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Perspective needed on schools recent ofsted report

(11 Posts)
Moofins Sun 01-Jun-14 17:24:42

Hi - DS age 4 started reception last September the school he goes to was our 6th choice in a very over subscribed borough. It doesn't have a good reputation amongst parents (none of whose children actually go there)! It did have a good Ofsted rating.

Over the year my view of the school has changed for the better - the problem in my mind is lack of parents wanting to be involved/support the school of which I have started to do. I have been praising the school to other prospective parents about how impressed we have been with the teaching. How well DS had been doing and reassuring others that getting a place at this school isn't the worst thing to happen and maybe we could start to change its unfair reputation.

Then it had an Ofsted visit. The teaching was highly critisied in every area - not able to keep children under control, not supporting the more able children, letting down the less able children. I am a bit floored to be honest. It's like the report is talking about a totally different school. It's is now requires improvement which I know means the school will get more support and can be a good thing. The one teacher I have spoken to commented that they felt it was unfair as the report was based on the last 2 school years and not the one DS is in so didn't take into consideration the current reception year which apparently is doing well with all the changes going on at the school. But then they would defend their school.

So as my son has only been at school for this year - is my judgement completely wrong is he actually behind his peers? The experts are obviously concerned specifically about the teaching so should I be? I am confused at how the Ofsted is supposed to be about a point in time so why was the report completed on past results?

DS has gone from not writing at all when he started school to independently writing 2-3 words at a time. The spelling is never right but you can always read it -ie: groo (grow) worter (water) gurl (girl). He is behind his classmates reading wise but the teachers have always said not to worry as he is late august born. He has just moved onto yellow books (Oxford reading tree) and has just got his white sight words (not sure if this is a school specific thing or not) which are the last high (of the first 100) frequency words to learn. I know he is in the bottom half of his class and many have moved onto writing sentences rather than learning sight words. I try not to talk to other parents about where their child is as I know DS will learn at his own pace.

So 2 parts to this really - is my judgement on the school so wrong. Did Ofsted get them on a bad day? And is DS where he should be at his age ( not yet 5!)

Cheers for reading this far! I waffled on a bit....

CharlesRyder Sun 01-Jun-14 17:36:24

I think you need to bear in mind that EYFS is very different to KS1 and KS2 is different again. It is entirely possible for the EYFS at a school to be outstanding and KS2 to be inadequate.

It sounds like you are happy with what you know of the school (Reception) but you don't know if this picture is consistent right through.

Sounds like your DS is doing fine so you have to decide whether you trust the school to sort the issues they have higher up in time for him to get there.

Moofins Sun 01-Jun-14 18:51:17

Thanks for the response I didn't realise the difference. So the Eyfs comment was:

Children in the Early Years Foundation Stage do not make good progress because activities are not always tailored to their developmental needs.

This surprises me as we get a letter of what they are doing every term and a comment in a newsletter weekly. It's always around a certain topic and then they have subsections for PE, maths, reading, activities at home etc etc.... They seem to do really varied things from gardening to singing etc... My concern is now that what we are seeing is just paperwork and not what is actually happening? What should I be looking for?

Unless we move it is unlikely we can move school so we don't have a choice really. It's this school or move which we are considering but it would be out of this borough so a major decision.

The school is just about to join with the associated junior school which has an even worse reputation ....

CharlesRyder Sun 01-Jun-14 20:13:08

That comment probably means that they are not differentiating within EYFS, not that the activities in general are not suitable. So gardening will always be fine but they may not be getting enough learning out of them because they don't differentiate the activities. Do the more able children get to measure the sunflowers in cm each week and make a graph of growth? Do the less able children have pictures of planting a sunflower to sequence? Are the right children encouraged to do the right activity related to gardening? that's the sort of thing they would have been looking for and presumably didn't find.

It could mean that there are, say, too many worksheets (or even any worksheets) rather than hands on activities. Or that there are only ever spades in the sand, never letters or numbers or categories of items to sort. Or that they do phonics with groups that are too large so too many children are behind or bored.

Moofins Sun 01-Jun-14 20:36:08

Thanks for that. Really helpful - I guess those are things as a parent you never see and that is what Ofsted is for.

Not sure there is much I can do to change the situation but keep up reading and working with DS at home and hope that the school leaders improve the situation for the coming years. (and research moving house!)

EssexMummy123 Sun 01-Jun-14 20:56:14

As you say, there is lots you can do at home - and if your worried at any point then look into extra tuition. As Ofsted have identified the school as needing help then the LEA will have to improve things quickly - my local primary has gone from needing improvement to being 'good' not only in ofsted's eyes but also in terms of the keystage results in two years.

CharlesRyder Sun 01-Jun-14 20:58:45

You can ask to see your DS's Learning Journey and ask what his 'next steps' are. You can couch this in terms of wanting to know so you can support his learning at home. This way you can check they know what his next steps are!

Once he's in Year 1 ask to know what his individual targets are in Literacy and Numeracy (once he's settled in).

Moofins Sun 01-Jun-14 23:05:29

That's good to know Essexmummy. I hope the LEA does - this is the 4th school in the area to go to requires improvement they will either be very busy or now be experts in what is needed!

This school was the goto school for the LEA to send reception children with no places (4 form intake- major expansion just about completed. Why they chose the most unpopular school to expand I don't know) so there are already lots of unhappy parents who have an awkward journey - as you can imagine they are now really unhappy!

Thanks for the info on what I can ask the school. At the last parents evening we ran through a tick list of things he can do (count to 10, write a-z etc) and then another one for things to achieve (count to 20, write independently etc). Is that the kind of thing I should be seeing or something more child specific? At nursery he had a folder of notes and reports, should he have the same at school - I imagine that would be very difficult for the teacher to do for 30 children!

fluppet28 Tue 30-Dec-14 22:50:53

Hi, I would be really interested to know how you're getting on. I think I know which school you're talking about and I too am dithering about whether to send my DC there, given the rather (unfair I would say) reputation. I went for an open day and was actually quite impressed, especially with the head, but something is holding me back from putting it as a top choice. So it would be really useful to see if you stuck it out, and if so, has your view changed? Thx

addaissa Mon 05-Jan-15 01:22:42

fluppet28, I also have a vague idea about which school is. perhaps NW2 London?

Mashabell Mon 05-Jan-15 06:33:16

Please bear in mind that in most of Europe children don't start formal schooling till 6, and in some countries not even till 7.

If u feel your ds has made good progress, relax and ignore the Ofsted report. Support the school as much as u can, and if u can get some other parents to do so too, even better.

I think Ofsted does far more harm than good.

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