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OFSTED reports

Since our destined pre-xmas move fell through and we've got to start looking all over again I've been looking at OFSTED secondary school reports for various areas, and found some truly moronic things...

One school had a 'good' rating despite it's outstanding GCSE results. It was heavily marked down for it's lack of provision for special needs pupils. Then I looked at the school stats - No of pupils=324, No of special needs students=0! 0 hours of special needs provision for the 0 special needs children - sounds like they've got the levels pretty bang-on to me

Another school had an 'outstanding' rating, but when I looked into it further I found an outcry in the local paper about them expelling almost 10% of their students prior to the GCSEs! How can a school which does that be 'outstanding', unless it's 'outstandingly bad'?!

After doing hours of reading around the reports, I know which I'd prefer my son to go to, but just reading the league tables I'd have come to a v different conclusion.

When are they going to get rid of (or at least update) this ridiculous OFSTED reporting malarkey? It seems absurd to me that house prices in an area can be majorly affected by something as flawed as these reports, not to mention our kids' future education
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My kids will go to the nearest school. Simples.
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My kids will go to the nearest school. Simples.
If only it were that simple. My daughter never got offered a place at the nearest primary school, despite having gone to nursery there.

I doubt there's a teacher in the land who would disagree with mj2k on this. My wife is doing a spot of supply teaching at the moment so is at different schools all the time. It's incredible how many times she comes back from them with the question "How the **** did they manage to get rated as outstanding?".
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I have worked in education for about 20 years now alongside my session career, thing is working as a peripatetic teacher I see more schools in a year than most teachers see in their working life, I have come to one conclusion.

Ofsted especially but the education system in general has become more interested in placing value on the things that are measurable rather than taking a holistic approach to the evaluation of a school or educating our children,It makes the job easier but gives no real world indication as to the effectiveness of the teaching and the behavior management skills of the staff and has contributed to the standards having fallen dramatically in the last 20 years.

I have worked in schools in special measures, that serve some of the most deprived communities in the country, where english is the second language for the majority of intake, there can be no direct comparisons made between these schools and some of the state schools in ''better areas'' as the starting point and challenges along the way are so different.

I have also taught in the Royal borough of Kingston upon Thames, in three of the schools considered the very best in the country, behavior management is not an issue, parent engagement is not an issue,that said I saw no more ''raw talent'' in those better schools than I did in the poorer ones, those children were just better positioned to capitalise on it because the turnover of teaching staff is much lower in the better schools.. this has obvious implications.

My advice to you is this, don't judge a school by its ofsted, go and look around, most schools will allow and even welcome it, see how many NQT's there are, a high proportion on the faculty would suggest staff turnover is high because the school is ''challenging'' it's also easier for NQT's to get their first job in a school where there are some issues due to high staff turnover. In my experience any more than half of the staff under 30 is a bit of an alarm bell, a school needs some mature and long serving teachers to steady the ship.

good luck in finding the right school, and be prepared to consider a school a few miles away as well, bottom line is it's all about the faculty.

FYI I went to a school called Battersea County, it's been called many things since but has pretty much been either in special measures or in the bottom quarter of the tables since they started, it serves three council estates and most of the intake would be considered to be living in ''challenging circumstances'' however..

my year alone produced two Oxford graduates...In short you need a handful of good teachers and a dedicated parent and even the worst school can work for your child if they have the support at home and 3 or 4 dedicated teachers.

best of luck with your search.
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Interesting post Joey. The school my son goes to has some children from around the borough with learning needs that the other schools feel would skew their stats. The reports recently have reflected the results of a change in head teacher quite accurately as the teachers below her moved to other places. The report does not show however the "teacher lottery" within a school. My son had a year with a not-very-good teacher but now has a lady who taught his sister for two years. All the parents know who they want as their child's teacher for the year.
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Originally Posted by keithyboy View Post
If only it were that simple. My daughter never got offered a place at the nearest primary school, despite having gone to nursery there.
My kids are adopted so they will go to the school of our choice which will be the nearest (why the special treatment I have no idea?).

I agree the system is flawed and it's led to the situation where parents have to school their kids miles away when there is a perfectly good school down the road. I feel for them.
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The merry-go-round of academy status is also interesting.

I know of several schools that did not start out as academies. Prior to this, thier rating was 'outstanding'. Then OFTSED walked in and said "you should be an academy, oh, by the way, you're now only a 'good' school, for arbitrary reasons".

Then, as if by magic, once the school became an academy, and changing nothing regarding it's day-to-day operations, they'd get thier 'outstanding' classification back.

Instant improvement to a school be denoting it while it isn't an academy, and then restoring the top line status when it gets to be one.

Instant stats improvement. Academy status amazingly turn schools around.

Even Michael Wilshaw had to be ousted from OFSTED so this amazing turnaround of schools that were outstanding anyway, could be regraded to outstanding again, not because they had actually improved, but because they met the currently fashionable agenda of academies.
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Recently met the chief exec of a new-ish academy. He was amazingly open, saying he had no educational experience, and no experience of managing a £1 million budget. He was going to give it his best shot, but was worried by the thought that hundreds of similarly unqualified people were taking charge of schools all over the place.
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Two of my grandchildren (age 5 and 7) go to a school that is pretty low on the OFSTED scale. It scans a wide area part of which is deprived.

They (grandchildren) thrive there as the teaching is second to none and they can reach their own level.

I agree with previous comments - ignore the reports and visit the potential school your children will go to and talk to the teachers before deciding.
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I'd also vote for visiting the school, some of the teachers at my grandsons school are gorgeous.
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Quote:
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The merry-go-round of academy status is also interesting.

I know of several schools that did not start out as academies. Prior to this, thier rating was 'outstanding'. Then OFTSED walked in and said "you should be an academy, oh, by the way, you're now only a 'good' school, for arbitrary reasons".

Then, as if by magic, once the school became an academy, and changing nothing regarding it's day-to-day operations, they'd get thier 'outstanding' classification back.

Instant improvement to a school be denoting it while it isn't an academy, and then restoring the top line status when it gets to be one.

Instant stats improvement. Academy status amazingly turn schools around.

Even Michael Wilshaw had to be ousted from OFSTED so this amazing turnaround of schools that were outstanding anyway, could be regraded to outstanding again, not because they had actually improved, but because they met the currently fashionable agenda of academies.

The above is a very valid observation, pretty much spot on.

one caveat though that I think gives academies the edge, they don't have to employ qualified teachers, they have the choice of recruiting from anywhere, if it's done right you can harness the talent of seasoned professionals and it has proven very effective.

Most common in the teaching of the arts subjects with actors teaching Drama and Musicians teaching music, but it works just as well when applied to other subjects, I know of an academy employing a genetic statistician to teach maths ( he worked on dolly the sheep) an ex pro athelete to teach PE and a published author teaching english, Needless to say those students are getting an education far more suited to ensuring they can use what they learn in the real world rather than just for ticking boxes and passing exams.

all teachers are still subject to CRB checks and will receive support in the classroom from a TA or another teacher to advise or facilitate the pastoral care but from what I have seen on multiple ocassions it works!

If we are to turn around our failing education system ( and it is failing , don't believe the hype!) we need a more creative solution to filling the teaching positions than going through vast numbers of NQT's who don't stay in the profession due to poor pay and job stress and who are in some cases only four years older than the oldest students they are teaching.

They are lacking in life experience, maturity and have been trained by the very failing system they are trying to sustain which predictably has led to a year on year falling of standards that has been masked by making exams easier ...Trust me they are, I have seen students pass A level music with little or no ability to play and unable to read music. I have then had those very students in my lectures at college/uni a year later and no wiser studying for a Music teaching degree...!


Crazy.


We have gone from having one of the finest education systems in the world to languishing in mid table mediocrity, and if I am entirely honest based on what I have seen we are lucky to be that high up!



None of this changes the basic truth of education though, the better the teacher , the more success the student will enjoy, add this to a caring and supportive parent and you have a recipe for a good education, to those of you who are parents I will simply say don't underestimate the importance of your presence in your childs schooling.

roll your sleeves up and get in there!
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Wasn't aware of the actor teaching drama, statistician teaching maths scenario, sounds exciting if done well. I should be because both my son and his wife are involved in the school system as autism specialists.

But I fully believe in the parents support, we did it with my two kids, both achieved degrees, obviously with a little input from the education system

I can see in the queue when I'm picking up my grandson that some of the kids will not be getting that support at home, but I always hope I've judged the parent wrong
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Originally Posted by joeymannero View Post
The above is a very valid observation, pretty much spot on.

one caveat though that I think gives academies the edge, they don't have to employ qualified teachers, they have the choice of recruiting from anywhere, if it's done right you can harness the talent of seasoned professionals and it has proven very effective.

Most common in the teaching of the arts subjects with actors teaching Drama and Musicians teaching music, but it works just as well when applied to other subjects, I know of an academy employing a genetic statistician to teach maths ( he worked on dolly the sheep) an ex pro athelete to teach PE and a published author teaching english, Needless to say those students are getting an education far more suited to ensuring they can use what they learn in the real world rather than just for ticking boxes and passing exams.

all teachers are still subject to CRB checks and will receive support in the classroom from a TA or another teacher to advise or facilitate the pastoral care but from what I have seen on multiple ocassions it works!

If we are to turn around our failing education system ( and it is failing , don't believe the hype!) we need a more creative solution to filling the teaching positions than going through vast numbers of NQT's who don't stay in the profession due to poor pay and job stress and who are in some cases only four years older than the oldest students they are teaching.

They are lacking in life experience, maturity and have been trained by the very failing system they are trying to sustain which predictably has led to a year on year falling of standards that has been masked by making exams easier ...Trust me they are, I have seen students pass A level music with little or no ability to play and unable to read music. I have then had those very students in my lectures at college/uni a year later and no wiser studying for a Music teaching degree...!


Crazy.


We have gone from having one of the finest education systems in the world to languishing in mid table mediocrity, and if I am entirely honest based on what I have seen we are lucky to be that high up!



None of this changes the basic truth of education though, the better the teacher , the more success the student will enjoy, add this to a caring and supportive parent and you have a recipe for a good education, to those of you who are parents I will simply say don't underestimate the importance of your presence in your childs schooling.

roll your sleeves up and get in there!
It does sound weird going for people who aren't qualified to be teachers, but from first-hand experience I can imagine that working quite well. The secondary school I went to was one of the last grammar schools and the local authority was determined to close it down despite numerous petitions, so it was very cash-starved. The buildings were very run down, the books were mostly 10+ years old (they were rebound by the students during craft classes!) and they were lumbered with far less teachers than the school needed, so specialists often had to do things well outside their field of experience. No doubt it'd have got a pretty poor rating in OFSTED reports if they'd existed back then both because of the politics, and because it couldn't teach a full curriculum since the books were so old.

One of the interesting things they had to do because of the cuts was getting the PE / sports teacher to do maths. You couldn't imagine a less maths-teacher-like man than this guy - muscle-bound, never out of a tracksuit, and with an incredibly strong west country farmer accent. And his maths teaching was either pure brilliance or total cluelessness - he often got lost part way through what he was teaching, never got a formula right and often answered questions with 'err...', so we all got used to spotting his mistakes and reading the books thoroughly so we could help him out when he got lost. Admittedly we were all pretty clever anyway (it was a grammar school) but somehow he muddled through and most of his students got over 80% in the end of year exams and went on to take maths at 'o' level!
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You get three options when applying for a school.

I filled in the form and filled in the three non-faith schools which were most local.

We got our second choice which is about 600 yards away from the house as the crow flies.

We have a catholic school just 100 yards down the end of the road but I don't agree with faith schools so she wasn't going there.
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You get three options when applying for a school.

I filled in the form and filled in the three non-faith schools which were most local.

We got our second choice which is about 600 yards away from the house as the crow flies.

We have a catholic school just 100 yards down the end of the road but I don't agree with faith schools so she wasn't going there.

I have always found faith schools tend to be better on balance especially at primary level, I have no idea why this is other than a theory based on observation that the teaching is more traditional in its nature and focuses more on getting the basics right, English ,Maths, and Socialisation...I think that all changes at secondary level and it becomes less pertinant whether a school is a faith school or not given the sizes of intake any religous ethos is bound to be diluted just by the number of students. A faith primary followed b a good secondary is a well worn and proven path in the boroughs in which I have worked.

I worked at Bishop Gilpin in Wimbledon for a few years and have to say that was a fantastic school perhaps the best state primary I have ever seen, I also worked at another non faith school a mile down the road and have to say the standards were noticably lower, although both were good schools a lot of the year 6 from Gilpin went on to RGS Guildford and Sutton Grammar, where as the other primary in question tended to feed the two local comps, which whilst being decent schoosl are not comparable to either of the aforementioned.

I have seen this trend echoed in at least 2 counties and 4 london boroughs..

That said I agree completely with your choice Symon being a firm agnost myself, I also think the excistence of faith schools is questionable in a society where religion has the capacity to be so divisive, they help create class and or religous division and if we wish to have an integrated society I personally feel religion and education should be mutually exclusive.
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You pretty much hit the nail on the head as to why I don't agree with faith schools.
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