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When a school gets a less than good Ofsted report, does it generally manage to improve over the coming year?

(16 Posts)
HorseStories Mon 13-Oct-08 16:40:32

DD's school recently had an Ofsted inspection and the overall report has come out as satisfactory with some good elements. These one day Pfsted reports read very differently to the old style Ofsted report. I'm not sure the school is that different to when it was last Ofsteded and got a Good grading. Things I value highly, such as the happiness and well-being of the pupils, are still noted as being good, they just don't warrant a grade.

The standard of the teaching is inconsistent and gets a Satisfactory.

My gut instinct is that the school will now endeavour to improve on its weaknesses however, I understand that Ofsted reports are now heavily based on self-assessments which means the school only measured itself as satisfactory! Is that normal for schools to coast along and think they are doing OK until they are asked to sit down and evaluate themselves? The alternative is that they're aware that they could do better but don't bother.

HorseStories Tue 14-Oct-08 09:43:42

Gosh - I didn't expect many replies, but no replies?! Eeek! I think I must have the most boring writing style. This happens to me a lot blush

Seeline Tue 14-Oct-08 09:49:09

This happened at our school too HS. It has an unusual, but successful approach to teaching, and it also a large three form entry primary. The one day inspection involved the inspector visiting 3 classes for 15 mins each. He obviously didn't understand the teaching appraoch and heavily criticised many elements fo the school, although did agree that the pupils are happy and well cared for. I don't think the school had much to do with the overall grading as the Inspectors report was accompanied by a letter from teh Head putting their point of view. That being said there were elements that the school have taken on board and are addressing. In anycase, the school remains, in my opinion and many other parents, a very good school. I think these new inspections are a real waste of time.

PsychoAxeMurdererMum Tue 14-Oct-08 09:49:43

is it being re-checked tho and has it been given notices on how to improve??

the school my middle ones go to had a change of headship as DD3 went into yr3 (she is now yr5). the ofsted was done within 2mths of the change and it got quite a low grade with area's to improve, and was re-ofsteded (is that a word?) 6mths later, in which it was graded 'outstanding' in one part, and as 'good/very good in the rest......so yes, they really did improve and very quickly too.

I think personally it was the change in heads that did it......any change in leadership causes a blip, be it school/work/even government!

having said that tho, I don;t take much notice of the ofsted as it just seems to cause more problems (IMPO at least). much better to me is that my children are happy and that the school is friendly and welcoming, which the school was the entire time even tho the ofsted deemed otherwise.

nlondondad Tue 14-Oct-08 09:58:27

I suspect the lack of reply is cos people dont feel they can say anything sensible.

All I can say is that the old style Offsted (no experience of the new style yet, a treat yet in store) at its best amounted to a consultancy report by a bunch of reasonably informed outsiders which highlighted for the school the areas that needed improvement and effectivily wrote the schools development plan for the next year or so. But that in any case Ofsted only tells a small part of the story.

(ofsted at its worst, a different story. I experienced an inspection team some years ago led by an evangelical Christian who attacked the non church state school for being insufficiently Christian. On questioning her at the feed back meeting I established that by Christian she meant "non denominational" evangelical Protestant..... The report had little to say that was useful. Our north london school community includes Muslims, Orthodox Christians. Roman Catholics and non evangelical Protestants)

HorseStories Tue 14-Oct-08 10:39:39

My, and my husband's, perception of the report is that it is wishy-washy. It's not very detailed despite being a few pages long and it does not clarify why or in what areas teaching is poor or standards are lacking. Oddly, it talks more about what the school does well and why it has some good elements, which leaves you witha more positive perception of the school, but also leaves me wondering why the overall grading is only satisfactory if it has so much to say about its good elements.

The accompanying letter from the Chair of Governors had a lot to read between the lines and I gather they were not impressed by the new style one-day inspection.

Thanks to those who replied.

HorseStories Tue 14-Oct-08 11:17:37

I am trying to work out why this inspection and report has bothered me so much and now I think I have put my finger on it.

We moved to this area earlier this year, from a few hours drive away, and I had to move my DD1 during her Reception Year at school - from a school I was very happy with. I agonised over the school choices available to us mid-Reception year in this new town. I looked at 6 schools and was instantly drawn to the one we chose. For me, it stood out for many reasons. I visited it again with DH and DD1 and they both garnered the same impression as myself.

My DD1 settled very easily into this school despite being much larger than her first school. Since living in the area I have had my opinion of the school endorsed by other parents who use the school and parents who are out of catchment and use other schools. I think it irks me, as an educated, intelligent woman to have my carefully selected school dissed by a one-day inspection.

Hassled Tue 14-Oct-08 11:28:06

A lot of the OfSted findings are based on the school's own Self-Evaluation, which isn't a one-off exercise but a rolling thing which is reviewed regularly, and ties in with the School's Improvement and Development Plan (SIDP). An awful lot is just a paper trail - eg - your SIDP states you will improve Yr 2 boys' handwriting; where's the evidence that you've done that? At what meeting did you discuss it? When was it reiewed? Did the governors monitor it? Can you quantify the improvement?

So all useful stuff, but little to do with the hands-on standard of teaching, quality of the curriculum etc. And if the school itself thinks it is only satsfactory then I actually see that as quite positive - they've already identified their weaknesses and the things that they could improve upon. So yes, to answer your OP, this is a school that could well be good or outstanding in a few years' time.

Blackduck Tue 14-Oct-08 11:31:25

HS I feel the same as you...Ds's school has just been ofsteaded and has come out as largely satisfactory with some good. I chose carefully too, and like you am now thinking am I wrong? But all I can say is the children are happy and the parents are happy.

GrapefruitMoon Tue 14-Oct-08 11:57:57

HS I wondered if your dd went to same school as my dcs but see you live in a different part of the country! We had exactly the same thing happen recently - overall satisfactory although the SATs results are v. good and the children are happy & well-behaved, yadda, yadda...

It would be interesting to see if many schools are "downgraded" under the new reporting system....

mabanana Tue 14-Oct-08 12:02:23

I think most Ofsteds are really flawed. They are such a tiny snapshot of a school. Our school has good SATs with a high proportion of poor and SN children, which I think is a huge achievement, and the kids love the school and I've found the teachers to be great. The real problem is that a not-so-great Ofsted puts off the concerned, educationally-passionate classes from sending their PFBs and then the school can suffer from a shift in its intake which can really change the school.

MaloryDontDiveItsShallow Tue 14-Oct-08 12:03:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GrapefruitMoon Tue 14-Oct-08 12:10:27

mabanana, that is my only concern - that the school will be undersubscribed which will affect funding and will lead to people not making it their first choice which I feel will affect the community spirit there is there now....

HorseStories Tue 14-Oct-08 13:17:18

"The real problem is that a not-so-great Ofsted puts off the concerned, educationally-passionate classes from sending their PFBs and then the school can suffer from a shift in its intake which can really change the school."

I have to admit that is one of my concerns since I have a DD2 who will start school in 2010.

peanutbutterkid Tue 14-Oct-08 13:31:37

When schools get an unsatisfactory I think you usually see BIG improvements in the following 3 years, but a 'satisfactory' is different, because what makes better than 'satisfactory' is a long-time period thing, but the decision about which criteria matter most can change at sudden short notice (so it's hard to plan years in advance in order to get the right result).

Our school just received a satisfactory, head-teacher told everyone that it was mostly because of less-than-average KS2 results. High % of SN & SEN, at the school, not sure if Ofsted takes those into account when looking at SAT results. School is noticeably picking up on and acting on some of the criticisms that were in the Ofsted report.

Blackduck Tue 14-Oct-08 13:34:41

Grapefruit - like you I wondered if HS was in the same bit of the country as me as what you describe is identical - the school has good SAT results and last ofsted only identified three areas to be addressed, this one seems so much more 'average' if that makes sense....

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