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Distinctiveness of a church school

SIAMS Inspection June 2018

 

Distinctiveness of a Church School

 

We are a Church of England Primary school and pride ourselves on having high expectations and standards of attainment over a sustained period. This helps improve each child's life chances.

 

However, we have other particular strengths and characteristics that are more distinct and related to our church school status. These include :

 

  • Values, vision and ethos rooted in gospels and teachings of Jesus Christ.
  • The quality and value we place on our Religious Education curriculum and teaching.
  • The quality and value we place on Collective Worship.
  • The quality and value we place on Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural development.
  • Attitudes towards promoting inclusion and our commitment to children with Special Educational Needs.
  • Character development and breadth of curriculum.
  • Engagement with the community and outside world.

 

 

Values, vision and Ethos

 

The school's values are embodied in the phrase :

 

 'Following in the footsteps of Jesus'

 

We believe our role as a Church of England school is to provide a learning environment as close as how we would want the ideal world to be. This is a community rooted in a sense of belonging, love, forgiveness, respect and reconciliation.

 

These values are not explicitly taught or learned. Values are acquired overtime as a result of our interaction with our environment the people we meet.

 

Our core values of love, forgiveness and reconciliation are rooted in the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ and are best represented in the phrase you will see and hear around the school.

 

Over 95% of parents who responded to our annual online survey felt the school

provided a warm caring place where children feel safe and resected by the adults

who support them.

Anonymous Annual Parent Survey, 2017.

 

 

Year 5 /6 response to how Christians can enter the kingdom of God by following in the footsteps of Jesus, 2018

                       

We realise that there are few, if any, values or human qualities that are exclusively Christian but those we most closely associate with the person known as Jesus Christ is God’s love (Luke 10:27), forgiveness and reconciliation.

 

It is this that drives our ethos or feel of the school. This does not develop and happen by chance. It requires clarity of shared vision to ensure that it is promoted and not undermined.

 

Love is expressed in its broadest sense through the value we place on the uniqueness of every individual and how we make them feel valued and enable them to grow spiritually, morally, culturally and academically. From love stems many values such as trust, humility, peace, community, thankfulness, friendship, wisdom, hope, compassion and justice.

 

Forgiveness is about accepting people make mistakes and not bearing a grudge or wanting to get our own back and being willing to say sorry and mean it.

 

Our aim is to create a learning environment where children feel respected, cared for, listened to and safe. Not only does this immerse them into a 'loving' environment, it helps children feel at ease and in a ready state for learning.

 

Our vision statement in full is to aim to serve our community by providing the best all round education within a caring Christian context. We value the different personalities and talents of our children. We seek for them to become confident learners and tolerant, principled members of society. 

 

 

It is people that are the engine of a vibrant caring school. It is they who model the values 

and vision of the school to create a warm welcoming ethos and ambience where children

can thrive. We know that recruiting, retaining and leading staff to work in a way that is

consistent with our vision and values is the single most important factor in creating a school

that is distinctly Christian.

 

We routinely survey parents and pupils regarding how they feel about our school.

 

 

Over 95% of parents who responded to our annual survey felt the school would

listen to their concerns and do their best to resolve them.

Anonymous Annual Parent Survey, 2017.

 

 

100% of parents who responded to our survey said their contact with

the school was dealt with professionally and courteously.

Anonymous Annual Parent Survey, 2017.

 

 

Religious Education

 

The teaching of Religious Education is given significant importance on the timetable. We have developed our own RE curriculum. This will be distinctly different from a non-church school.

 

Please click on the Religious Education tab for a comprehensive overview of our RE curriculum and the standards childen attain.

 

 

Collective Worship

 

 

Our school's distinct Christian nature also manifests itself through our daily acts of Collective Worship. This is a special and sacred time of the day where we come together as a community to thank, celebrate and receive wisdom and inspiration of some kind.

 

We dedicate part of the day called Assembly in which Collective Worship takes place.

We routinely evaluate the impact of assembly time and Collective Worship at least once a term with staff in staff meetings as well as interviewing pupil sample groups.

 

"We like themed stories on a Wednesday like the ones on friendships,

making mistakes, dealing with sticky situations and heroes".

 

Year 5 and 6, response to our evaluation 2018.

 

Leaders of Collective Worship are sufficiently varied to appeal to as many children’s interests and preferred ways of communication. Leaders include the headteacher, teachers, clergy and visiting leaders of worship including Christian Youth Outreach.

 

Collective Worship is carefully planned. A theme is planned for each week. The themes explored follow the annual cycle of the Christian year and the concept of the trinity.

 

Themes explored in the autumn term are connected to God the Father and Creation. This links closely with Harvest, thanksgiving and prayer.

 

Our Collective Worship themes are published on our website.

 

In Spring, our Collective Worship themes are connected with God the Son following on from the birth of Christ at Christmas and in Summer, themes are connected with God the Holy Spirit following on from the death and resurrection of Christ at Easter, the Ascension and Pentecost.

 

"We have assemblies to remind us that we are in God's Kingdom".

Year 1 and 2 response to our evaluation 2018.

 

During Collective Worship, children are invited to join in prayer, sing hymns, and listen to stories from the Bible including the New Testament.

 

Assemblies offer our children opportunities for spiritual development. This includes opportunities for silence and reflection time.

 

A moment for reflection in assembly, ‘I wonder what this about?’ 2018

 

We find it effective when Collective Worship is followed up with a display. We know this because children congregate and comment on these displays together. The most effective displays are those with interesting stimulus the children can touch and respond to a question.

 

Display to support a Collective Worship theme, 2018

 

Singing hymns children enjoy is really important because it helps uplift children. We have asked the children which hymns they enjoy singing and have refined our hymn list to reflect this.

 

We have devised actions to include our younger learners so they feel they part of the worship. Assembly time and worship also helps create a sense of community and belonging when people are all engaged in the same activity.

 

Assembly time and Collective Worship has a clear and shared purpose with staff leading the session. It is defined as a time when the whole school comes together to thank, celebrate and to receive wisdom or inspiration. We try to make it as uplifting as possible through carefully selected themes, stimulus and music.

 

Children enter and exit in a calm way which gives the right ambience for reflection and worship. Behaviour in assembly time is excellent which reflects the importance given by all staff to this special time of day.

 

 

Children’s involvement in planning Collective Worship

 

Children are given opportunity to plan Collective Worship for a class assembly. They choose and agree a theme, how the theme will be developed and the form of worship. This may include a hymn they have chosen, writing prayers or readings, listening to music and choosing stimulus to focus their thoughts.

 

They also choose the seating arrangement.

 

This year, Year 5 and 6 chose the theme of remembering those who had left our school.

They decided to light tea lights to represent each child during the time they were gathered together. The children chose to sit in a horse shoe arrangement which looked like the letter C - the letter C for children. This was a moving experience.

 

This year, Year 3 and 4 chose a nature as a theme close to their hearts. They chose tranquil music to set the tone and used images to evoke emotion and connection with nature.

Year 1 and 2 chose to play music for their assembly and act of worship. They chose their favourite hymns, planned readings and welcomed each other. Their assembly ended with an 'I wonder...' question.

 

‘I wonder if miracles are real. I wonder if they really happen.’

The final words Year 2 decided to say in their own planned Assembly, 2018.

 

 

Our School Council also planned and delivered and assembly and Collective Worship. They decided to explore the meaning and definition a ‘bullying’ which included the rest of the school participating.

 

All our children are involved in celebrating major Christian festivals throughout the year at our local church. This includes, Harvest, Easter and Christmas. Children are part of the planning process. They choose to make, show or sing something. They also choose to read or narrate a story.

 

In the last week of term our Year 6 children plan and deliver the final assembly and act of worship as ‘leavers’ of the school.

 

Parents are always invited to these events.

 

Christian symbols are routinely be used during Collective Worship such as candles and the cross. Children also hear language associated with Christian worship such as the term Father, Holy Spirit, the Good Shepherd, the Lord’s prayer and hymns.

 

"We have assemblies to remember stories of Jesus and God and

to celebrate them".

Year 1 and 2, response to our evaluation 2018.

 

We evaluate the impact of our Collective Worship programme and delivery to ensure we give our children the most meaningful experience possible. This includes asking the children what they think, feel and enjoy about assembly time including the hymns they enjoy singing.

 

"We liked Katharine's assembly when she showed turning water into wine and the water cleaned the sin stained handkerchief".

Year 5 and 6, response to our evaluation 2018.

 

In our last annual survey regarding the impact of Assembly time and Collective Worship, children told us that they helped them to learn about the world, how to be a good person and how they can change your mind or attitude about something.

 

All the children surveyed said Assembly time helped them to think about God. Here are some further examples of what children have said about Assembly time and Collective Worship.

 

‘It has improved my confidence when I have to speak in front

 of people’

 

‘It has made me think about the type of rubbish I put out in

 the dustbin’

 

‘Assemblies have made me understand how other people feel’

 

‘Yes, it made me realise that if you are grumpy, other people

around you will be too’

 

‘There was an assembly where we were talking about how sin can corrupt the    world. After that I concluded, I would evangelise’

 

' It has helped me to be a better person’

 

All quotes from Y5/6 children, Summer 2017

 

 

 

These are the questions and outcomes of our last pupil focus group regarding assemblies and Collective Worship :

 

Do assemblies help you learn about the world?

Quite a lot 4

Sometimes 7

Not really 3

 

Do assemblies help you change your mind about something?

Quite a lot 0

Sometimes 12

Not really 2

 

Do assemblies help you learn about God and Jesus?

Quite a lot 12

Sometimes 2

Not really 0

 

Do assemblies help you learn how to be a good person?

Quite a lot 9

Sometimes 5

Not really 0

 

Do assemblies help you change your attitude about something?

Quite a lot 4

Sometimes 6

Not really 4

 

Do assemblies help you wonder about things you hadn’t thought about before?

Quite a lot 3

Sometimes 9

Not really 2

 

Do assemblies explain things that you are not sure about?

Quite a lot 2

Sometimes 10

Not really 2

 

Do assemblies make you feel good inside?

Quite a lot 6

Sometimes 6

Not really 2

 

Do assemblies give you a chance to connect or think about God if you want ?

Quite a lot 9

Sometimes 4

Not really 1

 

Do assemblies give you a chance to ask questions and express your opinion?

Quite a lot 3

Sometimes 9

Not really 2

 

How have we used the feedback?

 

The feedback we have received has helped us to :

 

  • keep our Assembly and Collective Worship programme simple and visual
  • use a familiar, interesting or unusual starting point to attract curiosity
  • refine our hymn list and select hymns children enjoy singing
  • design actions for many of the hymns to help younger children join in.
  • tell stories rather than read stories
  • give children time think reflect and think
  • create the right ambience and mood
  • continue to maintain a varied approach by having different people lead our Collective Worship programme.
  • revise and broaden our themes for 2017/18
 

 

 

 

 

 

Religious Celebrations

 

 Harvest Festival is celebrated at All Saints’ Church at the end of September. This service is 

 planned and prepared by the school. Parents and friends of Stisted Academy are welcome

 and encouraged to attend. Christmas is celebrated by our older children at All Saints’

 Church with an afternoon and evening church service for parents. A Nativity play is usually

 performed by our younger learners. This is held in the school hall. Easter is celebrated at

 All Saints’ Church. This service is planned and prepared by the school.

 

 Special Educational Needs

 

 Every child is special regardless. We believe we have created a very welcoming place for 

 children with special education needs especially disadvantaged children and children with 

 high needs requiring an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP). Over several years we have

 consistently had an above average proportion of children with an EHCP.

 

 Currently we have nearly 5% of our children with severe or high needs compared with the

 national rate of 2%. It is anticipated that in the academic year 2018/19, we will have nearly

 7% of children with an EHCP.

 

 This is because the school has an excellent reputation for our provision for children with

 specific learning needs. Support is given both within class lessons and sometimes in small

 groups. This is monitored by the School’s Special Needs Coordinator. Teaching assistants are

 also used to support groups of pupils. Children with SEN will have their needs assessed and

 receive specific support or provision based on an Individual Education Plan.

 

 We also have an enhanced provision Montessori Classroom and curriculum specifically

 designed for children with specific or additional needs. The Montessori influenced

 environment is a calm but busy environment where the children are involved in small group

 or individual activities. The equipment and environment is designed to develop children’s

 concentration, co-ordination and independence.

 

 

 Our carefully designed activities are matched to a child’s Individual Education Plan and are

 aimed to develop their sensory, numeric, language and practical skills.

 

The Curriculum and Character building

 

Character building is an important part of our curriculum. An all-round education means we value and recognise that each child is unique and strive to develop their character and not just their intellectual or academic abilities. This is because Jesus Christ valued the human qualities of the individual.

 

This vision is realised by building into our curriculum opportunities for developing human qualities and character.

 

 

 

Over 95% of parents feel the school has  the balance right between teaching the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic and providing wider experiences including social, moral and character development.

Anonymous Annual Parent Survey, 2017.

 

 

For example, we have built into our curriculum the opportunity for all ages to experience several overnight stay or residential trip away from home. This includes our Reception children.

 

This is our 'away from home' learning programme :

 

  • Reception : Sleepover in the school hall (Summer term)

 

  • Key Stage 1 : A night in a museum/library (Spring term)

 

  • Lower Key Stage 2 : Camping at Danbury Outdoor Centre (Summer term)

 

  • Upper Key Stage 2 : Camping at Mersea Outdoor Centre (Summer term)

 

  • Upper Key Stage 2 : Residential stay in the Isle of Wight (Autumn term)

 

Our classrooms offer children many planned opportunities as part of the curriculum to develop children’s character, building resilience, determination, willingness, generosity, gratitude, appreciation, etc.

 

We also recognise that character building is not exclusively developed solely through curricular opportunities, but also through interactions with other human beings. This means all adults who work in our school are in the privileged position of shaping our children’s thoughts, values, virtues and attitudes by their own interactions.

 

Many visitors to the school often experience this aspect through the ‘feel’ or ethos of the school.

 

Our ethos has its roots based on Jesus interpretation of love in its broadest sense (Luke 10:27) and forgiveness. We also recognise that reconciliation completes the circle of love, forgiveness and reflection where reflection mirrors the prayer life of Jesus.

 

In terms of character virtues this manifests itself in being a caring, thoughtful reflective school.

 

It is this that drives our ethos or feel of the school. This does not develop and happen by chance. It requires clarity of vision and effective leadership to ensure it is actively and explicitly promoted and not undermined.

 

Every moment of the day, adults are modelling values and virtues.

For clarity, we have used the term virtues as they specifically refer to human qualities that help children be part of a loving caring school and become principled members of society.

 

These virtues can be grouped into three categories.

 

1. Civic character virtues.

These are virtues that are necessary for responsible citizenship such as service, volunteering, understanding of different perspectives.

 

2. Moral character virtues.

These are character habits that enable us to be agents for good such honesty, humility, graciousness, compassion, thoughtfulness.

 

3. Performance character virtues.

These are behavioural skills such as determination, persistence, resilience, creativity, self-discipline.

 

 

British Values

In November 2014, the Department for Education published guidance on promoting British values in schools to ensure young people leave school prepared for life in modern Britain.

British values, as defined by national government, are taught within this context as we perceive them as being underpinned by our core values of love and forgiveness and the virtues associated with them.

 

We believe the value of love, forgiveness and reconciliation  and curriculum encourages children to value democracy the rule of law, liberty and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith.

 

Our Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Curriculum offers numerous opportunities to develop British values.

 

Democracy and Liberty

All children are given opportunities to have their say, be listened to and make choices free of prejudice. However, where democracy and liberty is constrained or other British Values are threatened, this is challenged. 

 

Stereotypes are challenged and all children are encouraged to achieve an follow pursuits irrespective of gender, race or any other characteristic. We have both School and Class Councils where children learn through discussion and reasoned argument based on evidence what the right thing to do is for the whole community.

 

The children have a 'Tell us about it' box which gives them the opportunity to express their views and influence decisions.

 

School Council members are elected democratically and will be able to explain the impact they have had. Representatives of the School Council meet with the headteacher on a weekly basis to raise pupil related matters.

 

Curricular opportunities also enable children to learn how people arrive at different conclusions and may have a different point of view to their own. We do this through Philosophy for Children and Smart Thinking and the Religious Education Programme.

 

Children also have opportunities to make choices in their lessons and to be creative. They have the freedom to choose what to do at playtime, to choose their friends, to choose the after school clubs they join and what to have for their lunch.

 

Children will also learn through discussion of world news events the influence and impact of democracy including significant figures through history.

 

Whilst we recognise the importance of developing the character of each child, we also value the importance of equipping children with the basic skills they need for life including reading, writing and mathematics.

 

We aspire for every child to be given the best opportunities and strive to meet and exceed the national expectations required from the national curriculum but not at the expense of being a principled member of society.

 

The rule of law

Children learn to value the rule of law if they understand the purpose of law to help and protect society from harm. They also need to see that rules and laws are implemented fairly and consistently. We play a huge role in developing these positive attitudes by explaining the purpose of rules and ensuring to a best knowledge they are implemented fairly across the school.

 

We are not a school that implements rules for the sake of rules or as a method of control through oppression. Whilst we have a base set of rules, new rules are only implemented when the need arises which are then explained.

 

Our Behaviour Policy and its implementation to our best endeavours is implemented consistently. It uses a graduated response giving children the opportunity to manage and improve their behaviour.

 

Mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith

 

Staff at this school are expected to model the behaviour and attitudes of tolerance through their words and actions. We also recognise that ignorance and prejudice is at the root of intolerance and that a well-designed curriculum equips children to make informed decisions that encourages respect.

 

Children are exposed to experiences that encourage growth in knowledge and where prejudice is actively challenged.

 

Our Religious Education Programme has recently been redesigned to identify and emphasis the similarities between faiths rather than focus on difference. 

 

The Community

 

We recognise that our school cannot exist as an island and we are part of larger whole.It is important that our children also recognise this. Please click on the About Us tab and then the Community Engagement tab to find out more.

 

The centre piece in our school hall.

 

Church School Inspection Report

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