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Ofsted consider binning 'Outstanding' rating

(41 Posts)
noblegiraffe Tue 31-Oct-17 22:50:05

Amanda Spielman, the new head of Ofsted told an Education Select Committee that the education sector was clear that they didn't find the outstanding rating helpful. Apparently the noise from parents is otherwise. She is conflicted about what to do.

How amazing would that be if it went? The 'pick me' dance of new initiatives, constant scrutiny, stress and leaping on every new fad that Ofsted seem to approve of just gone, and schools able to focus on solid good work.

I don't think 'parents like it' is a valid reason for keeping it. Parents place too much weight on it, especially since an outstanding school is then exempt from the inspection cycle and can have achieved its hallowed status years ago.
It would probably go some way towards solving the house price inflation around the perceived 'best' schools too.

I just can't see any downsides.
If they bin it, it'd be their best move since scrapping grading lesson observations.

www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/ofsted-uncertain-about-outstanding-ratings-and-nine-other-things

youarenotkiddingme Tue 31-Oct-17 22:54:11

Think it's a great idea.

All out local outstanding schools have raised house prices and those who've lived there are beginning to wish they didn't because the schools maintain their rating despite many of them having lowest progress 8 in area now and awful problems with I dealt with bullying.

The 'good' schools have remained good, are now very sought after and have had the most consistent results over the past 5 years.

Ime good schools have a solid foundation of teaching and pastoral care and remain more consistent in their approach. You are more garunteed to get what they sell (iyswim?!)

DumbledoresApprentice Wed 01-Nov-17 06:47:28

I feel a bit conflicted about this.
I work in a school that moved from “good” to “outstanding” under the new framework. I do think the teaching at the school and the experience of our pupils is a world away from when I first started at the school and it was “good” with outstanding features. The students we teach now get a much better education than the ones that we taught 5 or more years ago. It’s nice for there to a way to recognise that.
On the other hand, I think we’d still be doing what we do now even without Ofsted coming to give us a gold star for it. In some schools the pressure to chase outstanding ratings is having a detrimental effect on teacher workload and the fact that outstanding school are inspected so infrequently means that many “outstanding” schools were judged against a completely different set of criteria to those that have been judged to be less than “good”. As a result it’s not exactly clear what “outstanding” means. As a PP said there are some “outstanding” schools who have had that rating for years and now have poor P8 scores but under the new framework only schools with “above average” or “well above average” P8 have been put into the top category.

On balance, I think scrapping the “outstanding” rating is probably a good idea.

tiggytape Wed 01-Nov-17 08:35:28

I agree with you that there are several issues with the way that the Outstanding badge is currently used - not least of all time between inspections that can render it completely meaningless.
Schools can (and do) go from Outstanding to RI overnight and that isn't because they've suddenly become awful. It is usually because they're resting on their laurels, have failed to seek improvements to make or are suffering a decline or loss of key staff over many years.

However I don't agree that parents liking the system should be dismissed as an unimportant reason to keep it.
Rightly or wrongly, the current admissions system asks parents to state school preferences. Parents have to have something to base that upon (and cynically schools will always seek ways to show that they are better than other local options). League tables are also limited in terms of being skewed or incorrectly interpreted. Local gossip wisdom on the performance of each school isn't always very up to date or accurate either. Ofsted inspections can provide valuable insights especially if parents look beyond the headline rating.

There's an article here which suggests that, if a solution is found, changes may come in Sept 2019

Changerofname987654321 Wed 01-Nov-17 08:41:35

One key element is the balance between “what is useful for parents and what is useful for providers”, she said

No one mention of students or learners.

Lotsofsighing Wed 01-Nov-17 10:16:39

I think that's a brilliant idea. I can't believe how long between inspections the local outstanding schools have (especially the primary schools). One near us has not a single member of the senior leadership team that was there during the last inspection and barely any of the teachers.

It doesn't matter how much I know that my kids' inspected-this-year-good is probably as good or better than the local honeypots, prospective parents don't believe it. You see it on MN - 'private or outstanding state?' or 'area with lots of outstanding schools?'.

And with the outstanding badge goes lots of unsavoury behaviour, renting, lying etc and this ridiculous sense that you're 'failing' your child if they go to a merely good school. Kids would be far more likely to go to their nearest school and the involved (slash over-involved) parents would be spread more evenly instead of this clustering of middle-class parents and clustering of Pupil premium that goes on now.

In addition, there's been lots of research to show that schools with an able/affluent intake are disproportionately likely to be given an outstanding grade (this is particularly acute with grammars and secondary moderns).

Caveat: I'm in a densely populated part of London and I realise it's different outside of these bubbles.

AllMyBestFriendsAreMetalheads Wed 01-Nov-17 10:25:04

Does this mean that Ofsted view themselves as 'requiring improvement'? grin

As a parent, personally I found the outstanding rating to be a good indicator of schools I wished to avoid as I disagree with Ofsted's idea of what an outstanding school is.

Iamagreyhoundhearmeroar Wed 01-Nov-17 10:30:56

If it's really down to whether or not parents "like" it, it clearly serves no other valid purpose confused. Why was it introduced in the first place?

Bekabeech Wed 01-Nov-17 10:54:13

I'd rather they re-inspected Outstanding schools. My DC's school hasn't been inspected for 9 years or so, and officially isn't even the same school (it became an academy). It has had two changes of Head in that time, and a lot of other staff changes, as well as the whole inspection regime changing massively.

Soursprout Wed 01-Nov-17 13:47:13

Good.. I hope they go ahead with the idea

Eolian Wed 01-Nov-17 13:49:16

Great idea. Next they can ban league tables. A long-overdue move in the direction of sanity imo.

Appuskidu Wed 01-Nov-17 13:52:01

because parents like it Is a truly shite reason to keep the outstanding grade.

It's an eminently sensible idea to remove it which means it will probably not happen under a conservative government.

BubblesBuddy Wed 01-Nov-17 13:52:28

House prices were inflated around schools parents perceived as "excellent" way before Ofsted came along. I used to have admissions queries from parents of babies who wanted to live in certain catchment areas 30 years ago. Parents have always made judgements and the Outstanding from Ofsted just confirmed them, by and large.

I rather do think the "Good" rating needs to be nuanced and perhaps no rating at all might help. Just facts laid out and findings. Parents then have to read the reports and understand the P8 results etc. "Outstanding" has become shorthand for parents who do not really want to read the reports. Outstanding schools are left too long between inspections but that is so RI and the worst schools are inspected more often as they, normally, have more improving to do.

I would not avoid any Outstanding school or indeed any RI school. Both may suit a DC. An "Outstanding" classification is nothing to be avoided if that school offers an education that benefits your child. Children do not know what classification a school is so parents are making a decision purely on Ofsted without looking for themselves. That's a strange way to choose a school. Often an outstanding school is one where children have excellent teachers and make excellent progress; so why avoid that without even considering it?

MirandaWest Wed 01-Nov-17 13:53:46

I agree about the length of time for outstanding schools to be reinspected. My DCs school has an outstanding rating but hasn't been inspected since 2011. I am happy with the education my DCs get there but there is no one currently in the school who was there when it was last inspected.

noblegiraffe Wed 01-Nov-17 14:10:39

Tiggy, yes parents have to make a school choice and need evidence to base that on, but a big question would be 'Is the Ofsted rating valid'? Given that Ofsted's opinion has changed since a lot of schools were rated outstanding, the answer has to be 'no' for those schools.
And then the key question is 'is it even valid on the day it's given?'

I was looking at this TES article: www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/charting-downfall-famous-five-superheads
5 heads whose praises were sung by Michael Gove have shown not to deliver on their promise. We know from the evidence that lesson observations were incredibly subjective and observers were swayed more by things like personality and charisma than actual learning and that's why they are now not graded - how much of that also goes on when schools are being graded? It's a cliff-edge of a grading but the boxes are quite fuzzy, I'm sure an inspection team could be tipped one way or the other by a mere feeling.
Final grading might also then influence Ofsted report-writing. If the team have given a school outstanding, then they might be inclined to add a bit of shine to valid the rating.

I hate the idea of making parents decide which school they want their kids go to (and then potentially deny them that choice anyway) and then feed them misleading data in order to make them feel that their choice is actually informed. Progress 8 is problematic, as are Ofsted ratings, yet you see people on here agonising over both as if they are gospel.

admission Wed 01-Nov-17 15:48:52

As a chair of an outstanding school I am convinced from our internal and external monitoring that the school would still be outstanding as it achieved in 2014. However I do agree completely with the view that the time period where no external inspection takes place is too long. I am aware of at least two local schools that are deemed outstanding but are anything but that. My thought would be to say if you are outstanding then you get 5 years grace before an inspection but if the figures are already going the wrong way it can be before then, as is the case now.
In terms of dropping the grade of outstanding my concern is that the "good" grade is already a very significant gap between a poor good and a good good. Removing the outstanding grade would just make the good grade meaningless as it would solely mean that the school does not require significant improvement or worse. That would mislead both staff and parents about the real capability of the school.

youarenotkiddingme Wed 01-Nov-17 17:25:18

Our local academy which was outstanding in 2013 (? Iirc?) has just gone below average in progress 8. It also has had a significant number of managed moves recently because it doesn't want to can't manage challenging pupils.

Those of us who have knowledge of school have been fighting a losing battle for years about how it's gone downhill because it's in a naive area with an outstanding OFSTED.

youarenotkiddingme Wed 01-Nov-17 17:27:12

Naice not naive! Although the parents who still rate it as best in area are naive to the truth wink

CurlyhairedAssassin Wed 01-Nov-17 18:08:24

Well I’m a complete cynic and feel this is only being mooted because of the lack of funding in schools. Wanting to put in place fancy initiatives in order to achieve Outstanding is all well and good but it usually involves extra cost somewhere. And not just in monetary terms either. As an example, something like Accelerated Reader is loved by Ofsted but I personally detest it. It is a HUGE waste of money and time. But because Ofsted seem to be impressed by it, some staff in schools push for it, it realising that it has a knock on effect on lots of thing. Ie it needs good IT facilities, loads of staff time, money for books as well as the actual subscription cost.

The amount of money wasted on stupid initiatives to impress Ofsted disgusts me.

As for trying to compare Apples and oranges under our current system, when you’re looking at a School with very difficult often low ability pupils with chaotic and difficult family backgrounds, compared to one in an affluent area with able pupils where parents are totally on board, I have no words. Ofsted aren’t interested in making allowances. They don’t praise or recognise the amount of extra effort and patience Teachers have to have to give those more difficult kids an education. It’s easy to get an outstanding in a school where nearly all the kids are of high academic ability, who have somewhere warm to live, enough food to eat and where parents are in work and not in prison or getting shit faced every night while the kids are having to not only look after themselves but give their baby sibling a bottle of formula and nappy change too.

Makes me so angry and the whole system only serves to widen social differences between one school and another.

So yes, they should get rid of it. There are schools who will never achieve outstanding as they are up against it every single second of the day trying to play social worker to these poor unparented kids.

AChickenCalledKorma Wed 01-Nov-17 18:18:11

As a parent, personally I found the outstanding rating to be a good indicator of schools I wished to avoid as I disagree with Ofsted's idea of what an outstanding school is.

This, with knobs on. My children have been to two "Good" schools which we've been delighted with. The "Outstanding" schools I've visited on open days have left me cold.

noblegiraffe Wed 01-Nov-17 18:47:54

Removing the outstanding grade would just make the good grade meaningless

Who decides the difference between good and outstanding and what is valued?

Ofsted should be schools inspectors who decide whether a school is doing a good job and intervene where not. Anything else is having a disproportionate effect on education.

DinkyDaisy Wed 01-Nov-17 19:35:27

As for trying to compare Apples and oranges under our current system, when you’re looking at a School with very difficult often low ability pupils with chaotic and difficult family backgrounds, compared to one in an affluent area with able pupils where parents are totally on board, I have no words. Ofsted aren’t interested in making allowances. They don’t praise or recognise the amount of extra effort and patience Teachers have to have to give those more difficult kids an education. It’s easy to get an outstanding in a school where nearly all the kids are of high academic ability, who have somewhere warm to live, enough food to eat and where parents are in work and not in prison or getting shit faced every night while the kids are having to not only look after themselves but give their baby sibling a bottle of formula and nappy change too.
This with bells on...
Also a school that has achieved 'outstanding' near us manages to be sly in keeping its intake 'advantaged' despite allegedly being comprehensive. Did Ofsted care? Did they Hell as like...

CauliflowerSqueeze Wed 01-Nov-17 20:16:15

I agree it would be excellent.

nameohnameohname Wed 01-Nov-17 20:22:36

Are you familiar with the Headteachers Roundtable group? I think some of you would like what they are doing.

crazycatguy Wed 01-Nov-17 22:49:56

If I were in charge, schools would be judged thus;

9-4 grades at GCSE A-C at A Level %
Attendance rate %
% of students who engage in a form of voluntarism outside school
% of students who engage in physical sport or mind sport
Staff turnover annually
% of students who commit a criminal act within 5 years of leaving.

I'd only show up where serious concerns were raised. Publish the figures online and be done with it.

This is why I'll never be a Head...!

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