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Dozens of “Outstanding” schools downgraded after not being inspected for years

(53 Posts)
noblegiraffe Sat 30-Mar-19 14:32:45

Prospective PM Michael Gove in his wisdom as Education Secretary decided it was a good idea to remove Outstanding schools from the inspection cycle.

Years later it turns out that might not have been such a good idea.

“Ofsted revealed yesterday that inspections of exempt schools carried out between September and December last year, before it was ordered to step up its efforts, resulted in just 23 per cent maintaining their top grades. Of 117 schools inspected, more than one-third were rated “requires improvement” or “inadequate”.”

The DfE says that this means their system of triggering inspections when concerns are raised is working - but this relies on concerns being raised and acted upon, and given that some schools went from Outstanding to Inadequate, for how long was this decline overlooked? This is especially concerning in the case of flagship teaching schools who would not be getting funding and resources had they been reinspected sooner.

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Punxsutawney Sat 30-Mar-19 15:00:58

I mentioned on the one hour travel to school thread that my child is at a really poor grammar school. It last had an Ofsted in 2011 which was graded at outstanding. In my view it is nowhere near outstanding now.

Last year the school was given money from the grammar expansion fund. Their results are good but that's a given really, they have taken the most able kids. Everything about the school else is pretty poor.

There is a real culture of violence vandalism, poor behaviour and lack of respect there. Much of the teaching is poor, and there is very little to inspire or motivate the kids. Their pastoral care is non existent and there is not much SEN support (Ds's difficulties became more apparent after he started year 7). In recent months there seems to be a really issue at the school with cannabis too. Last week 4 year 10's came in completely stoned at the start of the school day. There has also been other year groups smoking cannabis on school property.

I just can't understand why Ofsted feels its fine to leave a school 8 years without any kind of inspection.

BubblesBuddy Sat 30-Mar-19 15:01:56

Well the goalposts have changed so it’s not surprising many are now good. The schools that are now RI or worse should really look at themselves to see why they couldn’t maintain a decent grade. They clearly should not have been exempt but there was published data about all the schools and if value added and outcomes were below average then it may well have been fairly obvious they were no longer outstanding.

It’s quite heartening to read 117 of these schools have been inspected in a fairly short space of time so parents will have more up to date infuriation and the schools themselves can focus more accurately on where Improvement is needed.

Of course the decision to exempt them in the first place was wrong but it did allow Ofsted to look at schools that, arguably, needed more attention. The mistake was not changing the policy sooner and not imposing a time limit for an inspection of say, 5 or 6 years for the outstanding schools. We all know there can be changes that affect a school and even a short inspection would have picked up concerns.

BubblesBuddy Sat 30-Mar-19 15:15:50

Why did you choose this school, Punx?

The new inspection framework will inspect behaviour and attitudes to learning so how the school deals with issues will be scrutinised as well as attitudes to learning. However behaviour isn’t evaluated before Ofsted arrive as it’s not publicly reported. How does Ofsted know, in advance, about poor behaviour and drugs? Therefore inspections tend to be triggered by educational aspects which are subject to annual stats.

Of course it should have been inspected more recently.

noblegiraffe Sat 30-Mar-19 15:35:21

Well the goalposts have changed so it’s not surprising many are now good.

I think it will be surprising to the not insignificant number of parents, many on MN, who bust a gut to get their kid into an outstanding school over a merely good one.

They might be a bit pissed off to find that the inspection system exemption meant that these ratings were years out of date and in fact potentially disastrously inaccurate.

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Punxsutawney Sat 30-Mar-19 16:18:56

It was a really difficult choice, I only had the information from the open evening and also had the Ofsted report. At the time my oldest child was doing really well at our local secondary modern, so we obviously did consider that school to. Youngest Ds passed the 11+ with a very high mark and had no formal tutoring. I thought that he was exactly the right child for a grammar school, he is not, well not for this grammar anyway.

I can understand that Ofsted would have no idea of behaviour or other things that may be going. I still do believe 8 years is way too long to go uninspected even if the school is producing good exam results and statistics.

Babygrey7 Sat 30-Mar-19 16:22:30

Oh, I did not know this.

Selfishly, it makes me feel better for having chosen a merely "good"' comp over the "outstanding" one for the kids

KnopeforAmerica Sat 30-Mar-19 16:34:40

The Outstanding secondary school less than 5 minutes from my house hasn't been inspected for much longer than the Good schools slightly further away and it wasn't actually that great when I looked round (applying for a job) I would definitely choose the Good ones over the Outstanding because I can be more sure they are still of a decent standard behind the fanfare of open days etc

Punxsutawney Sat 30-Mar-19 17:03:08

Yes I agree Knope my eldest's son secondary modern was rated good. We actually thought it was outstanding. It had some of the most caring inspirational teachers I have ever met. Whereas the teaching at the outstanding grammar is weak in comparison.

pointythings Sat 30-Mar-19 19:01:53

This doesn't surprise me at all. A school that is 'merely' good knows it will have to keep working to maintain that rating against changing goalposts, and this is what has happened to the school my DDs attend. An 'Outstanding' school that knows it is exempt from scrutiny has no incentive to look at what it is doing and deal with anything that might be slipping.

My DDs' school will never be Outstanding. It has a subset of all its cohort which comes from a background where education is not valued and understood. That's sad for those kids. But our school is great at getting the best out of everyone. No-one is allowed to coast - there is revision support tailored for everyone, no matter what their aspirations. Pastoral care is amazing; bullying is cracked down on hard. There's no nonsense about super strict uniform with logos on everything - instead there is pragmatism.

I'd honestly recommend it to anyone.

exLtEveDallas Sat 30-Mar-19 19:12:07

The school I work at is the same as pointythings - it'll never get an Outstanding, but bloody hell it should do. The teachers and SLT go above and beyond constantly and especially for the kids that the world has already given up on.

DDs Secondary went from Outstanding to RI last year after not being inspected for 8 years. We didn't 'pick it' as such (catchment school), but we certainly felt good about DD going there when we moved to this area. But I could see the cracks right from the start - the RI grading vindicated my feelings about it.

DD is doing OK, but that's down to her, not the school. Other kids, nice kids that just aren't as determined, or have had a harder upbringing, aren't. The school is failing them.

Giving so many schools an exemption has let so many children down.

ShaggyRug Sat 30-Mar-19 19:13:23

The local outstanding secondary school was last inspected 11 years ago! Nearly a full education cycle for a child. Shocking really.

Gnome134 Sat 30-Mar-19 19:23:31

I work as a science technician in a school that was rated outstanding in 2012. Just been inspected a few weeks ago and now requires improvement. Not surprised at all. Agree the exemption should never have been in place.

Punxsutawney Sat 30-Mar-19 19:35:50

Gnome, do you know why Ofsted visited? Did something trigger the inspection?

Zinnia Sat 30-Mar-19 21:43:32

The Ofsted framework is changing in September, and there will be less emphasis on pure results (more on breadth of education etc). So some of those schools that would under previous frameworks never have got Outstanding might very well be in with a shot now.

One primary near us has just been inspected for the first time since before my now-Y6 DD was born (it's not her school). It's gone from Outstanding to Good, the Ofsted report is still great, but there is a cohort of parents who are up in arms about it hmm. It's much harder to get an Outstanding rating under the current framework than it was 10+ years ago. Will be interesting to see how those schools which focus on SATS scores and league tables above all else fare under the new regime...

clary Sun 31-Mar-19 09:28:40

The outstanding secondary close to me where everyone wants to send their kids was last inspected in 2008. I told a colleague whose dc go there and he was shocked. Every teacher could be different! Any amount of processes could have changed. The kids get good results because only rich mc people can afford to live in the catchment.

Namechangetoask2019 Sun 31-Mar-19 17:52:18

My daughter attends a supposedly outstanding school. Last inspected in 2008, converted to an academy in 2011,had a new headteacher 3 years ago and yet the acedemy has NEVER been inspected. It’s beyond a joke! No way is outstanding!!!! I’d be surprised if it even got a good.

bibbitybobbityyhat Sun 31-Mar-19 18:02:25

Learning that "outstanding" schools are exempt from regular Ofsted inspections is one of the most shocking things I ever learned from Mumsnet. It's completely nuts!

HandsOffMyRights Sun 31-Mar-19 18:02:45

My son started at one of those outstanding schools that hadn't been inspected for 8 years.

It became pretty obvious that this was nothing like outstanding (his primary was a great outstanding school). We ended up moving schools and now he's thriving.

The school has recently been inspected and graded 'RI' it's a teaching school too.

Many parents seemed shocked, but it did not surprise me at all. I'm sure it will improve again, but standards slipped over the years and had it been inspected sooner then they might have been able to stop that decline before it reached the stage.

CraftyGin Sun 31-Mar-19 19:34:04

Going beyond the headlines and hype..

I am an ISI person, so not totally up to date with Ofsted.

A school gets rated outstanding so are told they will be inspected again in six years rather than three. Given limited resources, this sounds reasonable.

After six years, some schools face fallen off the perch. Again, sounds reasonable. There is nowhere for them to go but downwards.

noblegiraffe Sun 31-Mar-19 19:38:53

Crafty it’s not that they get inspected in six years rather than three, it’s that they don’t get inspected at all ever again unless something so bad happens that Ofsted are forced to pitch up.

There are schools out there that haven’t been inspected in over a decade.

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SnowdropsiUnderTrees Sun 31-Mar-19 22:17:45

It really annoys me outstanding schools aren't inspected. It also annoys me when school mum's boast about their child's school being Outstanding when in fact it's much worse than a nearby 'Good' school!

BonnesVacances Sun 31-Mar-19 22:43:36

My DC are at a similar school Namechange. I wonder if it's the same one? I'm desperate for them to have an Ofsted but their results never go down.

MsRabbitRocks Sun 31-Mar-19 22:53:06

Yep, a few secondaries in Kent haven’t been inspected since 2008 due to their outstanding status. I mean, one of them has moved to the IB for Sixth Form in that time, you’d think OFSTED might at least want to check it out! I’m always saying to other people when the topic of schools comes up, that you can’t assume an outstanding school is the best and vice versa because of this reason. They are always shocked. Another think Gove wanted to keep quiet angry

MsRabbitRocks Sun 31-Mar-19 22:54:42

Although, I am rather jealous that there are some newer teachers out there who have never experienced an OFSTED! grin

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