Ofsted report Panic

Logo courtesy of Ofsted

Logo courtesy of Ofsted

We’ve just had a letter through the door and I’m slightly panicked.

It’s from our borough council advising us that our Headmaster of over 20 years is going to take early retirement because the Ofsted inspection they had a few weeks back was “disappointing”.

Well, there is a lot to take in on this.

Firstly that the Ofsted inspection was disappointing is of major concern to me.  Last inspection had it listed as “good” and I was happy with that.  I know Ofsted isn’t the be all and end all of a school, which is why I visited the school and many others, but I think it’s a good barometer of how hard the headmaster and teachers work within the confines of the system.

Secondly that a trusted and well liked Headmaster is leaving.  That gives me the collywobbles.  If his replacement isn’t someone who all of our teachers get on well with, then we could see them start to drop like flies.  I’m worried that the likes of the head of the infant department, a woman who far exceeds her role and is sensible, down to earth and a brilliant teacher will decide she can no longer stay.

In general I’m worried for the school.  I love the school a lot.  It’s got a small school feel to it (despite 3 form entry) and it has a sensible approach to most things, which I love.  For example:

We were given no “rules” at the start of the year.  My friend’s school were told they had to invite the whole class to parties, No sweet things in lunch boxes, no photos at school shows.. blah blah blah.  No rules for us.  Other than a sensible nut allergy rule and no chocolate bars (chocolate is fine on top of a biscuit).

I only had my 2nd parent evening last week when, after the academic chat, I asked about the social aspect of Pickle’s days at school.  I said “I’m sorry if that sounds a bit weird, I kind of think the social part is as important as the academic part at this age, because she will learn the rules of friendship ect.. “.  Her teacher replied “Oh yes, definitely.  I think its more important in some ways”.  We then went on to talk about the dynamics of the girls group that had formed and she told me how she was going to teach them things to try to change it’s course.  I love her.

I’m really panicked about this change to the school.  Right when so much else is changing there as well. This year saw the first 3 form entry and as a result building work is underway for Year 1 expansion for next year and then further work is scheduled next year to increase every year to 3 form.  We really didn’t need this news.

What will it mean going forward if a bad Ofsted is published?  Will all the parents next year and for the next 3 years choose other schools over us? Will it be that only the lethargic parents end up there?  Will this affect the school going forward?  What I loved about this school was its cultural and demographical mix.  Poor, well off, Asian, black, chinese, White and everything in between.

Has anyone else experienced issues around bad Ofsted results, the loss of a headmaster or BOTH?  Am really looking for some good news stories now.


About freefallinginto40

I am 40 years old. I blog about how I'm coping with my "new" age at www.freefallinginto.com . I'm a married mother to two after years of infertility. I have a 6 year old called Pickle and a 3 year old called The Monster. I work 4 days a week. We are also planning a move to the country! I blog about that at www.ourmovetothecountry.wordpress.com
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21 Responses to Ofsted report Panic

  1. Meg says:

    What about your own school experience? I remember having a change of Head, teachers left and teachers joined. I think it will be more unsettling for the parents than the kids, surely? Better that way round…

    • I can’t really remember my own Primary School experience. I left primary school nearly 30 years ago! I have a vague memory of a headmaster leaving and we ended up with an alcoholic one. TBH – my primary school in the depths of Australia was pretty feral, I’m hoping the same experience doesn’t befall Pickle.

  2. I just wrote a huge comment but decided it was too much of a rant about Gove and his bureaucratic nonsense . . . I have to agree with Meg that if teachers and structures within school change, the pupils just plod on without taking much notice. Remember, the Ofsted criteria keeps changing so it might be that they just didn’t jump through the right hoops. All I can suggest is reading the report when it’s issued to see where it missed out and making sure the teachers you like know how much you value them.
    B. x

  3. mishmashmum says:

    In my opinion, I would just use Ofsted as a guide. I worked at a school that was apparently ‘outstanding’ and yet couldn’t cope with any child that deviated from the white or middle class bracket. Yet I worked at another school that barely scraped a ‘satisfactory’ but had to deal with children from quite traumatic backgrounds and a range of social and economical factors. The teachers were fab and worked so hard in often very challenging circumsrances. My own sons school was satisfactory at first, then failed an inspection and went into special measures, came out the other end and is now a ‘good’ school! This did coincide with a change of headship and the new head did get thrown in at the deep end, with a few families jumping ship, but it is now, according to Ofsted, one of the best in the area. I’ve been happy with my sons progress. Yes, he may have more challenging kids in his class than most but im not into wrapping my children up in cotton wool. We dont live in a priviledged area and don’t have the luxury to move on a whim, but that’s okay. We support the school and in turn they support us.

  4. The head of our kids’ infant school left during Mimi’s first term in nursery. She, too, had been long-established and had determined a culture at the school which we loved, so we were a bit worried.

    Remember though that a big part of the school culture and “feel” is guided by the governors, and it will be them who appoint the next head.

    Fast-forward three years and we are delighted with the new head. He has built on that culture, added new things like core values (I love to hear our 5 yr old talking about being ambitious and collaborating). The school has maintained its outstanding status and we couldn’t be more pleased.

    So don’t panic, stick with it and have faith that cultures change slowly, not quickly, so what you see now is likely to endure for some time, despite a new head being on the way.

  5. Ellen says:

    Before Christmas my son’s (he’s 5 in year 1) primary school was placed into “special measures” by Estyn (Welsh Ofsted), its previous ratings were all good, so this came as a shock to us as parents. Our brilliant head teacher of 18years had retired during the summer holidays due to having a brain tumour, we still don’t have a new head in place!
    What our school did rate well on was the level of care that is given to the children & that the quality of teaching was good, it just needs to raise standards (this was already being implemented before the inspection). For us as parents, feeling confident that the teachers are approachable & care is more important than what the inspectors have to say. My older kids have had teachers in different schools that I wouldn’t allow to care for a fish let alone a class full of children!!
    I personally went & spoke to the deputy head to find out what was going on etc, unfortunately I was the only parent who bothered!
    Since our bad report, standards are slowly being raised, it’s a long road though!!! If your child is happy in school like mine is then let the school know that you support them!!

    • Thank you that is helpful to hear. I have no doubts about the teaching I am concerned that our school won’t be seen as a good school though which means people will want to go elsewhere.

  6. Jenny T says:

    We had a new head. Everyone loved the old one (I have 6 siblings who’d all been at the school when the old head ran the show). Like Meg I agree that it’s my mums reaction that sticks in my memory. It didn’t really bother me or effect my schooling.

    • Well that is reassuring. I’m trying not to talk about it in front of Pickle apart from letting her know the head is going into Retirement. She seemed sad at the news, but soon skipped off to do something else. I will definitely bear this in mind.

  7. Pinkoddy says:

    My son’s school changes their Head this September, but he will be moving to 6th form. We already know that the Deputy is taking over. Personally I would just try not to worry about things that might happen until they actually do. If you are happy with the school then the Ofsted inspection isn’t really that relevant. Have you actually read the Ofsted?

  8. My children are 12 and 9 and have been to 4 different schools in 2 different countries in 2 different languages (English and Spanish), and were also ‘unschooled’ for a year whilst we travelled around the world. Nearly all of them have been the school available at the time i.e. no choice. I guess what I’ve learned is a) it’s up to me to educate and support my child to the standards I expect them to achieve (which are high) and b) it’s actually very difficult to screw this up at primary school age. My expectations of a school have primarily been to teach them to read, write and add up, it’s my job as a parent to do the rest and if a school steps up to help me, then all to the good. Keep a positive attitude and help your daughter shine.

    • You are right. I did say to hubby yesterday that it’s actually parents involvement with homework and extra teaching that will have the single biggest impact on how well they do at school. I must remember that myself.

  9. Kate says:

    If you feel you can make a difference, why not stand as parent governor next time there is a vacancy?

    At our kids’ school, we already knew the head was retiring when we looked around it. We went back to meet the new head and liked her too. Like you, I like the feel of the school and my kids have always done well. I stood as parent governor and then, less than 6 months into my term, Ofsted came in and turned us from good with outstanding features to satisfactory. That was partly based on attainment – something we can sometimes struggle with as we often get children later on in their primary career who were already very behind. We also have a higher proportional of children with special needs than other schools in the locality.

    The head has worked very hard to address the things that Ofsted wanted – part of the problem was that they couldn’t evidence some of the things that Ofsted were saying. Lessons learned. I know from being a parent governor that they are working hard to address it and that they do their level best for all children. That didn’t stop some parents using it as an excuse to move their children to other schools. Hey ho.

    We had a low intake last year but the whole area was undersubscribed. We still don’t know how many we are getting next September but overall, we don’t seem to have suffered because of it. Both my children have had new children in their classes recently as people still choose the school.

    The new head will ruffle feathers a bit – because they’re different and they may change things. But that might be for the good. It will disrupt but it’s about reforming a new team.

    At this age, it should be about how YOU feel your children are doing. If they are happy, and progressing, I wouldn’t worry about it. As I said at the beginning, if you want to do more, consider standing as a parent governor to help the school improve.

    • You know, they recently had an opening for a governor but the leaflet was lacking in info about what a committment it is. I work 4 days a week, so I need to know that sort of thing. I’ve also only been a parent of a student there since September, so perhaps not best qualified for a position yet.
      Thank you for taking the time to tell me your story. This is exactly the sort of thing I needed to understand and feel better about it.

      • kateab65 says:

        Parent governors is not a huge commitment – unless you become chair of the board of governors, as ours is in constant touch with the headteacher and visits her at least once per week, but he is a teacher himself. In most cases, time commitment is limited to one full governing body meeting per year (ours takes places in the evening, and is usually done in 2 hours) plus one committee meeting of finance and curriculum (takes us an hour generally) per term. There may be extra if you get some training – we’ve done one training session this term of an evening but most training courses (which aren’t compulsory but help) have a range of formats, so can take place in evenings or weekends. Some companies give their staff time to do stuff like this as well. In our school, we’ve all been “adopted” by a class and most of us visit that class for a session to suit once per term. Apart from that, it’s only if some of the emergency committees have to meet – which I’ve yet to do. Oh, and I sat on the interview panel to recruit a new teacher once but I did volunteer for that (it was the longest day of my life!) I work flexibly so I can arrange my work around it but most of the governing body have full time jobs.

        And a parent of a reception class pupil is just as “qualified” as any other – we have just gained a father from this year’s new intake. It’s not necessary for you to know lots about your school, it’s having the capacity to ask questions that’s probably more important.

        Sorry for essay.

      • That’s fab! Thankyou so much for all that information, that’s really helpful. I’m tempted to go for it next time.

  10. Pingback: The Ofsted Report | Free Falling into 40

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