Monday 6th February 2017
Dear Parents and carers,
Welcome to our February newsletter which is mainly concerned with the questions and answers from our OFSTED parents’ meeting last week. But first, let me start by apologizing to Mrs. Shepherd!
In our January newsletter we should have told you that Mrs. Shepherd left the school at Christmas. Mrs. Shepherd worked with us for over 6 years from September 2010 and was a very well-loved and well thought of member of staff. Over her time at the school Mrs. Shepherd worked in most of our classrooms and was an asset to all of them. She’s been our resident Mary Berry (junior!) and we and the children miss her baking skills – but not as much as we miss her! We all wish her well for the future and success in all she does.
We have also said goodbye to Miss Lomas this term, who decided to leave us in January. Miss Lomas started working at the school in February 2014. She began in our Nursery class and moved on to work with various children in Key Stages 1 and 2. Over the last few months she has been suffering with ill health and we wish her a full recovery and good luck in her future career.
Lucas had his operation last Friday and is doing really well. He is able to move his left leg and he starts his physiotherapy today. I know you will join me in sending all our love and prayers to him and his family. We can’t wait to have him back with us!
Our OFSTED report
I would like to personally thank all of the parents, grandparents, friends and members of the school community who have shown their support for the school in so many different ways since the publication of our OFSTED report. It was heart-warming to see so many of you at the meeting for parents last week and good to have the discussion with you about the future of the school. As promised, please find below an outline of the questions raised and answers given. We have also tried to answer your questions about the process of becoming an academy, but if you have further questions please ask us.
Questions and answers from the Parents’ Meeting on Wednesday 1st February 2017
Parents/Carers Meeting with Governors – Wednesday 1.10.17
Information/Question and Answer Session
It was heart-warming to see so many parents/grandparents/carers come along to discuss the recent OFSTED report – following the inspection in December.
Lee Baker, governor, and standing in for Mark Gadd, chair – who couldn’t attend due to family circumstances, read out his views and then asked for questions/comments.
There were questions, which I will set out below with replies, but throughout the evening there were lots of appreciative comments about the school and the general view about the Ofsted report was that it did not reflect “our” school.
Q1. From reading the report it seemed there was a large knowledge gap between the most able and the least able. Was this a fair comment?
A1. This had already been identified and formed part of the School Improvement Plan. Training will be organised for staff to deliver the new resources we have to push pupils on. It is hoped parents will come in to look at their children’s work not just at parents’ evening but also after special lunches held several times a year.
Q2. Do you think being an academy will be good for the school and what will being part of a Multi Academy Trust give the school?
A2. This will give us access to skills and experienced staff. Sharing resources and expertise.
We believe that the children, parents, carers & staff won’t notice the change.
Q3. Did you consider challenging the inspector’s decision?
A3. A factual accuracy check was done but the answer came back with “no changes to the report”. Schools can appeal but out of the many100s of school appeals over 4/5 years only 3 appeals have been successful.
If the school were to go with the Derby Diocesan MAT they don’t just have failing schools; they have outstanding schools and a waiting list of 60 who want to join.
Q4. When will the school be inspected again? We will be guided by the Multi Academy Trust throughout the inspection process next time.
A4. The school would be inspected within 3 years or before if we are ready.
Q5. Were the results for phonics and SATs fairly reported?
A5. Yes, maths and phonics results were not good enough. The School Improvement Plan will show the targets.
Q6. Would volunteers to help in school be useful?
A6. Yes please!
Q7. In the Early Years – do mixed age classes deter learning?
A7. We can’t have more than 30 in a Key Stage Oneclass. Mixed age classes are split into groups and taught according to age and ability. Pupils are individuals and are taught as such with teaching staff giving them encouragement and challenge. Advice will be taken on board to take on proven models of teaching and learning.
A parent expressed the view that mixed age classes were good in that the older ones gained confidence in helping the younger ones and the younger ones were challenged to step up a level. The children are planned for in all lessons and their abilities catered for at all levels.
Q8. Can the school take on more TAs?
A8. Not at the moment – school has SENTAs and they can satellite a few other children to teach them in a small group. The school has to go through a Due Dlligence process when a MAT takes us on board and they look at staffing levels, buildings etc. and advise accordingly
Q9. What are the negatives?
A9. The only negative we can see is that whichever MAT we go with they take a percentage of the budget from 5 – 10% for their services.
Q10. What will being an academy bring to the school?
A10. They will work with us to offer support to improve the school. This will be school to school support from other ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ schools in the Trust, training and leadership support.
Q11. When will the decision be made?
A11. Governors are meeting tonight with representatives from the Local Authority who will advise us. Investigations will take place and when the decision is made the parents will be informed as soon as we know. (See also detailed answer below).
Q12. Can parents comment on the report?
A12. This will be looked into and parents will be informed. (See also detailed answer below).
It is unfortunate that when parents’ view were sought be the OFSTED inspector, parents will more than one child at school could only comment on one of them, very frustrating.
A lot of parents felt the report was unfair as their children were happy and cared for here at school. One of the governors said it is proven that children cannot learn if they are not emotionally and spiritually ready. Safeguarding – OFSTED looked at this aspect of the school and said it was effective
Q13. What happens about the press?
A13. An interview and press statement will be given by Mrs Brown upon request either by the radio or press. A parent said that when it is on the Buxton Advertiser website then parents can comment on the report there.
Q14, Has the OFSTED criteria gone tougher? What has changed since the OFSTED inspection in 2011
A14. Yes –. They have gone tougher. Unfortunately the LA were more positive abut the school than the inspector. SATs results were not good for most schools. On the day the results were announced Mrs Brown was at a Peak Edge Group of Schools meeting, and some heads were in tears. OFSTEDs framework has changed completely since 2011, the time of our last inspection.
Q15. Will the Local Authority still fund SEN children?
A15. Yes and Nursery children.
Q16. Will admissions change for this September 2017 intake?
A16. No the Reception starters who have applied are already on the admissions website for us to see.
Q17. It appears that SEN children are counted in SATs or phonics results, but they are not able to take part – so this brings the results down?
A17. Unfortunately yes, this is so unfair and there is nothing any school can do about it. We know that SEN pupils progress very well at our school but this progress cannot be shown in any official results, especially when the children aren’t able to access the tests. We know we do need to change but certainly not to the detriment of children with SEND.
Q18. Will Y6s get extra support to help them progress?
A18. Yes there will be booster classes due to start soon to help them be their best. We do this every year and have extra groups running throughout the school to support children.
Some comments from parents:
- Thank you for addressing the situation.
- OFSTED/Government had a hidden agenda.
- Children look out for each other.
- Things can only get better – last year was really hard with the introduction of the new curriculum.
- Our child has become outstanding
- The report is unfair
- My children are very happy, the teachers are amazing. I am very annoyed about the report. My children are enthusiastic.
- This should be looked on as a positive thing for the school.
- Staff always to a good job – staff always available.
Further answer to Question 11:
As the school has been deemed to require special measures in order to improve the quality of education, St George’s has now received its academy order from the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC), under the authority of the Secretary of State for Education.
Under Section 5A of the Academies Act 2010 and amendments made in the Education and Adoption Act 2016, she is currently in discussion about academy sponsorship arrangements for St. George’s. As a Church of England voluntary aided school, this will include the diocese and other relevant people.
The governing body and the local authority are under a duty to take all reasonable steps to facilitate the conversion of the school into an academy, and that process has already begun. Once the RSC, advised by a regional board of headteachers, has agreed the sponsor, the sponsor will lead the conversion process. During this period, there will be opportunities for parents, staff and governors to ask any questions you may have. The date for conversion will be set by the Regional Schools Commissioner.
We have been allocated a project leader from the Department for Education (DfE), who will provide advice about the steps we will need to take. We will ensure that we keep you informed as and when we get any significant information.
Further answer to Question 12:
Mrs. Lambert and a group of other parents have written a letter of support for the school which they intend to send to the local press. If you would like to add a comment or add your name to this, please see Mrs. Lambert in the playground before and after school this week.
With thanks for your continued support,