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Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS) Report - 30/1/2020 - Grade Good

School context

Little Bloxwich is a primary school with 210 pupils on roll. The majority of pupils are of White British heritage. Very few pupils speak English as an additional language. The proportion of pupils who are considered to be disadvantaged is well above national averages. The proportion of pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities is above national averages. The vicar is new in post this year.

The school’s Christian vision

All things are possible with God (Matthew 19:26)

Key findings

  • The Christian vision is clearly lived out at all levels of the school where releasing the God-given potential of each member of the school community is paramount.

  • Relationships at all levels are built upon trust and are hugely positive. This creates a strong sense of belonging and security for all and a feeling of being a family where individuals can be themselves.

  • High quality pastoral care reduces barriers to learning so that progress for most pupils is good.

  • The school has made progress since the last inspection in articulating its values and vision. However, governors and middle leaders are not using the SIAMS evaluation schedule sufficiently to support school improvement and ensure pace and rigour.

  • Religious education (RE) and collective worship contribute well to the school’s ethical approach in equipping pupils with a moral compass as they explore the possibilities and opportunities of life. However, active approaches are insufficiently used to maximise engagement and impact.

Areas for development

  • Ensure that all governors and middle leaders are regularly trained to use the SIAMS evaluation schedule to shape school improvement and develop a wider understanding of Christian distinctiveness.

  • Extend the use of the arts and active approaches, including visits and visitors, to engage pupils even more fully in RE and collective worship and to deepen their spiritual experience.

  • Develop creative ways to express the school’s approach to spirituality and its progression so that pupils and adults can articulate their own deepening spiritual journey.

How effective is the school’s distinctive Christian vision, established and promoted by leadership at all levels, in enabling pupils and adults to flourish?

Inspection findings

This school is deeply caring and supportive because it lives its vision and values day by day. High quality pastoral care is at the heart of this school where each member is considered a child of God. The long- standing headteacher has nurtured an approach that understands and compassionately responds to the school’s context. She ensures the school honours and cares for its community. The fairly new parish priest has made a hugely positive impact in extending this care, promoting the vision and making visible the school’s Anglican identity.

Everyone at the school is commitment to removing barriers to learning and creating a sense that all things are possible with God.’ Consequently, the school works exceptionally hard through learning strategies, trusting relationships and the exercise of Christian care to promote strong mental health and wellbeing. Through thoughtful and specific support all members of the school community are well cared for with regard to their personal, social, spiritual and emotional health. Staff training as mental health first aiders and involvement in Hello Yellow mental health activities exemplify this.

A large proportion of pupils enter the school attaining well below national averages, especially in oral language development. Through a well thought out curriculum and targeted support, as well as quality special needs provision, most pupils make good progress in their learning.

Inspired by the vision, relationships at the school are based upon care, respect and inclusion. Senior leaders relentlessly model the Christian vision in their care of staff and pupils. This clearly impacts the pupils’ good behaviour and effective teamwork amongst the staff. A very strong sense of family is created where everyone can be themselves. Each person feels safe, secure and able to have courage to explore God-given possibilities for themselves. This means the school has capacity to be a place of second chances. Commendably it supports vulnerable pupils from other settings. Usually, the school helps these pupils see all things are possible for them too. The school’s anti-bullying and safeguarding practices are effective. They reflect the Church of England’s statement of best practice, ‘Valuing All God’s Children.’

Through the interesting international primary curriculum, pupils gain a positive appreciation of our diverse, multicultural world. The Paddington in Peru and London project exemplifies this. Aided significantly by RE and collective worship, the curriculum has a good ethical basis encouraging pupils to consider the big questions of life. Examples of this include the English project based around the book, ‘Pig Heart Boy’ and the highly effective ‘votes for schools’ work. Through this Christian values-based curriculum, pupils understand that there are ethical dimensions to all things are possible. Consequently, the school’s Christian values are shaping pupils who express a definite sense of right and wrong. They frequently give responses from a position of empathy and care. Opportunities to lead allow pupils to test out their moral compass, for example, in the school council and worship group.

The school’s Christian vision is helping pupils see they can make a difference not only in their own lives but in the lives of others. Examples of this includes supporting Bloxwich Foodbank and the MIND charity. The school is helping pupils to extend charitable giving as a pathway to seeking social justice. The present Toilet Twinning work, including the entrance potty fundraiser, encourages everyone to appreciate global perspectives and to take personal responsibility.

Spiritual growth is good overall because of the school’s careful attention to pupils as individuals. Pupils’ eyes are opened to awe, wonder and mystery even in the darkest of times. Whilst pupils develop well spiritually through quality provision and intent, the school’s understanding of spiritual development is not sufficiently communicated to pupils and parents. This means pupils are not fully aware of their own spiritual preferences or how to shape their spiritual journey for themselves. Pupils feel they can place their trust in this school. This results in increasing, courage and resilience as they reflect upon themselves and achieving their dreams.

RE is taught effectively. Pupils explore difficult concepts increasingly with technical vocabulary. For their age, pupils have an appropriate understanding of Islam and Hinduism alongside Christianity. Pupils are excited about the subject because it inspires them to find out about the world and to contribute their own thoughts and ideas. However, the use of active approaches such as visits and visitors is not as extensive as it might be to widen pupils’ learning. Similarly, the development of RE through the arts is not as prevalent as it might be, limiting pupils’ experiences to flourish further. Pupils’ religious understanding is enabling them to respond to beliefs with thoughtfulness and respect and to value diversity.

Worship invites all pupils to grow spiritually through reflection, music and stillness. Pupils learn about Christian traditions and festivals, Bible stories and Christian prayers. They write their own prayers and these are often read in class or school worship, or at the start of the school day, making prayer relevant. Worship has improved since the last inspection. An example is pupils’ learning about the Bible in a way that helps them to relate the teachings of Jesus to their own lives. Increasingly worship makes a good contribution to pupils’ ethical thought and application of values and visions. Different members of staff and the parish priest lead worship so that pupils experience different styles and traditions. However, the use of the arts and active approaches are underused as ways to deepen the spiritual experience, especially in classroom worship. Pupils have a role in planning and evaluating worship, for example, through the worship group. This makes worship significant for pupils. Periodic visits to the church, for example, for Christingle, strengthens pupils’ appreciation of Anglican worship.

Conscientious governors and leaders at all levels are utterly committed to the vision and seeking the best for the pupils. Through monitoring governors ensure previous strengths are maintained, that development points are responded to and that the school moves forward. However, the pace and rigour of development as a Church school is not always as swift as it could be. This is because governors and middle leaders are not trained regularly enough to use the SIAMS school evaluation schedule to shape their work. Leaders use a range of positive relationships to benchmark the school’s provision and to realise greater possibilities for staff and pupils. They weave the community into realising its vision through strong parent relationships.

Little Bloxwich School is a beacon of hope in its community and the lives of the people it serves. It enables all who have contact with this school to have faith that, all things are possible in God.