How well do children learn and achieve?
We found children in the nursery class and school learn and achieve well. There is a very happy atmosphere throughout the school and almost all children demonstrate a sense of teamwork and belonging. They are very proud of their school and the success they experience in learning. In the nursery class, children show that they can persevere in tasks. They like to solve problems and relax with their friends at snack time. Children would benefit, as learners, if the structure of the session was reviewed to allow them more time to explore their interests in depth. There is further scope for staff to have deeper conversations with children about their learning. At the primary stages, children explained to us how they were improving their skills in evaluating their own work. They are beginning to identify more effectively what they do well and how they can improve. Through the many attractive displays of work and information boards, children illustrate how well they achieve. Four Green flags from Eco-Schools Scotland and a very recent ‘Green Machine’ award demonstrate children’s commitment to sustainability. A Rights Respecting School award, class charters and contributions to a number of charities outline children’s determination to be responsible citizens within their community. Children are proud of the many talents within the school and their contributions in music, drama and artwork.
The nursery and primary school my daughters attended in Scotland got their inspection report recently. It's positive overall. There's a second report which has ratings in specific categories, which is somewhat more of a "report card" format, where the scores are mostly "good" with a few "very good" (there's one more level above that). Since I can't figure out how to get back to that one, it seems they mostly want parents to see the narrative version.
Anyhow, nothing remarkable here. The inspector's view of the school maps very closely to my somewhat cursory observations of the school over the year, there's probably nothing here that surprises anyone. Which is exactly how such things should work the vast majority of the time. Evaluating a school is not some dark art, and it should almost never about surprising anyone with the revelation that a school that appears to be good is actually bad, or vice versa.
Handwringing about how, HOW!?!? would we possibly evaluate a school without primarily looking at test scores (and graduation rates) is just ignorant and uninformed. To be sure, it isn't easy or simple, there's got to be a well-designed formal process, but it isn't unknown territory.