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.’

Push out into the deep water – do not be afraid

Monday 29th September 2014

Thank you to all the Year 7 parents who attended the KS3 Curriculum Evening on Thursday. I received some very positive feedback about the evening itself and about how well our new pupils have settled in to St James’. Both the KS3 Curriculum booklet and the presentation can be found on the website under Learning & Progress / Curriculum Overview. Please find below Mrs Linford’s reflection on the ‘Class of 2019’ so far, and the slideshow of their retreat to Linnet Clough.

“When your child joined us on Intake Day back in July, I led an assembly with what has become our theme for the year.

There is a story in Luke’s gospel where Jesus told his followers – “Push out into the deep water – Do not be afraid”. I shared that story with them and told them that that’s what I wanted them to do that day. To not be afraid of what was going to happen but to have faith and push out into the deep water – in other words, push themselves, speak to others, to try new things and to make new friends. Feedback from the form tutors and the teachers that had taught them on that day, told me that this had happened.

When they arrived in September – looking incredibly smart – I repeated the message that I had given in July. This time of course I was referring to the start of what will be a fantastic journey through St James’. Have faith and push out as far as you can.

For some, the settling in process has taken a little longer, and some are still adjusting, which is perfectly normal, but on the whole, and I know I speak for the whole Year team, we have been delighted with the way the pupils have become a part of their new family. The St James’ family.

I have written a little article for next week’s newsletter in which I say that 685 achievement points have been given out so far to Year 7 pupils in just 16 days of school. An amazing start – please have a read of the newsletter when it comes out on Monday.

Two weeks ago I had the real privilege of accompanying four of the six Forms to Linnet Clough. The days’ activities were specifically designed so that the children could take part in team work activities that enabled them to get to know their class-mates and their form-tutor. Mrs Bennett, our school chaplain, devised excellent group activities that involved everyone and I have to sayALLpupils rose to the challenge and got involved.

We had them holding hands, helping each other through a hoop, sitting on each others’ knees in a circle. We gave them reflective time, prayerful time, thinking time, presenting time and of course social time.

Walking around the room whilst they were carrying out their activities , listening to their thoughts and contributions and of course their laughter as they got to know each other was an absolute delight. After lunch we took them outside – harnessed them up, put helmets on them and put them into the capable hands of the experienced instructors, to secure them as they climbed 20ft, and in some cases higher, to then jump to the ground - aptly titled ‘A Leap of Faith’.

I was amazed at the fearless way that many of them rose to the challenge and set the bar for the others to follow. I was delighted by the way in which the ones that said at the beginning of the day….”I am not doing that” took encouragement from their peers and slowly changed their minds and addressed their worries and fears and jumped. Facial expressions, as they climbed up, changed from fear to pure and utter delight and pride as they were unharnessed and ushered onto the next challenge. It was fabulous to watch.

Above all – I was particularly proud of the way in which they supported each other. Every Form did it. As soon as somebody was struggling or nervous whilst climbing, the ones below would start shouting words of encouragement, “come on, you can do it”, or words of advice, “grab your rope - you won’t fall”.

Throughout the week, there were a couple of incidents where a child was too afraid to make the jump and had to be encouraged and rescued. In both cases another student was the one that climbed up, held their hand and gave the words of encouragement needed to help them down.

In his time as Pope, Benedict announced that 2013 would be The Year of Faith and we want to now build on that as a Year group.   I have encouraged the pupils to have faith in all they have done so far. Faith In God, faith in us and faith in each other. They have done so brilliantly. I am so proud.

I am going to share some photographs of our time at Linnet Clough with you in a moment and hopefully it will give you a small snapshot of our time there. Before I do, however, I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for your ongoing support, thank you for continuing to encourage your children to feel part of our family and to the pupils, thank you for joining our family and making it your own”.