Ofsted – A parent’s perspective

Having worked in the Education sector, I know how important a school’s Ofsted report is. But lets look at it from a parent’s perspective?

As a parent we face numerous tough decisions. One of these is where to send your kids to school. I actually uprooted my family and moved to a different borough just to get my eldest son into an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rated school. I never looked back. He is doing extremely well and progressing rapidly in all areas.

But how much of this progress is a representation of the school and how much does it just depend on the child? I know my son is very focused so maybe he would have accomplished the same at any school.

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My troubles began when I had to change my youngest child’s school. The travelling time on school runs had become unbearable, I had to move him to a school within our new catchment area.

He really didn’t want to move! I knew I had to be overly careful and attempt to find a school he would enjoy, ensuring the impact of change would not have detrimental effects on his future. So the hunt began…

And where was the first place I went to look for information? Yes, you’ve guessed it. I went online and checked Ofsted reports. Having checked all the schools within close proximity, I was horrified to discover that the majority of the schools had been rated ‘requires improvements’. There were only 2 schools rated ‘good’ but both were faith schools with huge waiting lists!

What do I do now? I was BAFFLED! I picked three schools, closest distance from home and arranged visits. Honestly, this was no help what so ever. I couldn’t pick between them. I tried asking neighbours for their opinions, I even revisited schools and spoke to parents. It was getting me nowhere. How do I pick the right school?

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In the end I completed the school preference form and listed the schools in accordance of distance. I had no choice but to let fate decide.

Funnily enough, a place wasn’t available at any of these school. We were however offered a place at a further school that I’d never even heard of. A school that wasn’t rated ‘needs improvements’ but was instead… ‘inadequate!’

I felt deflated! What was I to do? Should I refuse the place and see what was offered next? What if it that too had such a poor report? …  I decided to arrange a half day visit for my son so that he could make the choice.

And … He absolutely LOVED it! The staff were warm and welcoming, the children were friendly and well behaved, there was a pleasant feeling throughout the learning environment.

So we accepted the place.

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Now 7 months on and he’s fitted in perfectly, made some super friends and actually looks forward to going to school. He’s a changed child! In 7 months he’s gone from being a shy, quiet slow learner to a confident upbeat young man. And on top of that, his progression across all subjects has been staggering!

An ‘inadequate’ school has been so beneficial for my child.

So how much should a report define a school? Maybe the inspector carried out the assessment on a bad day, everybody has those! Or, as I questioned earlier, will a child who wants to learn – learn anywhere?

What do you think?

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