Supporting my local (RI) school

Jo Anderson's picture
I am a MFL and ICT teacher and have taught in inner city and rural schools over the last 15 years. In my role as SCITT Programme Leader, I am privileged to work with staff and children in a huge range of schools in my local area.

Having spent some time this summer holidays preparing training sessions for our trainees, I have become engrossed in Melissa Benn's book, School Wars, where she mirrors exactly my views on support our local state schools. Hence my registration to your worthy cause.

My employing school is an Ofsted Outstanding school, where my children could attend. However, I have chosen to send them to our local schools - the secondary which during their last inspection was graded as RI. I am questioned continually by some parents as to why I am sending my daughter to my local school when she could attend my school, which is out of catchment, and according to Ofsted is far "better." My argument, " because it's our local school" does not seem to wash against some of the views of the local parents. Many parents, who were quite happy to send their children to our local primary (Ofsted Good), on transition to Secondary, choose to put their children on trains and buses to out of catchment schools, send their children to private schools or move!

My local secondary is very likely to be inspected again this Autumn and again the likely outcome will be RI. There are many great changes taking place following the appointment of a new Head a couple of years ago, but there is unlikely to be a huge change in pupil achievement data for a little while yet. Some of our local parents are likely to see 'Requires Improvement' on the report and not delve into the finer detail about how the school has a very strong pastoral system in place now, how the children are on the whole, happy and well cared for and the huge wealth of enriching experiences that our local community school, has to offer.

The proof will be in the pudding but I believe that I have made the right choice for my daughter, as she makes the move into Year 7 this September. I intend to do everything I can to support my local school as a parent and professionally, as I place 2 of my trainees with them also in September.

I could wax lyrical about how it's not all about Ofsted!
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Roger Titcombe's picture
Wed, 13/08/2014 - 14:24

Good for you Jo. My granddaughter attends a local primary school which Ofsted has judged 'Requires Improvement'. It is brilliant, she loves it and is making great progress.

I would go further than you and advise parents to especially careful about enrolling their children in 'outstanding' schools. Such schools are likely to be driven by such high stakes pressure (on and from the head and SLT) to maintain that classification that all sorts of perverse, negative consequences flow down through stressed-out staff to the pupils.

In my view, a parent's wisest choice is often likely to be a 'Good' school that is not driven by high stakes pressure to become 'outstanding' or a local 'Requires Improvement' school may often be a good choice, the more local the better. It all depends on the head and the relationships that he/she has managed to create in the school. Be especially wary of tidal waves of presentational PR-speak guff and noise.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 16/08/2014 - 07:31

Roger - a lovely little village school in Rutland was judged Inadequate a few years ago. The report showed the school was Satisfactory or better on all counts bar one - achievement. There had only been 12 pupils taking Sats the previous year - a third of them had special needs. Unsurprisingly, the results were low (they hadn't been in previous years).

So the school was damned on the basis of one year's results.

I complained but to no avail although Ofsted did uphold my complaint that it had misreported the results of the parental survey. This part of the report was changed.

Unfortunately, the Inadequate ruling meant many parents lost faith in the school. There was much grumbling at the school gate. Some parents removed their children. Teachers lost confidence and when Ofsted returned a couple of years later the school was indeed floundering. It remained in Special Measures.

However, I've now heard that a banner appeared outside the school at the end of term announcing it was Good. The Ofsted report hasn't been officially published yet so I can't confirm this. However, the last monitoring report was very positive. I wrote about it here.

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