I'd love some fresh opinions please on this situation re choosing school for DD.(19 Posts)
DS goes to our nearest school that has always been considered to be a good school in the area, one his dad went to and one that has a lovely family united feel to it. DS has been very happy there (now in year 3).
DD is due to start reception in Sept 09 and the forms are out now for applying. We had always assumed that DD would follow DS (why wouldn't she?) but the school has just had it's Ofsted report and it's not good. I'm not the only parent to be feeling this, it's the talk of the playground, the supermarket, the coffee shop etc. We all agree that the school ethos is great, the children are happy there etc etc. But the report has picked up, for the second time I believe, that the brighter children are not catered for, leadership is below standard and the children often don't know what they are supposed to be achieving.
So, do we still opt for that school for DD because her brother goes there and she will be upset to not be with him (I am assuming this, we haven't broached the subject with either DC). Or do we look elsewhere for DD and hope that we can then move DS afterwards or even leave DS where he is settled and have them at different schools. This would be possible logistics wise as they are close and the start/finish times are slightly different.
What would you do?? TIA
I would send your DD to the nearest school, if your DS is there and he is happy and doing well.
I moved my DS form a "good" school where he was not being cared for, or taught apropriately, to a "satisfactory" school, where the staff really care for him, and he really enjoys the work.
Unless you have had signiifcant doubts yourself about the school while ds has been there, been unhappy with it and think those criticisms adversely affect the learning of your children I think it would be sensible to send dd there. Ofsted is far from the be all and end all . Leadership qualities vary by head and staff so a few small changes codul quickly make a difference.
If you're happy with the overall atmosphere of the school, I'd say send her there too. The school will probably start taking action on the points raised by the report and bring those areas up to a better standard anyway.
thanks for the replies. Are there any other reports we should be looking at other then Ofsted I wonder??
If you've been happy with the school for your DS, and don't have any sense yourselves that it's got worse, I would send your DD there.
Allowing or the fact that your DCs are of course wonderful and intelligent and generally marvellous, do you think that the "brighter children are not catered for" aspect is likely to have a detrimental effect on either of them?
Ofsted want, for example, every single piece of written work to have "Learning objective: [whatever the learning objective is]" written on it, which I tend to think is being overly prescriptive in the "children knowing what they are supposed to be achieving" stakes.
but if you know the school with ds being there , no report should supersede your experience imho.
Ofsted is not the be all and end all. We had a visit from the lovely people yesterday and despite the fact that the school came out very well, have little faith in the system. There are good inspectors out there and ones who seem to live in an alternative universe. Most inspections last just one or two days now.
So forget the OFSTED for the moment. Is your son making progress? Can he talk to you about his learning? Does he know ways in which he can improve his work? Is he interested by the curriculum provided and motivated to find out more about class themes and topics? You've already said that he's very happy there and that you like the ethos.
IMO this is a much better measure of a school for YOUR child than a report based on a few hours of data analysis and fleeting visits to lessons by the inspection team.
thanks again for the replies. You are all correct, I have no cause for complaint at all as far as DS is concerned. And I know it's very early days and I'm not trying to suggest that my little 3 year old is going to be Einstein but I just wonder if DD will need more of a challenge. She is a different kettle of fish to her brother altogether.
The school in question had a new head at the beginning of Sept 07. How long do you suppose it takes a new member of staff at that level to make a positive difference?
I would be marginally worried that the new head should have had long enough to make a positive difference to leadership by now. What is your gut feeling about the school management? Is there high turnover of teachers, or are they all quite happy? Are the children motivated and behaving well?
My daughter is at a "satisfactory" school, which has had similar criticism for not stretching bright children, but does have a "good" for leadership. She's at the higher end of the spectrum of ability for her class, and they don't seem to have any problem stretching her. And we know people with older children who are very bright and they have been very happy about the way the school deals with them.
So I'm not too sure what Ofsted is on about, really. Except that we are in an area of very mixed ability and social background, and the school doesn't always jump through all the bureaucratic hoops. But that doesn't bother me!
What have your DS's experiences of the school been? Do you feel so strongly about this that you would consider moving him to another school as well?
What about actually going in to the school and talking to the Head about the Ofsted? Ask him/her how they think Ofsted arrived at these conclusions, and how they intend to address them? I once did this about a school for my DD. The Head was a little taken aback, but did explain what had happened, and the Ofsted made more sense. (I didn't actually take up the place for my DD in the end!)
I can't add much to what's already been said, except to say that the governing body will almost certainly be drawing up some sort of action or improvement plan, to act on the weaknesses identified by Ofsted. You could ask to see that - it's probably not confidential and should be available from the school office.
Ofsteds are really quite unreliable. My dds have been at 3 schools. I think they've had, variously, Excellent, Good and currently Satisfactory ofsteds. But our experience of all 3 schools has been very similar - absolutely fine. No real complaints. The one we're at now with the Satisfactory ofsted (which means poor) is a little village school with an old head, who since left.
It also got critiqued for not having enough activities and not stretching the brightest children enough. But it's fine. And I can't see much difference in the stretching and the after school activities on offer either.
Meanwhile in our old school area we lived near a school which has ALWAYS been rated the best comp in the whole of Manchester, always high performing. loads of high achieving kids. affluent area. Just been put into Special Measures by Ofsted. It's still a good high achieving school however. Just, apparently, had problems with two heads. Ofsted has to be considered among other things not on its own.
DS loves going to school. He's a sensitive soul and loves the fact that the teachers are all so approachable I think. It's only a two class intake and it seems that everybody knows everybody which was one of the things that we liked about it way back when. DS has had some issues with gross and fine motor skills too and I think the school have handled those well.
I think one of the reasons I am doubting the school is because I don't want to apply for DD purely because DS is there. I feel that i should investigate the choices as much as we did for DS, to be fair. If DS was not at the school currently and so I had only the Ofsted to go on and no first hand experience, I'm not sure I would choose to send DD there and that makes me hesitate. Does that make sense? Of course I can turn that round and say that i am lucky now tyo have the luxury of firsthand experience and that is more important than the ofsted and so I shoudl relax and be confident in my application. Oh heck, I'm waffling now so will stop before I send you all to sleep!!!
Ofsted reports are only one way of judging a school, and IMO if the children are happy and well cared for and you have no problems with the level of education that your dc is receiving, then stick with it.
Was the report actually bad or just satisfactory (grade 3)?
I think you have to turn it round and say now you know what it is like, so it is the benchmark by which you consider other schools and the meaning of the reports. What you say makes it sound like a very nice school, so unless you think the specific issues mentioned in the report are really important, and you don't think they will be able to deal with them, then there is an advantage to going with what you know, and also with them being at school together.
Would you have beeb happy sending your dd there but for the Ofsted report? If so, I'd be inclined to send her. If you were already having doubts, maybe that would be different.
The other thing is to look at the report as a whole... read between the lines, if you like. I think there's one section called "capacity to improve" or similar... is the school judged to be aware of its strngths and weaknesses and working to improve matters?
Ultimately, Ofsted is a subjective judgement (IMO). Different inspectors could well come up with different judgements.
And I don't agree that "satisfactory" means poor. It does, in some cases... but it can also mean "fine" or even "on the way up". You have to take the report as a whole, I think, and use your own judgement, too.
thanks for these replies. I happened to walk to school this morning with the head of the Governors. He filled me in on some of the background to the staffing issues that the school have had to cope with in the last few years (some of which I was unaware of) and also told me about some of the changes that the new head has implemented but that Ofsted said that could not take into account as they had not been in place for long enough.
I was going to suggest that you speak to the HT or Chair of Governors about your concerns over the recent Ofsted report.
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