OFSTED April 2017 Key Comments: 

  • ‘Pupils shine at this school because they benefit enormously from being part of the ‘St James family’, a supportive and caring community. They are happy and safe in school.
  • ‘The conduct of pupils in this school, the way they interact with each other and adults, is impeccable – in fact, it is the best I have ever seen(Feedback from HMI to School Governors, Local Authority and Diocesan representatives)
  • Pupils readily respond to leaders’ high expectations evident in the ‘SHINE’ ethos. As a result, they ‘Speak politely, Have respect, follow Instructions, Never say never and Engage positively’ in all that they do
  • ‘Pupils work exceptionally well together’
  • ‘Pupils have excellent attitudes to learning, they are curious and want to achieve their best.’
  • ‘Pupils know what it means to be ‘ready to learn’’
  • ‘Pupils’ conduct is exemplary. They show high levels of respect for each other and for their teachers and teaching assistants.
  • ‘Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is a strength of the school’
  • ‘The school's work to promote pupils' personal development and welfare is outstanding. Leaders make sure that pupils are cared for exceptionally well’
  • ‘Staff are proud to be a member of staff at this school’
  • ‘Pupils, including the most able, are challenged by their work’
  • ‘Pupils are taught the skills needed to become thoughtful, self-confident citizens, able to express their views and opinions.’
  • ‘Progress overall is much better than that of similar-ability pupils nationally’
  • ‘Key stage 4 outcomes in GCSE examinations demonstrate consistently strong progress over each of the last three years’
  • ‘Parents have highly-positive views of the school and confirm their children are safe and happy at this school. They greatly appreciate the pastoral care and support provided.’
  • ‘Pupils say they feel safe at school, they say there are no bullies and are confident they would be listened to if they shared a concern with a teacher or pastoral leader.’
  • ‘Governors know the strengths of the school and where there are further improvements still to be made.’
  • ‘Pupils enjoy coming to school.’
  • ‘Pupils, including the most able, are challenged by their work because most teachers have high expectations of pupils and plan work which is hard enough for them.’
  • ‘Pupils learn well and make excellent progress because teaching in English, mathematics and most other subjects is consistently good.’
  • ‘Leaders have successfully introduced a more ambitious culture in the school based upon high expectations.’
  • ‘Pupils typically make good progress because teachers have strong subject knowledge, which they use well to plan interesting and challenging work for pupils.’
  • ‘Teaching assistants support pupils well in lessons, including low-ability pupils and those who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, who need extra help.’

First Sunday of Advent

Monday 4th December 2017

Thank you to those parents who attended the Year 8 Parents Evening last Thursday. Attendance was excellent.


Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent and we begin our journey towards Christmas by making sure that we remember the true meaning of the festival. Over the next two weeks all remaining pupils will be given the opportunity to participate in an Advent Service, and we pray that the light of Christ may ‘shine before others’ in our daily lives:


‘Those who walked in the dark have seen a bright light.

And it shines upon everyone who lives in the land of the darkest shadows.’


You may also be thinking about your own Christmas lists at this time, and so I would like to point out that “Smart” watches that can replicate mobile phone functions (camera, text messaging, email etc.) are not allowed to be worn in school. Such devices are also specifically banned from all external examinations by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ). “Smart” watches will be subject to the same rules as mobile phones – i.e. if a student is wearing one in school it will be confiscated and have to be collected by a parent or carer. This blog does, however, include a comprehensive list of ‘Recommended Reads’ that children might like to look at before writing their letters to Father Christmas. Encourage them to have a look at the list and maybe choose a book or two for their stocking. A reading child is a successful child, and when you read often and with enthusiasm, usually just for the sheer fun of it, you lay foundations that last for life.


The next few weeks are as busy as ever, with the continuation of Year 11 Mock Exams and our Advent Services, our Expressive Arts Christmas event on Thursday 14th December, Christmas activities on Monday 18th December and our whole-Christmas Liturgies on Tuesday 19th December. Lessons continue as normal, though, so it is still just as important for pupils to continue attending school regularly, on time and ready to learn.


All students in Years 7-9 should now have received their first termly data report under the new KS3 assessment and reporting system, and there is further information about it on the school website, under Learning / Progress; Assessment & Reporting - http://www.stjamescatholichighschool.org.uk/learning-progress/assessing-reporting/. If you have any questions or concerns about it, please do contact either Mr Brophy, Deputy Headteacher, or Mrs Livesey, Assistant Headteacher for Progress. As it says at the bottom of each report, if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s progress or attitude to learning scores, do not hesitate to contact the Form Tutor, Head of Year, or Mrs Livesey, Assistant Head Progress.


Finally, may I remind you that school closes on Tuesday 19th December at 12.15pm and opens for the new term on Wednesday 3rd January 2018 at the normal time.


Recommended Reads




Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale Collection


Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tale Collection


Aesop’s Fables


Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling


Charles Dickens, eg, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations (both currently studied during English lessons here), try also David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol


Bronte Sisters, eg, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall


Jane Austen, e.g. Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion


Frances Hodgson Burnett, eg, The Secret GardenA Little Princess


Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott


Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis eg., The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe


Black Beauty by Anna Sewell


The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde


The Hobbit/ Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien


Treasure Island by R. L. Stevenson


Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll


The Railway Children by E. Nesbit


The Old Man & the Sea by Ernest Hemingway


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain


Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


Animal Farm by George Orwell


The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank


Call of the Wild by Jack London


Lord of the Flies by William Golding


The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier


Watership Down by Richard Adams


The Borrowers by Mary Norton


Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild


The Iron Man by Ted Hughes


The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame


Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce


Just William by Richmal Crompton


The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken


Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines


Stig of the Dump by Clive King


The Outsiders by S. F. Hinton


Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden


Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliffe


I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith


Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin


Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor


Michael Morpurgo, e.g., Private Peaceful, War Horse


Road of Bones by Anne Fine


Coraline by Neil Gaiman


Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian


Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams


River Boy by Tim Bowler


Skellig by David Almond


Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman


Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin


Little Soldier by Bernard Ashley


I Am David by Anne Holm


Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon


Jacqueline Wilson, e.g., The Illustrated Mum, Lola Rose


Philip Pullman, e.g. His Dark Materials trilogy (Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass)


Terry Pratchett e.g. Truckers, Mort


Agatha Christie, e.g. Murder on the Orient Express


Arthur Conan Doyle e.g. The Hound of the Baskervilles


Holes by Louis Sachar (is studied here currently during Year 8)


The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (is studied here currently in Year 9)


Anthony Horowitz e.g. Stormbreaker, Raven’s Gate, The Falcon’s Malteser


Bill Bryson e.g. Notes From a Small Island, Mother Tongue, A Short History of Nearly Everything


The Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend