Statutory Inspection of Anglican Schools Report
Name and address of school: Blandford St. Mary Church of England VA Primary School, Birch Avenue, Blandford St Mary, Dorset, DT11 9QD Type of school: Primary Status: Aided Diocese: Salisbury LA: Dorset Date of inspection: 27.11.2012 Date of last inspection: 5.2.2008 School’s Unique reference number: 113795 Name of Head Teacher: Mr Paul Lavis Inspector’s name with National Society inspector’s number: Canon Harold Stephens. (264) The School’s Context Blandford St. Mary Church of England VA Primary School serves the village of Blandford St. Mary and families from the local town of Blandford Forum which is not in its traditional catchment area. Currently it has 196 pupils with nearly 50% attending from the beyond the catchment area. The school, formerly a First School, has seen a considerable growth in numbers since becoming a primary school. The numbers of children in proportion to the total population of the school, with special educational needs is significantly above the national average. Numbers receiving free school meals are roughly in line with the national average but represent a considerable increase in recent years. The vast majority of pupils make good progress if not better, across the school. The school has achieved level 1 of the Rights Respecting Schools programme. Summary Judgement Blandford St. Mary Church of England VA Primary School is an outstanding Church school. With its strengths of vision led by strong and effective Leadership, the school has a clear Christian ethos and is rooted in core Christian values which shape the vision for all pupils. Thus all learners do well at Blandford St. Mary VA Primary School and thrive in a consistent, safe, inclusive and dynamic environment which is rooted strongly in its community including the local Church benefice. The provision for the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils and the pastoral provision are exemplary. Established strengths The leadership and management of the school as a Church school especially that of the head teacher. The quality of pastoral provision which enables all pupils to thrive and which often goes beyond that which might be expected. Quality of provision for the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils across the whole school. Provision of Religious Education which is effectively and skilfully led and a major contributor to the Christian character of the school. Focus for development Seek to involve pupils more directly in the delivery of some collective worship and more effectively in evaluating the impact of Collective Worship at the school. How well does the school, through its distinctive Christian character, meet the needs of all learners? As a Church of England school, Blandford St. Mary VA Primary School is outstanding at meeting the needs of all learners. The school has a strong, explicit and clear Christian identity with emphasis on Christian values and how they are worked out in everyday life. The Mission Statement and the core values related to this spell out an
accessible and appropriate Church identity and ethos. Thus there are evident in the life of the school explicitly Christian values of perseverance, the significance of faith and of empathy with others and valuing difference and diversity. These are given Biblical contexts within Collective Worship, Religious Education and elsewhere in the curriculum. These are amplified across the curriculum, as the “Values for Life” scheme’s themes in Collective Worship are reflected upon and related to everyday experience in and beyond school. With this rootedness in Christian values and with this strong, inclusive, open and compassionate Christian ethos, there is coherence and consistency across the life of the school which ensures that all children succeed well. This is supported by outstanding pastoral provision, consistently good or better teaching and learning and a thirst and ambition to continue improving. The provision for the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils across the curriculum is important in the school’s planning and largely in place and of a high order. Pupil voice is strong and pupils are encouraged to take responsibility and to develop strongly their moral as well as spiritual development. In this Religious Education plays a significant rôle with a creatively planned curriculum, which challenges all learners. The School Council has been engaged significantly with such things as shaping charity work and designing anti-bullying awareness. The environment of the school encourages this, as does the quality of relationships and the good modelling of the Christian Values of the school by all adults in the school community. The provision for all pupils, including those with a variety of special needs and those who are any way vulnerable, is especially strong. This is exemplified by the quality of the curriculum, the ever-improving quality of teaching and learning, of the high quality work of the SENCO, the commitment to the RRS1 agenda and the strong links with the Church and the wider community. Parents were eager to give several examples of support, help and care which has been provided for children with particular needs, which have gone far beyond what could be expected and in total partnership with parents and carers. This is outstanding. Pupils across the ability range achieve well in both key stages. The provision of enrichment is diverse and extensive. Children are drawn into drama, music, sport, and supplementary curriculum clubs, planning for activities in the community and for charity fund-raising. More than one pupil spoke of how extra time and care is always offered to pupils needing special support with curriculum and learning. Pupils feel safe and behaviour is generally outstanding. Parents spoke with one voice to express the high quality of communication from the school, the sense of partnership with it and the friendly, accessible culture of the school which all found supportive and of great value. What is the impact of collective worship on the school community? The impact of Collective Worship on the school community is outstanding. Collective Worship is provided daily for all pupils and satisfies the legal requirements in relation to information about withdrawal as well as provision. Pupils respond well to Collective Worship and enjoy participating, not least of all, in class acts of collective worship. Collective Worship is well resourced, and the environment supports an appropriate atmosphere well. Examples on the school’s excellent web site support Collective Worship and its themes in an imaginative and accessible manner. This is to be commended. The impact of Collective Worship is very positive. Collective Worship is a significant part of the daily life of the school and much valued. It is a major provider for the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils. In this the Parish Priest (now retired) was much involved both in planning and regular leading. His absence is missed. Patterns of Collective Worship reflect the nature of Anglican worship and at a suitable level for the children of the school to become involved. The use of song, prayer, story and Bible all feature strongly. The “Values for Life” programme has enhanced and deepened collective worship and pupils were able to talk about the values this reflects and the Christian context for them. The current theme is augmented by displays, by work in the curriculum and through materials on the web site. There is opportunity to increase the direct involvement in planning for 1
Rights Respecting Schools
and delivery of Collective Worship beyond the class act of collective worship by pupils. Several pupils were able to identify specific acts of collective worship, which had left an impression on them and which made them think. However this was not universal and pupils could be helped to articulate more their views about and experience of worship at the school. The reflection diaries, commonly used to follow up class worship, are an example of how the school is promoting reflective thinking although these need further development over time although more help in equipping children to express reflectively upon the spiritual could further provide for a deeper understanding by pupils of the importance of Collective Worship. The school monitors collective worship as part of a wider “Spiritual Survey”. This is done through the School web site. As a result the school is aware of the impact of collective worship on the spiritual and moral development of pupils and have responded to questionnaires in seeking improvements and changes. The impact of collective worship is also recognised by parents who value the way worship is conducted and how it engages children. Governors regularly attend collective worship and offer feedback to the head verbally or on the school’s blog. The Friday “Celebration Assembly" has been transformed to offer parents and cares the chance to come to worship with their children where, normally, the Church has been less present. How effective is the Religious Education? The effectiveness of Religious Education at the school is outstanding. Religious Education at the school is well resourced and complies with statutory requirements. Religious Education is extremely well led and as a result the new Agreed Syllabus has been successfully conformed to the school’s “Creative Curriculum” themes. Religious Education is not a passive participant but a significant contributor in this process. Teaching and learning in Religious Education is at least good or better. There is the use of outside visitors of a variety of types and a absolute commitment to education for diversity of which Religious Education is an important provider in the school. Pupils make good progress and attain well in comparison with other subjects and in line with the national picture for Religious Education. Standards and progress are carefully monitored alongside all other subjects. Assessment for learning is in place. More than one pupil was able to point to their “levelling chart” to indicate how well they are doing and what they need to do to do even better. All staff teaching Religious Education feel empowered. Support, advice and collaborative working have resulted in the subject being an important and effective part of the life of the school. Thus Religious Education is a major contributor to the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils in both key stages. In Religious Education pupils are challenged to think about matters of spiritual concern – good and evil, right and wrong, life and death, justice and injustice, truth and unreality. Religious Education supports and affirms the Christian character and values of the school and commands the respect of pupils and parents alike. How effective are the leadership and management of the school as a church school? The leadership and management of the School as a Church of England of school is outstanding. The clear Christian vision and commitment to core Christian values are accepted and supported by all stakeholders. The head provides clear and strong leadership as a Church of England school head. He has fostered strong links with the Parish and serves on the PCC2. Leadership and management of Blandford St. Mary VA Primary School is a real strength at every level, not simply that provided by the Head. The strong, aspirational and able head has developed a strong senior team. All leaders are working effectively and take seriously and with growing confidence the challenges of their rôles. The Governing Body is effective and engaged with the school – both as a support and also as a challenge to the head and senior staff. The governors are involved with the life of the school and bring a good balance of skills and experience. In this, until his retirement, the incumbent was an important member. 2
Parochial Church Council
Currently the governors are concerned to sustain an effective parish link and promote periodic “Messy Church” and also special occasional Church services such as Christingle. All stakeholders share in the vision for the school’s continuing improvement as well as identifying with the school’s Christian Mission Statement and core values. The governors provide challenge as well as encouragement and support. The school has firm, varied and effective links with the local benefice and strong links with the wider community and beyond. During the current vacancy, a major contribution is being made by the head to revising the vision of the work of the local church with the school and with parts of the local community. This is to be commended. Links with the Diocese of Salisbury have provided support for the school at a number of levels, whilst the Head has provided training for leaders of other Church Schools on behalf of the Diocesan Board of Education. All the action points from the previous SIAS report have been addressed SIAS Report November 2012 Blandford St Mary Church of England VA Primary School Birch Avenue, Blandford St Mary, Dorset, DT11 9QD
Our SIAS inspection report.