Blackshaw Moor Church of England Voluntary Controlled First School – SIAMS Report
Blackshaw Moor Church of England Voluntary Controlled First School
Local authority: Staffordshire LA
Dates of inspection: 21/10/09
Date of last inspection: 26/09/07
School’s unique reference number: 124287
Headteacher: Mrs Jill Tillmanns
Inspector’s name: Mrs Rachael Brownhill
Blackshaw Moor is a small rural school on the edge of the Peak National Park. As a first school, provision is for children from age 3-9 years. They come from a variety of social backgrounds. Some have to travel a considerable distance. The school has endured a period of uncertainty in the recent past due to proposed local authority re-organisation plans but its future is now secure. The current Head teacher has been in post since September 2006.
The distinctiveness and effectiveness of Blackshaw Moor CE First School as a Church of England school are good. Christian values underpin the life and work of the school, strongly promoting pupils’ excellent personal development and positive attitudes to learning. Good links with the church ensure pupils have positive attitudes to the Christian faith and its celebrations and traditions. The pastoral care of the school is very effective, so that children show care, respect and concern for others. The school moves forward as a result of regular effective evaluation systems.
• The school provides a caring, family ethos where the children feel valued, safe and secure.
• The majority of children enjoy their learning, achieve well and reach their potential.
• The committed clergy and foundation governors help the children to engage effectively with Anglican tradition which forms a cornerstone to the school’s distinctive Christian character.
Focus for development
• Provide more opportunities for the children to create and lead worship within the school.
• Develop a quiet area in each classroom so that there is a Christian focus and place to pray.
• Celebrate all the good work going on in the school as a church school by being more explicit about its Christian character.
The school, through its distinctive Christian character, is good at meeting the needs of all learners.
The school fulfils its mission statement in which the school “…seeks to offer an education which is based on the Christian belief that each individual is unique and valuable…”. The children feel they are special because they know that all that all the teachers and their friends care for them. The children are happy and feel valued, safe and secure. They enjoy school and achieve well. Older children naturally look after younger ones thus fulfilling the aim set out in the prospectus of “…high moral standards and empathy for others”. Committed clergy and foundation governors help children to engage with the Anglican tradition and enhance the school’s distinctive Christian character. Many children can explain how the buddy bench works at playtimes and are confident that “a buddy will always come to you”. One child said, “Everyone is friendly with each other”. A reward system that values achievement and ‘good deeds’ motivates all the children to succeed and an opportunity for the children to feel listened to exists through the School Council. Children reflect upon the way the school demonstrates Christian principles of caring, forgiveness and reconciliation. The beautiful grounds offer many opportunities for reflection and many children say that they would go to the gazebo if they wanted to be quiet and reflect. Within the classrooms effective displays such as ‘Where is God?’, ‘Jesus Light of the World’ and ‘Helping Hands’ encourage children to think spiritually and personalise ideas. The children talk of a quiet area within their classrooms but as yet these do not have a Christian focus where they can pray and reflect.
The impact of collective worship on the school community is good.
Worship is a family occasion which provides the children with good opportunities for spiritual development. Whole school worship takes place in the hall each day and the children look forward to worshipping together. Pupils respond to Anglican greetings which demonstrate positive attitudes to the church. On the day of the inspection, the vicar lead the worship and the children responded very well to the strong Anglican theme and tradition demonstrated which centred around symbolism of light and fire and what these mean to Christians. The children were knowledgeable and eager to answer questions. Many joined together to say ’Jesus is the Light of the World’ in response to a question. The older children also related light to other religions and know about Diwali. The vicar processed the Bible with children following with candles to show the power of light over darkness. The message this gave to the children was that ‘the gospel lights up the world’. The children have a good understanding and readily talk about the main Christian Festivals throughout the year and relate and compare artefacts in school and at church. One girl mentioned the ‘shiny golden eagle’. Another said that “Good Friday was dark because Jesus had died”. The children came into worship calmly and were very respectful throughout, waiting and watching while the candle was re-lit after it had gone out. They participated well with enthusiastic singing and acted responsibly when choosing the music and announcing the hymn number. The focus table was very attractive with cloth in liturgical colours, a bible, cross and candle. The older children can explain the significance of taking part in Eucharist and this forms a valuable link between what happens at church and at school. Prayer forms a regular part of school life. The School Prayer is displayed on the wall in the hall and the children know the Lord’s Prayer and its meaning well. A book of prayers for lunchtime ‘grace’ is available in the hall and lunchtime staff choose a child to select and read one each day. The children know that “not everyone in the world is a Christian”. They demonstrate their understanding by saying “…some have loads of Gods and some do not believe”…, but they are firm in the belief that everyone should believe in a God because he can help you…”. The school’s strong link with a school community in Kenya has enabled pupils to be very aware of the worldwide church and their place within it. Worship is planned, recorded and evaluated regularly which ensures high quality experiences for the children.
The effectiveness of the leadership and management of the school as a church school is good.
The Head teacher has a clear vision for the school built upon Christian values. This is also owned by staff and governors. The effective evaluation systems have additionally enabled the school to move forward. The vicar and foundation governors work hard and support the school and this makes a difference to the children’s attitude to the church. However, all stakeholders need to be involved and take part in the whole-school self-evaluation to ensure that there is a cohesive understanding and direction owned by the school and action planning reflects the views of the community. Links with the local church and the input of the vicar on a weekly basis is particularly effective in maintaining the strong impact of collective worship. All adults spoken to are positive about the church school status and say it underpins all that goes on in school. The school is proactive in ensuring that pupils understand and respect people from different cultural backgrounds locally and nationally. They are also keen to develop the global link. The impact of this promotes positive attitudes to diversity and effective community cohesion. The school‘s Christian distinctiveness is not always explicit. This was an issue at the last inspection. School documentation, including the prospectus and website need to celebrate the school’s Christian distinctiveness, which is clearly a strength of the school, by becoming more explicit. Celebration of the school’s Anglican foundation would convey its positive Christian ethos to the wider community.
SIAMS report 2014
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