The Section 48 report, published by the Education Commission of the Archdiocese of Southwark, following its inspection visit on 16 April 2013, is replicated in italics, unedited, below.
Key for inspection grades shown below
Grade 1 - Outstanding
Grade 2 - Good
Grade 3 - Satisfactory
Grade 4 - Inadequate
Description of the school
The school is voluntary aided. It is situated in the Lewisham Deanery of the Archdiocese of Southwark. It is maintained by Lewisham LA. The principal parish which the school serves is St Mary Magdalen, Brockley. The proportion of pupils who are baptised Catholics is 85%. The average weekly proportion of curriculum time given to Religious Education is 10% in Key Stage 1 and 10% in Key Stage 2.
The school takes pupils from 4 to 11 years. The number of pupils currently on roll is 200. The attainment of pupils on entering the school is broadly below average. The proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals is around average. 19% of pupils have special educational needs. The proportion of pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds is much higher than average. The proportion of pupils who speak English as an additional language is much higher than average.
Overall effectiveness as a Catholic school - GRADE 2
St Mary Magdalen school provides an attractive and well resourced learning environment in which pupils enjoy learning and attain results in line with national averages. The standard of Religious Education the school offers is good. The Catholic life of the school is evident in the many creative and attractive displays around the school and in the many celebrations shared by the whole school community.
The school has experienced a rapid period of change and building a new, cohesive staff team has been of prime importance. New systems of assessment and pupil tracking have been put in place and when firmly established should enable the school to maximise and sustain rates of pupil progress and provide evidence of this.
Governors and senior leaders are committed to school improvement and are using monitoring and self-evaluation as tools to identify and address areas for development. Parents comment favourably on the school’s Catholic ethos; one wrote “I am happy that Catholicity seems to be so generally infused throughout the school.”
During the inspection, the behaviour of pupils was excellent. Pupils were welcoming and enthusiastic. The last inspection identified systems of assessment as an area for development; this continues to be a priority in the school’s improvement plan.
What steps need to be taken to improve further?
Governors, headteacher and staff should:
· Continue to develop assessment and pupil tracking in order to monitor and extend pupil progress.
· Share current good practice in teaching and learning to ensure consistency across the school.
THE CATHOLIC LIFE OF THE SCHOOL
Leadership and management - GRADE 2
The school has undergone considerable changes in personnel during the last two years. The headteacher was appointed in September 2011 and a new team of teaching staff appointed in September 2012. The school has established, and now continues to build, a cohesive staff team committed to school improvement and the Catholic ethos of the school. Leaders and managers have initiated a comprehensive range of monitoring activities to improve provision and outcomes but it is still too early to fully assess the impact of these. Governors are now increasingly aware of their role of support and challenge. They are regular visitors to the school and are part of school monitoring and self-evaluation. They are well informed regarding school data and of the importance of monitoring pupil progress.
The great majority of parents are supportive of the school and appreciative of the Catholic education it provides. Pupils enjoy coming to school and participate well in lessons and school activities. The school has good links with the parish and the parish priest, who is a governor of the school.
The school has recently reviewed its mission statement, involving all stakeholders in formulating an inclusive vision for the school. Parents, staff, governors and pupils have a high regard for the Catholic life of the school.
Quality of provision for personal and collective worship - GRADE 2
The school provides a variety of opportunities for prayer and worship, both in school and in the parish church. Pupils and staff pray together on a daily basis, using formal and informal prayers. The school welcomes parents and governors to assemblies and liturgical celebrations. Stations of the Cross took place in school weekly during Lent and a Holy Week service at the end of term was appreciated by pupils, parents and governors. Pupils are involved in leading prayers and planning liturgies and it is planned to extend this role to include more year groups. During the act of collective worship observed, pupils were attentive and sang with enthusiasm. The parish priest visits the school regularly and celebrates Mass for the school community both at school and in the church. All classes have prayer focus areas and many of these have examples of children’s own prayers.
Community cohesion - GRADE 2
The school is an inclusive community, where all pupils, including those with special educational needs, are welcomed and supported to achieve their best. Close links with the parish and support for parish events help to enhance the school’s participation in the life of the parish community. A display in the church shows children’s work related to liturgical events. The Religious Education coordinator provided a talk after Mass as part of Education Sunday and staff attended Reconciliation and First Holy Communion celebrations in support of their pupils.
The school participates in many local activities and celebrations, including the Lewisham Dance Festival and the Lewisham Chess competition. Fundraising for local, national and global charities helps pupils to understand their responsibilities to others and to reach out to the wider community. The work of CAFOD is made very real to the pupils by a parent with close links to the charity, who provides illustrated talks to enhance their understanding of world need and our response. Local charities and initiatives, including the Brockley Safe Haven project help pupils identify with the needs of the local community.
A Rosary service in October included the opportunity for pupils to pray in their own languages, celebrating the diversity of the many communities included in the school.
The school has good links with local Catholic secondary schools, with the other primary schools in the deanery and with the Diocese.
Achievement and standards in Religious Education - GRADE 3
New systems of assessment and pupil tracking in Religious Education have been in place since September 2012. Initial indications suggest good rates of pupil progress, however it is too early to accurately assess the impact of changes in provision with evidence from only two terms. As assessment and tracking become embedded, it will become possible to form a clearer picture of standards and progress over time and whether current rates of progress are sustained.
The quality and quantity of pupil’s work is generally good, but varies between year groups. The school needs to continue to establish the tracking of pupil progress and to ensure consistency of standards across the school.
Teaching and learning in Religious Education - GRADE 2
Four lessons were observed across KS1 and KS2, most were good or outstanding, with no unsatisfactory teaching observed. Teaching assistants were used very effectively throughout all the lessons. Lessons provided appropriate support and challenge for all pupils. In the best lessons, the teachers’ skilful use of questioning encouraged pupils to think more deeply, resulting in good learning and progress within the lessons. Teachers observed displayed good subject knowledge, built on previous learning and made useful cross-curricular links. Children were encouraged to develop religious literacy and key vocabulary and relate their Religious Education lessons to their own lives. More able pupils were challenged to develop independent learning skills using open ended tasks. Pupils’ work is well presented. It is marked regularly and thoroughly. In the best examples, teacher’s comments help pupils to improve and pupils respond to these comments. Lessons included opportunities for prayer and reflection and pupils participated well in these.
The school should now facilitate the sharing of best practice in teaching and learning to ensure consistency across the school.
The Religious Education curriculum - GRADE 2
The school currently uses “The Way, the Truth and the Life” scheme of work throughout the school. All classes receive an appropriate allocation of curriculum time. The curriculum is enhanced by visits and visitors and is closely related to the Catholic life of the school. It includes the study of other faiths, celebrations related to the diversity of the school community and to the liturgical year. Prayer focus areas and many attractive displays reflect the Religious Education curriculum topics studied.
The curriculum is tailored appropriately to provide access for all pupils, including those with special educational needs. Parents are kept informed of the topics studied each term and Religious Education forms part of the school’s reporting to parents.
Leadership and management of Religious Education - GRADE 2
Religious Education is well led and managed by the Religious Education coordinator, supported by Senior Management. She has a thorough knowledge of the subject, is well organised and committed to ensuring high standards in Religious Education. She provides strong support for staff, including INSET and model lessons. There is a comprehensive system of monitoring and evaluating Religious Education, including work scrutinies and lesson observations.
Assessment judgements have been validated by both school and external moderation. Evaluation is used to identify areas for development, which are incorporated into the Religious Education action plan. The coordinator attends Diocesan meetings and meets regularly with coordinators from the other Catholic schools in the deanery.