Ignore the Ofsted Outstanding Schools

Ignore the Ofsted Outstanding Schools

Why you should ignore an Ofsted Outstanding Rated School....   Ok - it's a bit of a cheek and a headline grabber...apologies from the start.   Don’t get me wrong I do believe we need a guide of some sort and Ofsted is just that.  What I don't want you to do is discount perfectly brilliant schools that haven't had the gold stamp of Oustanding.  More importantly than anything I'd like you to be sure you are aware of all the information before you pay over the odds for a house in the catchment for an outstanding school without considering if that school is right for your child.... There are a few things to know so have a read, pop in your memory bank and consider them before assuming all is rosy with an outstanding school.   Questions to ask before you buy a house in the catchment for an Outstanding School When was the Ofsted inspection carried out (it might be 3 years or more since it had a full inspection).  Have a look at previous reports and focus on the targets set - and then see how the school is working towards those targets. Has there been a headship change or many staff changes since the last report?  It’s worth checking out the staff turnover.  If more than a third of the teachers are leaving annually you might want to ask why.  Is the school perhaps too focused on the results making it a place teachers don’t want to stay? How are they achieving their results and does that fit with your own values and image of education?  Some...

School Visits

Visiting schools when you move is both time consuming and daunting but also really important.  You won't choose a school from information on the internet I'm afraid - much as I love the world wide web for everything possible.  You really do need to walk and talk to those who are there.  That said when someone says you need to trust your 'gut' I always worry mine will be focused on the smell of lunch and won't spot the important issues.  This is a guide - it might help you if your gut forgets to send you a message.  The first top tip has to be to visit the school on a normal day.  Open days can help you to short list but don’t necessarily give you a real accurate view of the school – on Open Days, displays are put up, everything is gleaming and all is a show.  You'll need to meet the Head (or at least someone senior).  We appreciate heads can't always spend an hour showing every parent around the school but you should at least get to meet them and say hello.  The Head of the school really does play a vital role, both in terms of the daily life of the children but also staff motivation and that's critical for a sense of a school.   There are some basic questions to get you going if you’re feeling blank – such as what are the class sizes, do they have teaching assistants.  You can also ask if they have a buddy system for pupils joining and how they help children settle in if they...

7 Things I Learnt Whilst Moving Out of London

A while ago I was introduced to a Facebook group called Mummy's Gin Fund.  As someone who runs a local Facebook group myself, I was fascinated by the growth and the usefulness of the group - and inspired by the lady in charge.  I was really proud when Helen agreed to share her story with our readers!  Helen is pretty well known for her work with her website and Facebook group and her honesty in this article is so refreshing and her advice so useful and I want you all to read it, and take it on board! There is so much good information here like worry less about your children.  Really they do bounce, although a little heartfelt additional point from me on that note is to remember children listen to everything, so do try to keep your chats with friends positive - they have no reason to be concerned about a move unless they hear you endlessly stressing about it with your playground buddies. Also embrace the changes - for you and your life. It's a great opportunity for a little reinvention but don't forget who you are.  I've said it before and I'll say it again - if you're a super fashionable, matcha latte drinking, pilates devotee don't assume you're going to morph into a welly wearing, Nescafe loving, pudding baking Mamma.  Don't ignore who you are but embrace who you want to be. I'll leave it to Helen; she says it all so much better than me and I'm excited and proud to be hosting her article on our website.  Thanks Helen for being with us.   7 Things I...

A Real Life Story of Leaving London for Tunbridge Wells

A Bit of Backstory: I moved to London from the northwest in 2000, I knew 2 people in the entire city (what was I thinking? I was 23 years old & had subscribed to the ‘streets are paved with gold’ theory). I rented a 2 bedrom flat on Grange Rd SE1 for 12 months whilst I worked for a PR company on Bermondsey Street. I had the opportunity to purchase said flat for £250,000 but as this amount could’ve acquired an entire street in Warrington, my calculation was that this simply wasn’t value for money (let’s file that under ‘stuff I should’ve done’). At that time, believe it or not the area was a bit of a ghost town at the weekends & after meeting my ‘tribe’ a few of us took the plunge & found a house to rent in Clapham Junction. Cut to 9 years later, I’ve met, fallen in love with and married my husband (a fellow northerner who unbeknownst to us both, grew up 10 miles down the road in Cheshire). We’ve bought a do-er upper in Kyrle Rd SW11, decided to get a puppy and have our first child on the way. It seemed like overnight, right under my nose the landscape had changed. The years spent hanging out in cool bars, then stumbling into less hip (ok, grotty) clubs [Crazy Larry’s, Clapham Grand, Infernos, yes, I’m looking at you] were now a distant memory as I, quite frankly, battled through the first year of motherhood like a stunned hamster on a ceaseless, tedious, nappy-strewn wheel of exhaustion & emotion. Not that it wasn’t a wonderful, amazing time, but I guess looking back, my old childfree life...

Thinking the unthinkable…moving out of London!

    It has been 15 years since my husband and I made the move from London. Since then a lot has happened, including the addition of 3 children and a few years abroad. I thought the move to the country would have me quaffing G&Ts as a result. We don’t, not every day at least, and we haven’t looked back since. The decision was made when I became pregnant with our first child. Our tiny 1 bed flat in Fulham was going to be too cramped for all the paraphernalia that comes with a new baby. So we popped our beloved flat on the rental market (my first and very emotional experience in renting, which I will leave for another blog) and headed to look for a larger more family friendly home, somewhere bikes, kayaks, surf boards and alike could be stored.   At first, we found ourselves in Teddington, clearly not ready to take the full leap out of London and into muddy boot territory.  But from here we started our search for that all important place for family adventures to begin and new friends to find. We spent our weekends visiting various cities we thought we might like and ones my husband could possibly commute from (his job remained in London). We finally decided on Salisbury which hit the mark in terms of a vibrant city, good rail links and some positive schooling options.  Now began the search for a house in the surrounding rural area. We found our ‘forever home’ in Chicksgrove and our family grew to include 2 more children, a cat, rabbits, gerbils,...
Grammar Schools demystified: Educational Holy Grail or Unrealistic Pipe Dream?

Grammar Schools demystified: Educational Holy Grail or Unrealistic Pipe Dream?

What are Grammar Schools all about? Our thanks to Mel Ingle, the founder of Ingle Education, for this enlightening article to help demystify Grammar School education. Grammar Schools demystified: Educational Holy Grail or Unrealistic Pipe Dream? Firmly entrenched in Mumsnet chitter-chatter and school gate mythology sits the mystical beast known as ‘The Grammar School’. Most of the British public have heard of them, many over the age of 45 will have distinct memories of their own 11+ experience and the extent to which it shaped their educational path. But what are Grammar Schools today and where do they fit in the complex, competitive and hierarchical structure of the UK’s Education System? Do they, as Prime Minister Teresa May, speaking in September 2016 following proposals to overturn the ban on the creation of new Grammar Schools, underpin a “belief in social mobility and making this country a true meritocracy”? Or, as denouncers will claim, are they merely another manifestation of the wealthy few using their affluence to overturn the meritocratic aim of the system and keep it as their own little secret? And in any case, politics aside – how DO you get your child into one? Grammar Schools: Then and Now The term “Grammar School” originates in Medieval Britain, where church-controlled schools, such as The Kings School in Canterbury were established to spread the teaching of Latin amongst prospective new Clergy. These schools saw frequent changes to their purpose and student bodies over the centuries that followed, but the modern concept of Grammar Schools came about as a result of the 1944 Education Act. The Act created a Tripartite...