Ofsted rated my daughter’s school inadequate - So what’s the big deal?

I recently wrote about a worrying situation for my children, their school and our local community. My daughter is 6 and going into year 2 of a fabulous school, my son is due to join the nursery in September. Yep, I said a “fabulous school”, even though it was just rated “Inadequate” by Ofsted, put into special measures & forced with an academy order. So what’s going on?

My partner and I chose Waltham Holy Cross School (WHX) out of several schools in Waltham Abbey (Essex) because the ethos, principles and values resonated so much with ours. In fact we weren’t planning on sending them to WHX, but we were so impressed when we visited that it became the obvious first choice.

The school has gone through vast changes in recent years — the transformation was started by the former Head Teacher and is now being driven by a wonderful Head and Senior Team. Having been a teacher I know the importance of a great Head and Senior Team within any school.

Even on our first visit to the school, it was clear that the focus for the school was (and still is) nurturing curiosity, creativity & confidence; ensuring wellbeing, enjoyment & happiness; bringing the best out of all children by offering a rounded, holistic learning experience for every child.

Exactly the education that we wanted for our children.

The stark contrast to this is something we all too often see — an over obsession with league tables and results.

One of the best things that the school has done is make the children proud of each other and their school — #BestSchoolInTheUniverse

I remember being excited about the future of the school and feeling safe in the knowledge that my children’s education would be focused on curiosity, confidence building, nurturing individual talents and embracing creativity.

We (along with hundreds of other parents) have seen the evidence of these values & principles every day. We see the happiness, joy and progress in our children every day. And we see the excitement, enthusiasm & eagerness to learn every morning.

Yet against this backdrop, we found out in March that the school had been rated as Inadequate at an Ofsted Inspection in December.

But surely the experts know best..?

Ok, so what, you might think?

Ofsted are the experts, surely they know what they’re doing?

If it means it gets better, surely that’s a good thing?

Well, there’s far more to it than first meets the eye. There’s a good chance that everything we love and cherish about the school today will be forced to change. This is not intended to be scaremongery or a rant — I’ve written this because I honestly think that very few people realise what the real implications are and what could happen to WHX.

The school is being forced into becoming an academy, which means:

  • The Local Authority will no longer be in charge of the budget
  • The Trust will take a top-slice off the budget to pay themselves (often huge amounts of £££)
  • The budget will be cut. People are the highest cost. Support staff, SEND specialist and teachers will go
  • Many systems, process, operational elements will be centralised, given the school less autonomy
  • The Governors will change
  • The Senior Team (including the Head) are likely to be replaced
  • The Ethos, Values & Principles are likely to change
  • The length of the school day is likely to be extended
  • Aftercare, breakfast clubs & extra-curricula clubs could all be taken away
  • Non-qualified teachers could be teaching our children
  • Teacher pay & conditions could change, resulting in our children’s teachers leaving
  • Our children’s happiness, love of learning & pride in their school is likely to diminish
  • The school will be run by a business with a CEO, not a Local Authority
  • The budget will be shared across all Trust school, so there’s no way of guaranteeing that it’s used for our children
  • Results will become priority #1

Some of these will happen; some might happen. But, unfortunately we, as parents, staff or children don’t know which will and which won’t?

It’s really important to know that once the school is an academy, it can never return to the way it was

We may be told that this or that won’t happen, but we have no way of knowing what will actually change. The chosen trust will have complete control and there’s no way that any of us can stop them doing anything above. Even if they promise not to now; there’s every chance of them changing their mind (for example when the budget needs to be fixed to ensure their salaries can be maintained).

But all that only happens if we let them take over.

We all care about our children’s future. The only way we can guarantee that some of the items above do not happen is if we take action.

As I wrote about previously, we have a number of fights on our hands — against Ofsted, the chosen Trust &The Government. But the one we need to focus on right now is our fight with Ofsted.

If we can convince Ofsted to carry out a second inspection (and the result is positive), it will mean the school is not put into Special Measures and will not be forced into becoming an academy. Everything above (and lots more besides) will be swept aside & the school can be left to continue to improve (with the necessary support).

12 thoughts on “Ofsted rated my daughter’s school inadequate - So what’s the big deal?”

  1. Totally agree that we simply can’t let this go without a fight! I’m a grandmother of a child that is flourishing at Holy cross. We as a family definitely don’t want anything to change! Great school and brilliant staff! Please Ofsted another inspection pleas!

  2. So true, fully sympathise. My childrens school has an enforcement order to become an academy. Parents are fighting this. Chosen sponsor is reach2. Any advice guidance welcome. Our school is springfield primary school birmingham.

  3. Of all these things, , a change to the values and ethos of the school is potentially the most significant.. What happened in our case was that the RSC imposed a MAT upon us with absolutely no parental or governor input. Get looking for a good fit for your school now and make your preferences clear. You may be successful with your Ofsted challenge but most are not. Good luck.

  4. I totally agree with all your analysis. As a grandparent of a child in Year 6 and a retired teacher I can appreciate all of your concerns. I would like to add some positive suggestions. 1. Your list of consequences of Academisation could also include specifically that parents will have no further say or representation on a Governing Body. 2. Parents have already been told that the school day WILL be extended rather than likely to be extended (by 1 hour) . 3. Yes results will become a priority. This may sound good to some parents. However there is no evidence nationally that Academies perform better that LEA schools. I think a letter such as yours should be distributed to all parents prior to or alongside a petition.

    1. This really hits home the impact of becoming an academy has on our school.

      What worrie me more is the number of parents who don’t really understand the implications the academy order will have on the school, and our children.

      If and once the academy take over it will be too late. To raise concerns and complain.

      We really need a way to get this message across to all parents and get them on board with the injustice of the ofsted judgement.

      And demand a re inspection.

  5. Great values being held by the school and appreciated by parents who want their children to be in a happy learning environment not an exam factory. I applaud their efforts to challenge Ofsted and fight for the education that is best for their children.
    Academisation is not based on sound principles of education/learning but is a politically driven backdown way of privatising state schools. The fat cats at the top take the money and the children, young people, families and local community suffer.
    I salute your resilience.
    I am a retired Headteacher.

  6. As an ex headteacher and regular visitor to the school I can only offer praise for all staff and parents have done to create this positive forward looking and caring community still able to raise achievement and cultivate a thirst for knowledge.

  7. Hello. I have just eead the ofsted report and it seems that they are talking about a different school to the one you are. Something appears to be fishy. What are your thoughts on the comments in the report? Kind regards

    1. Hi Nicky,
      Thanks for reading and for your comment. Great observation – it does look like two completely different schools so one of us has to be wrong (or maybe it’s both of us to a lesser degree). This is the reason that over 300 parents gathered to show their support for the school, to tell their stories about how great the school is for their children and voice their concerns about the changes.
      I was planning to write next about the Ofsted report specifically, so thanks for the push to do that – I’ll let you know it’s done. Regards

  8. Some interesting thoughts here although some ignorance in terms of the benefits acadamisation can bring and the value of collective drive across groups of schools

    1. Hi Chris,
      Thanks for reading and for your comment – you are right that I have missed some of the potential benefits of academisation, however it is not through ignorance. This post is intended to redress the balance, as the majority of parents in our school have only heard the ‘benefits’ from the incoming CEO, Interim Exec Board & LA and have not heard the flip side.

  9. This is so sad, my family have gone to this school for generations (5 at least) and everyone has flourished. My son left this summer and he did brilliantly and it due their hard work and dedication that he did so well.

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