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So what exactly is an Ofsted report supposed to show?

(30 Posts)
Ormirian Fri 14-Oct-11 11:13:08

My older 2 children are at secondary school. Before our eldest went there we were hearing rumours about how good this school had become. When we were deciding where to send them all our friends who were involved in teaching were telling us that this was the school they?d choose if they were in our position. During the first term that DS1 was there they had an Ofsted inspection and the report rated the school as outstanding. The teaching was praised, as was the passion and commitment of the teachers, the behaviour and enthusiasm of the pupils, the caring ethos of the school, the communications with parents. And all our experience since has borne that our. DS1 has gone from being uninterested, mediocre academically, and unmotivated, to being keen and enthusiastic about most subjects, quite willing to talk to us about what he is doing and how he's getting on. DD who was good at primary is flying now.

However when the first inspection was made GCSE results were not good ? 37% grades A-C including maths and English. In fact it was termed a National Challenge school. The intake contains a high percentage of children with SEN, and children who are at level 3 in Yr 6 SATs. Attendance levels were poor. The school is one of the most deprived wards in the county and many of the pupils come from homes were school is seen as a necessary evil. And the outstanding grading was given with this in mind.

Inspite of this the school has been oversubscribed for the last 2 years. Inspite of the fact that there is a 'good' school available on the other side of town that gets better results.

Since that date attendance had improved dramatically and last year the A* to C level was 47%.

And Ofsted moved the goalposts.

Ofsted came again 2 weeks ago and despite the improvements, inspite of the fact that they still praise all the same things they praised last time, the school was graded as satisfactory. Because the GCSE A*-C level is just below the national average.

It makes no odds to us. Our children will stay there and continue to flourish. Our youngest will start there in 3 years time. But it?s such a kick in the teeth for staff that don?t deserve it. And it makes you wonder what the purpose of the report is. The GCSE results are already available for all to see. Isn?t an Ofsted report meant to flesh that out, provide a deeper and more meaningful picture? This just says 'this school is mediocre' and it isn't. It's fantastic! Isn't it wonderful that a school takes a mixed bunch of children and improves all their prospects (in many cases dramatically) and gives them all greater life chances? Isn't that more valuable than a school that cherry picks the best pupils and polishes them up a bit? Yet our school was competing with selective schools, schools from nice middle class, leafy suburbs, and is found wanting.

Something is wrong with that IMO sad.

CustardCake Fri 14-Oct-11 11:21:08

The goal posts have changed for all schools (including the selectives - many of them don't get outstanding anymore even where their A*-C ratings are nearing 100%).

In fairness, and I know you disagree, I don't think a 37% good pass rate for GCSEs is the mark of an outstanding school. In fact. it isn't very good at all. Yes the school had other things that made up for this but ultimately getting most children the results that they will absolutely need to have for future training or education is a pretty big deal. 45% is much better but only about in line with the average. GCSEs are not the be all and end all but they are one of the most important purposes of going to secondary school at all.

IndigoBell Fri 14-Oct-11 11:25:12

I think if your results are poor the highest you can get is 'good with outstanding features'

So I think OFSTED found something else not to their liking besides the results.

Ormirian Fri 14-Oct-11 11:25:50

But it's a silk purse and sow's ear scenario custy. Of course the results were poor - no-one argued that. But how can you expect a school to get above average results when the intake is far below average ? They have made massive strides but the report suggests they have gone backwards.

IndigoBell Fri 14-Oct-11 11:33:00

If the kids have gone from 'far below average' to 'below average' OFSTED would normally be pleased.

(And conversely if they've gone from 'far above average' to 'above average' OFSTED would not be.)

What was the exact wording that suggests they have gone backwards? And how do you know that the kids haven't gone backwards?

Ormirian Fri 14-Oct-11 11:39:40

I haven't seen the whole report. Just bits and pieces at a parents' evening last night.

I don't know the current VA score but it has always been high. I know that the main intake is from a primary school that has been in special measures for a while and they have a large proportion of children with SEN. The fact that the percentage of A-C passes has gone up by 12% shows that they have improved surely?

CustardCake Fri 14-Oct-11 11:39:46

I know what you mean Ormirian - when SEN intake is high and when lots of children start the school with below average levels then the school has to go above and beyond what other schools do in order to get the GCSE grades even to average levels.

You have seen the value of this huge effort and focus in how well your own children have done.

Generally Ofsted inspections do make reference to the intake of the school (hence high-flying Grammar Schools don't always get an Outstanding even though every single one of their pupils gets fantastic results) but, at the same time the GCSE results are very important and there are inner city and very deprived schools who are totally driven on getting the kids through them at higher grades and achieve this.

admission Fri 14-Oct-11 11:41:22

The goal posts have changed as far as Ofsted inspections are concerned. However I think that you are reading what is a very short report from Ofsted whereas there will have been far more detail to consider in the inspectors coming to the conclusions that they came to. More consideration is now being given to actual results rather than what would be considered the "soft" issues like pastoral care.

The school will not have been satisfactory simply because they were below the national average for GCSE results - on that basis 49.9% of school will be satisfactory or worse. I suspect that you need to consider how the GCSE results are going up. Are they actually being achieved by taking "easy" subjects which are worth more than 1 GCSE, that are not stretching pupils as well as they could be for instance. Taking such qualifications is not necessarily wrong for some sections of pupils, it is what is most appropriate for them, but applied across the school would be considered inappropriate now by Ofsted.

It is also the case that "national challenge" schools do tend to make good headway initially (going from being a bad school to an OK school) but then it takes a lot more time and energy to make that next set of moves forward. The school could be at that point and the inspection team can only go on past and present performance not what future performance might be. What was said about the school's ability to improve further? If it was only satisfactory then Ofsted think the Senior management team may be running out of steam to make the next moves, if was good then they see the school getting better and better in the future but it is about the school now, they have to report on

Ormirian Fri 14-Oct-11 11:44:09

Yes, I do need to see the full report.

So far it just doesn't chime with what I know of the school. Thankfully!

IndigoBell Fri 14-Oct-11 11:48:23

A 12% increase isn't particularly noteworthy. Lots of schools make that much increase. (It's good. But it's not exceptional - especially for a school with such a low starting point.)

This cohort might have come in at a higher starting point than the last cohort.

The national average is a 5% increase.

noblegiraffe Fri 14-Oct-11 12:07:14

Michael Gove got rid of contextual value added.

IndigoBell Fri 14-Oct-11 12:12:10

Yes, it's now just value add.

Schools are no longer allowed to have lower expectations of poor black boys than rich white girls......

Ormirian Fri 14-Oct-11 12:13:50

What about poor white boys that come into the school with level 3 in their Y6 SATS?

IndigoBell Fri 14-Oct-11 12:15:28

They should still make the same progress as rich white boys.

Not achieve the same grade - but make the same progress. ( 2 sub levels per KS or whatever)

CVA actually expected different kids to make different progress.

noblegiraffe Fri 14-Oct-11 12:31:25

CVA acknowledged that different groups of children do make different levels of progress.

Increasing the level of expectation placed on them does not magically fix all the issues which contribute towards this.

Schools with deprived intakes are shafted while schools full of rich kids all tutored up can relax.

yellowsubmarine41 Fri 14-Oct-11 12:38:33

There's a post similar to this in 'primary education' at the moment, and there will be lots more over the next few months.

There will be lots of very good school as OP describes that, with the shift to VA rather than CVA, will look on paper as though they're not progressing pupils satisfactorily.

Ormirian Fri 14-Oct-11 13:23:14

My attitude to Ofsted has deteriorated recently I must admit.

DH is a teacher in a special school. He works with pupils with severe EBD. Most of them pupils struggle to read, many can't write at all. Some of them do well to actually sit through lessons instead of standing in the corner bashing their head against the wall, or masturbating, or throwing chairs. Ofsted concluded end of last year that they weren't putting sufficient numbers of these pupils forward for GCSE.

Ormirian Fri 14-Oct-11 13:25:45

We are constantly reminded by the school that the children need a quiet ordered space to work in. Some of DS's friends have to share their bedrooms with 2 siblings and have no dining room table to work at. So there's a homework club every night - but that won't help when yr 10s need to be home in time to look after younger siblings because mum is working.

yellowsubmarine41 Fri 14-Oct-11 19:49:35

Yes, this new 'rigorous' framework will definitely penalise schools with poorer catchment areas. One of our local school does fantastic inclusive work with the sizeable Roma community. Unfortunately, their is no credit for this, just penalties for unsatisfactory attendance and not enough 'progression'.

The pressures of this new framework make me concerned that schools may be tempted to 'manage out' parts of the community who don't boost their statistics.

TethHearseEnd Fri 14-Oct-11 20:03:17

Education seems to be the only sector where 'satisfactory' is unsatisfactory.

Drives me mental.

I always read OFSTED reports with a pinch of salt, having been through many of them. It's fur coat, no knickers all the way.

How is your DH getting on BTW Orm?

Tortington Sat 15-Oct-11 00:03:01

pplease do not mix up custardcake and me.

Ormirian Sat 15-Oct-11 08:53:24

Oops! Sorry custy

Tethers - he's doing ok now. It doesn't upset him as much when he needs to restrain pupils which is fortunate as he seems to have to do it a great deal. He still gets affected by them though - some of th have had such shitty lives

Kez100 Sat 15-Oct-11 09:41:11

Under this new system there are some main 'hurdles' and without passing those at a higher level they do stop you getting a higher grade.

I remember a very very long meeting where ofsted were deliberating between themselves one of these hurdles for our school. Because we were right on the borderline and our other scores so good, if the said good to this one area we would get good overall. If they said satisfactory to this area, we would get satisfactory overall.

I cannot recall the area but I think it was either results, progress or teaching.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 15-Oct-11 10:53:43

OP
Read the full report here
www.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report
and you can read what they ACTUALLY said last time, and what they say about schools near you

Ormirian Sat 15-Oct-11 15:53:14

It's not up yet talkin. And I did read the last one from stRt to finsih so I know what it 'actually' said. Ditto the other schools in the area.

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