What happens when a school cant improve?(75 Posts)
DCs' school has gone back into Special Measures. It has been in and out of Special Measures like it is caught on the door handle.
Leadership, teaching, personal development, outcomes all assessed as inadequate.
In amongst the damning statements in the Ofsted report there was praise for the Principal. Unfortunately he has now left. Yet another in a long line of Heads. We have been associated with the school for 9 years. There have been at least 9 Heads in that time.
This isnt an inner city sink school. It is the only school in in a small midlands town.
So what does happen when a school just doesnt seem to be able to get itself out of the doldrums?
Has anyone any experience of this?
Fortunately our association with the school ends in two years as DD is now in 6th form (which was assessed as Good!).
Is it a LA school? It will be forced to academise. I'm surprised it hasn't already if it's been in SM so much.
Is it an academy already? The academy sponsors will eventually be forced to hand it over to a new sponsor.
It has already been academised.
Interesting about the new sponsor. Earlier in the year the school received a pre-warning of notice to improve letter.
As a parent it is so frustrating. Read any comment from the Heads and it is all happy, bouncy butterfly. The reality is just miserable.
Well a school in our area has gone from RI to Ofsted 2 (good) but we all know that is not relevant as only 21% of students get 5 A-C at GCSEs. Yes 21%. So basically when you see the new year 7s you know that the education system will fail 79% of them. Shocking!
They tried it all, turned into academy, gave it money and improved facilities. Now I hear they got in the region of £28M to rebuild it and rebrand it. It really sounds like the last desperate attempt to save it. What I don't understand is why didn't they give the money to the 4 over performing schools in the same area and force them to expand their intake. I feel that it is a huge risk to spend £28M on a school that is so badly failing already.
School near here can't seem to pull itself out of SM. Academisation is needed but archdiocese blocking it.
It's in complete chaos, frankly. Poor kids.
This happened to us when DD was doing her GCSEs. It was a nightmare but we opted to move from one county to the neighbouring one to access a really good sixth form college. Socially it wasn't ideal for her and she did resent us for it for quite a while but educationally it was absolutely the right thing to do and she's fine now and in her second year at uni.
At her old school there was a culture of hopelessness and apathy and everyone seemed to take the path of least resistance including the teachers.
The school has since become an academy and I have friends still using it who say it is much improved.
The precise powers the Regional Schools Commissioner has in cases like this depend to some extent on the academy's funding agreement. However, regardless of the funding agreement the RSC can force the school to hand over control to another academy trust or close. Obviously, as with LA-controlled schools (which can also be closed if they are failing), closure is a last resort.
fleur getting good with only a 21% pass rate means that the children come in with fewer than that expected to get pass rates... good ratings are not just about how many children passed English and maths - they are supposed to look at the children as a whole making progress. If the school has a very high (and it sounds like they do) intake of children who have massive barriers to education (SEN, EAL, Refugees, travelers, social economics etc.) then the good rating recognises the excellent work the school are doing with them. I live in a town with a similar situation. Caused by two grammar schools, and two very selective faith schools. Sadly if you aren't clever enough for grammar or middle class enough to make it to church 4 in 5 Sundays for the three years before secondary you will end up with the low GCSE pass rate school. A good school none the less.
The grammars (legally) can't expand (thankfully, the town is educationally divide enough) and the two faith schools won't - probably because their great results from great middle class children would take a hit.
I think my last paragraph didn't make my point clearly. Basically I was trying to say that maybe the other four schools can't expand (or can't expand enough to absorbe potentially hundreds of students each). Or just won't.
Yes I am sure there is a good reason for which the school got a good on their last inspection, it is very deceiving though for parents who only read Ofsted. It is on a par with a school in the same area where 82% of the kids get 5 A-C in GCSEs.
And also there must be a good reason for which they are literally knocking it down and rebuilding it including rebranding.
Two of the other four overachieving schools have been asked to expand (my DS goes to one) but the LA offered low funding for it, DS's school refused completely, the other school accepted to only increase their intake by 30 for the cash they got.
I had this idea that the £28M would have been enough to attract the other schools and then the LA could have forced them to ring fence the "bad" school's catchment post code. (X amount of places need to be offered to post code ...)
I understand what you mean by progress made by pupils, however 21% is so low that personally I think it is a vicious circle, no parent in their right mind looking at their results will willingly send their DC there.
It probably depends on the facilities offered. I used to work in a BSF school which initially suffered from the fact that it's pass rates looked so low. It had incredible facilities though. Over time it looked better and better in comparison to other local schools who had had little investment from the LA or CofE and Catholic Churches for decades. GCSE passes went up slowly as the school's demographics equalled out and are now around 60%. It was a long game (that they're still playing) but it seems to be working. GCSE passes across all schools in that town are now within 10% points of each other. All the schools are good.
Can't account for parental logic though... Some are still choosing to bus their children to the other side of town when the school next door is 'equal'. Sometimes I think the "stigma" attached to some schools will never truly leave - which is why some schools are so completly rebranded.
a culture of hopelessness and apathy
I think that sums it up very well.
The latest Ofsted report makes depressing reading. The problems in the school are root and branch. We have had repeated 'new broom' heads brought in. Too many of these have been 'impact' heads. Lots of talk about strict discipline but too many failures of management.
With each iteration the new broom has got less impressive. I guess the school is now a poisoned chalice.
The question is what to actually do.
In my view the only solution would be to close the school and transfer students to the 'good' rated schools which are in the surrounding towns. 760 students would have to be shared out to 3 schools.
Of course this wont happen. We have another new head, there will be lots of emphasis on the school uniform, the cycle will continue.
gnome I'm sad for your DCs. A decade of RI/SM is a treadmill of a situation. Are your children making progress?
It will become part of a multi academy trust. I'm surprised it hasn't gone that way already TBH.
My DDs High School is in SM. Its improved vastly since the Head left in the summer, but there just isnt enough pupils going to it. There was a giant Academy built in the next town and everyone wants to go to that.
The LA has proposed that the Academy takes over the running off it and pupils in my town who put the Academy down as their first choice has to go to the high school which will be renamed.
Hopefully not before my DD finishes because Im very happy with it as it is.
The LA has finally given up on putting Heads in with the premise of 'sorting it out' and gave the much loved VP the job.
He immediately restructed the senior management team and it just had the best exam results its had for years.
This is one of the worst schools in the country: www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/school/135904
Yes it has a high number of FSM, but a reasonable number of middle and high attainers.
It was failing as a state school, it got knocked down, rebuilt and rebranded. The first set of academy sponsors failed to turn it around so now it has a new set of sponsors.
I'm glad it seems to be working in your case coco but as noble has demonstrated none of these techniques is guaranteed to work!
I presume you know the school Noble?
From that link 62% FSM seems very high - especially when we know that to get FSM you have to earn nothing or very, very little and when we consider that many, many of our students are only just above the cut off point.
Also, 10% of the school with EHCP/statements is much higher than average. It must make for a massive SEN register (only about 1/3 of SEN students in any one school have EHCP/Statements round here, perhaps Norfolk is different?)
30% of KS4 leavers missing from education by Easter...
Lower than average EAL though...
So, by those figures, generations of white British students from a seemingly low socio-economic background. Around the country many, (most?) schools that are in SM fit the same pattern. The school my dad worked at from the late 80s to early 00s was exactly the same. They closed it slowly in the end by not admitting new students and working the remainders up through the school. Thankfully there were enough school places in the borough to cope without forcing amalgamations etc. (which rarely work)
I wish someone had a magic formula
I don't know the school myself, I just remember it being touted as a success of the academies policy. And it looked good, to start with.
The school went from 6% A*-C to over 40%, according to that article. Latin in KS3, a longer school day, a super head from a much better school. The article suggests that the next set of results would be even better, but the DfE figures show 2013 results were 24%. That head has now gone, and now they have a different set of sponsors.
This article shows how super heads aren't actually very good at turning schools around - they implement quick fixes like expelling a load of disruptive kids and entering kids for a bunch of GCSE equivalents, but then a couple of years later the superhead leaves and results crash.
I often feeling like doing "jazz hands" when people talk about superheats for exactly the reasons you say Noble!
fourcorneredcircle 2 of my DCs got good GCSE results, 1 DC rather less so. I felt the good results were despite rather than because of the school IYSWIM. My DS's results were lack lustre. He is no shining light academically but he is also quiet and polite so just sank below the radar.
noblegiraffe that is interesting, thank you. I compared my DCs' school with the school you linked to. It is a little better. 37% A-C GCSE pass rate as opposed to 27%. I notice that the school you linked to is currently rated as Requires Improvement a downgrade from Good. I think the concern has to be that the RI rating is across the board. Similarly our Inadequate rating is across the board. That is a strong indicator of management failure IMO.
I just saw this on Twitter: www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/one-academy-a-week-changes-sponsor-due-under-performance
So failing academies are given new sponsors. Not sure if there's any evidence that this helps.
I think part of the issue with continually failing schools is the lack of ambition, drive and want to achieve. Often pupils who attend them are second or third generation non working and there is little value attached to education.
It says a lot that 9 heads have managed to achieve very little. The odds are they weren't all crap. Instead the DofE fails to see that it takes more than a year to improve a school like that. Heads have to raise the expectations of the whole community. A quick fix of intense exam prep for year 11 is fine in the short term but long term does nothing. Instead the pupils need to see that education can get them jobs, money and a better life. It is almost an impossible fight.
Believe me, it is no fun teaching in a special measures school, constant scrutiny and policies from above takes its toll. The best teachers leave and schools find it hard to recruit new ones.
Some schools just are dire.
Nothing to do with the school.
Everything to do with the socioeconomic factors in their catchments.
My local one has been, is, and always will be dire.
Only massive national tax rises and eye watering spend on the families in the area will ever change it.
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