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Riverside and Ofsted

From Jenny B

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Instead of parents being up in arms about the slur on the character of their school, they should maybe consider what the school fails on. My children went to Riverside and I saw it deteriorate in front of my eyes over the last 3 years.

The laissez-faire parenting attitudes of the majority have allowed the children to expect to spend their school days in the same free range attitude as at home. Children were consistently late, affecting structures and timetables of lessons. They are untidy, the rebellion against conformity of a uniform is very noticeable in Hebden Bridge. The basic lack of manners and respect towards teachers and other staff was another issue. Children that are not given guidelines at home don't conform to the education system.

In my view the emphasis on arts was detrimental to the other subjects; the parents seemed to seek a montessori type education without the cost. So, no I am not surprised Riverside is failing, and instead of protesting and deriding Ofsted I would be more inclined to be relieved that my children were being educated to a higher standard than they were. My two are at secondary school now and yes that is another problem. But, Ofsted are not the bogeymen here, look unto yourselves; your governors and your children.

From Andrew B

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

I'm glad you posted this Jenny because it got over all the points I wanted to raise and did so much better than I could have done; my post would probably have caused offence to be honest.

Hebden Bridge in general is, in my opinion, too focused on the arts to notice a lot of more important things. Do schools feel the need to excel in Arts and allow everything else (which is far more useful) to be untaught?

When out and about in Hebden, in shops/cafes or just wandering, it is clear that parents in many cases have a very laid back approach. Steiner education is popular here, do some research on this and I'm sure many will agree that this too seems to be allowing the kids to do as they please!

Parents need to accept their blame in all of this, particularly with reading- there is absolutely no reason for a child to be unable to read; this can be and should be taught at home anyway.

From Tom W

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

I think that first response is a bit kneejerk and sensational to say the least.

The school may have suffered slightly from not having a head for a while but only a tiny minority would have the opinion that it was failing. There does now seem to be a head in place who is providing the leadership to improve the school, it is unfortunate that Ofsted could not take this into account.

How can a school in which the majority of students progress above the national average be 'failing'? How can the teaching be classed as inadequate when all through the school are examples of a diverse curriculum delivered through a range of means.

And in response to the cliched rant by Jenny B about over liberal parenting creating poor behaviour, the report says that the children's behaviour, especially in class, was good.

The school is not perfect and improvements would be welcome, but to class it as failing is ridiculous. I have a child who goes there and I am happy with her education and have no qualms about my next child going there.

I think people should read the report through the cloudy vision of the new governments Ofsted criteria which seems to be much harsher than before. A Tory government hoping more schools will become independent academies in a reduction of state control can be encouraged through tough LEA inspections. Expect to see lots more schools given a harder time.

From Paul D

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Uniforms and conformity always remind me of Nazi Germany, I think children should avoid both to be honest.

From Jenny B

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

It is only natural to defend your child's school, after all who would want this situation. But I don't actually feel that my arguments are cliched at all. One could say the responses to my view is. Never the less they are based on my opinion and on my experiences as a parent; and more latterly as a friend to staff working within Riverside.

That we all do have to conform to some extent, and yes wear a uniform of sort whatever our role in life, is something we usually do learn at school along with manners and respect for other people's views and opinions. This is not institutionalised oppression, or even a form of nazi-ism. It is one of life's lessons. Maybe refusing to take that view on board, in itself can create problems?

OFSTED may well be being 'over zealous,' but I would prefer this to the situation, whereby Riverside was doing little more than at best; was stagnate and at worse failing our children.

That those children who needed extra help were being let down is unforgivable.
I do however respect your opinions too.

From R Yorke

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Our daughter has been at Riverside since September and she is learning and progressing well. She is settled, happy and enjoys going to school. The transition from her infant school was handled brilliantly and as parents we feel there is a strong sense of community within the school. There are also plenty of extra-curricular activities for our daughter to become involved in.

I attended a meeting about the Ofsted report with many other Riverside parents earlier this week. Of course there were questions, but there were also answers and reassurances and overall, the feeling in the hall was one of support for the school and its headteacher.

Personally, I didn't recognise the Riverside described in the report, but if it has highlighted areas that genuinely need attention, then that can only be a good thing. In addition to support from the LA, what Riverside needs now is for prospective parents to see beyond the report. I would urge those families in the Riverside catchment area to visit the school, meet the headteacher and come to their own conclusions.

From Paul Clarke

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

So it's the offcomers fault with their big city attitudes and liberal ways . . . yawn.

From Graham Barker

Thursday, 1 March 2012

I find it impossible to take Jenny B's or Andrew's views seriously. I currently have a third child at Riverside and have known it for ten years. It's an excellent school and the Ofsted report is a travesty. Teaching is good, children are happy and I've never been aware of an over-emphasis on the arts - rather the opposite, if anything. Discipline, behaviour and appearance are fine, given that this is a junior school and not a military academy. A minority of parents - certainly not the majority - may not quite make the grade but that's a cross all schools have to bear. Jenny and Andrew seem to be using the Ofsted report as an excuse to get things off their chests that have nothing to do with Riverside.

From Jon Morris

Thursday, 1 March 2012

What struck me about the Ofsted report was how it stated that there were problems with the low standard of pupils coming into the school, yet Stubbings and Central Street are both apparently good schools.

Something doesn't add up there, unless the majority of children have come into Riverside from elsewhere (which I don't think is the case).


From Megan H

Thursday, 1 March 2012

My son is in the final year at Riverside, after moving there from another local village school with a good report from Ofsted about a year ago. There are small elements in the Ofsted report that do ring true, but I have every confidence these will be addressed now that the new head is in place.

There are also other elements I can't comment on. I have had a couple of issues that I have had to talk to teachers about, but they have always been resolved quickly and easily. All I can say is that since my son moved to this school I have seen a massive change in him. He has always been a bright child but he has become a different child socially. He is happy, outgoing, loves singing, drama, dancing he has gained a real identitiy and a high level of confidence. Along with all this he is still hitting all the targets he needs to from an educational perspective. He is happy to go to school and interested and fulfilled in his lessons. Riverside has really brought out the best in him and I would make the descison to move him there again any day.

I think some people on these forums use it as an excuse to criticise everyone for the actions of the minorities. I was born and bred in Hebden Bridge and went to Riverside myself. I think if you spoke to the majority of parents you would realise that they have brought their children up to be well rounded individuals with a passion to suceed and social skills to match. With the minority being the opposite.

I also wonder if as a friend of the staff at Riverside, the staff members who have been commenting on the school would be happy with their views being posted on a forum. I have seen teachers and other members of staff sacked for much lesser incidents on the internet.

From Jenny B

Thursday, 1 March 2012

I have not and do not intend to quote any comments from staff members. My social interaction with staff is now as non riverside parent, that my friends have expressed any concern about the schools in a social setting is certainly not a sackable offence. Indeed my friend has read my comment and doesn't feel implicated at all.

I too was born in Hebden although I didnt go to Riverside school, my children did.

I do feel very strongly that the laissez faire parenting style does influence behaviours and found a lack of discipline and respect of boundaries was an issue for me and my children. Lateness was a major issue and clearly still is. I feel that parents have a duty to try and get their children to school on time out of respect to staff and other children who are left waiting to start lessons.

I don't target parents who have not always lived in Hebden, this style of parenting is prolific across the town. I would add that one of my children went to a different school and it was less obvious there. The children were noticably tidier and had more respect for their peers and adults than I observed at Riverside.

Riverside badly failed children with special needs. Do any of you have a child with special needs? I do, so maybe my perspective is different. That does not mean it is wrong, had a hidden agenda or that I am using the forum to criticise every parent at the school.

it may be that your response is built from worry about the report and it is natural to defend but not at the expense of this form of bullying. To be subject to such comments as inferred nazi-ism, slurs against staff and parents is unjustified. As I said in my previous post, I respect your views, please try to do the same.

From Rev Tony Buglass

Friday, 2 March 2012

I lost all respect for Ofsted several years ago when they produced a report for a school which I knew very well, as one of our children attended it and I did monthly assemblies there. Not only did the report bear no resemblance to the school as we knew it, but several parts of it were incoherent. It was very critical of certain aspects of the school, which were highly praised in a different inspection just a few months later. My impression latterly is that the whole process has a strongly political undercurrent, hence the recent changes to the system.

I do regular assemblies at the school, and have done for nearly 8 years. It has always seemed to me to be a happy and hard-working school, with no more indiscipline or untidiness than anywhere else. I cannot comment on specific issues such as special needs children, other than to say that what I have seen suggests that the school takes such matter very seriously indeed.

The sad thing about a situation such as this is that the staff are made to look bad when they know they are working very hard to do all that is required of them and more. Ofsted will as usual pontificate from on high, and will brook no challenge. Well, I for one will remain suspicious, and will continue to be involved with the school and give them whatever support I can to meet their critics and prove them wrong. Riverside is a good school, and does not deserve to be pilloried in this manner.

From Megan H

Friday, 2 March 2012

Jenny I respect your views about lateness etc and we seem to have very similar view about how children should be brought up. I am not being defensive out of worry, I am just sharing my experience. If I thought my child was suffering academically or socially I would be the first to move him out of the school.

As I said in my previous comment there are things I cant comment on i.e the special needs issues and I fully sympathise with any parent whose child is not getting the support they deserve in school.

But some of your comments really do come across as aimed at Hebden Bridge as a whole

"this style of parenting is prolific across the town"

"The children were noticably tidier and had more respect for their peers and adults than I observed at Riverside"

Unfortunatley I Cant respect comments like this because they are just unhelpful. Imagine if some of the children were to read things like this, it would not fill them with confidence for the future. If you are going to make these kind of comments on a public forum then it will only get peoples backs up, unless you make it clear that they are not aimed at everyone.


From Abi L

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

As others have already pointed out, the inspectors said the children were well-behaved! - not disrespectful or untidy! I seem to detect a whiff of schadenfreude.

In case anyone has failed to notice, the inspection framework has recently change radically and the goal-posts moved- schools up and down the country are complaining of the harshness of the criticisms. As Michael Rosen said in the Guardian, outstanding is the new crap. Riverside is not a failing school, it's a pretty good school with great leadership.This is just the latest government with a penchant for using education as a political football.

From Dave Robinson

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Interesting that Abi seems to think that there is an element of envy or sour grapes in any expressions that are critical of the school and/or supportive of OFSTED.

I would be very concerned if my children were still pupils of the school. Instead I am faced with the equally terrible (to me) OFSTED report on Calder High School.

I also seem to recall a mass exodus of pupils from Stubbings Infants, which is the feeder school for Riverside, when they were similarly found to be failing. Parents were quick to believe the 'evidence' of problems at that time.

Is it more a case of not wanting to face up to the fact that the school does have certain problems and a case of shooting those messengers who elect to speak out? Or quite simply, that several of you do in fact have your heads firmly embedded in the sand?

From R Deighton

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Our eldest started at Riverside in September, and has made good progress in his first term and a half. We are really happy with where he is at, and how quickly he is developing. The OFSTED report bears no relation to our experiences as parents, and we will have no hesitation in sending our youngest there in 18 months time.

We're pretty typical parents who just want our child to be happy and well taught. If he were not, we'd take him out. If the schoool was poorly run, or if the children were ill disciplined, we'd take him out. If the school were failing, we'd take him out.

We're assured that there is no point in challenging the report, otherwise we would as it bears no comparison with our experience of the school. We are committed however in supporting the head and governers going forward as losing the leadership would be the worst thing that could happen to the school, and my childrens education.

I'm sure that there are parts of the school that could be improved. I'm sure they will be- especially under the conditions that they will be working under for the next 18 months. So for prospective parents, please don't be be put off by the report. Go into the school, see whats going on for yourself, and make your own mind up.


From Abi L

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Most parents are supporting the the school because they and their children know from experience that it has many positive things going for it, and that the report is in many ways unfair. Those parents of children at Calder High and others have reasons from their experience to believe that OFSTED is right in saying that all is not well in those schools. That's the difference.

I didn't use the term envy, I used the word schadenfreude which I think means taking delight in others' misfortune. Some people with an apparent grievance seem to be taking solace in the report because it 'proves them right'- even though the criticisms they make are not the same as those of the inspectors- eg 'untidiness' and bad behaviour.

From Jenny B

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Could someone enlighten me as to why OFSTED reports are no longer to be considered credible? Does this decision, which clearly many parents feel is wrong, mean that previous 'good' reports were incorrect too, or has something changed in the process? I don't ask this to be critical but because many posters seem quick to criticise OFSTED as being at fault here.

And why can't the school challenge the decision? Most decisions do have an appeal process. Can they have a 'second opinion' so as to speak?
What I do know, is that if I was searching for a school as a newcomer or a prospective newcomer, I wouldn't even consider a school that was in special measures and I don't think many of you would either.
However,as a parent of a child in that school, and if your child is progressing well, you would naturally be offended that people should judge your parental decision and the school by a report that you think is erroneous.

So how do we choose the best school for our children?

Those of you parents who are happy with the school, would you wish to disrupt your child's education by moving them because of a poor report? I am not sure that I would if it were to be based solely on an external report. But I would, if that school was failing my child in particular, regardless of their OFSTED report, as I believe anyone would.

If you were relying on the school's own reports of your child's progress to measure their development, would you be happy to read that their reading ability may have been 'over projected' by the school, and that in fact several children assessed by OFSTED (I assume at random) were behind with their reading skills.

Who do you choose to believe?

Not all parents want to, or are able to, self assess their child's development and rely on school and OFSTED reports to do so. That might not be the majority, but surely we need consistency and clarity so that we can be sure our children are receiving the best education possible?

If OFSTED cannot be relied on to do this properly, how can we monitor schools?

From Dave Robinson

Thursday, 8 March 2012

I did feel inclined to raise the same questions as yourself Jenny.
It is all well saying an article in the Guardian slates OFSTED, but as parents, who do we look to for the guidance to ensure our children are being given a good standard of education and/or that their social and pastoral needs are also met?

it is also quite disconcerting for me to read here that as parents of Calder High pupils 'Know' there are problems so should accept their OFSTED report. Whereas you parents of Riverside 'Know' there isnt really a problem and the silly people from OFSTED got it wrong there.

From Rev Tony Buglass

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Jenny: "Could someone enlighten me as to why OFSTED reports are no longer to be considered credible?"

Two comments. First, I have heard from many quarters that the goalposts have shifted, that OFSTED has changed how it does inspections, and that appears to be to make it harder for schools to pass. A friend is a teacher with a class which is 95% non-European, for whom English is a second or third language: no allowance was made for that in assessing the pupils' performances. If that is the case, I am not inclined to trust such a reporting method.

Secondly, I referred in my earlier post to an incoherent OFSTED report. The school in question was a CofE school with a good reputation. I did monthly assemblies there, as did the local vicar. The children came into assembly with classical music playing, and came along corridors decorated with their own work, but also many different kinds of art. They had (as you'd expect) a highly-developed RE syllabus, and a strong sense of being part of a faith community. The head teacher took me into her study and showed me the sentence in the OFSTED inspection report "There is a distinct lack of spirituality in the school." A bit damning for a church school, you'd agree, if it were true. I considered the various definitions of spirituality I've heard used, thought in terms of music, space, community, worship, ticked all the boxes, and asked "So how did the inspector define 'spirituality'?" She said she'd asked the same question, and he'd simply replied "Oh, you can't define it, but you know when it's absent." Sorry, folks, that is both incoherent and ignorant. If you can define its absence, you've defined what is absent. I'm afraid that since that experience, I have felt that OFSTED has to earn my respect and credence. So far, it hasn't.

From R Deighton

Thursday, 8 March 2012

I'm not sure I'm cut out for these forums. However in the interests of being constructive... @Jenny

Q. Could someone enlighten me as to why OFSTED reports are no longer to be considered credible? A. I'm not sure about the others, this is the first I've seen. This one contained factual inaccuracies and was grammatically poor (ironic really when you consider what it is). That and the fact that it bore no relationship to my experience of the school lead me to consider that it is not credible.
Had they said "satisfactory" with room for improvement in areas a,b & c I'd have had no issues with it.

Q. Does this decision, which clearly many parents feel is wrong, mean that previous 'good' reports were incorrect too, or has something changed in the process? A. I think this is a good point. Inspection criteria changed in January 2012. It is our understanding that Riverside would have passed the previous criteria meaning that it dropped a disappointing but comprehendible 1 grade. So yes the process has changed.

Q. And why can't the school challenge the decision? Most decisions do have an appeal process? A. Again I agree. It seems amazing that there is not a transparent and genuine appeal process. But that appears to be the case with OFSTED (do a quick Google on it- its true)

Q What I do know, is that if I was searching for a school as a newcomer or a prospective newcomer, I wouldn't even consider a school that was in special measures and I don't think many of you would either. A. I know, and that is why the process is so unfair and why I'm moved to respond to your post. The School is fundamentally ok. It's definitely not outstanding, but its definitely not failing either. Its got issues, which the head and governors will address. My children are happy and making good progress.

Support the school. Keep the Head. Improve standards. Keep numbers up. Keep the revenue. That's it really. The alternative strategy, slag it off, lose numbers, lose leadership, lose revenue, would leave us with a school that was genuinely failing, as opposed to one that is largely ok, with some issues around special needs provision. What we all need to do as a town- I believe, is get behind one of our greatest assets and help it get back on track, for the good of the community as a whole.

From Ian M

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Could the main reason for differing reports be because schools are now only given a few days notice of an impending inspection instead of the several weeks they received in the past. Perhaps the poorer performing schools don't have enough time to paper over the cracks anymore and are being found out!

From Jenny B

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Thanks for the informative responses.I really do wish for a positive outcome for both schools. I find it very sad that our children are being failed be it by OFSTED or by their particular schools, and believe that we parents have a huge role to play in making sure that all children, not just our own get the education they deserve.

From Sam N

Friday, 9 March 2012

Jenny I think made some valid points and for others to belittle them based on personal experience seems a tad unfair. Unfortunately an Ofsted report isn't just about individual experiences of parents and children but of the school and practices as a whole, and it is therein that the problems lie.

I am so glad that so many of you seem to have had positive experiences within the school, it is truly wonderful.

However not the same can be said for everyone. It seems those who need that extra help and those with special needs are being failed and this is partly where the problems lie, the "pockets of good teaching" seem to apply to some children but sadly not all. The Ofsted rules have changed very slightly and are definitely more focused on finding ways to improve schools that need it (not a bad thing).

That R Deigton would have been happy with a "Satisfactory with room for improvement" is slightly odd. Don't we want the best for our kids? Ofsted is an imperfect system sure, but would anyone be raising concerns if it had received an outstanding report, when no-one in the forums suggests it is?

I understand the school is in transition in terms of leadership and the report emphasises this fact frequently. The new Head sounds like an amazing teacher which can only be a great thing for the school, but the school lacked focus for a number of years and it is here that part of the problems arose. Parents and teachers alike need to bear the responsibility for a bad report but the good news is that extra funding will become available and every step will be taken to ensure that the school significantly improves the areas it needs to improve.

Don't be knee-jerk about the report, it is actually positive and with the support of parents/carers and the local community it will thrive again.

From Dave Robinson

Friday, 9 March 2012

I am left un-placated by the explanations of Messrs Deighton and Buglass, why there has been a lowered status for Riverside.
Sam raises some extremely valid points, which will no doubt soon be picked over and then regurgitated Guardian style by the pro 'Bad-Ofsted' team.

That our small valley has such problems within its schools is surely an issue for all of us to be concerned about.

Rather than bask in the attitude of I'm alright Jack - my children are doing well, so its ya boo sucks to the Jenny's amongst us, we need to consider that the pupils of Riverside are tomorrows' Calder High pupils.

Maybe the attitudes that are allowed to prevail at Riverside such as this, together with that lateness of pupils (as recorded by the inspectors), which is of no concern to many of you, could contribute to a lack of respect for timetabling and policies of a school.

If this is instilled at 7years old, by parents, is there not a fear that these same children could grow into Calder's minority of disrespectful and rude pupils of tomorrow?

Calder has after all 'only' been given notice for improvement.
I want my children to be at schools which excel. Very good is not even good enough, so remind me why are you all so content to have your school in special measures again?

From H Draper

Friday, 9 March 2012

In response to Ian's comment "Could the main reason for differing reports be because schools are now only given a few days notice"
Riverside's previous OFSTED was a short notice one so this is not the issue.

I think that whilst progress will have been affected by a lack of leadrship, another part of the problem is that OFSTED expect to see a particular type of lesson. Namely one that shows every single pupil making significant progress every half hour. One which expects every child to know what level they are on and what they need to do to improve in every subject that they are taught. It is obvious to any teacher of human beings rather than data that these kind of lessons are not sustainable on a day to day basis. What happens instead is that headteachers train their staff on what they need to do to play the OFSTED game.

However, after a period without strong leadership the current head's priorities were probably different and, judging from the above comments from parents, she has been addressing issues surrounding behaviour and pupil well-being instead. I think that in this respect she did the right thing and with strong leadership and support from the community, she and her staff can now address the important issues raised in this report whilst also learning to play the OFSTED game.

From Julie C

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Great to see the pictures of Riverside's nurture room - that is the community supporting, encouraging and getting involved with the school.

From Alex A

Sunday, 13 May 2012

It's soooo fashionable to deride Ofsted. No doubt they do get it wrong sometimes, but have they this time? As an ex parent, I was going to jump on the 'let's have a pop at Ofsted' bandwagon but a quick look at the DfE performance tables tells you that everything is not hunky-dory at the school, and as far as I know, these statistics came out after the inspection report was published. Pupils seem to make far less progress in both Maths and English than they do on average, nationally. So, if they are worse than average, they are inadequate aren't they? So...umm, Ofsted seem to have got it right.

R Deighton - there is an appeals process. A simple google search found this.

Time to stop burying heads in sand and get on with the improvements maybe?

From Graham Barker

Monday, 14 May 2012

Alex A - I've looked at the performance stats and they're undated apart from '2011' (to academic year end in July?) and don't appear to make any national comparisons except on absences and school expenditure. Which tables exactly are you using to make your point?

And regarding your other link, a complaints procedure isn't the same as an appeals procedure.

See also

HebWeb News: Riverside School put into 'special measures' following Ofsted Inspection