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I've realised how pointless OFSTED reports on Primary schools are now...

37 replies

SoupDragon · 08/07/2008 09:36

... because they've made a judgement on DSs' school based on a 1 day visit, speaking to 10 pupils out of nearly 700 and observing 1 hour's teaching spread over 4 classes (there are 3 classes per year and 2 nursery classes).

What on earth is the point of that??

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WendyWeber · 08/07/2008 09:41

There are 700 kids at your primary school???

WendyWeber · 08/07/2008 09:42

(Was this one of the unexpected visits, where they just swoop in for a snapshot of real life, not Ofsted-preparedness?)

whatdayisit · 08/07/2008 09:49

Oh don't say that, ours was so lovely it made me cry My Dc's go to a very average school in terms of league table results, but OFSTED made me really happy I'd made the right choice, by confirming that the children are happy, well cared for and make good improvement, even though they are not high achievers (nothing I didn't already know BTW). Don't tell me it means nothing, I was feeling quite pleased with myself, as friends lied/moved to get their kids into "better" schools.

StellaDallas · 08/07/2008 11:10

Our school had a one-day visit a few weeks ago. The inspector spent the previous three days going through every piece of paperwork the school could produce. He was in constant email and phone contact with the school over those days asking very detailed and indepth questions. By the time he came to the school to do the inspection he knew exactly what he was looking for and what he expected to see.
I was one of two governors who was asked to meet him late in the afternoon. He grilled us for 45 minutes about every aspect of the governing body's responsibilities and clearly had a very good grasp of what the school was like.
So I would say, you are the one making the snap judgement here. The inspector may only have observed four lessons but he or she will have read the lesson observations that have been carried out through the year of all the teachers - his or her own observations will just be sample ones.

MrsTeasdale · 08/07/2008 12:07

Well, quite.

Its the paperwork that counts.

Whether that paperwork accurately reflects what is going on in the school is another issue.

My children's school received a glowing ofsted (after a similarly truncated visit). The inspector singled out the "exemplary" way in which the head had dealt with a relatively serious bullying problem - all based on the paperwork produced by the head, of course.

Had he spoken to the parents involved, or indeed to the children, he would have got quite a different impression. In fact, shortly after the report, two children were removed because the parents were unhappy with the way in which the problem had been addressed.

aintnomountainhighenough · 08/07/2008 13:26

I don't agree. My DDs school was put in special measures last year by Ofsted and is still there. My experience is that the report was pretty accurate actually.

SoupDragon · 08/07/2008 14:07

"you are the one making the snap judgement here"

Yes, me, the teaching staff, the "School Improvement Partner" (who has visited 3 times this year, all schools have one) and the entire board of governors. We are all clearly wrong and the inspector who so closely observed such a tiny proportion of the school and looked at some paper is right.

(Wendy, there are actually 686 pupils in 23 classes incl the 2 nursery classes. It was one of the new "short notice" visits)

My point is that it is completely impossible to judge a school on such a tiny snapshot of what happens. People are meant to use it to help make their decisions on which school to send their child for the next 7 years of their lives. Whilst the old long visits were perhaps more disruptive to classes, I bet they gave a far more accurate picture of how a school is performing.

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SoupDragon · 08/07/2008 14:09

Part of the problem lies with the fact that this school is large and does not follow the standard methodss of teaching/curriculum.

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Tigerschick · 08/07/2008 14:22

The trouble is that there doesn't seem to be a 'right' or 'good' way to do inspections.

The 'old' way was open to abuse - I know of a teacher who had 3 collegues go through every piece of paperwork in her classroom, plan all her lessons for the duration of the visit, and put up her classroom displays because the head was so worried that she would reflect badly on the school. (She left at the end of the year with a glowing reference but that's another story)

The 'new' way of doing short notice and drop-in visits has more or less put a stop to this but, as a trade-off, the visits have to be shorter ... which means that they can't give a detailed account of the school. I think the idea is that, what they do see is 'genuine' not window-dressing ...

I'm not for, or against, either system; my point is that, you are never going to please everyone - or, often, anyone!

SoupDragon · 08/07/2008 14:27

I'm completely "for" the short notice visit. That makes perfect sense. However, you can't expect to be able to rate a large school (which is 3 times as large as one of the other local schools) on 1 day. It's probably difficult to rate a 1 form intake school in a day too actually.

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WendyWeber · 08/07/2008 14:29

I am shocked that the new method is such a tiny snapshot - it does seem a bit pointless.

When I first heard about them doing this I assumed that a team of inspectors would descend & be all over the school for a whole day (though I suppose that would be very disruptive).

SoupDragon · 08/07/2008 14:29

"what they do see is 'genuine' not window-dressing "

I agree, but when what they see is 4 classes out of 23 (some year groups did not get seen at all) it is giving an equally inaccurate view of the school.

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SoupDragon · 08/07/2008 14:30

Ye, Wendy, one inspector for one day trying to inspect a very large school. Madness!

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StellaDallas · 08/07/2008 14:31

Well our school are now officially 'outstanding' so I can't help but believe that the inspector got it right

StellaDallas · 08/07/2008 14:33

They spend a week on the inspection though, Soupdragon. Just one day in the school. And the work they do on the paperwork is incredibly thorough - it is not just looking at a few bits of paper. Believe me, I was cross-questioned by our inspector and he really did know the ins and outs of the school.

WendyWeber · 08/07/2008 14:35

Unfortunately that's not necessarily true either - re the accuracy - our primary shcool had the misfortune to have for the last 15 years or so a head who was a truly unpleasant woman but a) a good manager & b) very manipulative. In terms of all-round personal happiness it went down & down but the Ofsted reports were always glowing (in that carefully-worded way of theirs...)

She has just left, and it's like the Wicked Witch of the West shrivelling into dust - the sun is shining, bluebirds singing etc. I'm really sad that DS2 was there throughout her regime & missed all the niceness there could have been.
pooka · 08/07/2008 14:36

I agree with Soupdragon. DDs school was inspected earlier this year, and I feel that they missed the point. Accepted that the school had made heaps of improvement, acknowledged that results are improving, yet were still bound by the 2006 (unusually and unexpectedly poor) SATs results, to give a satisfactory, which round here is BAD.


FluffyMummy123 · 08/07/2008 14:37

Message withdrawn

FluffyMummy123 · 08/07/2008 14:38

Message withdrawn

SoupDragon · 08/07/2008 14:40

You honestly think that reading paperwork gives a better view than actually seeing the school in action? If that is the case, there is no point visiting at all. TBH, given the ridiculous amount of time he did spend observing, there really was no point observing any lessons or talking to any pupils at all.

Personally, I put a far higher value on the comments made by the regular SIP and the many members of the Primary Education field who visit the school to see how they do things.

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FluffyMummy123 · 08/07/2008 14:43

Message withdrawn

SoupDragon · 08/07/2008 14:47

Nooo, not governor. No way!

I've just worked out that he observed 0.89% of the total teaching.

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FluffyMummy123 · 08/07/2008 14:47

Message withdrawn

SoupDragon · 08/07/2008 14:47

According to his report, the proportion of parents who were late for pick up due to mumsnetting was above average... [eeek]

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SoupDragon · 08/07/2008 14:48

I feel strongly that the visit was not long enough to give a proper picture of the school.

(Am vice PTA chair though)

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