The Ofsted report notes that the school motto of ‘work hard, be kind’ is lived by the pupils and staff at St James School and that it is an inclusive school built on warm, respectful relationships. That the school has high expectations for behaviour was also singled out, along with the fact that the calm school environment enables students to focus on their studies.
Inspectors stated that the school provides opportunities for pupils to have new experiences and develop their talents and that the school has planned an ambitious curriculum. High quality support for students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) was also commented on with the report noting that teachers know the needs of these pupils well and support them to learn the curriculum.
Other comments from the inspectors included the following:
- The school actively promotes the importance of regular attendance. Staff work with pupils and their families to provide the support needed to overcome any barriers they might have to coming to school. As a result, attendance continues to rise.
- All pupils take part in an extensive range of weekly creative, active and service electives. For example, pupils learn about bike maintenance, sign language and sea safety while others prepare for the school show, learn to knit and create artwork inspired by performance poetry. Pupils enjoy physical challenges such as taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.
- Pupils read a wide range of books as part of the ‘St James canon’. Books have been deliberately chosen to represent a range of authors and cultural experiences. The school identifies the weakest readers and the reasons for their difficulties. It provides support for pupils to build their accuracy and fluency with reading.
Ofsted inspectors visited the school last November for the first routine inspection the school received since the COVID-19 pandemic began. They had discussions with school leaders, met with staff and considered responses to Ofsted Parent View as well as responses to staff and student surveys.
Deep dives were also carried out in several subjects including maths and modern foreign languages, for each of these inspectors’ held discussions about the curriculum, visited a sample of lessons, spoke to teachers, spoke to some students about their learning and looked at samples of work.
Emily Harper, Headteacher at St James School said: “I am delighted that St James has continued to be rated Good by Ofsted and I want to say a big thank you to all our staff and students for making this happen. I would also like to say how much I appreciate the support of all our families and the wider community in making St James the kind and successful school that it is.
“It was lovely to hear that our students feel safe and supported and that they are proud of the school, welcoming visitors with enthusiasm. I was also pleased that the Ofsted inspectors took time to note how much our young people value the St James Baccalaureate, which is our planned personal development curriculum preparing them for adulthood and life in modern Britain.”
Moira Marder, CEO of the Ted Wragg Trust said: “Congratulations to everyone at St James, this Ofsted outcome is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our staff, students, families, governors and volunteers. It was especially heartening to hear Ofsted comment on the sense of community at the school. It was also lovely that inspectors could see that St James students feel confident in making choices about their future thanks to the work the school does with education and apprenticeship providers, as well as local businesses, to support their transition to post-16 education.”