Grayrigg CE School - Start Small Think Big

A church school

Any mention of the word inspection in school makes you worry, makes you question every decision you’ve ever made so when I received a phone call on Monday 10th October to let me know that our SIAMS inspection would take place later that week I was a tad nervous. We have a SIAMS inspection as well as OFSTED as we are a Church of England primary School. Our last SIAMS took place in 2013 and the outcomes weren’t great, we were in the middle of our OFSTED improvements, I hadn’t even started to address the improvements needed for this part. Of course, I wanted the inspector to see how the school had improved, I worried whether or not they would see the improvements or whether she would think there was still so much to do.

Anyone who knows me, will know I have a tendency to worry more than I need to - I like to think it’s because I care about this place so much - many would say (including my Mum) it’s just the way I’ve always been! When it came to inspection day, I relaxed as soon as the inspector walked into school, I felt excited to show her around, for her to see how the children interacted and how they modelled our core values. The inspector focuses on 4 key areas in her inspection and judged us good in all those areas.

Christian Distinctiveness

“Christian values are at the heart of the school. Children who talk confidently about how they use Christian friendship, forgiveness and compassion. ‘You have to show that you understand a value by actually doing something,’ explained a Year 5 pupil”

The values have been introduced since the last inspection and we are a little quirky (as always) at Grayrigg. Rather than the school community choosing 4-5 core values, they chose to allow the values to mature with the children. I love this idea that in nursery the children focus on friendship, introducing new values each year as they move through the school, in year six we introduce courage and humility as they are then able to understand it. One thing I was really proud of in the report was that she noticed the values are not just on the wall to tick a box; they are lived through the children and run through the curriculum. She was incredibly impressed by some work linked to WW2 and the holocaust produced by year 5 and 6

“Children express their ideas imaginatively through dance and art, such as the dance developed in response to their reading of the story ‘Hanna’s Suitcase’.”

Here is a link to that dance

Collective Worship

Collective worship is one of my favourite parts of the day, especially when we all come together to explore our values more deeply. Collective worship happens at the end of the day from 2.45-3.05pm and takes a different format each day.

“Collective worship is inspirational and inclusive.”

One of my favourite worships in the week is led by our ethos leaders, I love watching them work with the younger children

“Levels of pupil participation in leading worship are exemplary. The ethos leaders take responsibility for delivering worship every Friday. One explained, ‘We set up our own worship to do with the little ones. We plan it and choose stories to match our value. I really love doing it!’ Their evaluations are insightful.”

For me the quote above emphasises the way in which the older children nurture the younger children and help them grow into our next generation of Ethos Leaders.

Religious Education

RE is a core subject that, in my opinion, has only grown in importance when you look at the world today. It helps children to understand other faiths, to understand concepts of tolerance, justice, peace, humility and many more.

“Children enjoy and are excited by their learning. ‘RE is fun. Its active and we do lots of different things to help us understand,’ explained a Year 6 pupil. ‘It makes you think about what you believe. Your opinion matters.’”

The inspector also noted the teacher’s careful use of questioning which is a comment also made by OFSTED.

“Skilful teacher questioning and grouping of pupils supports learners as they develop evaluation and enquiry skills.”

Leadership and Management

I’m really sorry but please allow me a moment of glory (I know humility is one of our values but I really can’t resist this quote.)

“The inspirational Christian leadership of the head teacher has unified the school and substantially raised standards.”

I have to say, the people who really inspire in this school are the children - it is one of my favourite words. After it was used in a similar context by OFSTED - it became a standing joke at governors and staff meetings. I’m not sure there’s a bigger compliment as all I ever want is to inspire the children in my school. Of course any single person is only as good as their team and I have the most amazing team of people around me, staff, governors, parents and children - in particular the Ethos Crew and Ethos Leaders who really shone in this inspection.

“The level of pupils’ participation in the school’s decision-making is exemplary. Ethos leaders and the Year 3 and 4 ‘ethos crew’ take responsibility for fundraising, worship and play leadership.”

All in all it was a great report, there are a couple of things to work on and we’re already planning on ways we can develop. I know many may think this is just the church inspection, but for me it is such an important part of the school. I love that alongside English and Maths and other academic subjects, we are equally responsible for helping the children develop through the values. Whilst the inspector’s words are more than reassuring that things have improved and I could talk about our wonderful school forever, but the best way to sum up the importance of our Christian Values is with the children.

“Values are important because they help you be a better person, if you don’t learn about them in collective worship and lessons then they are just words, so we learn about them - but then they are just things we know… that’s not enough. At Grayrigg we are given time and support to use our values in life and link it to our learning.”

Year 4 Ethos Crew member

“Our value this term is humility so in our History we learnt about WW2 but we learnt about the holocaust, we learnt what happens when a leader thinks they are better than other people - a leader who has no humility, compassion, love or anything. Reading Hana’s Suitcase has made me think more… it has made me want to make a difference - I know I can.”

Year 6 Ethos Leader

The full SIAMS report can be found here Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS) Report

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