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St John's Church Of England Primary School

Growing towards the future through love, care and respect

Church Inspection

July 2014

We had a monitoring visit from the Diocese.  This was a day’s visit from Mr John Ross, Inspector.

He stated the following:

  • The children were very articulate and there was a feeling that this was “a living Church School”.
  • There is an awareness that the values are based on the Bible and examples could be given.
  • The children have an awareness of the Trinity.
  • There is evidence that the teachers encourage children to develop in RE, giving helpful comments.
  • Opportunity is given for the pupils to develop a personal spirituality and, for those who want to, develop a spirituality that is Christian based.
  • Children expressed that they can pray when they feel the need.

 

The following is the Statutory Inspection of Anglican Schools:-

 

St John’s CE Primary Academy

Provender Way, Grove Green

Maidstone, Kent

ME14 5TZ

Previous SIAMS grade: Outstanding

 

Diocese: Canterbury

Local authority: N/A

Dates of inspection: 2 December 2014

Date of last inspection: 23 April 2010

School’s unique reference number: 8863372

Headteacher: T Harrington

Inspector’s name and number: S Thompson 714

 

School context

St John’s Church of England Primary Academy is situated on the edge of Maidstone. The school has just completed building work to accommodate an expansion to two classes in each year group. Currently there are two classes in reception, year 1 and year 2. The school has an average proportion of pupils with special educational needs. Most pupils come from White

British backgrounds. The school became an academy in 2011. Nine members of the governing body represent local churches, the deanery and the diocese.

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

  • There is a strong ethos of care and support for individuals in a school community; some identify this as being because St John’s is a Church School.
  • Christian pictures, signs and symbols around the school show the school is a church school.
  • St John’s uses diocesan collective worship planning to give coherence to the themes covered.
  • There are opportunities for staff to develop their leadership roles.

Areas to improve

  • To identify Gospel teachings that link to the four chosen values and communicate these in a memorable way to all members of the school community.
  • To provide appropriately challenging learning activities which give opportunities to develop attainment target one (learning about religion) and attainment target two (learning from religion) to ensure sustained progress.
  • To develop the understanding that everyone is made in the image of God and can make a positive contribution to the world through the provision of more opportunities to view other cultures as having intrinsic value.

The school, through its distinctive Christian character, is satisfactory at meeting the needs of all learners

The school has undertaken an extensive exploration of values. This culminated in July 2014 when four values (trust, friendship, forgiveness and compassion) were selected as the core values of the school. This resulted in the school developing a school vision rooted in these words which are depicted in art work around the school. The children can recite the names of the values. However the school community is unable to articulate the roots of the ethos and values in distinctively Christian teaching. For instance, the children gave the partial response, “Jesus was kind”. They cannot explain specifically how the teachings of Jesus link to the values. A number of children are not confident in defining ‘compassion’. The standards of achievement across the school overall are good and the school demonstrates a strong sense of well-being. There is a strong ethos of care and support, the ‘family feel’, which is acknowledged by all members of the school community. The parents said they feel the school supports the entire school community well, giving examples of support during times of loss. The school environment reflects a Christian world view, one mural of the solar system being described by a child, “this shows that God created the universe”. However, no links are made to how this understanding might impact on a Christian or the school. The moral education of the children is well developed; they understand why they should contribute to charities. In addition they actively engage in supporting younger children in the school, for example as play leaders. Cultural understanding was enhanced by a visitor from Zambia sharing her experience and worship styles with the children. As this was a relatively isolated example their cultural understanding is restricted to seeing those from other cultures as being in need of charity.

Some opportunities for spiritual development are given but times for quiet reflection are scarce. In the Christmas experience no periods of quietness were observed. The subject leaders for RE and collective worship talked about the way links between RE, collective worship and Christian values are made by the teachers’ in lessons referencing the collective worship themes in their teaching. These links do not result in a systematic understanding of the distinctive Christian character of the school.

 

The impact of collective worship on the school community is satisfactory

 

Since September the school has used the Diocesan planning document for collective worship.This enables Christian values, key Christian teaching and key festivals to be focused on in a systematic manner. Children confidently talk about the work and teaching of Jesus, giving examples such as the “healing of the paralysed man”. However, this does not translate into an understanding of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit or the ability to make secure links between their own lives, the school values and Christian teaching. The children were positive about the prayer box; prayers in the box are offered during collective worship each week. The children reported that the quiet garden in particular, was not respected by all members of the school community. Reflection areas are for display rather than encouraging interaction by the children. Overall the purpose of prayer and reflection is not understood by members of the school community so the contribution of these practices to spiritual development is impaired. A group of four children, in the ‘Light the Candle’ group, occasionally plan and lead collective worship. They also survey the other children in order to evaluate collective worship. This has lead to an increase in the diversity of music used in collective worship; action songs as well as contemplative music are used. The children say that this means they are more engaged in the music. The children experience different approaches to collective worship through the range of local people from different denominations that come into school to lead collective worship. Opportunities for parents to attend collective worship are limited to weekly Foundation Stage collective worship and some festival celebrations involving the whole school.

 

The effectiveness of the religious education is satisfactory

Teaching and learning in Religious Education (RE) are, satisfactory because RE teaching in many year groups is over reliant on sheets; thus limiting learning and creative ways of exploring the subject. Children enjoy it when drama opportunities are provided, however these and other activities are not adapted sufficiently to meet the needs of all learners. The teachers are not secure in the application of marks (or levels) to show how well the children are learning and progressing in RE. A number of pieces of work are given level three but show evidence of level two learning. On the occasions when teachers give constructive comments these often do not relate to RE, therefore do not move the learning forward. Furthermore, the learning opportunities and feedback from teachers demonstrate a misunderstanding in their subject knowledge and a limited understanding of the two areas of learning in religious education. Teachers have developed the practice of identifying which attainment target is demonstrated in the learning. However, attainment target two is limited to feelings rather than engaging with ultimate questions. The school judges RE attainment to be line with literacy attainment. However, the evidence seen during the inspection suggests that overall it lacks challenge to enable the children to reach higher levels, resulting in attainment which is lower than the literacy outcomes. The school follows the Diocesan syllabus which ensures coverage, though is unaware of the National Society Statement of Entitlement for Religious Education and the commitment to RE that this embraces. The RE subject leader is new to the school and the role of RE subject leadership. She has begun the Diocesan training for new subject leaders and is keen to develop into the role.

 

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

Good partnerships exist with the local church, the deanery and diocese; this is shown in the composition of the governing body. Whilst some people are keen to be involved, the evidence of impact is less obvious. The parents support the school wholeheartedly and are delighted with the well-rounded children they see leaving the school. The physical environment reflects some Christian signs and symbols, yet these do not have a consistent impact across the school and their purpose is not understood. Since the last inspection, the areas for development from have not been fully addressed. The prospectus clearly reflects that the school is a church school, but Christian values are not established in the policies. For instance, the behaviour policy makes no reference to forgiveness or reconciliation. In addition, the link between the school values and Gospel teaching is not understood by members of the school community. The evidence suggests that effective, robust evaluation systems of aspects of church school distinctiveness are not used by the school leaders and governors. The school is to be commended for its commitment in supporting staff to develop as leaders; the expansion of the school has given new career progression opportunities and leaders are being given training to enhance their role. These opportunities are not directly related to church school leadership, nor do they ensure an understanding of the implications of the new church school inspection framework. The statutory arrangements for RE and collective worship are met.

SIAMS report December 2014 St John’s CE Primary Academy, Maidstone, ME14 5TZ