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Gwella Inspection of Church in Wales Schools Report

St Paul’s Church in Wales Voluntary Aided Primary School


Oakley Place
Grangetown
Cardiff CF11 7EU
Diocese:
Local authority: Cardiff Local Education Authority
Dates of inspection: 28 and 30 September and 1 October 2015
Date of last inspection: 20 and 26 March 2012
School’s unique reference number: 681/3343
Head teacher: Mrs Rebecca Morteo
Inspector’s name: Mrs Susan Jordan

School context
St. Paul’s Church in Wales VA Primary School on the urban outskirts of Cardiff, serves the parish of St
Paul’s and the community in Grangetown.
There are currently 209 pupils, aged 4 to 11 years, on the school roll. The number of pupils has
increased slightly since the last inspection, but numbers have remained constant for the last five
years. 29% of the pupils are entitled to free school meals and the school has identified 11% of pupils
as having additional learning needs. 4 pupils have a statement of special educational needs and there
are 2 looked after children in the school.
Pupils come from a range of ethnic backgrounds. For 63% of pupils, English is the predominant
language spoken at home. English is the main language of communication in the school and Welsh is
taught as a second language.

Established strengths
• the school’s inclusive Christian ethos embracing and celebrating all faiths
• the very strong relationship with the local priest leading to mutually supportive links between the
church and the school and the development of spirituality
• the strong caring Christian leadership by the newly appointed head teacher supported by highly
dedicated staff and governors
• the care and support offered to all pupils by staff and all members of the school community

Focus for development


• Include greater challenge and differentiation in Religious Education with a particular focus on the
more able and talented
• Provide opportunities for pupils to respond appropriately to teachers’ focused marking to enable
them to improve
• Further develop and refine the school’s monitoring, tracking and evaluation of Religious Education
• Extend opportunities for pupils across the school to plan and deliver worship so that these
leadership skills are refined by the time pupils move to the next stage of their education

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Prospects for improvement

The judgements given for the four Key Questions are Excellent, Excellent, Good and Good. The
school has good prospects for making all four grades Excellent.

KQ1. The school, through its distinctive Christian character is EXCELLENT at meeting the
needs of all learners
The Christian character and environment of St Paul’s School clearly has a positive and direct impact
on pupils’ achievements. This is demonstrated in the school’s consistent performance above its family
average, with no significant difference in achievement of learners across the school. The majority of
pupils make very good progress in their learning as they move through the school.

All the pupils have a strong sense of self-worth reflected in Christian values that interweave all areas
of the school day. This is supported by excellent relationships with parents, church and the local
community. At St Paul’s all pupils are valued and nurtured in a clearly distinctive Christian
atmosphere. At the main entrance and in the school hall’s attractive painted mural, the school’s
mission statement ‘Learning together through fun, friendship and faith’ is clearly displayed. The
school’s prospectus and website have aspects of excellence and clearly demonstrate the Christian
character of the school.

The school’s ethos is also evident throughout the school in Christian displays in classrooms, the hall
and corridors. The children talk proudly about their class’s spirituality or worship focus and how this is
used for prayers and reflection at various times in the school day. Within this Christian setting it is
clear that the pupils are happy and contented learners supported by a team of dedicated and spiritual
staff. There is a wide range of extra-curricular activities which engages and stimulates the pupils’
enjoyment of learning. The standard of singing is good and adds to the quality of worship. Pupils were
eager to talk about displays around the school and excited about the projects that they were involved
in. They are respectful, happy and well behaved with a strong commitment to caring for others.

The pupils’ enjoyment of school leads to high levels of attendance. Pupils are encouraged to be
involved in raising money for charities both locally and nationally and be sensitive to the needs of
others. A developing strength of the school is the recent formation of the Vision and Values Group
involving ‘Lead learners’ in Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and Christianity from KS2 classes with the
local priest, a parishioner, a teaching assistant and the Head teacher. This is strong evidence of
diversity and acceptance of others being celebrated. This group have changed the response in
worship from ‘God is with us’ to ‘Our God is with us’. The pupils have a high degree of understanding
and respect for people from other faiths, through what they learn in Religious Education lessons,
collective worship and their involvement in activities such as collecting clothes for recycling. The
school has made good progress in the 3rd focus for development from the last inspection by engaging
with leaders of other faiths such as the Muslim Council in Grangetown and visits to a variety of places
of worship.

The school has excellent links with the local church. The local priest aims to maintain and extend very
good relationships already in place supporting RE including regular church visits, ‘mock’ baptisms and
weddings and also confirmation classes (held in the school this year). ‘ChatTea’ is an initiative that is
proving successful for a toddler group on Friday afternoons and there is a notice board in the Church
Hall celebrating RE across the school. In securing a sense of belonging beyond the Church in Wales,
church leaders from the Salvation Army and other faith communities visit the school to promote
understanding of and respect for their beliefs. Links have also been formed with a school in
Bangladesh.

The Christian values chosen by staff and pupils are embedded in the daily life of the school and
reinforce the high expectations set by the Head teacher and her staff. The local priest stated that he
feels strongly that ‘Christian Values are the lifeblood of the school’. Parents spoke highly of the way

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the school promotes its use of Christian Values. In a questionnaire completed by 44 parents all knew it
was a church school and 95% of parents believed that the school is built upon clear Christian values.
One parent commented that they ‘help pupils to have good moral values as well’. 93% believe that the
school has a distinctive Christian character and for 84% of them it was an important factor when
choosing a school for their children. 93% of parents agreed / strongly agreed that the school’s
character made a significant contribution to the pupils’ education. The excellent relationships between
all members of the school community underpin the character of the school.

KQ2. The impact of collective worship on the school community is EXCELLENT


Daily collective worship makes a significant contribution to the life of the school and its high quality
has a very positive impact on the pupils. Collective worship is linked to the value for each half term
chosen by the Vision and Values Group. Whole school worship takes place on four days with class-
based worship on the fifth. The local priest leads weekly Eucharist at the church, which pupils attend
and participate in on a rotation basis. Pupils are confident about attending church and their familiarity
with the customs and practices of the Church in Wales demonstrates a well-developed sense of
spirituality. In addition the priest regularly takes whole school worship at the school. Worship festivals
and end-of-year celebrations also take place at the church. Other church leaders regularly visit and
lead worship.

There is careful planning of Collective Worship around the Church calendar, using ‘Values for Life’,
‘Twelve Baskets’ and more recently ‘Roots from Fruits’ resource packs. Planning ensures that there is
both variety and continuity and that themes are rooted in Christian beliefs. It includes worship through
prayer (often written by the pupils), hymns, songs, Bible readings and drama. Many pupils commented
that they felt very involved in both whole school and class worship and felt that their ideas for
improvement were always considered. The school prayer, the Grace and the Lord’s Prayer are said in
all worship sessions and often in Welsh. This demonstrates that the pupils are very confident in
prayer. In a Year Four class, a pupil was observed using the reflection table to worship independently.
Some Collective Worship (and RE lessons) also take place in the Faith Garden and outdoor
classroom.

The attitude of pupils to worship is excellent, because of the high quality of worship offered. It
contributes to their spiritual, moral and cultural development. The pupils develop a deeper
understanding of the Christian faith and can talk about their beliefs in a mature way. The pupils
appreciate the rich variety of worship offered by being able to worship as a whole school, in the church
or in their classroom which develops their spirituality very effectively. The head teacher firmly believes
that worship is at the heart of the school and was keen to emphasise that all members of the school
community place great value on collective worship. Staff at the school can articulate its place in their
school life and what it means to them personally. Two members of staff have become confirmed as a
result of the development of their spirituality which further demonstrates the positive impact of
collective worship on the whole community.

Two out of the three worship sessions observed were of a particularly high quality engaging all pupils.
Pupils focused well and contributed in a mature way demonstrating this. A whole school worship led
by the local priest demonstrated the very close relationship he has with all pupils. They responded to
his questions with confidence and maturity. They eagerly and enthusiastically took part in drama yet
were reflective and reverent at the appropriate moments. It made an impact on everyone present.

The pupil voice is developing into a strong feature as pupils feel their opinions are listened to and
acted upon as shown by worship evaluations and action planning by the Vision and Values Group.
They enjoy taking responsibility and are proud of their school. The school recognises that there is a
need to further develop pupil involvement in planning and delivering collective worship. Year 6 pupils
prepare the hall for worship, set up the projector and computer and organise the CD player and music.
Pupils enter and exit quietly to music and a candle is lit at the start of the whole school worship. Time
is allocated for reflection; pupils are quiet and thoughtful at these moments. Lead learners lead the

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prayers and Bible reading. An effective system for pupil evaluation of worship is in place and taken
seriously.

Singing in whole school worship is lively; pupils from Reception to Year 6 sing with confidence. New
songs are introduced by the school choir. Particularly impressive was the singing of the school song
(written and composed by the children with a local composer) where staff and pupils engaged in a
very moving way with one another. Evidence of how the children then act out the words of the song in
their daily life was demonstrated in discussion with the Vision and Values Group.

KQ3. The effectiveness of the religious education is GOOD


Religious Education teaches about values and teachings of Jesus and impacts positively on the
Christian character of the school. It is seen as a core subject and has prominence in the School
Prospectus.

Standards in Religious Education (RE) are good and pupils achieve well. The inspector’s discussions
with the Estyn team established that standards are in line with other subject areas and in particular
literacy. Pupils enjoy their RE lessons and understand the value of the subject and its links to the
distinctive character of the school. Parents receive an overview of the curriculum at the beginning of
each term; it includes what each class will be doing in every area including Religious Education.

A scrutiny of books plus discussions with pupils all indicate that pupils enjoy a wide and varied RE
curriculum. Pupils demonstrate a good understanding of many of the key aspects of Christianity, the
Bible and other world faiths. A variety of teaching and learning styles are used. Where tasks are
differentiated they capture the interest of pupils and often challenge them more deeply but this is
inconsistent across the school. Marking in books is generally effective but comments to ensure
progression are not always consistent. There was little evidence of challenge for more able pupils or
pupils’ responding to teachers’ marking. This is at an early stage of development. The school
recognises this as the current SIP priorities include further engaging learners with the school decision
making process and developing self- and peer-assessment.

Teaching is good with elements of excellence in certain lessons. In the 4 lessons observed (two in
each Key Stage) pupils communicate with confidence and respond effectively to some probing
questions on aspects of the Bible and religious ideas. In Key Stage Two pupils engage well with tasks,
work at an appropriate pace and demonstrate progression in their learning. In the Foundation Phase
pupils enjoy RE and the variety of activities capture their interest well. The focus on prayer and
reflection is a feature of these sessions. A few Assessment for Learning strategies were observed in
some classes such as ‘Think, pair, share’ but this is at an early stage of development. Teachers
demonstrate good subject knowledge and the active involvement of Teaching Assistants enhances
pupils’ learning in a positive way.
The use of Philosophy for Children (P4C) initiative and the themes for ‘You can do it’ are at an early
stage of development but it is producing mature thinkers who are prepared to listen to the viewpoint of
others as shown in discussions with members of the Vision and Values Group. One P4C session was
observed with older pupils and this was clearly demonstrated.

The church is often used as an additional classroom and the local priest is often involved with
teaching certain aspects of the curriculum. Pupils enjoy his involvement and like seeing him robed.

The RE curriculum is well planned. It follows the Diocesan Church in Wales syllabus, effectively
linking tasks to the Literacy and Numeracy framework and includes some good use of RE core skills
across the curriculum. The 1st Recommendation from the last inspection has been fully met.
The school’s electronic tracking system is in place and therefore this has fully met the 2nd
recommendation from the last inspection. Over the two years since its implementation, along with
routine monitoring and evaluation procedures, there has been an accurate identification of strengths
and a focus on raising standards. Progress is clearly demonstrated and more able pupils in RE have

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been identified. Further opportunities to challenge these pupils are being explored, including becoming
Lead Learners in the Vision and Values Group. However, monitoring of Religious Education needs to
be further developed along with the school’s tracking and assessment procedures.
The RE coordinator is well informed on current developments in RE and is enthusiastic in her aim to
continue to improve RE in the school. The school’s priorities include further engaging with leaders of
different faiths and to work with all stakeholders to further develop school values.

KQ4. The effectiveness of the leadership and management of the school as a church school is
GOOD
The school’s distinctive Christian vision ‘Learning together through friendship, fun and faith’ is clearly
evident. The vision is effectively promoted by the head teacher, in the short time that she has become
Head teacher in the school. She is a very spiritual person and leads by example. Being in the school
prior to September as Deputy Head teacher in the school, she has seen the importance of continuing
to have a strong team ethos and is continuing to share that vision with new members of staff. Staff
members show a personal commitment to each other and the pupils in their care. It is an inclusive
school and leaders ensure that support and encouragement is in place to meet individual needs.
The Head teacher and the local priest (RE link Governor) readily articulate the impact of explicit
Christian values to the lives of learners and on the whole life of the school. They meet regularly to
ensure that all aspects of school life have clear Christian benefits for pupils. Reflecting the school’s
diverse community a number of staff practise different religions including Hinduism and Islam; respect
and understanding is always shown and a positive multi-faith dialogue is encouraged.

The school’s self-evaluation process leads directly to the school’s improvement planning and involves
all groups in the school community. This ensures the Christian impact on the school and its Christian
influence on the pupils.

Governors have a clear understanding of their role and are fully informed about what goes on in the
school. They are becoming increasingly involved and support and challenge school leaders, seeing
themselves very much as ‘critical friends’. They observe and monitor standards of work produced by
all pupils in all subjects. Governors assess the school’s progress, expecting value for money. The
local priest has worked with the head teacher in producing the Church/School Links Action Plan which
ensures all Foundation Governors take on some form of responsibility and are more effectively
involved in the school. Foundation Governors therefore support the church/school link and ensure that
the strategic leadership of the school has a Christian focus.

The school has strong links with the Diocese ensuring staff attend training courses as well as working
effectively with other church schools as part of two Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)
focusing on church school distinctiveness and a new whole school Scheme of Work. This
demonstrates that the Head teacher sees the professional development of staff as a high priority.

Parents are extremely supportive of the work of the school. They like the ‘open door’ policy and speak
warmly of the school and what it does for them and their children.
One parent said, ‘the school let’s a child develop and their faith grow with them.’
All stakeholders are becoming increasingly aware of their accountability in making this Church in
Wales school a happy and Christian place for pupils to learn and grow.

The school meets the statutory requirement for collective acts of worship YES
The school meets the statutory requirement for religious education (where YES
inspected)

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The inspector would like to thank the head teacher, staff, governors, parents and pupils for
the opportunity to be part of the life of the school, and to thank them for their consideration
and co-operation during the inspection.