Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS) Report


St Jude’s Church of England Primary School

Regent Road Herne Hill, London SE24 OEL
Current SIAMS inspection grade Outstanding
Diocese Southwark
Previous SIAMS inspection grade Outstanding
Local authority Lambeth
Name of multi-academy trust / federation N/A
Date of inspection 21 June 2018
Date of last inspection June 2013
Type of school and unique reference number Voluntary Aided 100616
Headteacher Alexandra New
Inspector’s name and number John Viner NS144

School context

St Jude’s is a smaller than average primary school located in Herne Hill and serving the parish of St Matthew with St Jude, Brixton. Its 198 pupils reflect the rich diversity of the area, although the proportion of pupils who speak English as an additional language is decreasing. There are lower than average proportions of pupils with special educational needs or disabilities and disadvantaged pupils for whom the school receives additional funding. The school’s demographic is becoming more advantaged over time. Around a third of pupils attend a church. Pupils make good progress and standards at the end of Key Stage 2 are above national averages.

The distinctiveness and effectiveness of St Jude’s as a Church of England school are outstanding

  • This is a deeply Christian school in which pupils of all faiths can clearly explain its Christian values in depth and say why they are important to the school community.
  • Pupils develop a profound awareness of spirituality and understand the importance of faith and belief.
  • Pupils’ faith is nurtured so that they develop a heartfelt compassion for others.
  • Pupils learn about the nature and purpose of prayer and apply it to their lives.
  • The leadership of Religious Education (RE) is outstanding.
  • The strong personal commitment of clergy and governors supports the headteacher and leaders in continuing the school’s journey as a beacon of Christian excellence.

Areas to improve

  • Make collective worship more explicitly Anglican to align with the school’s policy of admitting a predominance of foundation places.
  • Clarify the school’s declared mission so that it is more explicitly rooted in its Christian and biblical justification.

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

Although they are not always expressed as clearly as they might be, the Christian values, which the school promotes, are deeply embedded in every aspect of its life. They shape the decisions that leaders make and inform their approach to attendance and behaviour. All members of the school community recognise that it is the school’s Christian character that makes it, as one staff member noted, ‘incredibly inclusive, peaceful and happy’. Pupils echo this. They say that everyone is welcome, regardless of their faith and that, ‘we are like a family, understanding and respectful of each other’.

As a result, pupils are keen to come to school: they behave impeccably, work hard and make excellent progress, whatever their starting points. Many attain standards that are above national expectations. The school’s Christian character is demonstrated in the excellent warm, productive and compassionate relationships between and among adults and pupils. This gives pupils confidence in their learning and results in very positive attitudes to their work. Pupils report that their teachers are so inspiring that, when they go home, they often want to find out more about what they had been learning.

This open and trusting environment gives pupils the self-assurance to express their views in considerable depth and leads to a deep sense of spirituality that informs their thinking. Because they understand that life has a spiritual dimension, pupils develop open minds and positive attitudes. They understand and celebrate diversity and enjoy the richness it brings. This makes a significant contribution to their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.

Pupils are universally excited by RE and many say that it is their favourite subject. They appreciate that it plays a role in affirming the school’s Christian character. Pupils take pleasure in exploring ideas of faith and belief and so recognise that Christianity is a world faith in the context of many other faith communities. This prepares them well for life in a multicultural Britain. Parents sum up the school’s distinctiveness in saying that it ‘places Christian values and the children’s spirituality at the heart of their learning’.

The impact of collective worship on the school community is outstanding

Collective worship lies at the heart of the school and all pupils recognise that it is an important part of each day. This is a time when the whole school community gathers together in a demonstration of the school’s motto, that, in Christ, all are ‘happy, inspired and loved’. Pupils report that they are happy when they pray together, are inspired by many acts of worship that challenge their thinking and know that they are loved as a child of God. As a result, they gather quietly, sit attentively and sing enthusiastically. Worship is distinctly Christian, rooted in the person of Jesus and grounded in the Bible. It is also Trinitarian and great care is taken to teach pupils why Christians regard God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is successful, because even young pupils and those of other faiths can explain this in terms appropriate to their development. Pupils of all faiths and none are affirmed, strengthened and challenged by worship, they say that it helps them to strengthen their own faith, whatever that is. One pupil remarked that worship ‘helps me to be a better person’. While not lessening its quality, a relative weakness is that, although the involvement of the incumbent provides a link with the school’s Anglican foundation, worship does not provide a sufficiently consistent model of Anglican tradition and practice, despite the admission priority given to Christian families.

Worship is carefully planned around a series of themes drawn from values that the school promotes and loosely structured around the church’s year. Because worship is led by a variety of staff, clergy and visitors, it is kept fresh and interesting. Pupils play many key functions in leading aspects of worship and supporting it in practical ways. They like acting out roles, reading and praying. Since the last inspection, the school has established a pupils’ Faith Group, which makes a strong contribution to planning, leading and evaluating acts of worship. Pupils appreciate the way that the school involves them in this central aspect of school life. They value the class-led acts of worship which take place from time to time and regard as special the times when worship takes place in church. Since the parish church is a distance away, the partnership with the local Baptist church and the regular involvement of the youth pastor, adds a local capacity to worship. Parents of all faiths value the opportunities which they have to share in some acts of worship, especially the Christmas and Easter church services.

From the time they join the school, pupils learn about the nature and purpose of prayer and there are many good opportunities for them to engage in quiet reflection, in personal, in private and in public prayer. They know that, when they want to be quiet and reflective there are areas in each classroom and around the school that help to focus their thoughts. The prayer and ‘worry’ boxes provide a mechanism for sharing their own prayers, either for public display or for private release. Leaders, governors, clergy and pupils each play a role in the ongoing evaluation of collective worship. Pupils’ views are taken seriously so that they know that they make a difference and contribute to the planned improvement of worship.

The effectiveness of the religious education is outstanding

Standards of attainment in RE for most pupils are above national expectations and all pupils make exceptional progress from their starting points. Because the school’s Christian character so effectively supports the nurture and development of each pupil’s personal spiritualty, they learn exceptionally well and ask many deep questions with an increasing maturity. This helps them to develop the skills of reflection, evaluation and analysis which they can apply to their learning. As a result, the questions they ask about meaning and purpose help them to explore the nature of religion and belief at an increasingly deep level. Pupils are impressive in the way they use creativity and originality to understand the impact of religion on believers. For example, through the Family Learning Projects, which draw parents into their children’s research. Parents said that the recent project on ‘what is worship?’ was ‘really fun’ and pupils delighted in explaining the models of places of worship displayed around the school. This makes an excellent contribution to pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. The school has recently been awarded the Silver RE Quality Mark.

Pupils say that they look forward to RE because teachers make it fun and the high standards they secure are the result of teaching that is never less than good and is frequently outstanding. Since the last inspection the school has introduced a much more demanding curriculum. Teachers have risen to the challenge and are developing very good questioning skills that deepen and challenge pupils’ thinking. The curriculum is rich and varied, with a balance of faiths taught in a way that is systematic and progressive so that, by the time they leave the school, pupils have a good understanding of Christianity and a secure knowledge of the key facts of the other faiths they study. The programme of study is enriched by visits to a range of places of worship and from visitors who come to school to talk about their faith. Parents say how much they appreciate this breadth of experience, so that their children are well-equipped for a multicultural British society.

RE is very strongly led by a knowledgeable subject leader who has worked hard to help colleagues meet the increased demands of the curriculum. He has established a robust and extensive system of monitoring and evaluation, linked to the identification of training needs, to further develop teachers’ subject knowledge and increased confidence. As a result, the school is also developing teaching approaches to make RE lessons even more clearly focused. He and the school leaders have developed an effective assessment system, based on what is expected for pupils’ stages of learning. This process helps teachers to plan future lessons by knowing how well their pupils are doing. This excellent subject leadership contributes to the school’s ongoing commitment to excellence as a church school.

The effectiveness of the leadership and management of the school as a church school is outstanding

Leaders, clergy and governors share an ambitious Christian vision for the school that is grounded in a belief that all matter to God and that the school is living out the Church of England’s commitment to ‘educate for the fullness of life’. However, its expression through its motto to be ‘happy, inspired and loved’ does not make the school’s specific Christian distinctiveness clear enough. Nevertheless, leadership and management are outstanding because the Christian values that underpin the school’s work are lived out by its leaders and evident in all aspects of its work, including decisions about the curriculum and operational policies. Leaders and governors recognise that the vision is demonstrated in the strong personal and academic outcomes for the pupils and seen in this strong, united and compassionate school community. Pupils say that they know that they matter to the adults and their parents comment that they respect their leaders and trust their judgments.

There are effective systems for self-evaluation that involve all stakeholders and where pupils too are given a voice. As a result, leaders and governors know their school well, have a clear understanding of its performance and know how to secure even further improvement. The school has many excellent and productive links with other local schools, including church schools. This adds significant capacity that would not otherwise be available to a small school. It provides excellent opportunities for the shared professional development of staff and joint working, such as collaborative moderation of work in RE. As a result of this, the deep commitment and regular involvement of governors and outstanding support from diocesan officers, leaders are well-supported and all staff have access to training to build their expertise. This enables governors to plan to meet the school’s future leadership needs because they can look beyond their school to the wider family of church schools. Governors understand the school’s Christian distinctiveness and have secured the outstanding leadership of RE and collective worship so that both are highly effective. There is a strong and constructive partnership with the parish church and an excellent relationship with the local Baptist church, which is more easily accessible. The regular involvement of the incumbent in the daily life of the school and the support of foundation governors who are church members make this a relationship that is of mutual benefit. It ensures that the parish church and its school are a strong Christian presence in the community they serve.

SIAMS report June 2018 St Jude’s CE Primary School, Herne Hill, SE24 OEL