View Full Version : Ofsted downgrades my sons school

11-10-2013, 01:17 PM
My sons secondary school had an Ofsted visit last week and went from a Good to a Requires Improvement. I have just received a letter form the head that sums it up, especially the end bit. We all know how hard the schools as well as childminders work to get a good result and its heart breaking when this happens. The letter is below.

Dear Parents
Now that you have had time to read our latest Ofsted report, I felt I needed to say a few words about it from our point of view.
The report certainly needs to be read within the context of a much harsher approach from Ofsted in their inspections and the framework they use; they have, in their own words, ‘raised the bar’. We are not alone in being downgraded from our previous inspection judgement and, indeed, it is difficult to find a 14-19 school with GCSE outcomes that has not been downgraded under the new framework. We are, of course, always looking for ways to improve and we are neither arrogant nor complacent, but the new framework, I feel, is punitive rather than celebratory and that is not fair on students, staff or parents.
It’s important to recognise that any Ofsted judgement is governed by achievement. The two main areas criticised in our report are English and the sixth form, but only because results gained overall by students in these areas are what was expected of them based on their previous achievement. What other inspection body in any other sector would criticise an institution because it was achieving what was expected of it? Moreover, in our particular situation, that criticism and therefore the RI judgement is set against a context of very good and outstanding achievement in many other areas. We were, of course, delighted that they graded our maths provision as outstanding, although it appeared almost as a fleeting comment, and mentioned the very high standards in science and performing arts. However, the fact that our modern languages results are amongst the highest in the county, that economics, textiles, triple science, music, media and several other option subjects did exceptionally well, that we are county champions in no less than eight sporting events, that we were the highest placed comprehensive school nationwide in the senior maths challenge recently, that we are one of only a handful of schools to have the Space Education Gold Quality Mark and that we had just gained Artsmark Gold for our outstanding performing and visual arts provision all seemed to be relegated to the second division of the report or was not even mentioned. I think that is unfair and does not truly reflect the school we are.
One of the most bemusing aspects of the report is the judgement on Behaviour & Safety. There is a distinct mismatch between the overwhelmingly positive comments in that section and the outcome, 3. Confusingly, it is even cited as one of the strengths of the academy in the summary of key findings. The judgement, in fact, seems to be based entirely on one aspect, which the report cites as a ‘lack of engagement’ in some lessons. This was explained to us by the inspector in his verbal feedback as some students in some lessons being a bit ‘passive’. We feel this is hardly surprising, given that a stranger comes into the room who, the students know, is observing them as well as the teacher; we also feel it is no basis on which to give Behaviour & Safety the grading it has. We have lodged an appeal against this particular judgement.

Teaching & Learning is our core purpose and we have worked hard at making sure that the experience for your sons and daughters is as good as it possibly can be. Ofsted found there to be weak teaching in a small number of lessons, in fact 4, and every single one of those was not a typical grading for that member of staff. Even so, it means that in the rest of the lessons observed, students made at least the progress that was expected of them. Our own analyses of teaching and learning were validated by Ofsted during the inspection and over the past two years, 85% and 88% respectively of lessons have been found to be good or outstanding. Unfortunately, even though Ofsted accepted these findings, they only took their ‘snapshot’ over the two days into account in their judgement on this area. We recognise, of course, that there are always going to be areas to improve and each year, in our aim to be outstanding, we conduct lesson observations on every member of staff, workbook and homework scrutinies and analyses of the quality of marking and feedback to students. We have focussed particularly on independent learning, especially in the sixth form, and will continue to do so. We accept that there are inconsistencies in the effective use of feedback to students and setting of homework, and we will continue to address any shortcomings in these areas and provide training and support where necessary. We are also readjusting some of our systems to bring even more rigour into the processes we already adopt, particularly in light of Ofsted’s comment on the more able.
We are totally committed, as always, to ensuring that the experience your sons and daughters, our students, receive will give them the best possible start to the next stage of their careers. All staff and governors, despite feeling that the report is not an accurate reflection of the academy, are determined to ensure that our next inspection grading is a good one and we are confident that it will be. We accept that there are areas we can improve and, as the report itself recognises, we had already started to address them anyway. I do not understand why the report says that the Governing Body does not have a clear enough view of the school’s performance. In my opinion, it is one of the most challenging, supportive and knowledgeable governing bodies I have ever worked with. However, we will carry out an external audit, as suggested, and I am confident it will not be found wanting.
Finally, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you as parents for all your support and positive comments you have sent, not only during the inspection but also since. They have meant a great deal and are a reminder to us of the good work we are doing here and what we provide for the students. On the final day of the inspection, the lead inspector read out a letter from one of our parents that praised the academy on how well it had encouraged and supported her daughter, how pleased she was with the progress her daughter had made in the past four years and how happy her daughter was here at xxxxxx. He went on to say that, in his opinion, that letter summed the academy up. To be honest, even though we have to accept the importance of Ofsted, your comments as parents and those of our fantastic students mean more to me than any report from a two day inspection ever could. Thank you.

11-10-2013, 01:22 PM
:( I am speechless and so very sorry for the school.

I have been told anecdotadly that schools in an area of my county are/have been ALL downgraded within the past few months in inspections and local rumour is that because the county has no academies, the inspectors have been told to downgrade, so schools will be 'forced' to become academies.

this worried me as I read your report, then I read that your school IS an academy.

this trend is very worrying


11-10-2013, 01:47 PM
It can never be proved, but I do believe that some schools OfSTED judgement is politically linked.
How else can the Government reach their Academy's target?

They tried leaving it to Headteachers and Governors and did not get enough uptake so it has to be almost forced on schools.

Just as information, if a school, the Headteacher and Governors, make the decision to become an Academy with a group that runs Academies, the first thing the groups do is suggest a change of Headteacher -even if the school actively sought out a suitable Academy sponsor -and was not changing status because the school was judged low by an inspector.
It is only logical then that very few headteachers are happy to become an academy unless they are going it alone as they stand a chance of losing their job!!!!

jackie 7
11-10-2013, 02:27 PM
This is terrible but at least we are not alone in complaining about ofsted.

11-10-2013, 05:17 PM
Ofsted is slowly but surely losing credibility. I would never choose a school on Ofsted report, having seen a few Outstanding child minders I would not leave my dog with and knowing excellent Satisfactory child minders. Like wise schools. Local schools around me are being downgraded too. Why bother giving a grade in the first place?

11-10-2013, 05:58 PM
Reading this news has made me feel incredibly sad - a sign of the times I guess.... :(

blue bear
11-10-2013, 06:17 PM
Whatdo the government think these inspection grades are doing to the moral of the staff and inturn to the quality of teaching for the next generation. It's so sad x

nikki thomson
11-10-2013, 09:24 PM
My children's primary school has had ofsted yesterday and today, they were graded good with outstanding in there reception eyfs year, hoping it's the same this time, will have to wait and see. X

11-10-2013, 09:53 PM
The primary school I pick up from (was my 3 children's school until last year!) was down graded from outstanding to requires improvement!! My Do told me it is becoming a frequent occurance!!

11-10-2013, 10:12 PM
How sad. Our local schools have become academies based on ofsted downgrading politically. Lots of good and exceptional areas of one school were completely missed out of the report and only the negative parent comments accepted.
I know some of the teachers were deflated and several left. But they were aware it would be bad as they gad had a memo to say which academy would be raking over even before ofsted walked in the door.

12-10-2013, 08:28 AM
This happened to my children s primary. Downgraded from outstanding to satisfactory. I felt very sorry for them and didnt agree. I do feel they should have done a similar letter to explain but hey ho!

12-10-2013, 09:03 AM
This is doing the rounds on FB - it seems to sum things up very well!!

FASCINATING AIDA : very funny OFSTED song for teachers - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d13gX-1HJg4)

Warning - sweary word towards the end... xx

12-10-2013, 09:14 AM
This is doing the rounds on FB - it seems to sum things up very well!!

FASCINATING AIDA : very funny OFSTED song for teachers - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d13gX-1HJg4)

Warning - sweary word towards the end... xx

That link is doing the rounds everywhere!!! it is now on twitter too
I picked it up on LinkedIn last night and since posting on the forum last night there have been an additional 20,000 views!