Too many schools are coasting according to Ed Balls, and they will be added to those in the National Challenge that are not getting good enough results. Luckily, it seems that this time they will not be named and shamed, so that demotivating aspect appears to have been removed. But secondary schools that have been labelled ‘satisfactory’ and whose results lie in the middle of the average national results for GCSE grades A*-C are those that will be targeted. They will get support in improving standards and financial support as well. There is talk of sharing good practice and providing training. Sounds good. I’m all for improving standards. If you want to read more, go to this BBC article.
Interestingly, the school where I am governor (albeit an infant school) was accused of coasting at the last Ofsted inspection. I wasn’t around at the time, and don’t know if it was true or not. However, I do know that we have a new head teacher who has brought in lots of new initiatives and that SATs results have improved. We are now expecting another Ofsted this year, and interestingly a huge focus is on proving that we are not coasting. To me, the important parts of this proof include that staffing has changed, the lead teachers offer great support to others, good practice is regularly shared and that there are heaps of enrichment activities such as health week, music week, dance week. Children get to learn some French in year 2, there are loads of extra-curricular clubs and the children are happy and motivated to learn. They are polite, they show respect to each other and to members of staff. There are areas that could be improved, but any school that is worth its salt should be looking at how they can be doing things even better and I hope that we will be able to address them in future.
So, that’s the good stuff. But interestingly, although our SEF (which I am working my way through at the moment to summarise the key points for the governors who have offered to meet the inspectors when they come) covers these in detail, the thing that comes up again and again is monitoring, assessing and SATs results. Part of this monitoring includes proving that the intake is not as good as one would expect in a leafy suberb such as ours. That’s to say, showing that the kids aren’t all that clever and many of them can’t hold a pencil when they arrive, so actually their results are even better!! Whilst I am sure this is the case, I find it really frustrating that the head has to spend her time proving this, when any inspector should be able to come into the school and see that the expectations for learning and behaviour are high, that the children want to achieve, that they love to come to school and that it is most definitely not coasting.
But now I’m becoming negative, so it is a good time to stop!