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If headteacher & chair of govs are best friends, who do you complain to?

(34 Posts)
northernlass2 Sun 17-Jun-18 23:16:56

At my kids' school, they have not been inspected for nearly 10 years because they were rated outstanding. Sadly, they are far from being an outstanding school these days, unless you purely look at league table results alone.
More and more parents are unhappy about their concerns being ignored, and very few complain because they know it's a waste of time. The head and chair of governors are close friends and people have experienced their children being picked on by teachers or the head, after they have complained in the past.
It's a very wealthy catchment area and the head told one parent that they needed to think carefully about whether this was the right school for their children or not because "we have some very wealthy parents".... comments like that are just the tip of the iceberg!
Some parents complained to Ofsted recently, only to be told that they would consider this at their next inspection but not before then....
Several families took their children out of the school a few months ago because of safeguarding concerns and a total lack of acknowledgement of learning difficulties, not to mention the failure to apologise for serious mistakes made by staff.
School constantly blame the kids or the parents but there is zero acknowledgement of any improvement needed within the school itself.
If Ofsted won't help and you can't complain to the governors, then who do you complain to???? What options to parents have?

TempleOfBlooms Sun 17-Jun-18 23:20:03

The other governors? There must be parent governors. The Chair of Governors doesn’t have absolute power.

Is the school run by the local authority? If so contact the education dept of your local council. If it’s an academy it should be part of a Multi Academy Trust and you can complain to the Trust CEO or board.

fuzzyfozzy Sun 17-Jun-18 23:21:31

Is their complaints policy online?
I think that if you complain in writing, they will have so long to reply, and there will be a procedure to follow if you're unsatisfied. It'll probably involve your local council.
Sounds a horrible situation.

northernlass2 Sun 17-Jun-18 23:26:53

Thanks, I will suggest local authority to the other parents who I know are concerned. The thing that worries me is that I know other parents who left the school did approach the governors, but they all seem to stick together. The parent governors who I know all think it's an amazing school. Some of the teachers are great, but they are let down by the leadership in many people's opinion.
The parents who chose to leave had some fairly serious concerns that were totally ignored, but it's as if the school is untouchable. I know no school is perfect and there is always room for improvement but the important thing is that the school recognise that and are willing to address parents' concerns. Some of the things I have seen are just shocking and I honestly think it's only a negative Ofsted inspection that would actually force any change in attitude.
Thanks for your reply - I'll see if the local authority can help at all.

Solasum Sun 17-Jun-18 23:28:39

If it is a church school you could contact the Diocese

fuzzyfozzy Sun 17-Jun-18 23:34:05

The governors are organised by the council. There will be a gov dept. Give them a ring.

northernlass2 Sun 17-Jun-18 23:34:55

Yes they have every policy under the sun but they're not worth the paper they're written on......
I'd heard things on the grapevine about the headteacher for a few years (you know what playgrounds can be like for gossip!) but never experienced anything myself until this year. Now that I've seen for myself, and some of the other parents who have had a bad experience, I know are really nice, caring people - they are not drama queens or troublemakers, which is what they have been made out to be.
I know their children really well, and some of the comments that the head has made to them are horrendous.
Imagine a head saying to an autistic child, "you need to start behaving because I'm fed up of getting emails from your mother!"
Or imagine another autistic child being segregated from the rest of the kids before school because he'd hit a child who was bullying him, so the bully's mum asked for him to be kept separate, so the head agreed to this......
Or imagine going to a school open day and the head saying to parents, "I'm not here to nurture your children; I'm here to teach them!"
I could go on...... there are too many examples of horrendous things that have been said to both children and parents, that are just completely unacceptable. For kids from wealthy families who are really clever, they will thrive but for anyone who doesn't fit into that box, they will be ignored unfortunately..... :-(

StarkDismay Sun 17-Jun-18 23:40:28

This sounds like the school I took my child out of recently. I’m praying it gets an ofsted inspection soon that puts a rocket up the head. It’s a shame to see our community’s school being wrecked by the head and the governors doing nothing about it.

Nat6999 Sun 17-Jun-18 23:53:31

Try being at the other end of the spectrum, a comprehensive school that serves a catchment area of 60% social housing to 40% private housing, make a complaint about your child being bullied, having his bag slashed in the dining hall in a school that has a no sharp implements policy & be told "a lot of the children here are basically feral, this is a community school, what do you expect?" That came from the headmaster & head of year. It's no better anywhere in the system.

fuzzyfozzy Mon 18-Jun-18 01:18:35

Ofsted are more likely to intervene if there are complaints with a Safeguarding aspect. Also if there is a volume of complaints which show a pattern.

LadyPeacock Mon 18-Jun-18 07:19:15

This is the problem with the flawed concept of not re-inspecting 'Outstanding' schools. I think there are plenty about now that are anything but.

northernlass2 Mon 18-Jun-18 07:23:34

There have been safeguarding issues as well and those were the reasons for the complaints to ofsted but again nothing was done. It would appear some schools are immune from any sort of accountability.

BubblesBuddy Mon 18-Jun-18 09:03:10

What lots of parents consider to be Safeguarding are nothing of the kind. Also there is a local Safeguarding board and anyone can complain to them.

Ofsted have recognised that not inspecting outstanding schools is wrong so I would expect an inspection. However, you are not saying if the progress of the children is well above average. If it is, don’t expect ofsted next week. If they are well below average, ofsted would be knocking on the door very soon. I would ensure parents complain about what makes a difference to ofsted. He said/she said won’t get anywhere as you have found.

The LA has no control over Governors. They have no control over the Head. They just do the paperwork and offer training. The realistic situations is, if parents don’t like it, then they have to put up with it or leave. I don’t think parents remove Heads and Governors very often! You can go down the complaints procedure at the school, but they can still disagree with you.

It’s best to leave if you don’t like it.

sallythesheep73 Mon 18-Jun-18 09:47:36

Two years ago I was parent governor at my DSs school where the head and chair of govs were very friendly. In the end I quit. The governors were too weak to say anything and no one was holding the school to account. The governors were all saying how amazing the school was (based on zero evidence) and communication with parents was poor. I tried challenging things but either got ignored or emails from chair of govs telling me I was over stepping the mark, speading rumours etc. Parents are poorly informed. What made me really sad was when I stepped down non of the other governors stuck up for me. They know nothing will change and are keeping their heads down.
Seems like a poor system?? DH wanted me to complain to the diocese but after 2 years of stress and sh!t I just wanted out. We have moved 1 son and are planning to move the other soon.
Its really appalling and sad. But in my experience if the head and chair of govs become chummy you have no chance.

sallythesheep73 Mon 18-Jun-18 09:48:47

According to NGA all governors are equal but in our school whatever the chair says goes and no one else challenges them... pathetic.

brilliotic Mon 18-Jun-18 11:10:45

You could be describing our school, and me - when hearing things that had supposedly gone wrong I always assumed that there was another side to the story and didn't believe half of it, and found a lot to be rather far fetched, until recently when I found myself personally involved and lost (nearly) all respect for the headteacher. I am now much more prone to believe other people's claims about the headteacher!

I have accepted that there is nothing we can do short of changing schools. Not quite there yet (other schools have issues too, so weighing up pros and cons in addition to the disruption we would cause DS who has a good friendship group which gives his whole school life meaning) and vague hopes that the headteacher might be thinking about moving on in the next couple of years.

Not expecting OFSTED anytime soon as results and progress scores are consistently excellent (but at what price) and previous parents have raised major safeguarding concerns with zero results. On paper the school is fine, they spend a lot of effort ticking all the boxes, in fact that's my major complaint: The main consideration in all things they do seems to be 'what looks best on paper' and 'how can I tick all the boxes' rather than 'what is in the children's best interest'. So, e.g., 'how can we get our safeguarding policies to look good' rather than 'how can we effectively safeguard our children'.

sallythesheep73 Mon 18-Jun-18 11:26:41

As parents we have no respect left for our head (though I don't dislike them I just don't agree with them). As a family we have also been on the shitty end of the stick with the head including a safeguarding issue which totally appalled me and when I suggested updates to the safeguarding policy (including reference to a governor who left 2 years ago) I was told the updates were not necessary. But the good news is they are leaving soon so there may be hope with the change of regime..

SluttyButty Mon 18-Jun-18 11:34:42

And this type of thing was the reason I deregistered my son and home schooled him until a place became available at a better school.

My ASD son being kept in at lunchtime,alone, unsupervised in a classroom not understanding the work he was told to do, aged 6. That was the straw that broke the camels back after meetings, emails and chats had no effect.

Freshprincess Mon 18-Jun-18 11:47:49

It took an enormous dip in year 6 sats results before the LA got involved at the primary my DCs went to.
I don’t know how Ofsted got involved (could the LA request an inspection?) but school went from outstanding to special measures after inspection.
The chair of governors and the head were related (I think cousins).
If the school is doing well, results wise I guess you either need to suck it up or move.

Charmatt Mon 18-Jun-18 12:01:53

If there are real safeguarding issues (and as other posters on this thread have said, not all 'safeguarding' issues as defined by parents actually are), you can complain to your LA Designated Officer for safeguarding through the local council. They can submit a complaint that will trigger a visit from Ofsted. Alternatively, get your local TV station involved. One school I worked with was the subject of the headteacher being removed before I was asked to support them. Several issues raised to the headteacher, governors and LA had been ignored or dismissed. Eventually the local TV news was contacted and the education correspondent investigated. The school was graded as 'outstanding' at the time. Once the report was broadcasted, the LA and Ofsted couldn't act quickly enough!
It ended up as a big story that he won an award for. The headteacher was also dismissed and banned from teaching. The school was turned around and is now very successful.

BubblesBuddy Mon 18-Jun-18 12:32:46

No. A LA will not ask Ofsted to visit. If the LA is concerned about a school they can send their School Imrovement team in to take stock of the school and produce a report for Governors about how the school can improve. It would be a very stupid school to ignore that. But some are!

SATS results are not the main assessment conducted by Ofsted. It could have been a very poor cohort. They might have made excellent progress to get the results they did. You must look at progress data and the Governors should be all over this. These days Ofsted's mantra is: Progress, Progress, Progress. It is not just about SATS.

I would be intgerested to know what the major safeguarding issues were and whether they are safeguardig in terms of the law. Every single LA will have produced a safeguarding policy for their schools. Very few schools change them, except to keep them up to date with relevant names, etc. They would be foolish to tinker with agreed polcies that have been through just about every external scrutiny possible before they were agreed and published. Schools must keep up to date with safeguarding training and this should be reported to Governors. It is not up to an individual Governor to tell the Head how to run the school.

The best way Governors can hold the Head to account is by getting trained and understandig their role. Just fighting your conrner on a single issue never works. There are difficult Governing Bodies everywhere.

The Chairman will always have a different role to that of other Governors. The advice is somewhat wrong. They are only equal in a vote. The Chairman will be seeing the Head on a regular basis for a start. They will have a different relationship with the Head as a result of this. They should work closely with the Head to drive the school improvement. Of course, if they have no idea what school improvement is needed, and other governors do not have the expertise to know either, then it is a recipe for disaster. I have certainly known Governors who have voiced No Confidence in the Head. The Head has gone, with the LA brokering the deal. You can get change, but you have to work together and know exactly what the issue is. You have to get the LA on board and you have to move away from "safeguarding" and onto school improvement. A school that cannot see where improvement is needed, in the widest possible context, is the one that will fail Ofsted.

BubblesBuddy Mon 18-Jun-18 12:34:46

Charmatt - that is a highly unusual scenario though. I canthink of schools where such direct action has taken place but it has to be a hugely worrying, and possibly illegal, scenario.

BobbinThreadbare123 Mon 18-Jun-18 12:36:53

www.gov.uk/government/publications/complaints-to-ofsted-about-schools-guidance-for-parents

You are allowed to go to Ofsted as parents.

sallythesheep73 Mon 18-Jun-18 12:51:17

.. when I say no one was holding the school to account in 3 board of governors meetings there was only 1 question from a non parent governor. We had 13 governors in total. That is how engaged the governors were..

Freshprincess Mon 18-Jun-18 13:14:34

Bubbles - thanks for clearing up LA/Ofsted issue. My DCs were in reception at the time, and it was a while ago, so I'm going off letters to parents, meetings with governors and admittedly a bit of playground gossip. Interesting you say about progress though, as I believe the poor monitoring was heavily criticised in Ofsted report.

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