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How can parents help a school in special measures?

(13 Posts)
cnaik Mon 22-Jun-09 13:39:46

Having initially been allocated an inaccessible and not terribly good school my DS has now been offered a very local school which has traditionally been shunned by the middle class locals and is in special measures.

The reception has a good rep tho and a group of us all in the same boat (allocated this school in shakedown, not one of choices, all very local and care about kids education)have made a decision to go for it and try to get involved to help improve the school. The pta is tiny (only about 5 active members) but by no means a closed shop - indeed v.keen on more support.

Any ideas - practical/emotional/theoretical/whatever as to what i and the other new mums can do to help?


cnaik Tue 23-Jun-09 08:10:01

Please! Any tips or ideas gratefully received

Builde Tue 23-Jun-09 09:22:15

Well done you for taking the plunge.

These non-middle class schools can have a lot to offer children from middle class families.

I would suggest that you find out what the school's problems are and see if fundraising for playground equipment or being a helping-mummy in the classroom would help the school.

Ofsted currently crack down on schools that get below average results, which does mean that schools with a more difficult intake get harsher inspections than schools with an easier intake, even if the teaching is good.

Our children are at a 'shunned' school which was recently given a 'notice to improve' but I cannot fault the teaching and the progress the girls have made. Although, children will learn despite their teachers!

becaroo Tue 23-Jun-09 09:35:32

I am a parent helper one afternoon a week and make myself available for shcool trips and sports days and things.....joining the PTA would be a great start and getting the kids and parents involved in fund raising....try nights for parents only...quiz nights, BBQ's etc etc. I think sometimes parents were so put off by their own experieinces at school that it makes them uncomfortable about even going into their childs school.

Good luck!

LetsEscape Tue 23-Jun-09 22:37:51

Be very nice to the best teachers! The school is only as good as its teachers and if the school is in special measures good teachers are likely to jump ship. It's can be very demoralising.

I think teachers will value parent helpers doing reading etc.

Have you spoken to the head yet and see what help the school needs? Also the ofsted report may give ideas of what the weaknesses are and where support may be needed either of time or extra resources.

singalongamumum Thu 25-Jun-09 12:51:50

I agree with all of the above. If you are really keen you could look into becoming a governor- it's hard work and quite a commitment but will probably give the most accurate picture of what's going on and the best ways you can help. How long has it been on SM for?

bigTillyMint Thu 25-Jun-09 12:57:19

A school local to me was turned around by supportive parents working with the school staff and went from one of the most unpopular schools to one of the most over-subscribed.

The parents got heavily involved in the PTA and governors, and helped to intoduce ideas that would make the school more effective as well as broadening the curriculum, etc. They put in alot of time doing stuff behind the scenes too.

OrmIrian Thu 25-Jun-09 13:01:17

Show your support. Talk to your child's teachers. Our primary was in special measures in 2006 for 16m. They recovered spectacularly well thanks to new head (well a head actually as we hadn't had one for 6m). In our school so often communications had largely broken down between the parents and the school, it becomes them and us as far as many of the parents were concerned - make sure you touch base with the teacher regularly even just to say hello. The first parents evening after the Ofsted report put us in SM the poor teachers look so beleagured and terrified. Let the school know you are on side. Help your child with any little tasks that he/she is given, make sure you never let your child think that their school isn't good enough (unless you really don't think it is of course)

Join the PTA if you have the time.

LadyGlencoraPalliser Thu 25-Jun-09 14:32:29

Definitely find out if there are vacancies on the governing body and if so put forward any parents who feel they have the time and would like to get involved - that way you have some input into the strategic direction of the school.
Offer to listen to readers if the school needs parent helpers to do this - one afternoon a week can make a huge difference in terms of how often a class gets heard.

cnaik Thu 25-Jun-09 22:33:05

Thanks for all the ideas.
Have already been onto pta so def doing that. They currently have only 5 active members
like the idea of parent helper but work 5 days so not sure when could do this!
Not sure about being governer - work full time and have younger child too - will not commit to something if don't think can follow it through so maybe that"s the next step.
School in SM over a year; lots of LEA money and time going in and new head that seems to have split opinion.
Parents seem dis-interested/maybe demoralised

Tigulator Sat 27-Jun-09 01:17:23

Phew. Thank you all. I'll avoid a sleepless night with your advice. My son's school has just been placed in SM even before we get there. I found out today from a 'concerned' but slightly smug mother of a 'friend' who'll be going elsewhere.

But I can see there's loads that can be done and I'm an ideas person. I'm already pondering the problem particular to our school which is that of lots of English as second language pupils particularly Pakistani.

I'll gather other parents to support the school out of SM asap. Positivity, a sense of community spirit and some kind shared words. That's what I get from Mumsnet and what our school needs too!

cnaik Sat 27-Jun-09 09:23:33

The community school in my area of London which is the most desirable (ovesubscribed) was in special measures only 4 years ago. It all seems a bit self perpetuating; if "people like us" (not class or race based but people who actively care about their kids education - believe me there are plenty who don't) attend a school it gets a good reputation deservedly or not.
From my research schools often think SM is a good thing; big influx of resources and LEA support and not allowed to employ newly qualified teachers - quite common in London I believe.
So combo of resources and influx of committed parents seems like a good combo. Am i being naive?

mrz Sat 04-Jul-09 19:31:55

IME it's often the poor teachers who "jump ship" which can only be a good thing. The school should also be getting LA support again a good thing.
Often parents also jump ship rather than supporting the school to improve. Agree ask for a meeting between parents and head/staff and ask what they need from parents I'm sure they will appreciate it.

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