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GCSE rate at dd's school has dropped from 65% to 41% over 4 years.

(64 Posts)
VivaLeBeaver Thu 23-Jan-14 11:02:42

She;s in Year 8. Its been getting worse each year but I've just seen the 2013 results and they're 41% get 5 GCSES A-C inc maths and English. Previous year was about 50%.

That's quite shit isn't it?

Head and deputy head are both leaving in July. Dunno if that's good or if things will just get worse.

DD is in the top sets but I don't think she's making good progress. She was level 5 IN Year 6 and still level 5 now according to last term's report.

TalkinPeace Thu 23-Jan-14 13:14:52

were they using a lot of padding subjects in earlier years?
but yes its not good
then again her school is not on this list
whereas my local school is !

curlew Thu 23-Jan-14 13:19:38

Is there a recent OFSTED?

What does her report say about her progress? What sort of feeling do you get at parents's evenings?

Has the intake changed during that time (housing development, other schools closing or changing status or for some reason developing a bad reputation?)

Sorry about the quiz!

WorrySighWorrySigh Thu 23-Jan-14 13:21:05

Yup, assuming it is a normal average intake secondary school then 41% is crap. Ours is similar at 40%.

Having had to live with the utter crapness of my DCs school for many years then I offer the following:

Having had to live with a very poor school for many years now, things I would do differently now:

- look at how the school communicate with parents. At the school's lowest point we were getting email 'good boy'/'good girl' notes but had no idea how our DCs were performing academically

- beware of your well behaved child being used by teachers to try to improve behaviour. My DCs got fed up with having to manage both themselves and the 'naughty kid' they got put to sit next to. Be selfish.

- watch out for schools focusing on trivia. We had a new head dumped on us. First thing he did was change uniform, second thing he did was run us straight to the bottom of the league tables. The uniform change was a distraction for the school and meant that the head was not looking at the things that actually mattered.

- talk to your DD about what they are doing at school. Are they getting homework marked and returned? Are they having a lot of supply teachers who do little more than supervise silent reading? Is work being differentiated according to ability. I didnt do enough of this. Be prepared to complain, to kick up a fuss.

CalamitouslyWrong Thu 23-Jan-14 13:23:04

It sounds poor. But the biggest problem you have is that she doesn't seem to be making progress.

DS1 was level 5 in English in Y6 and is still level 5 in Y9. It was all the same school (middle and high school with the same management team), so they can't blame a primary school for inflating the levels. Trying to get the school to acknowledge that this is a problem that they might want to do something about is very difficult. They just don't seem to care. Their results go up every year (they were in the 70s last year), but as far as I can tell they're crap.

We're going to have to get a tutor to teach him English because I don't think the school are doing anything. He has never, in the last year, had a single item of English homework or been given a book to read or anything. The school insist that I speak to his 'learning manager' about it even though she has no idea what goes on in his English class (and told me so) and won't let me near the English teacher. I'm very annoyed about it.

Hopefully you have a bit more luck than I've been having.

curlew Thu 23-Jan-14 13:25:12

"The school insist that I speak to his 'learning manager' about it even though she has no idea what goes on in his English class (and told me so) and won't let me near the English teacher."

This is a real red flag. You should have all your child's teachers' email addresses.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 23-Jan-14 13:29:55

She had a report just before Xmas and every subject was either in green (meaning she's above NC expectations) or yellow (at right level). So they seem happy, there doesn't seem to be any consideration of progress.

DD says that behaviour is poor and I complained big time to the school after she got smacked round the head with a chair in a lesson and the HOY who was taking the class never noticed.

DD says the English teacher (supply) walked out a lesson last week as a kid was calling him names/swearing at him and the teacher left and didn't come back.

She's had 5 science teachers since Sept as her main teacher is long term sick, though they have now moved the classes about and she does now have a permanent teacher.

Who do I complain to? HOY? Headmaster?

I've already written a 3 page letter detailing my concerns about levels of behaviour in the classroom.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 23-Jan-14 13:31:02

I don't have any email addresses.

The only time I ever emailed the school at beginning of Year 7 to moan about the history teacher who according to dd spent most of the time letting them watch "historical" 80s cartoons on YouTube I never got a reply.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 23-Jan-14 13:37:02

I wouldn't say the intake has changed. There are quite a few Eastern Europeans but there always have been and I'd say the majority start in Year 7 speaking fluent English. You get the odd kid starting in Year 10, etc who doesn't speak much but not many.

lljkk Thu 23-Jan-14 13:41:20

Local High School is usually around 45%. They dropped from about 41% to 30% one year, then soared back to 50% next year, and then 58%! Back to 45% the year after that. It's the same school, and they seem to send kids up to Oxbridge out of these cohorts, and I can easily find lots of parents (including a teacher who was herself privately educated) who can't praise the school enough. Take with pinch of salt, methinks.

CalamitouslyWrong Thu 23-Jan-14 13:46:10

I don't have any email addresses either. I don't even know the names of DS's teachers (I could ask him, but it would make no difference as I don't get to speak to people who actually teach him). Parent teacher consultations consist of a 10 minute meeting with the 'learning manager' who reads grades off a sheet and says things like, 'oh, I don't know why he's got a X for effort in subject name. Ds1, why might that be?'. It's a completely tokenistic pretence of communicating with you. I could have each the bloody sheet myself and I'd have been just as us enlightened. And I had to take a day off work for that.

I emailed the school about his OT assessment and they didn't respond. He's had the OT in school assessing him but I'm not allowed to speak to the SENCo. Their idea of communication is putting opaque codes in a planner that even he doesn't understand. Or moaning about the colour and design of the socks he's wearing under track suit bottoms for PE. I'm not buying blue football socks that they have to get him to pull up trousers to demonstrate he's wearing the right kind. They don't seem to care about stuff that matters so I'm not even considering caring about petty crap.

BTW, this is an 'outstanding' school, apparently.

So, now advice viva, but lots of sympathy. Your school sounds more worrying because of the behaviour thing. Our school has a fairly easy catchment and no real behaviour issues. So it's only apathy.

It's unpopular with teachers as a workplace as far as I can tell. I met a teacher that turned down a job at the school and called it 'the scary school'.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 23-Jan-14 13:53:04

I can find a pdf of a 2009 Ofsted report and that's "good". But their results were loads better then. It says the results at GCSE are in line with national average.

I thought they'd had another inspection since then but when I search for the school on the Ofsted site I can't find it at all, even on a search by distance. Is this because its an Academy now?

crazymum53 Thu 23-Jan-14 14:05:28

I know that English results in 2012 were adversely affected by the change in grade boundaries which resulted in lower than expected results. At my dds school the percentage obtaining grade C in English increased in 2013 as the school adjusted to the different requirements.
In Maths (and Science) GCSE exams have changed from modular to linear where all exams are now taken at the end of the course. So this would affect schools who were used to entering pupils for modular exams and then using re-takes to boost the results.
This change in exams is making it harder to compare results on a year by year basis. As the exams are getting harder, the results in many schools will go down.

TalkinPeace Thu 23-Jan-14 14:08:36

look the school up on the BBC league tables ... that will link you to the current dfe / ofsted page

PS another parent who does not routinely have email addresses for teachers : I do everything via the pastoral tutos and it seems to work.

crazymum53 Thu 23-Jan-14 14:09:37

In answer to your other question, academies are also inspected by OFSTED and reports published. However sometimes there are shorter progress inspections done by HMI which may not be published. The fact that both Head and Deputy are going suggests to me that the leadership of the school has been rated inadequate and usually replacements are found fairly quickly to turn the school round.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 23-Jan-14 15:00:14

Ok have found the Ofsted via the bbc website. Thanks TalkinPeace. Still a level 2 and this is from July 2013.

Students make good progress as they move through the school and, from low starting points, achieve results in line with most students of a similar age.  In the core subjects students make the most rapid progress in English, although attainment in mathematics is rising

Also found out a better break down of figures.

% of middle attainers getting 5 GCSES at a-c = 33%
% of high attainers getting 5 GCSES at a-c = 94%

% of middle attainers making expected progress in English = 39%

% of high attainers making expected progress in English = 81%

% of middle attiners making expected progress in maths = 53%
% of high attainers making expected progress in maths = 77%

Value added score for mid attainers= 981.1
Value added score for high attainers = 1002.0

Should I be worried???

TalkinPeace Thu 23-Jan-14 15:05:03

VA of over 1000 for high attainers is better than most Grammar schools!

but there is clearly a problem in maths .... but if its rising, the problem may be historic.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 23-Jan-14 15:06:24

I think the worst figure is that only 33% of middle attainers get 5 gcses a-c inc maths and English.

crazymum53 Thu 23-Jan-14 15:29:37

Viva level 5 at the end of KS2 would put your dd in the high achievers group.
Do the school publish a breakdown of GCSEs by subject anywhere - it's in the prospectus for new parents for my dds secondary school. This may give you information about how many pupils obtain A*/A as well as A*-C for example. This will show up whether the high achieving pupils are stretched academically.

MillyMollyMama Thu 23-Jan-14 15:59:02

It is clearly the middle attainers that have the problem because if the VA is below 1000 there are grades being dropped at GCSE. Also very many of them are not making good progress judged by your stats. Looking at the percentage of GCSE passes A-C, I can tell you that these are below the secondary schools in my County which has county-wide grammar schools taking at least 30% of the best pupils. Also as it is a rich county, plenty go independent too. Therefore your school, as a comprehensive, is bad. I would also say there are very few higher achievers. I would try and find out how many As and A*s were gained in each subject. I bet very few. Top set means nothing if everyone is just average. Higher attainers just means this school, and is not a national benchmark.

The features of a failing school are usually poor teaching and poor learning with a lack of progress in many aspects of the education on offer. Also failing to secure consistent good teaching, ie over reliance on supply teachers, is a big red flag. I would also say that the top management is leaving the sinking ship, or they have been removed by the LA or Sponsor. The school seems rudderless anyway. I would leave immediately, and definitely if your child is making no discernible progress as level 5 in year 8 is hardly brilliant progress, and also because turning a school round is often a 2 year job. Do you have the time to see if the new Head can do anything? It is also a feature of a poor school that no-one is accountable so they do not speak to parents unless through a manager of some description.

I also believe there are not enough good Heads to go round. Often replacing a Head is tricky due to lack of quality and even good Heads are difficult to replace in order to keep a school moving forward and guarding against complacency.

Worrysighworry. Every time I read one of your posts I worry too. Why cannot we get to the situation where all children get a truly good school?

HavantGuard Thu 23-Jan-14 16:05:36

Surely it's really hard for a selective Grammar to get a good VA score.

Do you have other options nearby?

VivaLeBeaver Thu 23-Jan-14 16:06:41

Problem is there's nowhere better really. Other option got 46% of kids getting 5 gcses in this league table but two years ago it was 31%.

I can't keep boomeranging dd between the two depending who got the best results last year.

We had this in primary. Her school went downhill and failed its ofsted. I took her out and into another school. Was ok for two years then the head left. Had a shit year there, the first school had improved so I put her back there <sigh>. Its not fair on her.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 23-Jan-14 16:07:30

We're out of catchment for the better comps.

I think only thing we can do is pay for private tuition in gcse years.

HavantGuard Thu 23-Jan-14 16:16:03

I don't think that's a bad option. You need to make sure that you and she know what she is capable of, which isn't necessarily what the school think.

curlew Thu 23-Jan-14 16:38:21

"Higher attainers just means this school, and is not a national benchmark." I don't think that's right, is it? If it was, all comprehensive schools would have similar % of low, middle and high attainers. Which they don't.

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