Latest SIAS report

(SIAS is the Statutory Inspection of Anglican Schools)

Diocese: Oxford

School’s Unique reference number: 110418

Date of inspection: 10th September 2012

Date of last inspection: June 2009

Headteacher: Mr Andy Leach

Chair of Governors: Mrs Fiona Cayley

Inspector’s name with National Society inspector’s number: Gill Walley 644

School context

Brill Church of England Combined School is a one form entry primary school in a rural area of north Buckinghamshire. There are 172 pupils on roll. The number of pupils eligible for free school meals is below average and the number of pupils who have special educational needs is below average. The proportion of children for whom English is an additional language or who are from minority ethnic groups is below average. The school was judged to be Good in its recent Ofsted inspection. A small minority of its families worship in the parish church.

 

The distinctiveness and effectiveness of Brill School as a Church of England school are good

The school fulfils the aims of its Mission Statement to nurture children in “a happy and safe environment supported by (our) Christian values and ethos”. The children learn about the importance of prayer and reflection, events in the church year and Bible stories. They can explain how their behaviour and actions are based on Christian values. Parents and staff can explain how the school’s work is based on its strong Christian ethos and they feel that the school is very inclusive.

Established strengths

  • Parents feel involved in the school’s Christian ethos, for example when they attend collective worship
  • The school has beneficial links with the parish church and the local community
  • The school promotes an inclusive ethos so that families of any faith or no faith feel equally valued and involved

Focus for development

  • Ensure that governors and parents are fully involved in regular monitoring and evaluation of the school’s distinctiveness and effectiveness as a Church of England school.
  • Provide more opportunities for prayer and quiet reflection in the school day in the outdoor area, and ensure the environment celebrates the distinctive Christian character of the school well

The school, through its distinctive Christian character, is good at meeting the needs of all learners.

The school is welcoming, the pastoral care for children and the concern for their welfare are strong. Children feel encouraged in their spiritual development, whether they are from Christian families or not, because the school includes everyone and values everyone equally. Children can discuss the Bible stories they have heard and they understand Christian values because these are shared in collective worship and discussed in classrooms. Parents say that their children are inspired by these values and know they enjoy writing prayers and taking part in worship. The children can explain how understanding Christian values influences their behaviour, for example they understand why they forgive one another when they have argued. They are proud of the school’s Christian identity and enjoy visiting the parish church. They talk about the importance of the cross in their school logo which reminds them of the Christian faith and the values they share. Children explain how much they enjoy religious education lessons and learning about different faiths and beliefs, their similarities and differences. This is often through visits to places of worship, celebrating festivals and visits from faith leaders. Children enjoy collective worship and say that this is a time when they can all be together and reflect. They would like spaces where they could be quiet and reflect at other parts of the school day. Parents and staff value the school’s Christian ethos and feel that it enables all children, whether or not their families are Christian, to grow in spirituality. They like the school’s caring atmosphere, they find it very inclusive and they appreciate how well the school develops children’s understanding of the Christian faith. They feel that the children learn the difference between right and wrong and to become good citizens. Children learn about helping people who are less fortunate than they are, for example by raising money a number of charities.

The impact of collective worship on the school community is good.

Worship is an important part of the school day and it supports children very well in their understanding of the Christian faith and Bible stories. It is planned well, based on a different Christian value each month with stories which are relevant for the children. Teachers often talk about these values in the classroom, for example noticing children who are showing their understanding of the value of the month by the way they are behaving. The children enter the hall respectfully, they listen and behave extremely well, they are keen to join in and respond eagerly to questions or opportunities for role play. They sing well-known Christian songs with great enthusiasm. They know some Christian prayers such as the Lord’s Prayer and appreciate “being able to share worries with God” and “quiet thinking”. The children often write their own prayers and particularly enjoy doing this. They like praying together at other times during the school day such as before lunch, and say that this reminds them how fortunate they are. They reflect on what they have discussed by looking at lit candles and they are encouraged to think about how worship themes relate to their own lives and can influence how they behave. They learn about important times in the Church year and the liturgical seasons. Classes of children lead acts of worship regularly to share with the others what they have been learning in lessons. Parents enjoy attending collective worship in school as well as services in church. Some teachers lead worship regularly so that the children experience different styles of worship. The clergy team lead worship both weekly in school and in church on special occasions such as Harvest, Christmas, Easter and when the oldest children leave for secondary school. This helps children to develop an understanding of Anglican practice and traditions, and to feel involved with their parish and local community.

The leadership and management of the school as a church school is good.

The headteacher has strengthened the Christian character of the school and the school has fulfilled the recommendations of the last inspection report. He and the RE coordinator have introduced initiatives such as “Prayer Space” and promoted an optional “Friday Club” which have been greatly enjoyed by the children and have helped them to grow in spirituality. The headteacher monitors and evaluates the impact of worship on the children informally but knows that this could be done more systematically. All adults in the school put children’s well-being, personal and spiritual development at the heart of what they do. Staff feel confident to promote the school’s Christian ethos and this is a focus for their professional development. New staff receive very good induction. They feel very well supported by the RE and collective worship coordinators and the school works closely with the Diocese. The RE coordinator monitors standards of teaching and learning so that children make good progress. Governors know the school well and are supportive of its Christian identity, for example by attending acts of worship. They are not yet fully involved in evaluating the distinctive Christian character of the school but have now established a committee with responsibility for this. Parents speak highly of the school’s Christian ethos and the links with the local church and community. The school seeks their views regularly, but not specifically about the Christian character of the school.