School Church Inspection Report (SIAS)

School Church Inspection Report (SIAS)

St Thomas’ Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School

Marriott Street

Stockport

Cheshire

SK1 3PJ

Diocese: Chester

Local authority: Stockport

Dates of inspection: 20th January 2012

Date of last inspection: 1st  May 2009

School’s unique reference number: 106109

Headteacher: Mrs Jill Gray

Inspector’s name and number: Ruth Wall  548

School context

This is a smaller than average school with 135 children on roll. It serves a community which experiences significant social and economic deprivation and high levels of pupil mobility. The proportion of children with special or additional learning needs is much higher than average as is the proportion of children known to be eligible for free school meals. The ‘Activemark’, Healthy Eating Award and the Inclusion Quality Mark are held by the school.

The distinctiveness and effectiveness of St Thomas’ as a Church of England school are good

This is a very friendly and happy school with a caring Christian ethos in which all members of the school community are highly valued and nurtured as individuals.

Established strengths
  • The commitment of the headteacher and all the staff to the well being and social care of every child
  • The quality of relationships between all members of the school community
Focus for development
  • Provide training for governors in the leadership and management of the school as a church school
  • Involve all members of the school community in a review of the school mission to make its Christian aims explicit
  • Establish strategies for the evaluation of collective worship by children, staff and governors
The school, through its distinctive Christian character, is good at meeting the needs of all learners

There is a warm and welcoming atmosphere in the school. Christian symbols and displays in the entrance and in some classrooms reflect that Christian aims and values are promoted here. These values can be seen clearly in the quality of relationships between all members of the school community. Although the mission statement, ‘Believe to Achieve’, is not on sight, explicit in its meaning, children were able to articulate its significance in respect to “believing in ourselves and God to help us to do well.” Furthermore, the school prayer, which all the children learn, asks that God would ‘…Always be with me to help me to believe and achieve.’ An outstanding level of care is shown to the children by the staff and by the children for each other. Families show empathy for others in need and are consistently generous in their giving to several charitable fundraising initiatives run by the school. A group of children spoke positively about their school which, they agreed whole-heartedly, was like a family. Many extra-curricular activities and visits out of school greatly enrich the curriculum. The headteacher explained “…there are a vast array of needs here … we want the children to have fun.”A sense of humour is encouraged but there are firm boundaries for behaviour. There are numerous examples of strategies used to promote positive behaviour and make all children feel special. These include certificates, Friday’s golden time and the lunchtime golden table. Children are polite, friendly and very well behaved. They feel happy with their teachers and agreed with one child who said, “…they make us feel safe.” The headteacher is very approachable and children feel comfortable about sharing their concerns with her, and a confidence that she can and will help them. Several members of staff were keen to explain why they are so proud of their school: “There’s never been a day when I’ve not wanted to come to school”, “the school has turned a lot of lives around” and, “all the staff are happy here – we are friends”, being typical of comments made by them. The deputy headteacher explained that Religious Education (RE) “contributes significantly to children learning about religion and from religionIt promotes the ethos of the school and shows the children where they fit in.” In the recent questionnaires, parents showed themselves to be overwhelmingly supportive of the school. They feel that that they are always welcome and that there is no issue too trivial to receive compassionate attention. Their attendance at half termly curriculum meetings and in special services in church is always good.

The impact of collective worship on the school community is good

The collective worship I observed was a joyous occasion. The whole school celebrated together as children were awarded certificates for achievement, behaviour and for their positive attitudes. Christian songs were sung with enthusiasm and actions used effectively to help give emphasis to the words. Planned themes for collective worship include, ‘Choices bring Consequences’. The children learn how this relates to their own lives as well as hearing stories from the Bible to illustrate the themes. Children re-told the Old Testament story of Daniel in the lion’s den and explained that God was with him in his bad time because he had made the choice to worship God. The vicar said that in his acts of worship he had emphasized the value of forgiveness. “ Jesus forgave people and he would like us to forgive each other”, explained one child.Christian teaching goes beyond the time of collective worship. In one class the Good Samaritan Bible story was being used to teach children how to act and respond to others in the playground. The drama specialist said she was “delighted” with the children’s input into a special performance assembly that they are preparing this term. It is entitled ‘It’s cool to care’ and demonstrates how people can make the changes they want to see in the world. Staff attend collective worship, showing the high priority given to whole school worship. One member of staff explained how being in this school had affirmed her own faith. She is now part of church worship and service to the youth in the community. The school recognizes the need to invite more visitors, including Christian theatre companies, into school to share their faith experience with the children. Foundation governors have encouraged the development of information communication technology (ICT) to further enhance worship. They have not been involved in formal monitoring and evaluation of standards of collective worship.

The effectiveness of the leadership and management of the school as a church school is satisfactory

The headteacher and deputy headteacher form a strong leadership team and are well supported by the staff. They all provide excellent role models for living out the Christian life in practice. Governors support the school but have not been involved in the formal process of self-evaluating its distinctive Christian character, collective worship or the leadership and management of the school as a church school. They have not clearly determined the distinctive Christian values or vision for the school. These were areas for development in the last inspection and leadership feels that now, with new governors, they are in a good position to address these issues and make rapid progress. The leadership of the school provides children with an exciting, creative and rich curriculum which has a positive impact on children’s’ social, moral, spiritual and cultural development. Children value the role they play in the school council. They proudly listed the changes they had been instrumental in making. These include: outdoor play areas and equipment and personal lockers for older children. Children play an important part in maintaining the very good behaviour in school. They have not been involved in formal self evaluation of the school as a church school. The vicar has supported the school as a foundation governor for many years and with regular input into collective worship. Governors have encouraged links with St Thomas’ Church. The close proximity of the church enables children to explore aspects of Anglican worship, and to celebrate the main Christian festivals throughout the year. To mark the church’s 125thbirthday, the school, as part of its creative curriculum, has made plans to make nine large banners to display there.

SIAS report, January 2012 St Thomas’ Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School, Marriott Street, Stockport, SK1 3PJ
 
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