanding'.

KatyDid02 Sat 18-May-13 21:48:02

Yes, I agree with what teacherwith2kids says, it's been 4+ years since the school that mine used to go to has been inspected because they were outstanding. They have had two new heads since then.

AmandaPayneNeedsANap Sat 18-May-13 21:47:06

Is that really true Teacher? The school DD1 got allocated went from Satisfactory in its last inspection to Good (with outstanding teaching in reception specifically flagged) in the Spring term. My only concerns about the school are actually geographical - but it would be interesting to know whether it has actually gone satisfactory (so needs improvement now) to outstanding.

teacherwith2kids Sat 18-May-13 21:39:02

Always worth looking at the date on an Ofsted. With 'Outstanding' schools being inspected rarely if ever, an outdated 'Outstanding' can cling to a school long, long after it is merited. Also, any 'Good' obtained within the last 12-15 months is worth an old 'Outstanding'....

Morebiscuitsplease Sat 18-May-13 21:37:03

Sorry...autocorrect, think not hunk ....

Morebiscuitsplease Sat 18-May-13 21:36:23

Our school has outstanding, but not outstanding results. KS1 last year, all neighbouring schools did better as with KS2. We were in the bottom third for the LA. I don't hunk it is a bad school but not outstanding. OFted not due to visit unless results nosedive. sad

teacherwith2kids Sat 18-May-13 21:29:06

I meant to post earlier to say that recent changes in Ofsted criteria put much more emphasis on 'raw' results and 'absolute levels', with less on 'context' and 'progress' - so it will become more difficult for schools with very challenging intakes to reach Outstanding, as to do so their results need to be outstanding, on a par with schools from very different circumstances.

cornypedicure Sat 18-May-13 21:26:10

are school A and school B in the same area or is this an example of inner city schools and leafy suburbs?

Willsmum79 Sat 18-May-13 21:21:28

School A: Made a 20% increase in attainment in two years. LEA grades school as 'good' and SEN as 'outstanding'. School now officially 'oversubscribed'. OFSTED recently graded the school as 'requires improvement' because achievement was not 'good' despite the progress.

School B: Achievement is 12% below School A, has a falling roll yet graded as 'good'.

Read it as you will.

KatyDid02 Sat 18-May-13 19:05:46

Oh, and OP, it is possible for schools in a naicer part of town to be graded outstanding.
Looking at 6 schools that I am familiar with that are all within 3 miles or so of each other:

School A, relatively deprived area compared to the rest of the town: outstanding
School B, geographically in between A&C, in an average area with some relative deprivation: requires improvement
School C, in a naice area: outstanding
School D: same location as school B. Satisfactory (defunct category, now called requires improvement)
School E: geographically roughly half way between A&C, takes children from the same catchment area as A&Cgrinutstanding
School F: same location as E, same catchment as A,B,C,D and E. good with outstanding features.

It's all down to the data you have. Without good data you cannot get good or outstanding no matter how good the teaching is.

cory Sat 18-May-13 19:04:33

I don't know whether a school can actually be downgraded over attendance. But I know that dd's head thought so and tried very hard to get shot of children with chronic health problems. Because obviously they would be the ones pulling the figures down longterm. It's shit to be the parent whose child is seen as a liability sad

KatyDid02 Sat 18-May-13 18:55:26

learnandsay, it's very, very sadly, not a rumour.
Some of my colleagues worked with her.

cornypedicure Sat 18-May-13 18:50:00

I presume that the OP's friend works in a naicer part of town and her school hasn't been graded as outstanding?

mrz Sat 18-May-13 18:44:53

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.

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.

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

But it has happened more than once L&S

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 09:42:53

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

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