National Society Status Inspection of Anglican Schools Report School
- St. Elisabeth’s C. E. Primary School
- SK5 6BL
- Diocese: Manchester
- Local authority: Stockport
- Dates of inspection: 15th February 2007
- Date of last inspection: 23rd to 25th April 2002
- School’s unique reference number: 106110
- Headteacher: Mrs Shirley Tootell
- Inspector’s name and number: Sue Bowen, 454
St Elisabeth’s is an average sized primary school with most pupils from White British backgrounds. Very few pupils speak English as an additional language. The proportion of pupils with learning difficulties is above average. The school serves an area of high social deprivation offering many challenges, and pupils entering the school are often below average in the basic skills.
The distinctiveness and effectiveness of St Elisabeth’s Primary School as a Church of England school are outstanding
The Headteacher’s secure and sensitive perception of the school and the community it serves, and her dedicated commitment to the pupils and families, ensures that the school gives an outstanding example of Christianity, not just in theory but also in practical actions. The overall effect is of a cohesive and harmonious and very secure place in which all the pupils can flourish.
- The Christian ethos in which all members of the team, of all ages, are valued and secure
- The clear leadership of the Headteacher who wants the very best for everyone involved
- The commitment and enthusiasm of all the staff
Focus for development
- Amend the School Self-Evaluation Form to give a more accurate reflection of the Christian status of the school
- As and when policies are reviewed, include the philosophy statement into each one so that it is explicit that they all work within this overall framework
The school, through its distinctive Christian character, is outstanding at meeting the needs of all learners
The pupils themselves are very clear that they belong to a Church school, and Christian beliefs are explicitly explained to them, but not forced upon them. They know some conventions of Anglican practice: they have learned several standard prayers by heart, and understand the exchange of handshakes in fellowship, and the Peace response. The ethos of the school in supporting the needs of its pupils is excellent. Much emphasis is placed in working together as a family, with older pupils helping younger ones and younger ones being given deliberate opportunities to observe the older ones as role models. Positive reinforcement is of paramount importance, through the use of a wide range of strategies. For example, the Golden Table on Fridays rewards pupils who have had good lunchtimes, and allows them to sit at a table specially laid with tablecloth, napkins and flowers, and to be served by Year 6 Pupils. This is a powerful way of affirming their self-esteem.
The work of the Learning Mentor has a positive impact on standards of behaviour, as she can intervene directly when problems occur. This also enables the teachers to be able to carry on with their teaching instead of having to be sidetracked by behaviour issues. The Learning Mentor ensures that a comprehensive system of questionnaires for pupils and also for parents gets immediate response. Circle time is well established as a method of discussing problems in the school, but an additional device, “Bubble time” allows pupils to seek help privately for problems. The pupils are very clear about who to turn to for help, and how to go about this.
The School Council is particularly active, well organised and tightly structured. The Council members can give examples of issues that they have dealt with, such as the need for more sleep, and improving the playground. The are aware of the needs of others beyond their school, for example, they are currently engaged in planning charity fundraising for Red Nose Day. They know that they may have to respond to issues raised by their classmates, even if they do not share their views on that issue.
One particularly powerful method of conflict resolution is the “Jigsaw”. This is simply an A4 page of the school’s logo, cut into six jigsaw pieces. When things go wrong in school the Jigsaw may have to be taken apart, and this provides the opportunity to discuss what is needed to bring it together again. This clear visual imagery works very well in reinforcing the positive messages about how to resolve difficulties.
The school makes very effective use of its impressive building to convey a distinctively Christian ethos through excellent displays in the entrance hall, library and elsewhere. Its architecture links it to the adjacent Church and helps to support the Christian atmosphere.
The impact of collective worship on the school community is outstanding
Collective Worship is well organised in the school, with weekly themes fitting inside an overall theme for the term. These are based on Christian principles and often use Bible stories as the focal points.
All the teaching staff lead Worship sessions in turn, and are comfortable and confident to subscribe to the Christian ethos. The pupils enjoy the sessions, listen attentively and contribute well, having confidence that their views are respected.
The rectangular hall is use strategically to reinforce the messages of Collective Worship. For “business” assemblies the pupils face one way, but turning around the other way for Worship allows them to look at a relevant display area, and a table with crosses and a candle as a focal point. The candle is lit during Worship, as one child explained, “because Jesus is the light of the World”. Opportunities for reflection are provided in each Worship session, and pupils are encouraged to visualise in order to aid their reflection.
The school has Eco-school status, and much work is done to ensure that the pupils have a notion of their place in the stewardship of God’s world.
Pupils play an active role in Collective Worship. All age groups gain experience of this alongside their teachers, and Year 6 pupils take significant responsibility, preparing sessions in their own time and leading them with confidence.
The policy for Collective Worship makes clear the Christian commitment, emphasises Christian values such as tolerance and forgiveness, and defines how all the members of the team will gather together to learn about God. The school fulfils its stated aim in the policy: “a community committed to serving and caring for each other, God and our environment”.
The effectiveness of the leadership and management of the school as a church school is outstanding
The Headteacher’s own personal journey in leading and developing the school has enabled her to take a clear stance on the extent of its Christian vision. She has appointed and developed a team of staff who are able and committed to put this vision into action.
The governors, especially the foundation governors, support her effectively in leading the school. This support is particularly valued at the moment, during an interregnum at the Church. The Headteacher has defined the appropriate level of explicitness of the Christian faith that feels comfortable and acceptable for the staff, governors, and parents, and for the community around the school.
The parents voice great enthusiasm and appreciation of the school and its Headteacher; some have chosen it because it is an Anglican school, but most have not, yet they appreciate the way in which their children are being guided and supported, and that their views are encouraged and valued.