What are the best areas to get into the Outstanding Primary Schools(18 Posts)
My Twins are going to be going to Primary school next Sept 17 and we are looking at moving to Cambridge or the surrounding villages to try and gain a primary place in an Outstanding Primary school catchment areas that is affordable to rent or buy. Any advice welcomed. Thanks in advance
I wouldn't get too hung up about the 'Outstanding' label. I honestly think most schools in Cambridge are pretty good and your kids will probably flourish wherever. Ofsted only measures certain things. I would visit some of the schools and get a feel for them, and if such things are important to you, you can ask how they fared in SATs this year, but ultimately if I were you I would choose where I wanted to live first and then look at schooling options nearby. My kids school isn't currently outstanding and there are some things I wish were different but it has been more than fine in general and most importantly my kids have been happy there.
I would also visit the schools. Ofsted inspections partly measure how hard the children are hothoused, and the outstanding schools can be very hothousey and also tend to attract really highly strung parents. As far as I know there are no affordable areas in Cambridge, and all the schools are full except for the University Primary School. But they are also all very good.
When I was in your shoes I just visited three schools and found the one with the kindest, gentlest atmosphere. It was very very clear which school we all felt most comfortable in and my feeling was the opposite of the impression that the ofsted inspector had clearly got.
Definitely visit in person. Look on rightmove.co.uk to understand house prices here. Houses are very expensive in Cambridge and decent rental property is very hard to come by.
Are there any 'outstanding' in the city? My childrens' primary is one of the best apparently and is not called 'outstanding'' . There really are hardly any that I wouldn't have sent any of my three to and the whole labelling can be such a let down. I have noticed the higher rated the school one year, over the next few they tend to slide as feel they don't need to try so hard. The schools which struggle initially are the ones that try and get the high grades.
St Matt's was outstanding. Don't know if it still is.
It is, but probably not for long - Ofsted coming up! Honestly, it is all meaningless nonsense.
The outstanding rating for St Matthews was based on an inspection in September 2011, which is 5 years ago. When your twins start in reception next year it will be 6 years out of date. By the time they are in year 6 we will be in the year 2023 and that inspection will be 12 years ago!
Somebody recently told me that the St Matthews rating will definitely go down when the school is next inspected because the results aren't good enough and you cannot be Outstanding without Outstanding results. Not sure if that's true or not, but things do change, for example.....
Milton Road used to be outstanding and this man overpaid £30,000 for a house in catchment (and still missed out because it wasn't close enough to the school):
A year later its Ofsted rating had gone straight from Outstanding down to Needs Improvement:
As others have said, it's maybe better to visit the schools and get a sense of whether you are looking at a Good school on the way up, or an Outstanding school on the way down.
During a tour of Queen Emma there was a parent who asked whether their twins would be in the same class. The headteacher suggested it would be better to split them up from Reception, where the two classes were next to each other and shared an outside space, so they would still see each other. Otherwise if they had to be split up later when they were older, one child would lose all their friends and have to move to a different class. To state the obvious, this means looking at a school with more than one form entry. So that would rule out the Spinney for example, which is another Cambridge school with an Outstanding rating.
Professional hat on. Many (all?) Outstanding ratings in Cambridge are out of date and some shocks potentially looming for certain primary schools on next inspection. Many schools Good and you will be perfectly safe choosing any of them.
Like the others have mentioned, cambridge is not affordable, unless you're coming from london (or another expensive area), you might find somewhere that is more 'affordable' here. If I were you I would work out what you're hoping to spend to buy a house/ on rent and go from there in terms of schools. You can find school catchment areas on the county council website. Also applications are due in January 2017 and you would need an address before you can apply. Given that you want 2 spaces I would recommend you make decisions as quick as you can as most schools are oversubscribed
A school I won't name that is supposedly 'good' didn't achieve the national average for SATs passes (ie all 3 papers at over 100) this year, if the rumours are true. Milton Road, officially 'Needs Improvement', got excellent results, way above the national average. Ofsted is just one indicator. SATs results are another; personally I am at best ambivalent about the reliability of both and would prefer to judge a school on how I felt about it when visiting. Other factors to consider: does the school have more than 1 form per year so the twins can be in separate classes (if that's what you want), is there breakfast club/after-school provision (if that's what you need), are you happy with the secondary options for children from the primary you're considering, and so on.
Certain schools arguably have more advantaged intakes than others.
This can make good bottom line SATs results perhaps easier to attain.
That is a country wide issue.
Also, there is a question mark over writing assessment across all schools in the country which make this years SATs- possibly- an unreliable measure.
Visiting schools, checking websites a good start...
Yes Wildr Rose, it is also true that the demographic of the intake makes a difference in SATs. I would say nether Ofsted ratings nor SATs results give the full picture.
The little villages north of Cambridge have some great little schools, my daughter starts hers next week. The community and the school have really close involvement and our local school has outstanding for the early years but we moved here before it got its outstanding and I still knew it was a great little school.
My kids are at StMs and it's an ok school. It has things it does fantastically and things it does really appallingly badly at (music is very low down on their list of priorities, which is a big deal for me, and also they are rubbish at dealing with parent complaints, little or big). If it changes to 'needs improvement' rather than 'outstanding' at the next inspection it would still be the same school! The only difference would be fewer applicants, which might be a good thing
You also need to think about the secondary catchment not just primary. It's scary how fast the primary years pass so look at the sort of secondary you would like too and use that to help narrow your home search.
I think you need to look at houses within catchments of acceptable schools. Our village has a good primary school, but finding a house that fits your budget/needs might be hard. Lots of people struggle to move house within the village as so little comes on the market. So setting your heart on one school might not be feasible.
When we moved here 5 years ago the school was OFSTED outstanding rated. It was downgraded a few months later, but our DD didn't start school until last year. We have definitely hit it on its way up, I just hope it can sustain that until our DD2 has left.
The University primary (http://universityprimarysch
I have a DC who was at a Good primary school and then moved to a new Outstanding school (and I imagine it will drop to Good at the next (very overdue) Ofsted) when we moved house (not the reason we moved). I still prefer his old school! Ofsted ratings really don't tell you everything about a school.
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