National Society Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools Report
Ellingham Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School
Previous SIAMS grade: Satisfactory
Current inspection grade: Satisfactory
Local authority: Norfolk
Date of inspection: 16 July 2015
Date of last inspection: July 2010
School’s unique reference number: 121035
Headteacher: Charlotte Whyte
Inspector’s name and number: Lizzie McWhirter 244
Ellingham Primary School’s 81 pupils are almost all from a White British background. Many pupils travel to school from nearby villages. The proportion of pupils who are disadvantaged or with special educational needs is below average. The school is federated with Woodton Community Primary School. There have been significant staff changes since the last inspection. The headteacher has been in post since January 2014 and the deputy headteacher has recently been appointed.
The distinctiveness and effectiveness of Ellingham as a Church of England school are satisfactory
· Integral to the journey this school is on is the Christian vision of the headteacher, which is embraced by governors. This ensures the Christian character of the school permeates all school life.
· Children are valued as individuals in this welcoming Christian community. This ensures they become confident learners who achieve well.
· The strong sense of a nurturing community, underpinned by core Christian values, ensures all feel accepted in this school family.
Areas to improve
· Embed the monitoring role of the governors to ensure aspects of Christian distinctiveness continue to make an impact on teaching and learning.
· Embed the evaluation and leadership of collective worship, involving pupils, to ensure worship develops in integrity and quality to support pupils’ spiritual journeys.
· Deepen pupils’ understanding of worldwide Anglican tradition and practice and ensure pupils meet people of other faith traditions to enrich their spiritual and cultural development.
The school, through its distinctive Christian character, is good at meeting the needs of all learners
Ellingham Primary School provides a Christian family environment which seeks to inspire, nurture and challenge pupils. It values the uniqueness of each person, encouraging positive attitudes amongst its pupils who grow in their self-esteem and confidence. Good examples include pupils taking responsibility as Eco Rangers, in caring for their environment and extensive school grounds. Relationships are good and pupil behaviour has improved dramatically as a result of the emphasis on the Christian value of forgiveness and ‘tomorrow is a new day and you can start again’. Attendance is good and in line with the national average, and there have been fewer exclusions than last year. This is because children are happy and want to come to school. As a result, attainment shows a positive and improving picture. All groups of children are making progress, including those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. This is due to tracking of termly pupil progress meetings, with interventions to support individual children within a spirit of forgiveness related to Jesus’ teaching in the Bible. In addition, the school now has a more able register of children, who are making well above expected progress. Consequently, children know that they have to ‘try, try and try again’. They know that this is not always easy, but do so in a spirit of perseverance. A variety of extra-curricular clubs and other activities offered to pupils enrich their learning and their lives. Good examples include music lessons, sporting events, gardening club and caring for the outdoor areas. This includes a number of reflection areas and a bird hide in the school grounds, which support pupils’ spiritual development in enjoying God’s creation. In addition, Key Stage 2 pupils were able to demonstrate their musical and acting abilities and achievements in a recent school production of ‘Mary Poppins’. All pupils experience the Christian value of service through their fundraising activities, such as Jeans for Genes and by supporting the local foodbank. In addition, the school supports a family in Africa, and have provided a goat. One pupil translated a letter into French to be sent to the boy they support ‘as this is the language he speaks’. Thus, children understand their place in the world and their Christian responsibility to others is nurtured. Children’s experience of diverse communities and beliefs is nurtured through religious education [RE] and worship. Pupils enjoy RE and like ‘learning about different religions and beliefs’. They ask important questions, such as, ‘What is the meaning of life?’ Pupils can relate the Christmas and Easter story well, but are less secure in their knowledge of Ascension, Pentecost and the person and role of St Mary, after whom their church is named. The school has rightly identified the need to deepen pupils’ understanding of worldwide Anglican tradition and practice. In addition, it also recognises the need for pupils to meet people of other faiths to enrich their learning and spiritual and cultural development.
The impact of collective worship on the school community is satisfactory
The school has worked very hard to establish a regular pattern of worship based on ‘Values for Life’. As a result, worship which has a focus on the church year and Christian values is making a growing impact on the lives of the children and their families, supporting their spiritual journeys. Pupils are offered the opportunity to focus on the life and teaching of Jesus. Some pupils are able to make the link between bible stories and their own lives. Good examples include The Lost Sheep, with one pupil saying, ‘He persevered and found the sheep. If you persevere with yourself, you can get somewhere in life. It means you keep on trying’. Pupils are helped to face change in their lives by seeing how people in the Bible faced change with God’s help. A highlight of the school year for pupils and their parents is the annual carol service, held in St Mary’s Church. Pupils say they find the church ‘peaceful’ and would like to use it more often. They also say they would like to worship outdoors more in their school grounds. The vicar of St Mary’s Church leads worship fortnightly in school. Pupils say they enjoying acting out the Bible stories their vicar shares with them. Pupils recently gained a distinction with their life size figure of St Francis, which was displayed at Norwich Cathedral, as part of a diocesan–wide competition. Their prayers about St Francis’ honesty and sacrifice were commended. A new school prayer has been introduced and is being used by the children in daily worship this is helping to build up identity and belonging within this community. Pupils have written their own prayers, with the school identifying the need for developing pupils’ own prayers to be used more extensively. Currently, this is not in place. Pupils are growing in their experience of the mystery of The Holy Trinity. Children find different ways of talking about God and are very accepting of different viewpoints. One pupil spoke of Jesus as ‘He was the embodiment of God to help people believe in God and follow God. He was the incarnation of God on earth’. Another pupil spoke of the work of Jesus as ’he sacrificed himself so he could cure us of our sins’. Pupils welcome helping to design worship, taking on leadership responsibilities and have suggested the setting up of a worship group. Currently, this is not in place. Governors gather pupils’ views on worship informally, but recognise the need for pupils to share their viewpoints on worship more regularly with governors. In addition, the school has identified the need for pupils to be involved more fully in planning and leading worship to nurture pupils’ spiritual development.
The effectiveness of the leadership and management of the school as a church school is satisfactory
This school has experienced a period of great change in the last few years, notably in its leadership. However, since the appointment of its headteacher last year, the school is now in a more settled phase of its life and learning journey, and has worked hard to achieve this. There is a renewed impetus from the whole community to move forward together in re-establishing the Christian identity of this school, under the direction of the headteacher. The school’s vision to enable all children to reach their potential in an ever changing world and the wellbeing of all pupils is of paramount importance. This focus on ensuring a community, rooted in Christian values, such as truthfulness, where all children can thrive and succeed, whatever their starting points, is key to the school’s development. This is led by the headteacher and strongly supported by the governors. Links between the school’s Christian character and the school’s strategic planning has begun. Whilst the school has experienced significant changes, areas from the previous inspection have been addressed. Parents praise the strong family spirit of this school, which has been preserved. RE and worship do meet statutory requirements and support pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Termly monitoring of collective worship by the governing body takes place. However, governors acknowledge that the monitoring of RE has only just begun and is not yet embedded. They recognise the need for systematic monitoring and evaluation to be a regular part of their focus on aspects of Christian distinctiveness to continually and consistently inform the impact on teaching and learning. They also recognise the need for support and training for all staff, including the newly appointed RE subject leader. Recent developments have ensured that RE is now taught by all class teachers and new plans are followed. This includes the use of RE books to show progression in pupils’ work and is a direct result of a recent RE review. This has yet to be embedded. Diocesan support and training is much appreciated. It has been especially valued during the time of change and the recent Ofsted inspection and its follow up. Sharing teaching expertise and good practice is beginning to be used between the two schools in the federation. Community links are strong. Good examples include the carol service and summer fair. In addition, every year pupils write poems for Remembrance Sunday, which are displayed in one of the five churches in the benefice. The school has rightly identified that displaying pupils’ work in church as well as pupils writing for ‘Tidings’, the parish magazine, or the Bungay and Beccles Journal, will enhance further the good links which exist between church and school.
SIAMS report July 2015 Ellingham CE VC Primary School, Ellingham, Bungay NR25 2PZ