July 7, 2010

Rachel starts school this September(which may have been  recurring theme in this blog…but hey ho, parenting is about the mundane).

It is a tiny school, less than 150 pupils. THis school is the kind of scho0l which would give Toby Young nocturnal emissions. It has links with local businesses who helped to set up a garden in the corner of the playground. The school doesn’t have ‘links’ with the local community, it is, and always has been, an integral part of this town. As has the church it is attached to.

Rachel’s dad and I visited the school when Rachel was two, and were taken from class to class. The headteacher gave me the opportunity to talk to the pupils and teachers, and I ended up spending half the morning there.   They were interested in Rachel, who she was, was she excited about starting? Did she already go to nursery? What did she like doing?  I looked at the work the pupils did, and they showed me how they used the electronic whiteboards that had been installed. They were proud of their school, and they were nice kids and nice teachers.

Her class is a foundation/pre-school combined- with less than 10 children, and a focus on letting children be children.

When I tell people I am sending Rachel there, they are horrified.

In 2003 this school was assessed by Ofsted as failing. Requiring special measures. I didn’t actually know this for quite a long time. I read the report, and I don’t see the school my friends children love, and I don’t see the tiny  school where I hope my daughter will be until she reaches 11.

But this one report was enough to ensure that I never had to worry whether the school was over subscribed. The report was in 2003, and this one report has been enough to put off parents since. How a report written so long ago, can be enough to blind parents to a school with friendly committed staff, great kids, in a great community, I do not know. Their loss is my gain.

Several schools in Hebden Bridge have had the same problem. Ofsted reports for our local education establishments have been far from complimentary. Yet there isn’t a single school I wouldn’t send my child to. Not one.

Anyway-this post is a bit rambling, and doesn’t really have a point. I read this post this afternoon, and agreed with it. Wanting your child to have a good education, wanting your child to live in the best place- is fair enough-but an Ofsted report isn’t the way to tell whether that is what a school will provide. School communities are like any other- they are made up of people. And people aren’t perfect-but then neither am I.

Actually, I think Rachel’s nursery had a shit Ofsted report as well. She loves it there, and has thrived.



  1. We’ve found the same – our old nursery got a rubbish Ofsted report, when we’ve found it to be totally brilliant. I don’t care what they say, I care that my son is happy and well looked after.

  2. I don’t pay much attention to ofsted reports. I temp (nursery nurse) at nurseries (state and private) and at schools and am regularly shocked at how some very poor ones manage to get ‘good’ ratings while some excellent ones scrape through with ‘satisfactory’.

    Obviously there is some other agenda behind the ratings that is not related to quality control. Budgets and yearly quotas perhaps?

    I would recommend all parents to go with their gut intuition.

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