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.’

Western Front Battlfields Trip Day Four

Wednesday 5th November 2014

Our final morning saw us returning across the border into Belgium and to the site of the Christmas Truce of 1914, the centenary of which we are celebrating this year. We stood at the exact place in no-man's land where British and German soldiers temporarily ceased hostilities to exchange pleasantries and souvenirs (buttons, coins, cigarettes, cigars, etc). They even played a game of football, with the Germans beating the British 3-2 (not on penalties). We heard about Private William Tapp, whose diary entries have given us a real insight into the events over that whole Christmas period, including January 1st, when the Germans sent a little dog over to the British trenches with a message that read "how are you nicey Englishmen, we are all well, please send the dog back" - but the British gave the dog some bully beef, and it refused to return to the German army and its rations! Alan showed us a copy of a photograph of British and German soldiers taken at that site on Plugstreet, and we all posed to recreate that unique event in history.  

Next we visited Messines Church, where a young Adolf Hitler had been treated for his wounds. In fact, we heard about the two different occasions that Hitler had almost been killed during WWI, and we reflected on how very different history may have been if he had been killed in the battlefields. In a strange twist of fate, this was also the part of the front line where a young Winston Churchill had been posted in 1916.
Finally we visited the Irish Peace Tower, built in 1989, to mark the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement. The 'Island of Ireland' Peace Garden was established in Belgium in honour of the Irish soldiers, both Catholic & Protestant, who fought and died side by side against the Germans in Flanders. 
The mood of our final morning was very much one of optimism and hope, peace and reconciliation. When we said goodbye to our Tour Guide, Alan, he emphasised the importance for young people visiting the sites of the battlefields, and that as well as not forgetting those men who died fighting in the Great War, there is also much that we can still learn about the different ways to solve conflict. 
'They shall not grow old, as we that are left behind grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them. '