Send DS to "satisfactory&q
uot; Juniors where all his infant-school friends are going, or to smaller, "good" Juniors where he'll know no-one?
I don't know what to do! DS1 currently goes to an Ofsted "outstanding" infant school in the next village. From here, although it's not linked, most children go on to that village's "Satisfactory" Juniors.
Our village has an OK Infants, and then an Ofsted "Good" CofE Junior school.
It's a smaller Junior school than the "Satisfactory" one, and is closer to our house (0.4 miles, compared to 0.6). However, he won't know anyone there, and it's in the catchment area of two large social-housing estates, one of which is very rough. (Policemen only go in there 4 at a time.)
I've spoken to the headmistress of the "Good", smaller Juniors and she says he'd be able get a place there as they'll have spaces in 2010. But, she is leaving, and she is mentioned heavily in the Ofsted report as being one of the main reasons the school is so good.
The "satisfactory" Junior school in the other village has a new Headteacher who might have improved that school by the time of the next Inspection.
So... keep him with his friends in the possibly improving "Satisfactory" school, or opt for the closer "Good" school that is better now but might go downhill?
My head hurts!
Does anyone have any advice?
Also, if he goes to the Juniors in the next village, i will know Mums there too, from the Infants.
I would keep him with his friends and if you are not happy in a year's time move him then, the distances involved are minimal.
I wouldn't worry too much, my dc went from an Outstanding primary to a Good primary to a Satisfactory (but improving) one, cos we moved twice. We haven't noticed much difference at all in educational quality nor in behaviour nor in social stuff nor in clubs and activities offered. Lots of the ofsted stuff is more box-ticking than anything substantial. My children are just as happy, maybe more so, in the satisfactory school, it's viewed by parents as being child-focused rather than sats and ofsted-focused, and it's always oversubscribed.
A friend of mine is an Ofsted inspector. When I was looking at schools for ds1 she said make sure there hasn't been a change of headteacher since the last inspection as this can (sometimes drastically) change the rating a school gets.
That said, I wouldn't choose a junior school on the basis of it being the school where friends go as at that age they are so adaptable that in no time he'll make a bunch of new friends.
I would however in this case not look too closely at the Ofsted reports, go to visit the schools, talk to the headteachers and go by your gut feeling of which environment you would most trust to leave your ds in.
Are there also no other junior schools in other nearby villages that you could consider or are you really, really rural?
How easily does your DS make friends? If he's quite sociable and outgoing, I think I'd go for the better school.
I'd visit and chose on the basis of which school felt right.
Have you been round the schools yourself?
What was your gut feeling?
Think about how they approach things, what their specialisms or big ideas are - and what will suit your DS most.
Also can you walk to either school?
Echoing what AcademicMum says - my DD's at an 'outstanding' school which I think is on the slide after a change of head. Look at both of the schools and see what you think.
Thank you all so much! Yes, we can walk to either school. I am seeing the "Good" one tomorrow, and (argh!) need to arrange a visit to the other one ASAP. Friends' Mums who have seen the other ("Satisfactory") one weren't impressed, but I know it is v subjective.
AcademicMum, both schools have had (or will have had) a new Head since the last inspection! Also, both are changing from Headmistresses to Headmasters.
DS is quite sociable but summer-born, so sometimes his loftier, winter-born friends look at him like he's slightly bonkers. He has excelled academically, which obviously i'd like to continue!, but has struggled slightly with social skills, sitting still, etc. Probably then, the better school for him would be the one that focusses most strongly on those aspects.
The women in the office in the "Good" school were blissfully lovely and helpful - is that a valid reason to send him there?!
The "Good" school is CofE, which I'd love, as I went to a religious Junior school and found it rather magical. Also, the local Rector comes to give assemblies once a week which apparently the children absolutely adore.
But... The children have to change into different shoes every breaktime before they can go into the playground.
EVERY breaktime, "nice" indoor shoes come off, scruffy trainers go on.
It's to keep the school carpets clean.
Ofsted reports are often not worth the paper they're written on, but having said that, do read them and see where they fell down on their inspections. Also have a look and see when the insepction took place, because a lot of things can change.
Personally I would advise you to visit both schools and get a feel for them. Don't just send your ds to a school because his friends are there though, send him to the school that is best for him.
God, what a faff. I had to do this at secondary school, but I was really good at laces by then. If you like the school, though, it shouldn't put you off. And lovely for the children to sit on clean carpets.
Nice admin staff are a good sign - they might just be nice people, but they set the tone.
Thanks, both of you! Thanks all of you in fact.
oh, should I also ask how many kids went on to Grammar schools? in the "Good" school, 6 girls but just 1 boy went on to the amazingly good local Grammar.
Depends where you are - here, primaries aren't allowed to prepare children for the 11+ at all, and I think generally state primaries are restricted from doing more than a certain amount. The number passing can vary greatly from year to year, as can the gender ratio, and sadly, a large number of 11+ passes may just indicate a middle class catchment area.
As someone who works for an establishment who just received an outstanding Ofsted inspection - please TAKE NO NOTICE! (No way in hell we're outstanding! Just know how to prepare properly for an inspection!)
Really, truly just go with your gut.
I'd ignore the ofsted reports, visit both, and see which you think would suit him better.
If all else is equal I would keep him with his friends - but I have a skewed view of these things as for various reasons I changed schools every 2 years as a child and hated being the new girl all the time, so am determined my DCs will have opportunities to have lifelong friends.
DD's absolutely lovely playgroup were told they would never get an "outstanding" from OFSTED as their noticeboard is not permanently attached to the wall.
Don't think it affected DD's experience any!
You need to look at them both and see what they were marked down on and decide whether those were things you care about.
I would say choose the school your child will be happiest in. I know that isn't straightforward though!
I am a teacher and I would completely disregard any Ofsted judgements. They are all about jumping through hoops (is the paper work right, and in the right format!), and ticking boxes. I'm almost at the stage of thinking I wouldn't want to work in an 'outstanding' school because it's all about second guessing what the inspectors want, rather than necessarily doing what is best for the children.
I've worked in an 'outstanding' school (some years ago) which was nightmarish with a head who thought it was all about her and her leadership. I've worked in 2 'good' schools, one of which was frankly awful, and one of which was pretty good. I've also worked in one 'satisfactory' school, which was totally lovely, and just the sort of school I would want for my own children. Make of that what you will!
So, don't think too much of Ofsted when you decide.
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