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Would you be concerned about Ofstead report?

(59 Posts)
2isamagicnumber Fri 30-Aug-13 18:41:54

My understanding of ofstead reports is a bit limited so wondered if anyone can share their thoughts.

The local primary school where my son will start in 2014 has just had a terrible ofstead report. They have gone from grade 1, outstanding, in pretty much all areas to grade 3, requires improvement.

Obviously I am concerned as to the dramatic change. Has anyone sent their child to a school where this has happened?

tiggytape Sun 01-Sep-13 11:44:17

Hulababy - I am not disagreeing with your professional opinion or friend's opinion of the school at all and such an opinion is great to have.
I was more pointing out the advantage Ofsted brings giving a broader view. A parent can know what to look for and be happy with their own child's exeperience and yet still not know the current ins and outs of every year group.
For example if your friend's child has just left Year 6 she may or may not be up to date with whether Reception and Early Years experiences are as good now as they were when her son was in them 4 or 5 years ago - that personal part of her experience could be several years out of date.

I am not saying parental opinion is worthless, especially where the parents have professional experience of schools, just that it can be hard for even the most involved parent to have a broad and up to date experience of every teacher in every year group covering every additional need and type of child.
Parental opinion is great for judging many aspects of a school (and Ofsted in fact canvas parental opinion too) but Ofsted has a role to play for those parents who don't have friends 'in the know', for those who haven't worked in schools and can compare or know what to look for and and for those who want to know how a school handles particular things that are important to them that may not be relevant to others they speak to eg gifted and talented, additional needs etc.

Hulababy Sun 01-Sep-13 15:39:52

Yes I understand that. I guess those some parents do have a clearer insight into how individual schools work though ESP those with children in different year groups, or friends using the school in diff years, an obviously working in re same sector locally will always help. Ofsted is definitely not all bad -my own school recently went up from 3 to 2 with lots of outstanding features and it was thoroughly justified - but they are limited. There really is not the time for inspectors to see everything and is very hard to make clear accurate judgements based on 20 min on a classroom midway through a topic or project ESP in terms of how much very single child is making progress. That really needs far longer periods of observation and taken over a longer time period such as weeks. But reality is ofsted are in for a couple of days or so, see fragments of lessons and dot really see the full picture. Therefore they are limited in what they are judging on.

And you know - the inspectors vary loads too. Sometimes you can have a really great team, others can be dreadful. Have experienced both and the latter means no matter what you do your doomed.

teacherwith2kids Sun 01-Sep-13 15:47:32


It of course depends on the size of the school - when a small school is inspected, because there are fewer classes then inspectors do see full lessons, often several by the same teacher. I was lucky (got away with most of 1 lesson) but one of my colleagues was observed for 4 hours in total over 2 days!

Would entirely agree that it does depend on the team / the individual inspector, though. I do know of one school inspected where the staff described the lead inspector as 'apparently insane'!

teacherwith2kids Sun 01-Sep-13 15:51:13

(Spat in the head's face, screamed at staff, forgot things from one moment to another, demanded things they already had and had a meltdown when told that, just shouting louder and louder that they needed it and if it wasn't provided the school would fail..... )

teacherwith2kids Sun 01-Sep-13 16:00:00

For all those reasons, I would not advise Ofsted as your ONLY source of information about a school.

Just that completely ignoring it, in favour of even less well-founded information, seems like overkill! It's from putting together scraps of information - Ofsted, league table sorted by value add (not by absolute results), any truly knowledgeable parents, an in-depth personal visit etc - that the best possible picture can be obtained.

And even then, you might choose the 'best school' at a single point in time, and it might be the year that the Reception teacher falls ill, the head leaves, half the SLT retires and there may be a sudden requirement to increase the size of the school by half (or even, in the micro environment of the classroom, a particularly disruptive pupil might affect your particular child's learning). Schools don't stay static, they are evolving communities

junkfoodaddict Sun 01-Sep-13 16:09:50

Curlew - Though parents have not witnessed lessons, they certainly have more contact with a school than an OFSTED inspector. Lessons are inspected for only 20 minutes and in that time a teacher's ability to teach, children's ability to learn, achieve and their overall attainment is judged.
The inspector who came into my lesson (judged good with some outstanding features) was apparently able to tell me that my children's attainment was good, they achieved above expectations and my teaching was described as good. Yes, she gave me some pointers to make it outstanding (it had to do with my TA, but it all depended on whether the TA did as I asked - she didn't!). As it turned out, I made a huge error on the reading material and the inspector didn't even see it yet she felt qualified to commend me for the different ways in which I presented the reading and the content of it!!! On another OFSTED inspection, the team presented their findings about a Y3 class when it was a Y4 class.
That is why I cannot take an OFTSED report seriously. If ours are flawed, how many more are flawed?

12345Floris Thu 05-Sep-13 17:35:21

Ignore it. When I applied for my son's Reception place his school had been Outstanding since 2008... but they only graded it again in 2013 and it went 'down' to Good. Report mentions unusual transience of teachers and that may have affected the standards. But as 4 out of 6 teachers left, on closer research, you discover the reasons were plausible ones - pregnancy, moving abroad, career ambition, etc.

It's my nearest school and having looked around the place the Ofsted grade is of no interest to me. I try to remember that I went to a Catholic primary on (what was then) a Watford sink estate, and my partner ditto equivalent in his town, yet we have both gone through the education system fine.

Tanith Thu 05-Sep-13 18:15:04

If it helps at all, "Requires Improvement" used to be "Satisfactory".

There are several things that have happened since the school's last inspection. We have a new Government and Education minister; Ofsted have been privatised and have a new, much more politically active head; the criteria for Outstanding has been made much tougher; staff and schools are demoralised to the extent that their unions are organising a strike later this year.

Lots of schools and Early Years settings are being downgraded quite dramatically.

Read the report, visit the school and see how you feel yourself about how they do things and what is said. The Ofsted report is just a fraction of the input that will inform your choice: don't let it assume more importance than it deserves.

CaterpillarCara Thu 05-Sep-13 18:57:42

This is the best answer: "I would not advise Ofsted as your ONLY source of information about a school. Just that completely ignoring it, in favour of even less well-founded information, seems like overkill! It's from putting together scraps of information - Ofsted, league table sorted by value add (not by absolute results), any truly knowledgeable parents, an in-depth personal visit etc - that the best possible picture can be obtained."

A few years back, my children were at a school which got an unexpectedly low Ofsted grade. There were several public meetings about what they were doing about it. Keep an eye on their website, if they are holding something go along and listen, see what you think.

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