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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 6:12 pm 
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We are looking at schools for our child next year and were interested to hear that whsg did not have a good recent Ofsted. Can anyone shed any light on why it was not good and should we be thinking twice about choosing it for our child? - she seemed to favour it when looking around it last week...


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:07 pm 
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Out of interest, I read WHSG Ofsted on the basis of your post. I can see why you may have concerns, although I do feel that Ofsted reports are only a small part of the "story" when it comes to choosing the right school for your child.

My take on it is that the GSCE results, although still excellent in relation to the national average, could be better when taking into account that only bright children are selected for the school. Grades have not improved recently - ALTHOUGH one ought to point out they are still very good, and compared to my local "trashy comp" that recieved an "outstanding" Ofsted (and I still would never ever put a child of mine in there if it were the last school on earth!) a child at WHSG is 3x more likely to achieve high pass GSCEs.

The feel and ethos of the school is just as important in my view as an Ofsted - and as a recent ex governor at a local Primary school who managed to get a very good Ofsted, despite deep seated concerns over the suitability and conduct of the head teacher, I do take these reports with a fairly large dolloping of salt.

My top priority when choosing a school would be "Will my child be happy here?" - if your gut feeling when visiting the school was good and you are happy with their published results and feel confident your child will thrive there, then its probably still a good choice.

Maybe its no bad thing to get an Ofsted that requires a school to raise their game a bit - Grammars inparticular can easily become complacent and rely on the fact that their exceptionally bright charges will keep them high in the league tables. There has obviously been a drop in teaching standards (to some extent) at the school, so this Ofsted could in fact benefit new pupils to the school as one hopes they are acting on the report and making changes to improve the areas that were causing concerns.

I wouldnt dis-count the school purely from an Ofsted - similarly, I would not choose a school because of it either. Make a couple of visits - drive up at school finishing time and witness the behaviour of the pupils outside the gates - this speaks volumes!


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 Post subject: WHSG Ofsted
PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 9:51 pm 
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Location: Chelmsford
As Chair of Governors at my local Primary school, I have to agree that Ofsted reports tend to only reflect certain aspects of the school, and Inspectors could be accused of having pre-conceived ideas in advance of their visits.

As the mother of a child who has just started in Year 7 at WHSG., the report was obviously a cause for concern, but have to agree with jessmum.

The report means that there is a focus on marking and targets that can only benefit the Girls. I would say that more importantly than that, my DD has settled in incredibly well and she is really happy. The staff have made a real effort to get the Year 7's off to a great start.

I could not have wished for anything more for my daughter - Ofsted or no Ofsted.

I hope that helps.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 1:42 pm 
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As a school governor myself, (detecting a bit of a theme here) I have to agree with previous posters. Trust your instincts and think "would my child fit here?" Ofsted reports are important but I would never use one as the basis of my decision. Don't forget, the areas in which WHSG have been criticised will now have a major focus from the management team - never a bad thing!

Good luck!


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 Post subject: Ofsted
PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 6:04 pm 
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I am in an odd position here as I am the mum of a new Yr7 at WHSG this year and also work for the Local Authority.

The school was unhappy with the intial Ofsted report and the one which was eventually published only appeared after several re-drafts. The school remained unhappy and have formally complained to Ofsted. The Local Authority have supported the school with regard to several of the grounds for their complaint. Ofsted are investigating this, but in the meantime, the report is now in the public domain, with no rider or acknowledgement included that this is in dispute with both the school and the LA.

To add some balance, there were a number of issues raised by Ofsted which the school have accepted as being fair criticism. Whilst not referring directly to these, during parent presentations/meetings at recent open days and induction days, the school have explained what steps and processes they have now put in place to address/rectify these issues. This includes additional monitoring of teaching standards and additional reporting of pupil progress to parents.

I think that it is also helpful to consider what Ofsted reports are about. They are only a snapshot in time and also (as others have stated) only look at a few certain issues. Ofsted are looking for added value - and this can be a harder measure for the grammar schools, when the children going there already start at a higher than average. The added value measure does not represent final achievement - and you will be able to see from the WHSG website that their exam results this year have been very good, with the school still amongst the best in the country when looking at league tables.

However, our main reason for selecting WHSG was not based on Ofsted reports, but rather on finding the right school for DD. Even with higher academic results at CCHS, we felt (and still do) that WHSG is the right place for DD. The non-academic aspects of the school - not considered AT ALL in the Ofsted inspection regime - were (in our view) much more appropriate for our DD that in other grammars. Added to that, the high level of pastoral care, extra-curricular activities, charitable events, school organisation, form structure, house events etc, etc, etc mean that a school is much more than its Ofsted Report!

If you are considering it, do go along and ask questions. Make an appointment with the Head Teacher and don't be afraid to ask direct and hard-hitting questions - to any school you are considering.

Hope this helps - and good luck with your decision. I know only too well how stressful it all can be!


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 7:57 pm 
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The new style OfSTED reports are almost meaningless - the inspectors see so few lessons (sometimes none at all) and are there for at most two days. It is a snapshot and often an out of focus one!


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