Anglican Schools Review (SIAMS)
National Society Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools Report
Christ's School, Queens Road, Richmond, London TW10 6HW
Previous SIAMS grade: Outstanding
Current inspection grade: Outstanding
Local authority: Richmond
Dates of inspection: 2 & 3 February 2016
Date of last inspection: February 2011
School’s unique reference number: 102929
Headteacher: Helen Dixon
Inspector’s name and number: Lyn Field NS151
This is a smaller than average comprehensive secondary school with slightly more boys than girls on roll. A higher proportion than usual come from minority ethnic groups and the same is true of students requiring support for special educational needs. The proportion of students for whom the school receives pupil premium funding is broadly average. In 2013 the Year 7 intake increased from 120 to 150 and in September 2014, the school opened a sixth form. The full-time chaplain took up post in December 2014.
The distinctiveness and effectiveness of Christ’s as a Church of England school are outstanding
- The inspirational Christian leadership of the headteacher empowers all staff to develop their skills as leaders in a church school
- Housed at the centre of the school, the chaplaincy represents the huge impact that worship, prayer and Christian service have on the life of the whole community
- RE makes a major contribution to the Christian character of the school as a result of insightful and ambitious leadership
- Clear Christian principles shape the curriculum and equip students to make a transforming impact on the society in which they live
- The Christian ethos of servant leadership ensures that every individual student and adult is nurtured to fulfil their God-given potential.
AREAS TO IMPROVE
- Refine systems for strategic planning so that priorities for action emerge clearly in order to aid governors in monitoring improvement
The school, through its distinctive Christian character is outstanding at meeting the needs of all learners
Everyone involved in the school community talks with conviction about the impact of its three core Christian values of peace, justice and love. Students say that these particular values ‘encompass all of life’ and ‘are a simplified version of the Bible that works in and out of school’. Each value is linked to Ready Respect Safe, the restorative approach to managing behaviour that is now successfully established across the school. In this positive culture, incidents of disruptive behaviour have significantly reduced and attendance has risen to match national levels.
The Christian belief that every child is created in the image of God underpins the school’s work. Students understand that the implication of this is to ‘look for that of God in everyone’. No form of prejudice, therefore, is tolerated in the school, either by staff or by the students themselves. Issues of race, religion and gender are openly discussed. This includes in RE and worship so these areas shape the Christian character of the school at many levels. Recognising ‘that of God in everyone’ drives the exemplary pastoral care in the school. Although the core values are known to everyone and are the basis of this very harmonious community, it is the distinctively Christian interpretation of servant leadership, sacrifice and love that characterises the work of adults. The staff show unwavering determination to improve students’ life chances by enabling them to overcome barriers such as mental health or being separated from family. Sacrificing personal time to support students is common and contributes to achievement at GCSE that has been well above other schools nationally for several years. The 2015 dip was due to the profile of the group and had been accurately predicted. The school’s data suggests 2016 results will return to the previous high level.
The sixth form has presented new challenges and lessons have been learned from the first year of AS results. More rigorous assessment indicates that results for the current Year 13 are likely to be in line with national figures. Enrichment activities leave a lasting impact on students’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. They have been given the same high profile in the new sixth form curriculum but with the added dimension of compulsory leadership time. ‘Super curricula’ sessions regularly explore the relevance of religious beliefs at a level appropriate to these older teenagers who are developing as mature and responsible young adults within the community of Christ’s.
The impact of collective worship on the school community is outstanding
The impact of worship is felt well beyond formal worship time. The chaplaincy is easily accessible and, more importantly, is constantly accessed by a large number of staff and students. This enables the school to offer quality experiences of prayer and worship at both the collective and the individual level. The aims set out for the chaplaincy unpack what the overall Christian vision offers to students. It talks about ‘what it means to be human and live creatively in a complex world’, highlighting love and service as what students will experience on a daily basis. This is exactly what the school delivers as the chaplain moves seamlessly between the pastoral, academic and spiritual aspects of school life.
The imaginative way in which new staff and students are introduced to the Christian aspects of the school opens minds to the potential role of chaplaincy and prayer in their lives. The Eucharist for staff on the first day of the year, for example, establishes clear links between God and the professional work of the school. Since the last inspection, worship has gained a far stronger Christian identity but without compromising the integrity of those from other religions or of no faith persuasion. In her first year in post, the chaplain has brought renewed direction to worship. This is happening at a number of levels and affecting all groups in the school community with far-reaching results. In line with the development of leadership across the school, members of staff deliver thought-provoking worship. They challenge students to think beyond themselves and this brings about changes of attitude at a fundamental level. An act of worship led by a teacher who drew tellingly upon her own experience left students thinking differently about African society and the role of the school’s core values in challenging perceptions.
Coming together as a whole school each week gives a powerful sense of meaning and purpose to the act of worship. Behaviour is excellent as all adults and young people fully engage with the occasion on a regular basis. Students see worship as time well spent. They talk confidently about the pattern of worship and the key Christian beliefs this expresses such as God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE Religious Education is OUTSTANDING
The interim head of RE has rapidly made his mark on raising the profile of RE in the school. His ambitious vision, amidst changes to the subject nationally, is already helping pupils ‘learn the art of developed thinking’. He has engaged staff and students in the creation of an exciting new magazine called Telos that promotes investigative thinking. This, combined with his role in helping introduce the ‘Growth Mindset’ approach to teaching and learning, is making sure that RE has a leading and not an isolated role in the school.
Consistently good and outstanding teaching leads to some of the strongest GCSE results in the school, well above the national average, and with a good number of students continuing to A level. More able as well as vulnerable pupils do well and RE is one of the subjects where they do best, with many making more progress than is usually expected. This shows the impact of highly knowledgeable teachers who are passionate about their subject and have won students over so that they now see the subject as essential for life in modern Britain. Year 9 data shows that students have caught up from a wide range of starting points in Year 7. However, the department is already at an advanced stage of revising the syllabus for these year groups in order to prepare them better for forthcoming changes to GCSE. The head of department has anticipated the challenges this will pose for staff and students and is already demonstrating, through his own exemplary practice, how these can be overcome. Students learn consistently well.
Assessment is effective at all levels because of careful moderation. Excellent marking addresses both literacy skills and religious understanding and students are very accurate in assessing each other’s work. Consequently, their writing improves piece by piece. Where the pace of learning is rapid, students are totally engrossed. The teacher’s input is unobtrusive, prompting individuals by using questions tailored precisely to their level of understanding. Sixth form students take appropriate responsibility for their own learning, questioning definitions, checking ideas with others and managing difference of opinion. Written work reflects a range of views, clearly expressed, and indicates that the students are not spoon-fed but that high quality discussion precedes written tasks. RE, therefore, is highly successful in helping pupils make use of the school’s core values to look at themselves and re-evaluate their attitudes to others.
The EFFECTIVENESS OF THE leadership and management of the school as a church school IS outstanding
The headteacher provides inspirational Christian leadership to the school. Under her direction, all staff are now held responsible for the Christian ethos and this has led to best practice, particularly in pastoral care and leadership of worship. The critical trio of headteacher, chaplain and chair of governors is at the forefront of moving the school forward and they are all motivated by their personal faith. Where improvement is required, such as in attendance, they ensure that initiatives are totally in tune with the Christian mission of the school and reflect that of the Church nationally. Partnerships with Southwark Diocese, the Richmond team ministry and Holy Trinity Richmond are all of mutual benefit. The school draws on diocesan resources for personnel and training support and, in turn, offers specialist expertise from within the school to facilitate improvement in other schools. Staff appointments and timetabling are key tools in sustaining the strong Christian character of the school. Governors have made brave decisions in choosing to delay permanent appointments and opting for interim posts. The move to a full-time chaplain emerged from reviewing the practice in place and has achieved the desired effect of integrating chaplaincy into all levels of school life with specific prayerful support for senior leaders.
Spirituality has a high profile in the curriculum. This was clearly seen in the decision to move personal development time to the middle of the day and to allocate worship and prayer a significant portion of time within that slot. As a result of these actions, chaplaincy, RE and collective worship are highly effective. It demonstrates that the governance of the school is exceptionally strong and that the uncompromising approach to strategic planning is justified. An abundance of creative ideas has been generated by this talented leadership team. However, there is a lack of clarity when it comes to sequencing these ideas into a precise action plan that reflects priorities. This, in turn, impairs the planning of a manageable cycle of review to monitor the rapid pace of change.
SIAMS report February 2016 Christ’s School Richmond TW10 6HW