National Society Statutory Inspection of Anglican Schools Report St Benedict’s Church of England Voluntary Aided Junior School Benedict’s Street Glastonbury Somerset BA6 9EX Diocese: Bath and Wells Local Authority: Somerset Date of inspection: 14th November 2011 Date of last inspection: 12th November 2008 School’s URN: 123833 Name of Headteacher: Chris Lewis Inspector’s name and number: Daphne Spitzer NS 37 School context St Benedict’s Church of England Junior School is located in the centre of the town of Glastonbury. Most of the 200 children on roll live in the town. The majority of the children are of white British heritage. The percentage of children with special educational needs/and or physical disabilities are much higher than average. The governing body manages a breakfast and an after school club. The chair of governors and a number of other governors have recently been appointed. The distinctiveness and effectiveness of St Benedict’s Church Voluntary Aided Junior School as a church school is good The distinctive Christian character of St Benedict’s is reflected in the school’s warm, inclusive Christian ethos. This has had a good impact on the children’s academic and personal development. Established strengths
The strong Christian ethos of care and concern for all The vicar’s role in strengthening the link between church and school The strong partnership between the school, parents and local community Focus for development
Develop assessment strategies for religious education which will inform planning and raise standards Involve the diocese in staff training for leading collective worship in order to improve confidence and expertise in this area of daily school life Involve the whole school community in revisiting the school’s Christian vision and developing a core set of Christian values which will further embed the school’s Christian ethos Develop spiritual awareness by increasing times for prayer and quiet reflection as part of the school day
The school, through its distinctive Christian character, is good at meeting the needs of all learners St Benedict’s Church of England Junior School is a welcoming, friendly church school community. Its positive Christian ethos ensures that all children feel valued and special, enjoy
school and are given many opportunities to achieve their potential. The school’s Christian purpose is rooted in the care for the needs of the individual child. Christian values are reflected in the school’s strongly inclusive culture where children learn to interact well and support each other. This is a key strength of the school. Relationships are very good at all levels and based on the Christian values of caring for and helping each other. This is reflected in the comment of a ‘peer supporter’ who described that it was ‘really fun, helping people’ in the playground and another child’s comment ‘that everyone cares for one another’. There are many opportunities for children to become responsible citizens. This is noted in the high regard children have for the role of the school council who have recently chosen new equipment for the playground. Opportunities for spiritual development are effective. Children write highly reflective prayers for special occasions such as the recent Remembrance Service. However, prayer and times for quiet reflection are not embedded in the school day because there is no time or focus for this in classrooms. The Christian value of compassion is reflected in a child’s comment that you should ‘think in another person’s’ shoes and the school’s focus on charitable fundraising particularly for Christian Aid. It is also evidenced in the way the children identify with a child in Ethiopia which the school sponsors. The school’s Christian community is strengthened by the daily presence of the vicar, who is also a parent. He is known informally by his first name and is regarded as a friend of the whole community. In this way he plays a pastoral role both with the children, staff and parent community. He is also proactive in the way opportunities are found to increase the school attendance in church, as demonstrated by the recent ‘Singing Day’. The school promotes spiritual development well by the symbols, mainly crosses which are displayed throughout the school’s central areas. The school’s Christian foundation and focus on spiritual awareness is also proclaimed in the attractive religious education displays although as yet there are no similar areas for quiet calm and reflection in the school grounds. The impact of collective worship on the school community is good Collective worship is an important part of daily life at St Benedict’s. It is a special time for all involved as observed by the quiet and reverent way the children entered and left the hall on the day of the inspection. Children enjoy collective worship and find themes relevant and meaningful to their own lives. They associate worship with learning about God and Christian values through stories, the majority of which originate in the Bible. They are engaged and participate well in worship particularly in the beautiful hymn singing. However they are not always actively engaged nor do they lead aspects such as prayers other than for special occasions. The vicar visits to lead worship regularly as do a group of local Christians who lead “Open the Book” Bible sessions, involving children in role play. These visitors are eagerly received by the children and have an impact. They contribute to planning for collective worship which is coordinated very effectively by the headteacher. Each week, worship takes place in the classroom led by class teachers using the weekly theme. However, in discussion with children, comments were made that elements of worship in class such as prayer or a focal point are omitted and so worship did not have the same impact. Valuable opportunities for moments of quiet reflection and spiritual awareness are also lost. The opportunities for learning about the Anglican faith are very good. This is reflected in the way that children fully understand that the lit candle at the start of worship represents the light of Christ, the coloured cloths on the focus table signify the church’s seasons and the greeting response prayers which are said. Worship is fully inclusive of all faiths present as well as those of none and this is highly valued. The worship observed, led by the vicar, was based on the Christian value of forgiveness and was very effective. His ‘hands-on’ innovative style of ironing out wrinkles in a shirt enabled children very clearly to understand that in the same way God forgives our misdemeanours. Worship effectively ended with the encouragement to reflect further on the theme during the day. The vicar working closely with the headteacher, monitors worship and often talks to children to obtain feedback which informs future planning. The two local churches are very well used, the larger one for major Christian festivals when parents and the local community are invited and the smaller one, St Benedict’s for other celebrations such as Ash Wednesday.
The effectiveness of the religious education is satisfactory Religious Education (RE) is regarded as an important subject at St Benedict’s Junior School. Children’s attitudes are very positive. Standards are average and slightly lower than the other core subjects. This is because assessment strategies are not used to inform future planning, track progress and better meet the needs of individual children. Teaching and learning is good overall. Progress throughout the key stage is satisfactory. Where children were making good progress in their learning it was due to good teaching methods which excite and stimulate. This was observed in a lesson where children were engaged actively in paired learning in a challenging task, promoting focussed and meaningful discussion. The task, linking Christmas cards to the gospel versions of Christmas provoked quality dialogue about the secularisation of the coming season. Both lessons observed were well planned and prepared. The headteacher leads the subject well ensuring that resources are good and that he attends training on the subject. The vicar as RE link governor supports the subject very well. This is reflected in the way he is very effectively supporting the teaching of Christianity by spending time with each year group in turn in the parish church. Children enjoy learning about other faiths and cultures and find it relevant to their lives demonstrating empathy and a desire to understand differences in order better to relate to others. However, as yet, there is no programme of visits or visitors from other faiths which might have contributed to one child’s comment that she thought there were no jews living locally or elsewhere in this country.
The effectiveness of the leadership and management of the school as a church school is good The headteacher and governors provide clear direction for the development of the school’s Christian foundation. The school’s Christian vision is well established and embedded in school life. However, the vision has not been reviewed by the whole school community for some time and the school’s Christian values whilst wide ranging are not recognised as such The school leadership have not yet started the process of refining these values into a core set which can be identified as enriching the school’s distinctive Christian character in its daily life. Parents are very supportive of the school’s Christian ethos and very appreciative of how its values impact on their children’s behaviour. For instance, parents say that the children are very accepting of each others’ differences and very caring of one another. They praise the school’s inclusive quality which they believe exemplifies its strong sense of a Christian community. Governors are very supportive of the school’s Christian foundation and are now planning to form an ethos committee to discuss ways to develop the school’s distinctive Christian character. Links with the diocese are effective as evidenced by the regular meetings attended by the headteacher and the presence of the year 6 at the annual Wells Cathedral Leavers’ Day. The vicar provides valuable training and spiritual development for staff as noted by his recent meeting focussed on the prayer life of the school. However, staff in general have not received professional development from the diocese for some time. The school’s partnership with the parents, church and local community is strong. This is reflected in the way that school services, which take place in both St John’s and St Benedict’s churches are well supported by parents and the way that the school is involved in the churches’ family services. The school also participates in local events such as the recent Remembrance Day service and the cutting of the Holy Thorn. The vicar’s role in the school over the last few years, has strengthened the already good links with the church and placed the school closer to the heart of church and town life. SIAS report November 2011, St Benedict’s Church of England Voluntary Aided Junior School, Benedict Street, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 9EX