Firstly, let me say congratulations to the staff and students at Michaela Community School, not for anything to do with their recent OFSTED grading, but for their obvious hard work and commitment to students at the Brent Free School. And to every single other school that is exactly the same in its constitution and character.
However, I must state that their recent OFSTED report unfortunately sums up everything that is wrong and lopsided by how we treat our inspectorate and how our inspectorate treats its subjects.
Despite all the fantastic work flagged up in the report that the staff at Michaela undoubtedly do, the masses of things they do which are brilliant for students; this report is the perfect example of a school with particular parameters benefiting from the inspection regime, the same regime that can work against other schools with different contexts.
The two main points to flag up are >
This is a school with a cohort of 360 students (the size of a cohort surely impacts immensely on the way in which a school operates and the challenges it faces - I could write a whole new blog on the different factors involved here)
This is a school with no attainment data beyond year 9
In my view, this school should not yet be eligible for a judgement at all.
Now, it will become known as an “outstanding school” compared to its counterparts across London who handle cohorts of more than double the number whose only reason, in many cases, for not being “good or better” rests with their “outcomes” at GCSE level.
Of course, the saddest thing about this is, that whether Michaela is outstanding or not, in a few years’ time, once their exam results start coming in, if progress and attainment aren’t up to a certain standard, they will be immediately downgraded. Their staff will be immediately deflated and all their hard work will be dismissed with immediacy as misguided. And if you believe that all schools who get less than a "good" from OFSTED "must be doing something wrong", im afraid the cycle will go on.
Many have congratulated the school on its outstanding rating which in itself reinforces the validity of all OFSTED ratings.
This is NOT a criticism of Michaela as a school (I have written extensively before defending the school against its retractors in the TES). This is not about how good the school is. This is about every education establishment in this country. Its about justice for all.
This is to do with the inspection system, which wilfully builds up some to cut them down later whilst hammering some who should never been hammered in the first place.