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keeping last year's exercise books for OFSTED

(51 Posts)
KeepOnKeepingOn1 Mon 01-Aug-16 17:41:36

DS2 is in due to start year 6 in September. At the end of the year bits and pieces came home but not his exercise books for science, maths and english. The CT said that all books are kept in school until the end of the following year, due to monitoring and OFSTED.

OFSTED say "Ofsted will take a range of evidence into account when making judgements, including published performance data, the school’s in-year performance data and work in pupils’ books and folders. However, unnecessary or extensive collections of marked pupils’ work are not required for inspection."

A google search confirms that OFSTED don't require schools to keep last year's books but some schools seem to like to keep them 'just in case' or to avoid parental criticism or because they are chasing 'outstanding' rating.

What are the actual rules? I know that universities 'own' the work of undergraduates/postgraduates but do schools 'own' the work of DC and so can delay handing it over or can even destroy it?

Background is that DS2 is due AR/transfer to EHCP at the start of the next academic year but I am not allowed to see his workbooks from year 5 - i.e. the period being reviewed. Instead I have been given a small selection of copies of work in one lesson. There are no copies of work from maths, science or topic. We are supposed to be reviewing the impact of new provision on his day to day work in those lessons. His books were supposed to be brought to the last IEP review and meeting with autism outreach but never appeared. I know what's in them - I or DH went in to view his work most weeks but didn't photo stuff.

The school now consider the matter closed. Can I do a subject access request under the data protection act? Obviously I would rather not do this but don't see any alternative as the school are refusing to share enough information with me so that I can participate in the Review.

mrz Mon 01-Aug-16 18:23:05

If the school is expecting a visit early next year they may feel they need books "just in case".
I know they say they don't but on our last inspection the lead inspector went through every single book to monitor progress.

Hulababy Mon 01-Aug-16 18:32:00

We keep ours for a year. We then send them to the children to take home after that. We keep English, Maths and Topic (which includes humanities, science and RE.) Our LEA advisor recommended it a few years back and we have done so ever since.

OFSTED have definitely been known to ask for them in local inspections, esp those that happen in the first term.

We are due OFSTED any time so definitely want to have everything ready. Especially as all the stuff from this year was externally moderated with comments in the books from them.

SueTrinder Mon 01-Aug-16 18:34:56

Surely copies could be made either for you or for the school to keep for their records. It's a faff for the person who actually has to do the copying but not impossible.

teacherwith2kids Mon 01-Aug-16 18:40:27

We keep books as mrz and Hula have said. However, I would absolutely release books for an AR / EHCP meeting or similar (e.g. i have sent books home for parents to look at as part of discussions about the best way to help at home) and then want them back on a specific date - or made copies, if the child involved is a 'rare' person within the data for Ofsted (e.g. wanting to see the progress made by girls with SEN in a specific year group because that data was relatively weak can mean that one or two sets of books have additional importance)

Ditsy4 Mon 01-Aug-16 18:50:06

We expected Ofsted all year so we have kept them. I know because I asked if I was to keep books from my booster groups and the classes I teach. It is in case they arrive in September or Autumn term
Have you asked the SENCO?

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Mon 01-Aug-16 19:45:02

I'm quite happy for the school to keep the originals for now as long as they give me a full copy so I am as aware, and have written evidence, as everyone else at the Review.

I am not happy to only have a few examples from one subject as his work is extremely variable and you really need to see the pattern over different subjects to see whether support is working. We will also be looking at support needed at secondary so really can't understand why the needs of the school/monitoring/ofsted trump DS2's longer term needs.

Maybe I will ask politely for copies and then SAR if/when they refuse.

irvineoneohone Mon 01-Aug-16 21:23:49

Sorry for hijacking.
My ds's all the maths book was kept by school in yr2. I asked if we get it back later but they said they need to keep it for some reason.
I really didn't understand why they do it at the time, still don't.
Why they do that? Can we get it back now after a year, or are they in the bin by now?

LockedOutOfMN Mon 01-Aug-16 23:20:31

As others have said, OFSTED will ask for them if coming in the first term (expected to come) and will be particularly interested to see books of SEN students. However, the school can make you a copy. Ask the SENCO.

irvineoneohone Tue 02-Aug-16 08:06:38

My ds wasn't SEN...confused, and they already had Ofsted previous year with good result.

littlepinkmouseofsugar Tue 02-Aug-16 10:33:15

Our school now keeps all the exercise books and then I suspect disposes of them 12 months later, as they have been 'kept' for 2 years running now. It saddens me as the children would love to bring their work home at the end of the year and I'd love to get a good look at it all as I am genuinely interested in what they do. School uses Ofsted as an excuse since a change in management.

When I asked the class teacher if we could keep them or at least borrow them so we could make copies. They referred me to the head and muttered something about policy. The head then was not at all keen to let us borrow the books and said they's never get them back as that's happened in the past with parents borrowing them. The staff all seemed very suspicious/curious as to WHY on earth I'd want to see what MY children have been doing all year, which made me feel like I'd asked for something amazingly unreasonable. You'd think the state owned the children... I suspect they thought I was about to complain about the teaching/curriculum or similar maybe?

I have all my old school books still and recently got them all out and loved looking at them with my children. We compared how things have changed and what is the same then as now. It was lovely to be able to do so and it's sad my children won't be able to do the same in the future.

spanieleyes Tue 02-Aug-16 10:45:01

In a previous school, the Head refused to continue to send books home as a parent complained that they did not agree with some of the comments in the books, disagreed with the level given to written work, complained that ONE piece of work was not marked and generally picked through every piece of work in the books and argued about everything!

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Tue 02-Aug-16 11:16:57

This is DS2's second primary school. At his last school he used to bring home all his work at the end of the year. Just for keepsake value, being a terrible hoarder, I still have all DS1's (15) workbooks going back to reception. I love getting them out and reminiscing with the boys. DH still has his exercise books from over 40 years ago. They are full of memories just like old photos.

Why do all schools have different policies that are treated as gospel? I know that teachers hate the monitoring required by ofsted but it is not ofsted that keep exercise books or, even worse, bin them. I couldn't deliberately destroy someone's work even if no one was looking. Avoiding criticism is not a justification.

spanieleyes Tue 02-Aug-16 11:23:25

Because presumably the decision is down to the Head of each school. There is no law/policy that says what MUST be done, so each school will have its own custom and practice depending on its experiences/requirements.

teacherwith2kids Tue 02-Aug-16 12:04:33

I also feel that with 'life without levels', and thus with assessment / tracking processes being entirely different between schools, books have (IME) acquired, at least temporarily, a greater importance in terms of evidence of progress, so schools are more likely to keep books / actual work for inspection / moderation.

mrz Tue 02-Aug-16 12:44:06

Agree teacherwith2kids, we are required to demonstrate progress over time ...in books.

jamdonut Tue 02-Aug-16 12:57:06

We have been expecting Ofsted imminently. It will likely be when we get back to school now... we hang on to the books for a year because they really do ask to see them. We had an LEA monitoring visit, and they went through with a fine tooth comb.
The books go up to the next class teacher.Then they will be sent home next summer.(I and the other class TAs spent the last few days of term 'filing' everything in alphabetical name order!!!!)

If a child leaves they are sent to their next school (Not all schools seem to do this, but it is really useful when they do.).

Sadly, some parents do take exception to the marking comments, which causes a headache, but they will be the same ones who complain about everything!!! hmm

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Tue 02-Aug-16 13:17:32

I understand that school's now 'care' about workbooks for bureaucratic reasons that didn't used to exist, or don't exist everywhere, and probably won't exist in five years time But I don't understand why they can't just take copies as evidence to back up their progress data, or show progress over time etc., and then let DC take their work books home, because they really care about them, and their parents really care about them, now and forever. They have a value to parents and the DC themselves that the school can never share - even if not 100% of parents/DC care 'sufficiently'/are excessively sentimental and chose to bin them.

I can't even remember all the names of the numerous teachers and TAs that my two boys have had over the last decade or so. Because workbooks aren't about the teachers, I skim over feedback given because I'm only really interested in reading what my child has written.

It may be the same for everyone but it may be because DS2 tells me absolutely nothing about his day at school (common in ASD) that I especially value reading what he has written.

spaniel is there a reason why there is not a national policy based on guidelines issued by the DfE that all schools have to implement? All school websites I have seen link to school policies on lots of other issues, so why not this? That way, parents that move house/school do not face a post code lottery and find that openness and sharing has been replaced. Staff are automatically defensive and suspicious and what was once seen as routine is treated as supremely unreasonable.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Tue 02-Aug-16 13:30:33

Do the OFSTED inspectors really dedicate hours to review thousands of exercise books (i.e. historical data)? Plus I would imagine that they would be more interested in the workbooks of the current year 6 wouldn't they?

Plus if outstanding schools don't get visited, and good schools have a one day visit, surely this would mean that the inspectors would not want to be swamped with unnecessary data?

Or do they issue one myth busting statement, but then act in a different way in real life? Did they have to issue a myth busting statement because the myths are actually true?

teacherwith2kids Tue 02-Aug-16 13:34:53

KeepOn,

Virtually all my class completed, over the year:
3-4x English books
3-5x maths books
2x History / Geography books
1x Science books (but these are thicker)
1x RE book

Plus assorted books for spelling, comprehension, sketchbooks etc. Copying all of those - and it would need to be all, because a lot of evidence may come from e.g. applying English in cross-curricular contexts - for evidence from a 32 pupil class would be extremely time-consuming.

instead, we keep books for at least the first term (so that progress can be looked at over a time frame of longer than a few days if e.g. Ofsted or a subject inspection rocks up on Day 7 of the Autumn term, as happened last time), and a representative sample for a full year, before returning them to children to take home.

So parents DO get a what their children have done, just after a time lag - and all books are available for parents to examine at length 3x a year at Parents' evenings.

teacherwith2kids Tue 02-Aug-16 13:37:45

Keep on, when Ofsted visited last time, I had to deliver all books (including historical books, given it was the beginning of the Autumn term) for a number of pupils from my class to the inspector - and they had to be the books of those named individuals, chosen from the data.

mrz Tue 02-Aug-16 13:40:28

No Ofsted don't review thousands of books but they do select pupils whose books they want to review unfortunately schools aren't equipped with crystal balls to predict which pupil's books will be needed.

mrz Tue 02-Aug-16 13:42:40

Outstanding schools to get visited and good schools will get a one day visit which may be extended by the inspectors ...

teacherwith2kids Tue 02-Aug-16 14:11:30

"Plus I would imagine that they would be more interested in the workbooks of the current year 6"

Why? In fact, Y6 and Y2 are probably the years that they are least interested in, because they have end of key stage test data for those children.

What they are interested in is the progress of children throughout the school - and will assess whether such progress is typical of all children or whether there is a subset of children who make less (or more) progress.

They will also be looking at evidence of the action taken by the school / teacher to influence that progress - marking and response to marking, lessons that respond to identified needs, differentiation if appropriate, support if appropriate.

They will also be looking to assess the school against any specific weaknesses or concerns raised by the data, from previous Ofsted or subject visits, from their survey of the school websiite and any feedback / comments from interviewed parents, parentview or letters / complaints received - could be 'a specific ethnic group is making less progress than others' or 'boys are doing better than girls in Maths' or 'the curriculum has really narrowed - are they only doing Maths and English?' or 'They are reporting 100% Expected in Writing this year - is that supported by unaided work in books all the way through the school?' or 'How are British values [or enter buzz word of the year] addressed throughout the school?' or 'Is SEN being over-identified?'

At least, that is my experience - and we keep books for all children for at least a term because our ability to provide evidence for all those different queries is dependent on them.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Tue 02-Aug-16 14:19:24

Teacher and Mrz - both of those policies sound fair and reasonable as there is no in year data at the start of the academic year. I am sure parents and DC would be happy for the school to hang onto books they might need. And of course it would be ridiculous to routinely copy all work for all DC to cover the interim.

I would like reasonable adjustments to any such policy though where it was necessary for parents to also have access to workbooks to take part in an AR and consider support needed at his next school. Like you have all said there are no levels now so all we have to go on to assess and measure progress at AR are the workbooks showing the picture before and after increase in provision. Parental involvement is essential in providing continuity in transition from primary to secondary - especially where ASD is a factor.

Instead a made up blanket policy is used as an excuse. Making my request seem unreasonable and refusing compromise of keeping the books for now 'just in case' but providing copies as they will not be released until DS2 has actually left the school and it's all too late and rather pointless

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