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Forget ofsted. What in your opinion makes an outstanding school?

(14 Posts)
Idonthaveenoughtime Fri 21-Jun-13 23:15:20

I'm sure we've all read ofsted reports and found them a bit tedious. I know this probably gets asked a lot, but if you were yourself an ofsted inspector what characteristics would you be looking for in a school? How would you recognise an outstanding school?

Maybe from experience of outstanding features at your children's school or areas you think they could be doing better.

Might be a useful thread of people picking schools, and just appeases my curiosity!

hopingforbest Sat 22-Jun-13 00:39:18

This is very subjective. Probably:
- Happy, well behaved children/few behavioural problems
- Children working well together particularly if coming from very diverse backgrounds
- Imaginative teaching.
- School management/teachers who are not too scared to resist Govian inanities
- A school that communicate with parents
- Kids who want to learn
- Evidence of creativity (art on walls, music lessons)
- Teachers who do not talk like text books but like ordinary human beings
- Warmth
- Results without drilling
- Respect
- Imaginative use of outdoor space
- Properly differentiated lessons and provision for the more/less able.
- A management that works with parents and does not drip feed tiny bits of largely irrelevant information.

StealthPolarBear Sat 22-Jun-13 00:50:43

Head teacher who is genuinely interested in the children and treats them as individuals.

insanityscratching Sat 22-Jun-13 10:07:41

Dd's school that OFSTED rated good is outstanding in my opinion. It's a hugely inclusive school with children with all abilities and disabilities and from a huge variation of backgrounds all blended happily in one school.
The school is very transparent, parents and families are welcome and without appointments and communication with families is excellent. The teachers without exception appear very happy to be there and their relationships with pupils is great and the HT leads well is very approachable and visible on the playground most days and the governing body is supportive and effective.
Lessons are streamed but movement between sets is fluid and there are many highly qualified TA's supporting individual and small groups of children as well as specialist teachers for music and languages.
Results are good and considering the starting point of some of the children then the progress made is exceptional.

PastSellByDate Sun 23-Jun-13 08:36:44

I only have experience of our one school but brother and S-I-L teachers as is my Aunt (now retired).

My criteria are these:

1) learning is going on: parents understand what is being taught and can see improvement/ progress in their child's work. [examples of work come home, not just homework assignments].

2) communication with home is good:

- Parents clear about what the learning goals are that academic
term/ year.

- events are well advertised (on website/ well in advance by
letters or by telephone contact) - not last minute
(as in can you come to X event this afternoon please).

- school makes effort to inform parents
if DC is going to receive a word/ special mention in assemblies.

3) School intervenes (and signals to parent they are intervening) if child is not performing as well as should be expected. Children are not allowed to drift for years with poor reading/ maths skills - poor learning progress is addressed early on with extra support/ extra work to help child catch up and rejoin main class work.

4) School generally is tidy, staff are approachable and senior management team are visible.

5) Governors don't merely rubber stamp school's decisions but make it a point to oversee critical areas of the school (FSM pupils progress/ pupil premium, areas of weakness in curriculum and tracking improvement, etc...). Governor's do not give the appearance that they're in this for benefits to their CV or to ensure their child's class/ progress through school goes well. Governor's actively consult parents (by survey or parent/ governor meeting/ clinics) to understand what is currently concerning parents in the school.

6) school is aware of upcoming changes to teaching/ curriculum/ testing and are signalling early what measures are in place to deal with new criteria/ changes.

MrButtercat Sun 23-Jun-13 08:54:37

What past said but with the addition of

all pupils making outstanding progress whatever their ability

all pupils are pushed ie not just those that got level 3s in their Sats at 7 resulting in the rest being written off due to lack of early maturity

outstanding parental information which includes proper informative reports and regular updates on levels,targets,progress and the curriculum(parents knowing how and what concepts are taught is crucial)

mrz Sun 23-Jun-13 08:58:47

happy children making progress

Elibean Sun 23-Jun-13 11:07:11

Happy, confident children who look forward to going to school. All children making progress and feeling good about it, regardless of ability.

Good relationships between school, parents and the wider community.

Willingness on part of all adults (Govs, SLT and staff) to acknowledge areas for improvement as well as strengths, and do something about them.

Allbubble Sun 23-Jun-13 12:12:10

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

toomuchicecream Sun 23-Jun-13 15:15:55

A Head who knows the children and parents by name.
A warm, supportive atmosphere.
A similar ethos to my last school, where they Head made it her mission to ensure that by the time they leave, each child knows they're good at something.

Lots more, but that's a start!

Talkinpeace Sun 23-Jun-13 16:01:17


The results are average for a comp, but it is SO clearly a happy place
(the bald guy is the head BTW)

Elibean Sun 23-Jun-13 16:11:02

Allbubble, that sounds so frustrating. I agree.

Which is why I would always, always advocate looking round a school, talking to pupils, the Head, and if possible other parents, rather than just going on Ofsted. Which, with the best will in the world (if you're lucky), is only a two day snapshot.

And then trusting your gut.

duffybeatmetoit Tue 25-Jun-13 22:27:57

I would always disregard any Ofsted report. I would look to see how happy and confident the children are and how well they interact with each other and the staff. What links are there between school and parents?

Look at exam results but also think about whether that reflects the catchment area. What % of children sit the exams - is it a case of only entering children who will get a good grade?

Panzee Tue 25-Jun-13 22:33:15

Very little turnover of staff. People rarely move schools if they're happy.

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