SIAMS Report

National Society Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools Report

St. John’s Church of England Aided Primary School
Wheatly Avenue
Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire.
ST4 6SBPrevious SIAMS grade: Good
Diocese: Lichfield
Local authority: StaffordshireDates of inspection: 10 March 2015
Date of last inspection: 11 March 2010

School’s unique reference number: 124309
Headteacher: Pauline Bloor

Inspector’s name and number: Marianne Phillips 586

School context

St John’s is a larger than average primary school situated in an area of significant deprivation. The school has grown by 20% in the last three years. The majority of pupils are from a white British background, although 25% of pupils have English as an additional language and this percentage is rising. Pupils, eligible to be supported by Pupil Premium funding, are well above national average. The school has close links with St John’s Church, however through changes in clergy the school has been without the official support of a minister since October 2014.

The distinctiveness and effectiveness of St. John’s as a Church of England school are outstanding

  • The explicit teaching of Christian values to direct and shape daily lives forms the cement binding together all members of this family, sustained through the commitment of all leaders and staff in the support of its pupils and community.
  • The inclusive approaches that ensure diversity is celebrated and which foster a sense of harmony praised by all, underpinned by strong relationships rooted in the teachings of Jesus.
  • The Christian commitment of school leaders and staff to nurture all pupils, especially the most vulnerable, giving them confidence to succeed and achieve enabling them to progress from very low starting points to above national average standards by the time they leave the school.
  • The dedication and Christian witness of the headteacher that focuses upon Jesus as a person and the very effective school leadership team established to drive school improvement and Christian distinctiveness.
Areas to improve

  • Ensure the role of foundation governors is formally extended to include the regular monitoring of daily worship, canvassing the views of all stakeholders.
  • Extend the prayerful foci of existing school life to provide opportunities for spontaneous individual prayer and more pupil leadership in worship.
The school, through its distinctive Christian character, is outstanding at meeting the needs of all learnersThis outstanding church school applies the key Christian values of Love, Forgiveness and Creativity to every aspect of daily life and interaction. They live out the mission statement ‘Hand in hand we pray together, learn together and grow together’ to ensure pupils of all abilities, backgrounds and beliefs are nurtured to succeed. As a result all pupils flourish. As all children questioned agreed, “You are helped to learn in this school, teachers encourage us to do well.” The core values and weekly ‘value champions’ are the focus of discussions evidenced in lessons and worship. These have great impact upon pupils’ attitudes to each other and the learning, enabling pupils’ to make sense of their daily lives through the focus upon Jesus as a role model. Rewards and strategies, such as guidance to ‘use your will power to make a right choice’ result in classrooms that are harmonious, engaging centres of learning. The way they should behave together is fostered through reflecting upon the values Jesus displayed, as a result they talk of Jesus as, “the son of God who is very important in showing us how to live in this school.” Governors and parents agree that the school’s Christian guidance is important and makes a difference to pupils’ development academically and socially as citizens of the future. Pupils are keen to share how important prayer is to them. Their views are illustrated by the words of one Year 2 pupil, “we put our hands together to pray, the prayers go up and the blessings come down.” There are reflection areas in each classroom and pupils are encouraged to pray in worship, before lunch and at the end of the day. Developing spontaneous prayer is an area that would give pupils more opportunity for individual response and spiritual growth. Pupils enjoy their school and feel safe and protected. All stakeholders clearly affirm how important it is to be part of this church school family and many parents chose the school for that reason. The ‘Assembly Team’ and membership on the school council are two of many ways in which pupils are encouraged to be responsible. The latter confidently state they, “know the views of our classmates because we ask them to complete questionnaires to tell us their opinions. We share these with the school and that makes a difference.” The vast majority of pupils join the school with attainment well below age related expectations, particularly in speaking and listening. Educational visits, the range of extra-curricular opportunities, the daily focus upon guided reading and the skilled teaching are many examples of practice used to target individuals and provide support to accelerate their rate of progress academically. As a result, by the time they leave the school attainment is in line with or exceeds national averages. The school achieved the ‘Stoke Speaks Out’ Award, acknowledging the commitment and success in building pupils’ confidence and self-esteem. In addition the numerous eye catching displays, both inside and outside the school building, such as the man sized wooden crosses, reflection areas and pupil mosaics proclaim loudly the Christian care and commitment this school invests to make a difference to the lives of its pupils.
The impact of collective worship on the school community is goodAll pupils enjoy singing, as was evidenced in the good act of whole school worship observed, led by the headteacher. During this worship pupils were confident in saying the Lord’s Prayer, answering questions relating to the bible focus of ‘Jesus the great teacher’ and the value challenge of ‘sharing’, contributing their views openly and confidently. In an Early Years’ act of worship the growing knowledge of Jesus as ‘the light of the world’ was highlighted by one child’s explanation of the lighting of the candle. Worship is central to the life of the school and is experienced daily in classrooms and when the whole school comes together, in the hall. During daily worship pupils and staff have the opportunity to reflect and pray and learn about the Anglican traditions underpinning the school. Worship provides opportunity to nurture faith and belief in all pupils through the inclusive practices of the school. Governors informally monitor the quality of worship and extending their monitoring to include formal procedures is a priority for the school. This is a good idea. Pupils behave excellently showing respect for God. The quiet times of reflection were used effectively to give time for the pupils to focus their ideas on how to respond to the value challenges in the week ahead, using Jesus as a guide. Projects, such as the one focused upon ‘Faith and Understanding’ give pupils experiences in visiting St John’s church, the local mosque, the synagogue, Liverpool Cathedral and Museum. The enrichment opportunities that the school is providing, in its efforts to expand the multi-cultural knowledge and understanding of its pupils is also developing links with the spiritual leaders of the community. In addition links have been fostered with a School in Africa. As part of their charity fund raising the school sent money to Africa for that school to buy a cow, which through a competition they named ‘Daisy’. This is one example of the extensive charity work the school has undertaken in their efforts to ‘treat other people as we would like to be treated by them.’ Parents enjoy attending church services and worship in school and confirm how much they appreciate the ways in which the school is successfully promoting the spiritual development of their children.
The effectiveness of the religious education is good

Religious Education (RE) has a high profile within the school. Progress and attainment is generally good and some teaching is outstanding, as were the Year 2 and Year 6 lessons observed. In these lessons teachers had planned creatively to explore Jesus’ teaching during the ‘Last Supper’ (Y2) and ‘Miracles, Myths and Mysteries’ through analysing Jesus’ miracles and modern day miracles to explore ideas about God’s and Jesus’ purpose (Y6). Year 6 pupils created ‘silent movies’ of some of Jesus’ miracles to illustrate their understanding. They then applied their learning to modern miracles to make sense of this aspect of modern daily life. The Year 2 class acted out Jesus washing the feet of the disciples and the sharing of the ‘bread and wine’ to emphasise the importance of Easter for them. Standards in RE observed were at least in line with Diocesan expectations with some pupils exceeding targets. Pupils were motivated to learn and fully engaged during these lessons. Improving assessment and planning approaches are two priorities for the further development of RE across the school. RE is monitored formally through observation and regular questionnaires. Effective cross curricular links are generated ensuring RE acts as a vehicle to develop writing and mathematical skills. Also, to develop the pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural experiences, there is effective use in RE of exploring values that are important in pupils’ daily lives.

The effectiveness of the leadership and management of the school as a church school is outstandingThe headteacher is an outstanding Christian leader effectively supported by a very strong senior leadership team. These school leaders work tirelessly to drive the Christian vision that all pupils are valued and recognised as special and unique. They know, support and nurture the pupils of all abilities and backgrounds and their families and this has been instrumental in the rapid development of the school as a high performing one. Christian values, exemplified by the life of Jesus, are lived out daily. Leaders devise creative, strategic plans to target areas for improvement and carefully monitor outcomes to ensure needs are addressed. Stakeholders are confident they are welcome and their views are heard. They appreciate the excellent communication from the school and the work of the home/link worker. “We liked the phonics and maths workshops …. They really helped us understand how our children learn… we can also go into class to see how the teachers do it.” The celebration of the diverse mix of the school family and community creates a rich harmonious atmosphere where everyone gets on well together. The headteacher is respected and appreciated not only for the work she does across the school and but also through links she creates to support others in the community at large. The rich curriculum and extra-curricular opportunities offered ensures learning is fun and challenging for all abilities. Pupils’ attendance is an on-going focus. Parents appreciatively acknowledge how the school works with them to reward regular attendance and punctuality. The school is well supported by the Lichfield adviser and teachers and governors have opportunity to train and network with other organisations and schools. The links between the church and school have remained strong, in the absence of an appointed minister, through the commitment of the foundation governors and other Christian leaders.

SIAMS report March 2015, St John’s CE (A) Primary, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 6SB