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SIAMS Report

National Society Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools Report

St Michael’s Church of England Voluntary Controlled First School
Watery Lane  
Minehead
TA24 5NY

 

Previous SIAMS grade: Outstanding
Diocese: Bath and Wells
Local authority: Somerset
Date of inspection: 09 July 2015
Date of last inspection: 26 April 2010
School’s unique reference number: 123768
Acting Headteacher: Sonia Watters
Inspector’s name and number: Jane Tibbs 226
 
School context
St Michael’s Church of England First School is smaller than average with 135 pupils, almost all being white British and coming from the town of Minehead. The school is set in a residential area close to the town centre, but has sensitively landscaped grounds and open views. The proportion of pupils with special educational needs is well above average and the range is wide, including physical disability, social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and moderate learning difficulties. The parish is in a vacancy at the moment with a new vicar due to arrive in August.
The distinctiveness and effectiveness of St Michael’s First School as a Church of England school are outstanding
  • Explicit Christian values make a significant contribution to the school environment in which children and their families are supported as part of a nurturing community
  • Pupils express their views and opinions confidently in an atmosphere of trust and respect
  • There are close relationships between the school and local churches giving the community opportunities to work together for the benefit of both
Areas to improve
  • Provide greater opportunities in the outdoor environment for pupils to have time to explore and make sense of their growing spirituality
  • Further develop the leadership of collective worship so that pupils have more involvement in the planning and delivery of worship
 
The school, through its distinctive Christian character, is outstanding at meeting the needs of all learners
The impact of a set of core Christian values has been central in providing a secure and stable environment. The strength of its distinctively Christian ethos has provided the cornerstone in creating a sense of belonging and togetherness for children and adults after a period of change and turmoil. Pupils share their views with enthusiasm and listen to the opinions of others with respect. The school’s Christian values help pupils to understand what it means to have faith and the importance of treating each other with kindness. This makes an important contribution to the way that the school community is committed to helping others less fortunate than themselves and the strong support for a range of charities. Members of the community are aware of the Christian value being concentrated on during the school day through its inclusion in the weekly newsletter and on the school website. The existing links between Christian values and pupils’ learning have an impact on academic achievement through such links as resilience and the courage to persevere when faced with a problem. There is a good understanding of spirituality and opportunities for pupils to explore the natural world, and their relationship with it, are well provided for in the well-landscaped grounds surrounding the school. Children and adults show genuine care and kindness toward each other and a real sense of wanting to support one another. Pupils have many opportunities both within the Religious Education (RE), the wider curriculum and in their charitable work to develop their understanding of the diversity of cultures and faiths in modern Britain and around the world.

 

The impact of collective worship on the school community is outstanding
Collective worship is outstanding because clear links between worship themes and the children’s work in their learning means that the impact of the worship messages extends to all areas of school life and beyond. Acts of worship are special times in the school day that provide pupils with the opportunity to be still and reflect on important themes that are explicitly linked to Christian teaching. Collective worship includes specific elements that make it a distinct time in the school day. There is an emphasis on simple and appropriate liturgy which pupils respond to with confidence. Pupils commented that the timing of Collective Worship at the beginning of the school day allowed them to “start the day together” and to “talk to God”. Worship is an affirming time when the whole school community can reflect on those things that can be celebrated as well as time to reflect on how to make life better. Pupils have a very good understanding of the purpose and meaning of prayer and the way it supports people in times of trouble. They are able to pray spontaneously, with confidence, and pupils in the Reception class also create their own Grace, daily, before lunch. All classes have their own books of prayers and pray together at the end of each morning and afternoon. The involvement of pupils in acts of worship has improved since the previous inspection. Effective feedback from collective worship by pupils and adults alike informs current strengths and identifies areas for improvement which are an integral part of school development planning. Pupils have opportunities to explore their understanding of the nature of the Trinity. They talk about God as Father and Jesus as the Son who came to earth and was born as a baby but are less clear about the nature of the Holy Spirit and how it is part of the mystery of the Trinity.

 

The effectiveness of the leadership and management of the school as a church school is outstanding
The school’s leaders and managers articulate the school’s distinctively Christian vision exceptionally well because they have a shared understanding of how it can best serve the needs of children and families in this community. This is clearly articulated and informs the direction the school takes when strategic decisions are made. This is particularly evident in the emphasis given to encouraging pupils to appreciate the importance of social justice and forgiveness as set within a Christian understanding. Governors fully support the Christian ethos and procedures for monitoring and evaluating the impact of the ethos are well established. Governors keep up to date with proposed changes by attending appropriate meetings and training, but location of these can be an issue. Governors are involved in day to day activities with the pupils which enables them to have a good understanding of the school and able to make informed contributions to governing body decisions. The close links with local schools in the Exmoor Coast Federation bring good benefits to staff and pupils. Parents say that the school’s values help their children develop empathy which makes a difference to the way they treat others. One parent commented, “The atmosphere is that of a large extended family – warm, welcoming and supportive”. Another said, “This is a special school where children are nurtured and their emotional needs are met.” The leadership of Religious Education (RE) is effective and RE is very well taught. Expectations of pupils’ performance are high and pupils are challenged through the posing of questions that stretch their minds. As a result, they make excellent progress. Assessments are carried out regularly and record pupils’ attainment in their knowledge and understanding of RE. Some effective moderation has been carried out by the RE co-ordinator. Links with the local churches are strong. The Curate and Baptist minister regularly contribute to collective worship and are a familiar part of the life of the school. Pupils regard the celebration of major Christian festivals and local celebrations at the parish church as an important part of what makes them a church school. The school meets the statutory requirements for RE and collective worship.
 
          SIAMS report July 2015 St Michael’s  C of E  VC Primary School, Minehead TA24 5NY
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