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Should we make a decision based purely on OFSTEDs?

(127 Posts)
NemosKnickers Sun 02-Jul-17 12:30:42

My DS wants to go to the nearest comp (School A) which has been rated as 'requires Improvement' in 2016. This is because about 80% of his peers from school will also go there.

We applied for School B a bit further away which has an Outstanding Ofsted from 2009, but we didn't get in and so we'd accepted this and were going to make the most of School A.

However, I have now just heard that he has got a place from the waiting list for School B and I'm dreading telling him. He will be really devastated. He never wanted to go to School B.

I don't know anyone with kids at either school, I can't find any meaningful reviews online for either school and so I only have the Ofsteds and results to go off. School B gets better results across the different measurements.

I've looked at both school's websites and nothing is standing out to me as being obviously better than the other.

So, we have to just go with the school that's better on paper don't we?

Have I missed any other way of making this decision?

BrieOnAnOatcake Sun 02-Jul-17 12:32:35

Without having visited the schools I don't think I'd move a child away from most of their friends based on ofsted at all. Or a website. That just tells you how much they paid a website designer!!

I might if it was based on having visited the schools and both agreed it.

Bobbybobbins Sun 02-Jul-17 12:32:51

What are the areas which 'require improvement' for School A? I would say that could give you an idea of whether or not the school is on the right track to improvement.

Having said that, one of our fairly local schools have gone from outstanding 6 years ago, to unsatisfactory 3 years ago, to a good this year!! Same staff, same kids.....

ShowOfHands Sun 02-Jul-17 12:33:07

Erm, have you not visited them?

noblegiraffe Sun 02-Jul-17 12:33:43

Ask to go and visit both schools during the working day? (Not much time left to do this though!). Did you go to both open evenings and get an impression from there?

An Ofsted from 2009 isn't worth much, tbh. A lot can change in that time.

BertrandRussell Sun 02-Jul-17 12:34:23

What is "requiring improvement" in school A?

PerspicaciaTick Sun 02-Jul-17 12:34:57

Did you not go and visit the schools during an Open Day? Could you phone up and ask/beg to be allowed a visit in the next week or so? OFSTED really can't replace visiting a school in person, although it can have it's uses.

BertrandRussell Sun 02-Jul-17 12:35:12

What did you think when you went to the open days/evenings?

NemosKnickers Sun 02-Jul-17 12:37:24

I visited both schools for the open evenings and I preferred School B. School A was OK though.

School A is convenient and supposedly specialises in the subjects that DS is interested in.

NemosKnickers Sun 02-Jul-17 12:38:49

All areas require improvement shock

NemosKnickers Sun 02-Jul-17 12:39:57

One of the identified strengths is that they have high achievements in the areas my DS is interested in.

user1497480444 Sun 02-Jul-17 12:42:10

Some schools are awful, some schools are great, unfortunately ofsted gradings show no correlation to the standards of education in the school. None what so ever. In fact, they have been shown to be 90% random

SafeToCross Sun 02-Jul-17 12:43:05

I would not risk a wobbly start by changing the plan now - your son was working towards a stable transition to school A and would be rightly miffed if you move the goalposts. And it is more convenient which will be a bonus for his social life and independence.

BertrandRussell Sun 02-Jul-17 12:43:30

"None what so ever. In fact, they have been shown to be 90% random"

Really? Reference please......

Piggywaspushed Sun 02-Jul-17 12:46:29

I've had this same quandary - mine is exacerbated by working in the outstanding school! I feel your pain...

My DS chose the RI school. DS 1 went through the RI school (when we applied it was good) and tbh it deserved everything it got in the RI Ofsted report.

I will say one thing for an RI school : they have to try very hard to make things better. So they will be throwing resources and support at it. The Outstanding school may well be complacent (ime) about everything except results...

I am keeping a v close eye on the RI school when DS2 attends (he's more motivated and school loving than DS1. If I am not happy (and he is not thriving) he will be moved. But that's easier to say than do.

Don't underestimate transport difficulties and costs for an out of catchment school. Also, don't underestimate how difficult it can be for some children to start in a new school with no friendship group.

Schools often say they specialise in subjects : there really isn't such thing any more. That's an old legacy. It doesn't really mean much.

HelenKeller Sun 02-Jul-17 12:48:19

What kind of performance do both schools get at GCSE?

Piggywaspushed Sun 02-Jul-17 12:48:32

ps the fact that the Outstanding school hasn't been inspected since 2009 is normal. It means no one has felt the need to re inspect them and there are no 'red flags'.

noblegiraffe Sun 02-Jul-17 12:51:47

It doesn't mean that they'd get an outstanding if they were inspected tomorrow though. Concerns to trigger an inspection of an outstanding school have to be quite high, not merely that it has slipped a bit.

An outstanding school near me had a triggered inspection. Apparently the team went in expecting to put the school in special measures.

NetflixandBill Sun 02-Jul-17 12:52:26

Not being inspected since 2009 would not make me think it was necessarily still outstanding. The inspection framework has changed considerably since then and there will have a been a lot of staff.

NemosKnickers Sun 02-Jul-17 12:55:18

Both schools got 58% A-C

user1497480444 Sun 02-Jul-17 12:55:51

I've worked in a very violent school that was graded "outstanding" - many of the staff resigned straight away, because we had been relying on ofsted to help us, but they didn't even seem to notice the issues.

I've worked in some good schools since then, but the school I am in now is awful, and is due an ofsted any day. Of course most of the staff are assuming that ofsted will highlight the appalling behaviour and total lack of support for teaching staff, but after my previous experience, I have no confidence at all that the school will receive an appropriate judgement.

RedSkyAtNight Sun 02-Jul-17 12:57:32

i suspect sending your DC to a school they actually want to go to will make a huge difference. I certainly wouldn't make Ofsted the tie breaker. (DD's school - granted primary has oscillated between Ofsted results like yo-yo in the 6 years we've had children there for no particular reason that I can discern).

noblegiraffe Sun 02-Jul-17 12:57:51

Is your DS a high/middle/low attainer? You can look at the breakdown of results for each of these bands of students by looking at
compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk

And go down to performance by prior attainment.

Progress scores will tell you more than raw results too. 58% could be fine for one school considering the intake, and crap for the other.

Piggywaspushed Sun 02-Jul-17 12:58:50

Agree with the above tow PPs but it is a fact hat outstanding schools don't get reinspected...but do if there is cause for concern. Or a routine Section 8 can trigger a full inspection.

It may well not still be outstanding but there is no real way of knowing...

OP measuring on % A* - C is a pretty dated measure. There will be other data available which tells you more.

Try the 'data dashboard' : they should have links to it on websites. Shows attendance figures and all sorts.

Piggywaspushed Sun 02-Jul-17 13:00:16

Btw , the two posters I was referring too were noble and Netflix upthread not user who always has an axe to grind!

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