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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2019 10:50 pm 
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Phoenix-Mum wrote:
jearund wrote:
However I would question whether this is partly due to parents being unrealistic on their CAF choices and not listing their local comp?


One of the mums in question works in the same department as me, her daughter and her neighbours daughter are 2 of the girls being shipped to Newent.
I know she put her 5 closest schools in preference order and didn't get any of them!


That's terrible! In that case the system has seriously fallen down!


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:07 am 
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Not if she came lower down the published Admissions criteria of all the schools listed, than people who were given the place. If she listed a very popular comprehensive as her "back up fail safe option", that is over subscribed and she was lower down the over subscription criteria then when the school is full, it's full (and the published information would show it if was a popular over subscribed school) - that is not a guaranteed back up (which we always say you should have!)


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:24 am 
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jearund wrote:
I'm getting the picture. If your local comp is in special measures then it's hardly surprising people don't want to send their kids there. Good to hear it's being turned around, but this raises the much bigger issue which is the elephant in the room: how much of the fierce competition for GS places is because there are no acceptable alternatives without moving house? Surely that should be the government's priority - to drive up standards in all schools so that everyone gets a good education, no matter what their level? I'm not qualified to judge what the issues are with some Gloucestershire schools but I imagine some of the teachers/ heads on here will be able to tell us what's needed.


The government haven't prioritised education for a very long time. Current policy is based on outdated notions of what a "good education" consists of (i.e. a very narrow, academic curriculum never mind the fact that millions of children will always be "failures" under this) alongside the marketisation of schools which started with the introduction of league tables decades ago and continues with the Free School programme (although there are some absolutely miraculous Free Schools such as Bedford Free School and Michaela Community School in London)

What the government needs to do is:

1. Cut down on "one size fits all" accountability measures - i.e. grammar schools being in the same league tables as comps when they have incomparable intakes - although Amanda Spielman who is the current head of Ofsted is doing a grand job of sorting out the inspection framework which is now actually based on the things that really matter in a good school for the first time. Accountability drives many school leaders into a frenzy of data gathering, judgemental quality assurance, "Mocksteds" and ridiculous expectations of staff in terms of hours worked (average teacher works 60+ hours a week + weekends and "holidays")
2. Stop blaming schools for every social problem and expecting us to fix them
3. Raise the profile and status of teaching as a profession to make it attractive to graduates and help retain experienced staff

School leaders need to:
1. Consider workload issues for teachers to make their school an attractive place to work
2. Centralise behaviour management to enable teachers to teach
3. Focus on the curriculum and give teachers time and space to plan and review what they teach and how it is taught
4. Provide meaningful opportunities for students outside the classroom in terms of enrichment, leadership and trips and visits
5. Have high profile, visible leaders who teach and "walk the talk"

There are questions that can be formulated from these points which would be well worth asking when you are touring schools / on open days. Good schools will have lots to say on each one and you can guarantee that the staff will be happy and loyal. Not a single member of staff left the school I lead last year other than one retiree who had been at the school for 35 years! Our longest serving member of staff has been there for 40 years and we have no problem recruiting bright young NQTs when we need to as we have made our school somewhere fabulous to work. We have a fab mix of age and experience. Great teachers are a school's biggest and most valuable asset.

Problem in Gloucs is that much leadership is "old school" where too much time is spent worrying about how things look to others or schools (not naming as I lead a county school) being passed from the LA to one MAT to another with no consistency of leadership or vision. There is one MAT operating in the county now which has it spot on as far as I am concerned (I DON'T work for them!) and are already turning around some schools which have been appallingly led for many years. Things are on the turn...

Oh, and just because a school is in special measures, it doesn't make it a bad school. Requires Improvement means just that. There are several schools in the county that fully deserve the stigma of "special measures" as they are not good and have, for years, simply coasted along on a historical reputation. However, there are at least 3 that I can think of which are lovely schools who get great results and have fantastic leaders. Data and Ofsted do not tell the whole story!

Rant over!


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:32 am 
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Yes, this.....this, this, this.....!!!


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 9:28 am 
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Thanks Mumto3girls. What you say makes a lot of sense. But you understand all of this because you are in the industry (for want of a better expression). Ofsted reports carry a lot of weight for parents because we can't make those kind of judgments ourselves and trust Ofsted to do it for us. When we were choosing a primary (a long time ago now!) the Ofsted reports acted as a triage for us to shortlist the options; the final decision was based on visiting the ones we thought looked ok.
There was a question recently on this forum from a parent who was reconsidering their first choice grammar school based on Crypt coming top this year in the Real School Guide. If that doesn't demonstrate how much importance parents attach to those outside assessments, I don't know what does.
That is the great thing about this forum though - we get to learn from each other, about schools, the test, likelihood of getting a space, etc etc. :-)
And those of it who've been through it before get to help the newbies, some of whom will no doubt be back to help future newbies!


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 10:39 am 
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jearund wrote:
Thanks Mumto3girls. What you say makes a lot of sense. But you understand all of this because you are in the industry (for want of a better expression). Ofsted reports carry a lot of weight for parents because we can't make those kind of judgments ourselves and trust Ofsted to do it for us. When we were choosing a primary (a long time ago now!) the Ofsted reports acted as a triage for us to shortlist the options; the final decision was based on visiting the ones we thought looked ok.
There was a question recently on this forum from a parent who was reconsidering their first choice grammar school based on Crypt coming top this year in the Real School Guide. If that doesn't demonstrate how much importance parents attach to those outside assessments, I don't know what does.
That is the great thing about this forum though - we get to learn from each other, about schools, the test, likelihood of getting a space, etc etc. :-)
And those of it who've been through it before get to help the newbies, some of whom will no doubt be back to help future newbies!



Which is exactly why the new Ofsted framework is great. Truly reflects what a great school should be aiming for. We've been waiting for this for years....!

I know I am in a fortunate position having insider knowledge and am extremely passionate about what I do, therefore happy to share my ranty thoughts :D

(just an aside, but the "Real School Guide" published in the Citizen is not worth the paper it's written on. It's written by journalists.....The ONLY non biased information available to parents are DfE league tables with a side order of Ofsted - which is still only the opinion of one or two inspectors - to assist + a visit to a school)

(and indeed, education is not an "industry", it's a service :) )


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 1:47 pm 
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It’s a huge decision isn’t it!

We’ve opted for Crypt as our first choice. By car it’s not too bad but the bus will take almost an hour with all the stops and wondered if it was too far.

However the bus stops literally outside our front door and drops him at the school gate, and vice versa!! So felt that although a longer journey, it’s straight forward and he can get a public bus from school to town, or I can pick him if after school club.

The local comp is walking distance from our house so I’ve put that as second choice.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 5:29 pm 
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There may be some concern about children from out of county taking places in our Grammar schools, but there are a fair number of Gloucestershire children that travel across the border to take places at Worcestershire and Herefordshire schools and I’m sure other county’s schools to the East, West and South of our shire. I wonder if the migration figures actually balance? I know many families that bus their children out to Hanley Castle (Worcs) and John Masefield (Herefordshire) as an alternative to Newent. Perhaps this is another reason why Newent to takes children from Gloucester? I see plenty of Newent children waiting for their buses at 7.45am every morning in Gloucester.


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