March 20, 2014 at 3:44 pm #66988
@99dylanjones 12270 wrote:
There is a very simple formula for a successful school with children reaching their personal attainment — a three way partnership between the school, pupil and parent/guardian. A breakdown of any of these elements will lead to failure.
I agree with you about the vital need for all of this but I would always argue there is much more required. Week In Week Out did an interesting program the other week about turning around a bad school in London and what we can learn from it….but you are correct…..the above are vitalMarch 29, 2014 at 4:08 pm #66989
I am extremely perturbed by a letter from John T Morris that was printed in the Evening leader on March 28th. Mr Morris describes himself as an Educational Consultant and former Ofsted Inspector and the thrust of his letter is to criticise a purportedly “biased” press release emanating from St Joseph’s School concerning their Estyn Report.
According to Mr Morris, St Joseph’s appear to have over-hyped their recent Estyn Report which evaluated the school as (overall) Good. The suggestion is made that the school adjusted their overall grading to Excellent, and he describes this act as “morally reprehensible”. This is a strong statement in any language and suggests that the school has indulged in some sort of slight of hand for presumed gain. Mr Morris justifies his criticism beyond the bias employed by talking of its’ likely effect. Mr Morris argues that in “a competitive market environment” …”there is a danger that parents and guardians who naturally seek the best secondary school for their children will flock for admission to this “excellent” school”. In turn, Mr Morris anticipates that we will “be faced with the situation, which has arisen in other areas, of schools becoming selective, or parents moving house to live within a school’s catchment area- or becoming communicant members of a church”. Mr Morris goes on to argue that if the purpose of the press release was to “glamorise” St Joseph’s, then he hoped that his letter would provide a “more balanced viewpoint”. He then went on to “look forward to the time when a secondary school within Wrexham is genuinely judged to be excellent”.
Like Mr Morris, I too take a huge interest in the Secondary schools of Wrexham. In my judgement, and in the judgement of those parents that send their children to St Joseph’s, the school is excellent. From my knowledge of those who run this fine institution, I can guarantee that there was no attempt to deceive anyone with hyped press releases. Indeed, having delved into this matter, it would appear that the article that he has read has been creatively based upon the Press release but that is all. Of course, this was something that Mr Morris, a Consultant, could have found out if he had opted to consult with the school itself.
That said, I do find that Mr Morris’ further comments illuminating. He did, for example, anticipate a very negative consequence of the possibility that Estyn might find this school Excellent- and I must query why. Surely, the objective of the faith based school and, indeed, the Welsh school, and all of the Comprehensives is to achieve formalised excellence and to work to such. Unfortunately, by the argument that Mr Morris poses, if St Joseph’s had recorded an Excellent overall grading and, if the school had become a beacon in the town, this he suggests would provoke genuine problems. Indeed, Mr Morris raises the idea that such a school could be tempted by its very success to indulge in the practice of selection with all its associated negatives. This, of course, is humbug.
I can’t categorically speak for Mr Morris but the message he espouses appears to be akin to the same message that I have heard time and time again about widening parental choice in schools. This, of course, is the very thing that is now going on in England, and thank goodness. Choice is a wonderful thing as is the exercising of the same. The real scandal in Wrexham is not that one of our schools might achieve excellence but that none bar Morgan Llwyd and St Joseph’s is able to offer a textured Education that distinguishes one of our bland Comprehensives from the other. That this is so is because of an assault on the variety of schools by the dismal Educational and political establishment of the 1960’s that dismantled with little thought the variety of schools that then existed. Indeed, it was the grey dismal Comprehensives designed on a One Size Fits All principle that have reduced so much schooling to the lowest possible denominator. Thank goodness, in England thanks to the reforms of New Labour and, in turn, the Coalition this is changing.
The argument posed by Mr Morris seems to be against the trend that is bringing variety and choice. It is a pessimistic view and not appropriate in this increasingly changing time. Unfortunately, even by his own logic it is flawed. He fears that an “Excellent” school will attract a stampede towards it and this will breed selection. Sadly, St Joseph’s is already a heavily over subscribed school which has no such requirement. Indeed, it is already selective in a sense because it selects applicants according to strict criteria, each of which pertains to a Faith basis. Perhaps Mr Morris would like to also use his Consultancy skills to actually consult with St Joseph’s on its admissions policy or indeed its marketing strategy. Faith is the determinant of admission and there is no possibility that the scenario portrayed by Mr Morris will ever become more than pure scare-mongering.March 29, 2014 at 7:38 pm #67002
It is a pity that Mr Morris saw fit to correct a ‘technical’ issue in respect to a school grade that is good or excellent. For most parents they look for the best school for their children and although an Inspection report can be taken into account so much is based on how they ‘feel’ when they visit a school and how they interact with teachers and pupils at open evenings. Anyone who has been ‘behind the scenes’ at a school before an inspection you will have seen all the extra work that goes in to prepare for the ‘dreaded visit’. There is so much falseness about these inspections that any report is only a snap shot and often not the norm.
Casual drop in by Inspectors would have more meaningful value.
Children who have a parent who takes the trouble to look at school options is likely to achieve better in ANY school as they will keep a close eye on their child’s progress. So often these days a child’s progress through school is enhanced by the level of parental input and not just the teachers.March 30, 2014 at 2:02 pm #66990
Quite agree Dylan. On the ‘technical’ issue part, it seems a very flimsy excuse to have a go at the best performing school in the town. I would personally say that it is excellent that the school has been graded as good and somewhere in translation this appears to be the way that the paper has reported it.
I get the feeling that the letter was an agenda driven piece and I don’t think that it is a coincidence that a pop has been taken at a Faith school. The new head of Ofsted has recently had a real go at Ofsted Inspectors for criticising schools where teachers employ a non-child centred approach to Education and there is an attempt to rid Ofsted of many who are still stuck in a time warp. Many things that Mr Morris was talking about appear to be time warp commentsJune 6, 2014 at 7:00 pm #66991
I was very pleased to be part of the Careers evening in St Joseph’s last night. As ever, the students were so pleasant and the staff very helpful. I was there as part of the Dynamo initiative and it was more than clear that many of the youngsters are already thinking entrepreneurially.
ExcellentJune 7, 2014 at 2:12 pm #66996
Two pence worthMember
I have attached a copy of the link for the inspection if this helps
Hope this helps any parents out there make an unbiased opinion, however mine is that i believe the choice of secondary schools is having a detrimental affect overall, as some schools are selective on obtaining the cream of the crop therefore making it much more difficult for other schools to keep up (stats etc) (but hey life is competitive). A personal gripe is that some parents are keen on using sunday schools etc to obtain entry to faith schools even though they have no belief themselves, the positive i suppose is this is that the child can make an independent opinion later in life. Castell Alyn and The Maelor, Penley also had good results in line with St Josephs they all appear to have strengths and weaknesses (i don’t recall much or any press on this) check out the Estyn results. The positives for the failing schools is that they will now have the extra provision and resources made available by the Welsh Assembly, this can only be an excellent thing as they are under the spotlight. Personally i feel that children should be with their friends, happiness is the key and is paramount and success is down to the child with the good old support off parents. Decisions, decisions……June 7, 2014 at 2:34 pm #66992
@Two pence worth 13382 wrote:
I have attached a copy of the link for the inspection if this helps
Hope this helps any parents out there make an unbiased opinion, however mine is that i believe the choice of secondary schools is having a detrimental affect overall, as some schools are selective on obtaining the cream of the crop therefore making it much more difficult for other schools to keep up (stats etc) (but hey life is competitive). A personal gripe is that some parents are keen on using sunday schools etc to obtain entry to faith schools even though they have no belief themselves, the positive i suppose is this is that the child can make an independent opinion later in life. Castell Alyn and The Maelor, Penley also had good results in line with St Josephs they all appear to have strengths and weaknesses (i don’t recall much or any press on this) check out the Estyn results. The positives for the failing schools is that they will now have the extra provision and resources made available by the Welsh Assembly, this can only be an excellent thing as they are under the spotlight. Personally i feel that children should be with their friends, happiness is the key and is paramount and success is down to the child with the good old support off parents. Decisions, decisions……
This reflects how difficult it is to work out the ins and outs of Education. It is clearly the case that some schools may well be “flattered” by an intake that are a product of parents voting with their feet, whilst the schools getting “worse” results still have excellent departments and teaching. The whole thing is a minefield and clarity might be useful for all parents.
Within the mix, however, what is clear is that St Joseph’s is an excellent school. This is a caring sharing school with the requisite disciplinary approach to operate smoothly and the right kind of supportive network to make sure that no student gets left behindJune 7, 2014 at 6:10 pm #67003
One of the key elements that are not assessed by Estyn is what level of parental support is their for children. For a child who does not have parental support at whatever age of their life they are going to be less able unless they have a massive personal drive. The schools can only achieve a certain level of education intervention and teaching home environment plays a significant part as well.
Within a school even with additional resources two tings cannot be turned around in a few months-
1. If teachers are ‘failing’ regardless of the intervention support it would take months to make a difference to their performance.
2. The children are not able to adjust to new teaching styles within a few months – so are unlikely to go from failing to achieving in exams within the same school year.
3. Non of the resources go towards educational support in the family unit.
Parents looking for a school should ask how many parents attend parents evenings as this can be a key indicator.June 7, 2014 at 6:43 pm #66993
Estyn does not ignore the likely circumstances that pertain to the range of social and economic factors that affect likely outcomes. If you actually look through the methods employed by Estyn and all of the school inspection approaches you will note how sophisticated these are. Things like free school meal percentages are factored in to inspections and the inspectors use benchmarking to evaluate.
It is not just a question of comparing apples and oranges so that in all of Britain’s cities there is an understandable weighting for inner city schools against others. Accordingly, when Estyn compare (say) Llangollen with (say) Rhosnesni, they do have a weighting approach. Hence when a school is evaluated as being bad, it is just thatJune 10, 2014 at 9:13 pm #66997
Two pence worthMember
Nice to see Penley’s Estyn report finally hit the press .
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