Primary schools in Brockley

Education has to be one of the most divisive subjects in local life, as the national furore over school place lotteries is currently demonstrating. It's not only an important topic, it's also highly emotive - the only time from its childhood when Brockley Central remembers its parents rowing with their friends was when somebody suggested they were betraying our future by sending us to the local comprehensive.


So it is with caution that we approach this topic. Information about schools will always be imperfect. Some people believe that that's reason enough not to publish anything more about a school than its address and telephone number. Those people are generally not the parents and children faced with the decision of where to apply.


So we've pulled together a topline synopsis of each of the local primary schools, based on the most recent Ofsted reports available and included a link to the performance table on FindaProperty.com, which uses DFES figures. Here they are, in no particular order.


Given much of this information is old and only begins to scratch the surface of what schools are actually like, it would be great if local people with direct experience of these schools could leave their comments.



John Stainer [latest report 2008]

Description

John Stainer Primary serves a very mixed community that includes some areas where there are very high levels of deprivation. Just over a quarter of pupils are from White British backgrounds. The next largest groups include pupils from Black Caribbean, Black African and Asian heritages. A high number of pupils speak English as an additional language and, of these, a significant proportion are at a very early stage of using English when they join the school. Many pupils have not attended this school for their entire primary education. A significant number join and leave the school at unexpected times throughout the school year. Over a third of pupils have learning difficulties or disabilities. A high number of vulnerable pupils attend the school. The school has achieved the Healthy School Status, the Clean and Green Gold Award, Sports Mark and is in the fourth cycle of Investors in People. They are currently working to gain the information and communication technology (ICT) mark.

Performance - Grade 2

John Stainer is a flourishing school. Inspectors agree with the words of one parent who said, 'The hard work of the staff, governors, children and parents make it a positive and exciting learning environment.' The headteacher shows outstanding leadership and is driving John Stainer School forward very well. The headteacher took over the school at a time when it was in Special Measures and led it to become a satisfactory school in 2004. In 2006, the school was recognised as the third most improved school in the country. The school now provides a good education, with outstanding features in pupils' personal development and care. The school has a good capacity to improve and leaders are ambitious to make the school outstanding in the future.

Myatt Garden [latest report 2007]

Description

Myatt Garden is a large primary school serving an ethnically and socially diverse community. The percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals is average. The proportion of pupils with difficulties or disabilities is higher than that found nationally. More pupils than usual are learning English as an additional language, a high proportion of whom are at an early stage of acquiring the language.

Performance - Grade 1

This is an outstanding school for which pupils and their parents have very high praise. As one parent said, 'My daughter is very lucky. Every school should be like Myatt Garden as every child deserves the best.' The ethos of the school is very positive and instils a sense of 'can do' in pupils and staff. This is a reflection of the philosophy of the headteacher who, with her deputy, provides outstanding leadership. Senior leaders, staff, governors and parents share the vision for the future of the school.

Parents are overwhelmingly positive about what the school offers. In particular, they appreciate the outstanding care, guidance and support their children receive and the celebration of the school community's cultural diversity. This contributes to pupils' good personal development and well-being. One parent commented, 'The school provides a safe, positive environment which is stimulating, inclusive and inspirational.' The pupils benefit enormously from the support of parents who have helped to develop the outdoor area for the Nursery and have raised funds and drawn up plans to refurbish the main playground.

Gordonbrock [latest report 2005]

Description

Gordonbrock School is above average in size and is growing. More than half of the pupils come from minority ethnic backgrounds with significant numbers from Black Caribbean heritage. A little over a third of pupils speak a language other than English at home, but only a small proportion are in the early stages of learning English. Most pupils join the school with below average standards for their age, chiefly because of limited communication, language and literacy skills. The proportion of pupils with special educational needs is broadly average, but a significant minority have serious difficulties with behaviour. Pupils come from a wide range of backgrounds, but overall the social and economic circumstances of the school are below average.

Performance - Grade 2


Gordonbrock School provides good education. Standards rise from below average in the nursery to broadly average in Year 6. There has been high staff turnover in recent years, but this has now stabilised, and pupils are making good progress. Long-term achievement is satisfactory in Year 6, and good in other year groups. Teaching and learning are good, with a growing proportion of very good and excellent teaching. Pupils behave very well, enjoy school and work hard.

Leadership and management are good overall, with very good leadership from the headteacher and governors. The school provides good value for money. The school’s main strengths and weaknesses are:


• Teachers foster an interest in learning and promote achievement among all pupils.

• The headteacher and governors provide strong leadership and direction.

• Provision for pupils’ personal development is excellent.

• The school has very good links and relationships with parents, other schools and the community.

• The school makes best use of a difficult site, but accommodation is inadequate.

• The use of assessment to track progress and plan work requires improvement in most subjects. • Some teaching assistants are very effective, but others need more training.

Turnham Primary [last report 2007]

Description

Turnham Primary School is located at the heart of an estate in Lewisham. Over four fifths of pupils are from minority ethnic backgrounds and more than a third speak English as an additional language. Only a small number are beginners in English. The proportion of pupils eligible for a free school meal is well above average reflecting the high level of deprivation in the local area. The proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities is broadly average but the proportion with statements is below average. Pupils come with a wide range of knowledge and skills when they join the school but their attainment in literacy and numeracy is well below average. The attainment on entry has been declining over recent years. Levels of mobility have increased in recent years and a significant number of pupils join the school at various points throughout Years 3 to 6. After many years of very stable staffing, there has been a higher turnover recently. Most of the teachers joining over the last couple of years are at the start of their teaching careers.

Performance - Grade 2

Turnham Primary School is a good school. It provides a warm and welcoming atmosphere for its pupils. There is a good focus on achievement. Consequently, pupils make good progress, including in the Foundation Stage, and achieve well. The good teaching, especially in the Foundation Stage and in Years 1 and 2, makes a good contribution to pupils' learning. However, in a minority of lessons, mainly in Years 3 to 6, issues in the pace of teaching, level of challenge and variety of methods used by teachers means pupils do not always work as effectively as they could. In most lessons, pupils work hard in response to high expectations from teachers. They usually achieve the very challenging performance targets set by the school.

Meadowgate [last report 2006]

Description

Meadowgate is a special school with 83 pupils between the ages of 4 and 11.It caters for pupils with moderate learning difficulties, and autistic spectrum disorder. All pupils have statements of special educational needs. More than one third are from ethnic backgrounds other than white, predominantly black-African heritage. Approximately half of these pupils have English as an additional language, with a smaller proportion at an early stage of language acquisition, and receiving additional support. The proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals is very high at 63 per cent. The school is situated in an area that is disadvantaged socially and economically. The school buildings are well maintained and in very good order, creating a bright and attractive environment. The characteristics of pupils for whom the school caters makes it inappropriate to judge their attainment against age related national expectations or averages.

Performance


Meadowgate is an effective school where pupils achieve high standards for their special educational needs by the time they leave. There is a high proportion of good and very good teaching that is having a positive and direct impact on the pupils’ rate of progress. The headteacher provides clear educational direction with a suitable emphasis on standards, and has sustained a very positive ethos since the previous inspection. Pupils are making steady progress towards achieving their personal targets. There are some unsatisfactory elements to the school, including transport arrangements. Pupils arrive after the start of school regularly and some miss significant parts of their education as a result. The school provides satisfactory value for money, and is in a strong position to make further improvements.

Brockley Primary [last report 2004]

Description

Brockley is a large primary school with 258 pupils on roll. They are organised mainly in single age classes from Reception up to Year 6 with one mixed-age class of Year 1 and Year 2 pupils. In addition 32 children attend the Nursery class on a part-time basis. There are slightly more boys than girls on roll. Most pupils are drawn from the immediate locality in Brockley. The proportion of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals is above the national average. Pupils come from a range of cultural backgrounds with the largest groups being White British, Black African and Caribbean. Other pupils come from as far afield as the Indian sub-continent and China. Over one third of pupils come from homes where the mother tongue is not English and 103 are in the early stages of learning English. Eight pupils are from refugee or asylum seeking families. The proportion of pupils with special educational needs is very high. These include specific learning needs and those arising from social, emotional and behavioural or speech and communication difficulties.

There is a wide range of attainment when children enter the Nursery, but it is generally well below average. The movement of pupils joining or leaving the school, other than at the normal times, is very high. The school has received two achievement awards and is involved in a number of initiatives including one focused on creative arts and a Behaviour Improvement Programme that entitles the school to receive additional funding to implement projects to improve pupils’ behaviour. The school is undersubscribed and governors, having considered the school’s context very carefully, have requested that the school size be reduced to one form of entry from September 2005.

Performance - Grade 3


Brockley Primary is a satisfactory school. Given the challenges it faces, it is now providing a satisfactory standard of education for all pupils. The school’s results in national tests for pupils in Year 6 have improved and are in line with those in schools with children from similar backgrounds but well below when compared to those in all schools nationally. The very good leadership of the headteacher has created a satisfactory learning environment in which there is a strong commitment to raising standards and decisive action to bring about the required changes. The quality of teaching and learning are improving. The school now provides satisfactory value for money. The school’s main strengths and weaknesses are:


· the headteacher has a clear vision for the future development of the school and is well supported by the deputy headteacher and governing body;

· provision for children in the Nursery and the Reception class is good;

· standards are well below average in Year 2 and Year 6 but achievement is satisfactory. This is as a result of the improved quality of teaching and learning, which is satisfactory overall;

· pupils with English as an additional language generally achieve appropriately. However, the progress made by pupils who have acquired some fluency is limited due to insufficient support;

· assessment procedures are not used effectively to check how well pupils are doing;

· the school provides a caring, safe environment and a good range of after-school activities;

· pupils’ behaviour is good;

· poor attendance and lateness for school in the morning has an adverse effect on learning.

St Mary Magdalen's Catholic Primary School [last report 2003]

Description

The school is a little smaller than the average sized primary school with 200 pupils on roll by the summer term. The school is popular with parents and is over-subscribed. Pupils come from a wide range of backgrounds, although the area served by the school is relatively disadvantaged with a mixture of local housing estates and some privately owned housing. The proportion of pupils entitled to free school meals is broadly average. Pupils come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds: 40 per cent Black African, mostly Nigerian, 17 per cent Black Caribbean; 17 per cent mixed heritage and 16 per cent White British or Irish. The proportion of pupils with English as an additional language is very high, currently 37 per cent of the school population with only two pupils at an early stage of English language acquisition. The proportion of pupils identified as having special educational needs (30 per cent) is above the national average. Four pupils have a statement of special education need. The attainment of many pupils on entry to the school is below that typically found nationally. There are some limitations imposed by the site and buildings but a new building programme just started promises better facilities in the future.

Performance - Grade 2


This is a good school with some very good features. It offers pupils a good quality education. Pupils achieve well because of good teaching and their personal development flourishes because of the positive and supportive ethos underpinned by Catholic values and beliefs. The key to its success lies in the high quality leadership of the headteacher and good teamwork between staff and governors. The school gives good value for money. The school’s main strengths and weaknesses are:


· Pupils achieve well in lessons because of the good quality teaching.

· Standards are above average in English and information and communication technology (ICT).

· The school values all pupils equally and its procedures to ensure their care and welfare are very good.

· The school provides good support for those pupils with special educational needs or have English as an additional language.

· The school very effectively fosters and promotes pupils’ very good behaviour and relationships and good attitudes to learning.

· The curriculum provides a good range of opportunities which contribute well to pupils’ learning and achievement.

· The headteacher provides very good leadership and is well supported by staff and governors. · The school has very good links with parents.

· The school does not do enough to raise the achievement of higher attaining pupils in science. · The accommodation is unsatisfactory and limits some aspects of pupils’ learning.

· Measures to evaluate how well the school is doing and the success of its actions are not robust enough.

· Further work is needed on its assessment procedures.

[Edit: apparently, the DFES, like the Premier League, considers league performance data as a commercial asset, rather than a matter of public record, so we have had to remove them. However, you can find them at FindaProperty.com by clicking here.]

43 comments:

brockley mutha said...

ahhh - a subject v close to my heart. when we moved to brockley we hoped for myatt garden - my neighbours children go there - unfortunately by the time my son was old enough for school, myatt garden was oversubscribed and its catchment area had shrunk significantly. we were offered brockley primary and chose to go private instead (heap opprobrium on my head all you like - brockley primary is not a place i would wish on my child - and from conversations i've had with lots of people from diverse racial and economic backgrounds i have discovered that most concur with my opinion). i've heard some ok things about all the rest of the schools. In most cases it depends on the child and the quality and quantity of parental input.

my daughter - who has severe learning difficulties - went briefly to gordonbrock. the head is fantastic and so are many of the teachers. the kids were also lovely. I'd recommend it, but not for kids with special needs.

and on that note - if you have got a child with special needs - you'll have a fight on your hands. lewisham has a large number of its special schools scheduled for closure - including meadowgate.

Anonymous said...

This is a genuine question but why is it wrong or seen as such by some to go private? If the local authority isn't offering what you need you try alternatives don't you?

Anonymous said...

Because the action of sending your kids to a private school is to efffectively perpetuate the socio-economic segretation of society. Depriving a struggling school of the more able kids, whether by postcode lottery or direct fees, is to trap that school in a cycle of decline and ultimately create a more divided society. But really you have to look to the government to change things - it's understandable for parents to put their kids first in any situation.

Anonymous said...

I have no problems with people who go private... unless they're Diane Abbott. But she doesn't care!

Pete said...

If your child has special needs and regular school places just aren't there you really do have to go private.

Myatt Garden sounds like an amazing school.

Anonymous said...

Private schools can be dreadful for kids with special needs. All they care about is the kids performing well.

Bea said...

My son attends the nursery at Myatt Garden and is very happy there. The staff are excellent and provide lots of feedback. My son has delayed speech and the school has been great in ensuring that he gets extra tuition and his language is developed every day though play.

The children are encouraged to be creative (they not only cook on a daily basis, do art work but also get to plant in the small garden and play in mud and water – something he doesn’t get a chance to do at home). Emphasis is also placed on carpet activities such as reading and imaginative play such as dressing up. My big gripe about the school is that I get a bag full of his wet and dirty clothes to take home every afternoon – all that mud play. My childminder’s biggest gripe is that his coat is always missing at the end of the day. In the grand scheme of things these are only minor irritants.

Technically my closest school is John Stainer and I’m glad to see it has improved so much. However, ideally, as a practicing Roman Catholic, I would like for him to get a place at St. Mary Madeleine.

I filled in all the forms in January but won’t hear until May whether he got a place or not!

Anonymous said...

Your son has a place in Myatt gardens? I'd leave him there! But if you I expect there's a queue around the block waiting for that space.

It's the next stage that counts - I'd like to know how many from Myatt gardens o on to Haberdasher's or any of the other good secondary schools..

Anonymous said...

Lots of children go on to good secondary schools and do really well. Both my girls went to Myatt and had a top class education, then went on to Prendergast.
When we moved to London, Myatt was not on our list of good schools, but was the best choice available. The school had a massive turn around and we never looked back

Bea said...

Anon @ 18:17 - A place in nursery doesn’t guarantee a place at the school. I expect he got a place at nursery as - in terms of a crow flying - my front door is not far from the school gate (although walking takes a good 15 minutes once we’ve navigated our way past the railway line).

Myatt Garden is my second choice so if he gets a place there too I’ll be delighted. Not so sure I’ll feel that way if he gets the third or fourth choice though!

And you’re right. I would like to know where all the kids go for their secondary education.

Anonymous said...

Bea - I think your question is answered by Anon@18.17.

Myatt Gardens seems to feed into the better schools of the area - by ensuring the kids have a great education - see the example of 2 girls going to Prendergast. Certainly saves on private education fees......

Bea said...

Thanks Anon@19:51. I thought I was responding to Anon@17:26 (my mistake and wrote Anon@18:17). These problems happen with all these Anons!!! ;-)

Haberdashers and Prendergast (girls only) schools are both good but what happens to children who don’t get a place there. What is the next best option? Do they have to go outside Lewisham or are there viable alternatives near Brockley and if so what reputation do they have?

moonbow jill said...

I think there are three options:

1)The parents move to the country

2) They go to the (Bad) catholic high school

3) - or trek across London if they can get in somewhere decent.

I expect most make sure they get them into the right primary or as Anon said start saving for those private school fees.

WOuld be nice to hear from nparents whose kids are in other local high schools, but somehow...

ElijahBailey said...

A few of my lecturers have kids at Deptford Green. They say it wasn't there first choice but just because the school only has a GCSE (A-C) attainment rate of 52% doesn't mean that is the same chance your child will achieve A-C level. With the right support at home and within school (GnTs will get extra support) a child at not great school isn't automatically condemned to a life of 'failure'.

What people need to remember is that schools need these kids to keep there grades up. If parents actually sent their kids to these rather than panicking and sending their kids private then the school would probably do a lot better. Schools will also try and help those keeping their grades up.

For me personally, if I had kids, there wouldn't be a choice. I will never send my kids private (I am not willing to bankrupt myself for a questionable investment), and I am not moving, so I'll just have to take my chances.

What annoys me is the attitude from some that you don't care about your child's education if you are not willing to cut off an arm to send your kids to anything but the 'local comp'

ElijahBailey said...

"WOuld be nice to hear from nparents whose kids are in other local high schools, but somehow..."

Somehow what?

Anonymous said...

Private schools are not very good as said. You really want to get them into a Public school, but you're talking mega bucks, but it's not just about money, they are always oversubscribed so in effect the school picks you. But once your kid gets in... MORE THAN LIKELY your kid will get both the academic results and a child with a confident character, capable of operating at the higher levels of society with ease.

The class divisions in our society will not change whilst these schools exist. The government has flirted with proposals to get these schools to share their benefits with local community but it has limited effect.

Anonymous said...

Any idea what the Myatt Garden boundary is? A phone call to the school office elicited the response that the catchment area is usually just one or two streets from the school gate.

Bea said...

It’s not as straight forward as a boundary line.

For Community Schools (which Myatt Gardens is) priority goes to:

1. Children in public care

2. In exceptional circumstances there is discretion to admit children on the grounds of their or their family’s acute medical or social need for that particular school and who would not otherwise qualify for admission.

3. Children whose brother or sister are on the roll of the school.

4. Children for whom it is the nearest community school (priority within this category will normally be given to those living nearest to the school but other children living further away may have to be given preference if they cannot reasonably be offered an alternative school).

5. If, after these criteria have been taken into account, there are still more applicants than places remaining, priority will be given to those living nearest to the school.


Home-to-school distance

All distances will be measured in a straight line, using digitised mapping software or Ordnance Survey maps of the area, from home to the nearest gate(s) nominated by the school.
If more than one applicant lives in a multi-occupancy building, e.g. flats, priority will be given to the applicant whose door number is the lowest numerically and/or alphabetically.

tressillian james said...

I would say if a school has a 52% A-C achievement rate, there is a much greater chance of your child not performing that well at the GCSEs. Yes, we can home coach and try other methods to get our kids to study - but having come from a low achieving comp myself - if the other kids don't want to learn then there is a hell of a lot of peer pressure not to achieve. Additonally if most kids are getting low grades, then your Cs adn Bs can look good in comparasion. When schools foster an academic, achieving, creative environment the kids do better.

JPM said...

Myatt Garden is an excellent school, with a remarkable head teacher (Mrs Ingram). The rest of the teachers (Ms Johal, Ms Wilson, etc) and the assitance (Jseem to be hugely dedicated to the task of Julie etc) not only teach well but making it fun too.

I live about three minutes away, which is why I'm always late with my daughter. (I'm usually the harassed lookng one saying, We're late! We're late!)

The music evenings for children and parents need to be more diverse. I don't hold with American rap epitomising the broad spectrum of children, and would like to hear music from around the world. I am concerned too about the asbestos which seems to be in so many of these schools and canot be removed, as a cost-saving exercise more than for safety.

Monkeyboy said...

JPM...asbestos. I deal with it all the time in Tube stations. It's everywhere, it's often much safer to leave it where it is rather than remove it and release the fibres. Also many different types, the type in coregated asbestos roof material for example is not rally an issue. Loose stuff like pipe lagging is a bit of a nightmare and best left alone where possible.

There maybe a asbestos report kicking around by a specialist company?? worth asking to see it, part of the risk assesment is whether an area is likley to be disturbed for demolition for example. I guess you can expect adults not to bugger around with pipe lagging, not sure about kids. If they've not done a survey you could press for one, the survey's are not that expensive, removal can be but at least you'd know the situation.

JPM said...

Or an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter... and if it was enough to rattle and slam my windows what else can it do? (It is better to upgrade these schools in the holidays and get rid. I used to work with asbestos too.)

Monkeyboy said...

Jeeze...is there NOTHING you don't know?

JPM said...

Monkeyboy... I know a lot about nothing, so I must know NOTHING. Used to cut asbestos as a carpenter. (Remind me to tell you about the time when I worked as a grinder (without qualifications) grinding down the seams on metal coolant tubes of a nuclear reactor, and as an actor when I worked for a casting agency, or as a journalist spinning the bins of the high street banks and at Grand Lodge to 'out' freemasons. And as a drama writer at the BBC...well, that's enough, for now.)

Anonymous said...

The figures for Keystage3 tests have just been published. According to the South London Press schools minister Jim Knight picked out schools in neighbouring boroughs for their good performance, but not Lewisham.

The paper states the majority of headteachers and principles in Lewisham failed to return calls when contacted for comments.

Secondary schools that improved their aggregate test percentages for Level 5 or above are...

Forest Hill
Northbrook CofE
Pendragon (SEN)
Prendergast
Sedgehill
Sydenham
Aske's Knights*

*Only Aske's Hatcham & Knights figures for this year are shown,
but the government website indicates Knight's improved and Hatcham did not.

7 Schools were above the Borough average of 196...

Addey and Stanhope
Bonus Pastor Catholic
Forest Hill
Aske's Hatcham
Prendergast
Sedgehill
Sydenham

4 Schools were above the National average of 223...

Bonus Pastor Catholic
Forest Hill
Aske's Hatcham
Prendergast

ElijahBailey said...

"When schools foster an academic, achieving, creative environment the kids do better."

Is that something private schools do and state school don't?

tressillian james said...

...don't think anyone said that..

Anonymous said...

'Myatt Gardens seems to feed into the better schools of the area - by ensuring the kids have a great education - see the example of 2 girls going to Prendergast. Certainly saves on private education fees......'

I think some people here have a bit of research to do on admissions policies of local schools. If lots of children from Myatt Garden are going on to Aske's or Prendergast, that's because they live near those schools, not because they went to Myatt Garden.

Schools round here are a minefield. My children went to Chelwood Nursery School (brilliant, just brilliant) and on to Gordonbrock, which was great. My daughter goes to Prendergast. For obvious reasons my son couldn't follow here there so we embarked on the long haul of getting him a place at another school. All I will say about that is, the best of British luck to anyone else faced with the same challenge!

Anonymous said...

Gordonbrock has just had a pretty shocking Osted report - they have slipped from an overall grade of 2 to an overall grade of 4 and have been issued a notice of improvement. Does anyone send their child there? I assumed that my daughter would probably go there and, although I know that I shouldn't put too much weight solely on the Ofsted report (I have visited the school and was quite impressed), it has nonetheless thrown me a bit and I don't know whether to apply now. However, if we all think like that, the school will deteriorate further! Presumably it will now have to turn itself around and money will be pumped into it to help it do so. Any thoughts?

max said...

Given that Ofsted gives good marks to disastrous bodies like the Social Services of Haringay Council I question what weight any of their reports carry.
If to get good marks from them all you have to do is make sure that you tick the right boxes then it's all a purposeless exercise.
A good school could score less than a bad one if the bad one knows how to play the system, but maybe good schools are too busy teaching to pay attention to what they have to do to get good marks.
Probably reading the full report may give useful information.

Jt said...

This is tough for you, does a notice of improvement come with a injection of funding for the school?

max said...

Quite possible but money is not everything. I'd rather have better teachers every day then more money for extra activities once in a while.

Tressilliana said...

Both my children went to Gordonbrock from Reception on. They are both at secondary school now and doing well. I give a lot of credit for that to their teachers at Gordonbrock, as I think they both got a very good start there.

I understand that that Ofsted report came as a bolt for the blue for everybody, including the LEA. I used to be a governor at Gordonbrock and a parent volunteer and I knew the school very well when my children were there. I can't believe it's deteriorated as much as that report would have you believe in the three years since my son left.

There are many excellent things about Gordonbrock. It has an extremely diverse intake, reflecting the social make-up of the area, and yet the relationships in the school, between children, between children and staff, staff and children were all, in our experience, very good. It's a large school but managed to feel like a real community.

As far as academic standards go, I can only say that I felt that every teacher my son had in his seven years there was excellent. There was a huge range of ability in the class, as with most state primary schools, and I felt that staff went out of their way to make sure that everybody got work which was suited to their level of ability. The brighter children got different, more challenging work when that was appropriate, the children struggling with reading got extra support, etc etc. My daughter's experience was more variable in the early years but she is older and I felt that standards steadily rose all the time my children were there. My son's experience would be more typical, I think.

If you are worried (and you won't be alone, this is the catastrophic effect of a bad Ofsted report) I would suggest asking for an appointment to go and look round the school again. Look at the work on the walls, look at the children - are they happy? Are they busy? Talk to parents with children currently at the school if you can. You will always come across somebody with a particular gripe, but ask them on balance if they now think they would have done better to send their child(ren) to Brockley, St Mary's or any of the other local schools instead. I certainly have no regrets whatsoever and would recommend the school wholeheartedly. The alternative for us was Brockley and at the time there was no contest.

Don't put too much store on Ofsted reports or league tables. Remember that a year group in a primary school, even a big one, is still very small and there can be major fluctuations in results from year to year. This can in practice be because there are one or two more or fewer particularly bright children in the year group. It doesn't necessarily indicate that the teaching has deteriorated. Look at trend over a period of several years rather than a single year's results.

brockley mutha said...

My daughter went to Gordonbrock for a year and I thought that the children were kind, polite and engaged. The teachers I dealt with were good and the headteacher particularly inspiring. I thought highly of it and I'm surprised to hear it got such a negative ofsted report. Does the report make clear what areas need improving, or is it negative about everything.

An additional point is that gordonbrock, like many lewisham schools, may be suffering from the council's chaotic policy towards the borough's schools. Gordonbrock's premises need upgrading and, as I understand it, the school was going to be moved to another site while a new school was built, then that plan was postponed, then cancelled - etc etc. It could be that the school got caught up in a difficult state of flux that impacted on other areas.

Tressilliana said...

I'd agree with the point about the buildings. The PFI scheme that has provided new buildings for Ashmead, Childeric, Forest Hill Boys', Crofton - oops, sorry, Prendergast Ladywell Fields College - etc had to be cut back not too long before it was all signed off and Gordonbrock was taken out. This was particularly annoying as it had been used as a pathfinder school for the other primary schools involved. My understanding was that there was going to be some money to improve the current buildings (sorely needed) and that the school's intake would go down to 2 forms per year instead of 2.5 (whereas the new buildings would have taken 3 forms per year).

It's my impression that the Ofsted report homes in on one year's SATs results, which had fallen a bit from the previous year, and all the negativity stems from there. Deeply dispiriting for everyone. It was definitely a much better school in 2005 when my son left than in 1997 when my daughter started there.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Tressilliana for your reassuring and sensible advice. I only hope that other parents will still send their children there, otherwise it is the beginning of a vicious circle. Ofsted can do more damage than good, I feel.
On the topic of new school buildings etc, our nearest school is actually Lewisham Bridge (I know this is not strictly Brockley, but I'd be interested in people's thoughts). By Sept 2010 this is going to be the 3rd school in the Leathersellers Federation and will become Prendergast The Vale, a 3-16 school. Although I am excited about the changes and believe that it will become a very good school, I am scared to take the leap of faith and apply there before any of the changes have even begun to happen. Is anyone else thinking of applying there?

Anonymous said...

Its interesting as I know most people love it but having visited Myatt Gardens for my child it really did not seem our sort of school at all. I don't think we would apply even if we were directly in catchment (even though I know it achieves great academic performance). Guess it’s a case of different strokes for different folks and shows that there is no substitute for visiting a school. As it is I am fairly certain we are going to go for John Stainer. We like Edmund Waller but think we may be just too far away to get in (about 800 metres). Would love to hear anyone else's experiences of John Stainer.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know anything about William of York Catholic School in Forest Hill? Or indeed Mary Magdalen in Brockley?

Many thanks for any comments.

Tressillian James said...

Mary Magdalene seems very good - I think comparing Ofsted reports would put it second in Brockley, behind Myatt Gardens.

A friend's son started there last September - and I must say the improvement in his skills and behaviour is great

mrs moo-young said...

pls pls can anyone point me to a good primary school in brockly ?
thanks mrs moo-young

Tressilliana said...

Mrs Moo Young, your best bet is to look at the Lewisham Council website to get the addresses of all the local primary schools. Here is the 'Starting primary school' document:

http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/07453185-B153-4D5B-9D10-E68AF69C3BA8/0/StartingPrimarySchool200910.pdf

which gives that information and also explains the admissions policies and gives some idea of how close you would have to live to get a Reception place (but NB these are last year's figures, not the figures for the 2009 admissions round which is just ending).

If you already have a child of school age, your starting point would be to ring either the schools themselves or Lewisham Education to find out where there are vacancies.

Having said all of that, Myatt Garden is generally reckoned the best local school at the moment but most of them are fine. The most recent Ofsted report on Gordonbrock, where my children went, was poor, but I can't believe that the school has deteriorated massively in the short time since my children moved on to secondary school. Our children were happy there and did very well, and I would say that was true of most of the children I knew who went there.

You don't want to pay too much attention to Ofsted and particularly not to league tables. Visit the schools and talk to other local parents if you can. That's the best way to get a feel for what each school is like.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is in year 3 at St Mary Magdalene and my little one starts there in September. Overall we have found it to be an excellent school providing an extremely high standard of eductation. It is very small and has a very friendly atmosphere. My daughter is very happy there. Also there is a recent very good OFSTEAD report.
I would definitely recommend this school.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone recommend a nursery in Brockley?

I am only interested in a few mornings a week but would like one that offers a foreign language from an early age while not losing track of play and fun for the little ones.

Many thanks

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