Caistor Ofsted: What the parents say

What parents say

After reading an initial report about the Ofsted shock at www.marketrasenmail.co.uk a number of parents sent the Rasen Mail their views. They are edited, where requested, to protect the identity of their children.

* A parent: "I hold Caistor Primary School in the highest regard.

At my son's previous school, when in Year 5, the head teacher withdrew him from the National Curriculum and from taking SATS.

Until the head took this decision he had not previously been put even on 'school action' nor had any individual education plan been produced. We removed him from this school.

Mr McCann offered him a place but he did not want to go to a new school because he wanted to be with his friends. Caistor Primary offered a fantastic amount of support with assessment for learning needs and socialisation while I home tutored him.

Mr McCann enabled him to sit the SATS tests just over a year later and he achieved level 4s in English, Maths and Science, enabling him to fulfill his potential.

This shows true leadership and embodies the principle that 'every child matters' where 'no child should slip through the net'. and 'every child should be helped to reach their full potential'.

Thank you so much to Mr McCann and your wonderful staff. We think the school is fantastic."

* Lesley Raftery: "I believe the parent harping on about large amounts of 11+ tuition in Caistor, has got the wrong end of the stick here. This local primary school's job is not to prepare the kids for the Grammar School test - it's to prepare them for their secondary education (and in fact life after that too).

I have friends in Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Cleethorpes who are sending their children for 11+ tuition too. This includes children from St Martins Prep.

WH Smith is full of books to prepare your child for the test - as the techniques are somewhat different from what they will have experienced following the National Curriculum. The internet is also full of websites claiming to do this.

Don't blame the primary school - instead, perhaps look to a Government which accepts more than 30 children to a class. If you haven't worked this one out, 'concerned parent', then dig deep, as your kids are going to need it.

I also hope that these negative parents are very careful as to how they talk about this school at home, as this could have a profound effect upon their children - but I doubt it."

* Michael Galligan: "I have been involved with Caistor Primary School together with other schools in Caistor and in the wider area in organising frequent and varied community events over many years. These schools participated in activities such as music, art and literature, dancing, plays and copious workshops.

In all these events the performance given and imagination shown by Caistor Primary School children and teachers was meritorious.

Audiences appreciated, and were lavish in their praise for the talent that these young children bestowed.

The school has supported all these events with great gusto and enthusiasm. The participation in my view greatly enhanced the children's interface with the community and no doubt build up their self esteem and community spirit by performing in front of audiences outside the school arena. In participating in the wider cultural activities of the community they assimilate many skills, knowledge, teamwork, greater sense of community awareness, care and respect for others and also enjoy themselves by doing different things.

At all times the children's behaviour and discipline was par excellent.

These extracurricular activities are complimentary to academic achievement. They enhance a child's realm of experience which can help improve literacy (story writing) and mathematics skills (time telling and so on). Rigour in the academic field is important but must also be matched with character building at which Caistor Primary School excels.

The dedication of the headmaster and all school staff were exemplary in making things happen. These dedicated teachers develop, enrich and enhance all these young minds which will benefit them profusely as they get older and make their way through life.

Keep up the good work and the present difficulties being experienced at the school will only be a blip on the schools history page within a very short time."

* LM Gaughan: "I am a parent of two children who attend Caistor Primary School. I am not sure which school Chris Moodie inspected but I certainly don't recognise it from the description in the Ofsted report. I look forward to hearing the outcome of the official complaint made against the inspectors. Who inspects the inspectors?

The school has experienced no major changes in structure or ethos since the last 'outstanding' report and yet Ofsted judge it to have fallen to the bottom of the class. Neighbouring schools with lower SATS results have not been placed in 'special measures'. This report has shaken my faith in Ofsted, it has not shaken my faith in Caistor Primary School."

* An open letter to The Headmaster and all of the Teaching and Non Teaching Staff at Caistor Primary School, and signed by 90 parents

"If a school must be judged, how is it best judged and by whom is it best judged?

We, the undersigned, as parents of children attending the school believe that we are in a unique position to assess the performance of the school, to assess it's contribution to the development of our children and to assess it's value to the wider community.

Why do we believe that we are in such a position? Simply because we can measure these factors in the attitude and reaction of our children to school life. In addition, we attend school twice a day, every day and use our own intuition and judgement to form an opinion about the 'health' of the school.

So what do we find?

The tone of the school is set by the Headmaster and is reinforced by all other members of staff. We find Caistor Primary School to be a thriving, happy school.

The ethos of the school is protected and nurtured by the Headmaster and all other members of staff. We find Caistor Primary School to be an excellent caring, sharing and learning environment for our children.

The Community's perception of the school is informed by the way Governors, Staff and Children engage with the Community. In this regard we find the school to be exceptional.

We believe that the academic performance of the school can be assessed in the daily individual progress and development we see in our children. We find that the teaching staff at Caistor Primary School provide an environment where children achieve because they believe that they can achieve.

We are strongly of the opinion that our experience of the school is a valuable and important measure of the success of the school. Whilst we recognise that there is always room for improvement, we do not feel that the recent OFSTED report provides a fair or accurate assessment of the effectiveness of the school.

Through this letter, we wish to record our satisfaction with the school, and our total support for the Headmaster and all the other members of staff. The commitment all of you demonstrate, both in school time and outside it, is an example that should be the envy of many other school Governors and parents.

Please keep up your exceptional work, we too are committed to the continued success of the school and will offer help in any way we can to help you achieve even greater things.

* Nathalie Dukes: "Our children attend Caistor Primary School. We have always considered it a fantastic school preparing children to succeed in all aspects of life; academically, socially, psychologically and physically.

The dedication to this by staff has been generous and genuine. The inspiration to it has been and hopefully will continue to be Mr McCann.

We did not recognise the school at all in the Ofsted report, as this review is severely flawed. We do not believe that a 48 hour inspection can tell us something we could not figure out ourselves in the last 6 years of our children's attendance.

It is not the school's credibility but Ofsted itself that should be looked into.

I have one more comment for the parents who have stepped forward with destructive (rather than constructive) criticism 'where were you on the countless School Improvement Meetings and feedback questionnaires that invited your comments in the past years?

* Ex employee: "As a member of staff until recently at Caistor Primary School I have been privileged to work alongside a committed and talented group of professionals.

"I have always had the utmost respect for all of my colleagues who also give so generously of their own time to provide extra curricular activities, which enhance and enrich the children's learning and achievement.

"I am disappointed by the negative responses particularly since some of those responses come from people who were more than happy to leave their children in our care after school.

"On many an occasion these people were extremely late picking their children up from school which resulted in staff giving above and beyond their time.

"This I know from personal experience and it infringed on my own family commitments of which I take very seriously.

"Two of my own children have gone through the school, one of whom is a student at university and the other is currently attending Sixth Form College.

"Both were inspired by Nick McCann and his team. My own professional career has been developed as a result of the strong support of the head teacher, staff and governors of which I am eternally grateful."

* Sharon Robey: "All my children have and continue to receive a first class education at Caistor Primary School from truly dedicated and inspirational staff. I have never had any doubt as to the high standards they are expected to achieve. I have been made fully aware of the targets that have been set for them to progress forward.

"But more than that the school is at the very heart of the community and they participate in events and activities that make them better people.

"In this current climate of greed and selfishness the school ensures that they live by the their motto of "We care, we share, we learn together". It seems that all Ofsted want is a SATs factory. "

* Robert Chapman: "I am saddened by the situation that has arisen at our primary and junior school in Caistor. There are obvious issues that need to be addressed and to my understanding were being and would have been met.

"There seems to have been a very inept handling and timing of the report by Ofsted and I hope they are ashamed of the possible ruination of the career of our headmaster Nick McCann, the soul of our school.

"My own seven year old daughter started at pre school and is now as happy and contented a child at school as you could wish for and this because of the fantastic attitude of her teachers.

"Academically though she needs to improve in certain areas and these are issues to be met, but for goodness sake she is only seven years old and every child an individual, developing at individual rates. Happiness, at present, has been more important.

"Our school and especially our headmaster now needs the support of each and everyone who has a child at Caistor, to get the school back on track and shame on you all who are jumping on the band wagon to vilify too quickly a good, good school.

* John Smith: "'Disadvantaged' who? Caistor Primary School pupils! What is the world coming to!!! My children have become the most ADVANTAGED pupils in Lincolnshire since coming to Caistor. They are able to take part in numerous activities, most of which run in teacher's own time. I have never seen such dedicated teachers as those at Caistor. My children achieve high and love school."

* Dave Shepherd: "It appears that you choose in a most biased fashion to air the views that are predominantly negative and choose to ignore the positive comments regarding the subject.

"Are these parental comments supposed to be giving a balanced overview of comments, or are they simply a selection that is intended primarily to support the Ofsted report?

"There is, of course, no news like bad news for people such as yourselves.

"Here's a novelty, how about publishing all the parental comments so that people can be allowed to make up their own minds?"

(ED: All e mails received have been posted on this site)

* Chris Miller: "As a relatively new parent to the school I have not yet had any cause for concern at the standards and quality of the educational environment and when relating back to the 2006 Ofsted report the findings and views that led to the school being awarded outstanding status are still in evidence.

"I do however believe that parents should now show support to the current management and staff of the school to ensure that it progresses to provide as good an education to the children as possible and that any genuine shortcomings highlighted by the report are resolved quickly and effectively."

* A mother: "Since my daughter started this school I have said it is badly run. I am glad she no longer attends there.

Everyone tried telling me it was fantastic and she would do well there, she has done well but that's not to the credit of the teachers there, its due to the fact that she's a clever girl and has never needed extra help. I wonder how much better could she have done at another school.

I am sad that my opinions have been proven right although maybe now things will change. I say well done Ofsted for telling it how it really is."

* A father: "The vast majority of the parents fully support the decision of the school and any way to overcome the difficulties presented to them by Ofsted. We think the Ofsted report was created in a very partial way but their opinion is not the opinion of the vast majority of the population."

* Deborah Barker: "This report comes as no surprise. Children are not graded properly and often given the same work as others when it is not challenging them, resulting in boredom and lack of motivation.

There needs to be a thorough investigation and serious measures taken. Hopefully there will be some answers on Wednesday night, not excuses. Let's hope for a miracle turnaround for the children's sake."

* A father: "Parents over the past year have been stating their dismay about the management of the school. At last some external body has realized the problems here. Things really need to be changed rapidly as there are a lot of very upset parents.

The school seems to be in denial. They really need to accept the situation and improve. I call for the resignation of the headmaster and governers. "

* A mother: "As a fairly new parent I was very disappointed that the school has declined so much in a few years, but I fully support the Ofsted as something now can be done to change the school for the better.

It does seem to me that they school concentrate on giving the children a good time rather than on reading, writing and maths to provide a strong and challenging education.

* Tim Mellors: The outcome of the Caistor Primary Ofsted is ludicrous. Has the world gone mad? Teachers work very hard and know their craft well. A school that previously achieved outstanding status does not lose that quality of teaching and learning in two academic years.

* A mother: "As a parent of a child with some special needs I am appalled the school has been allowed to drop to this point. I am also alarmed at the contribution on your website from a fellow parent of the school; it is not for this person to assume and dictate the views of the 'majority' of parents.

I would suggest the 'majority' of parents will be quietly, but equally concerned the school has deteriorated to such an extent so quickly that Ofsted felt that it had no alternative other than to put the school into 'Special Measusres', in spite of the representations made by the management and Governors.

I have also made representations to the school with regard to concerns that I held. It would seem that these concerns have now been confirmed by the Ofsted report.

I frankly feel it inappropriate for the present governors to continue in their present format as they have clearly failed to address issues that were evident to some parents, preferring to attack the Ofsted inspection, which would seem to me to be negating the seriousness of the situation. This is after all our children's future!

I welcome this report and thank them for finally dealing with matters that should have been dealt with previously.

Whilst it is regrettable that this has happened I feel most sad for Mr Dennis and of course the children that have been disadvantaged for too long.

Teachers are constantly bombarded with the rhetoric of professionals who are far removed from engaging pupils in quality lessons on a daily basis.

• County councillor Patricia Bradwell, in charge of primary education, said the authority ‘share the school’s disappointment and shock in this report’ and support the complaint.

• Local county councillor Tony Turner said he had always heard ‘extremely good reports from parents’ and was ‘astonished’ at the inspection report.