St James’ Church of England Primary School

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About St James’ Church of England Primary School

Name St James’ Church of England Primary School
Ofsted Inspections
Headteacher Mrs Caryn Smith
Address Merestones Road, Cheltenham, GL50 2RS
Phone Number 01242516836
Phase Academy
Type Academy converter
Age Range 4-11
Religious Character Church of England
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 417
Local Authority Gloucestershire
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

Pupils thrive at St James'. Relationships are warm and welcoming. Reflection is an important part of school life.

The school has created a 'Spiritual growth wheel'. This captures what the school wants for all pupils: 'Inspiring and growing for fullness of life'. The school has thoughtfully weaved this vision through its ambitious curriculum.

As a result, pupils blossom.

Behaviour is exemplary. Pupils have strong attitudes to their learning.

This is because all staff model the behaviours they expect to see. Pupils say, 'We hold doors open for each other here.' This encapsulates the school's culture.

Central to school life are links with the c...hurch. Pupils lovingly call the local church 'Pip and Jim's', which shows the strong connections they have to St Philip and St James' church in the local area. The array of opportunities for pupils to widen their experiences are vast.

Pupils get to 'find their thing' here. Clubs are well attended. Pupils enjoy taking real ownership of the school, such as through the 'Think tank' group.

The school is aspirational for all. This extends to families and the wider community. For example, there are workshops on offer for parents.

Everyone is part of the St James' family.

What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?

St James' is relentless in its mission for every child to do well. The school has created a bespoke curriculum that exceeds the requirements of the national curriculum in many areas.

The precise knowledge the school intends pupils to know at each stage is sequenced towards clear end points. Teachers assess pupils' learning skilfully. They ensure that pupils keep up with their learning.

High-quality training is provided to staff. This means teachers deliver learning clearly.

Even so, work in some curriculum areas is newer than others.

The school identified that pupils' spelling, handwriting and stamina needed work following the COVID-19 pandemic. This was because pupils did not have as much practice as they normally would have. The school has designed a well-sequenced curriculum to address these areas.

As a result, pupils learn to write well. However, this is not yet reflected in published writing outcomes.

Reading is prioritised before children even step into the school.

The school hosts parent workshops and sends out 'Reading scoop' bulletins with reading tips. The library is a vibrant space for pupils' imagination to be sparked. All staff are expertly trained.

Pupils learn to blend new sounds quickly. Any pupils who struggle are given support to keep up. Books are carefully matched to the sounds pupils know.

This helps pupils to read fluently and be motivated to read.

Children in the early years learn from a well-crafted curriculum. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, some children arrive at school with limited knowledge in particular areas.

For example, children's personal, social and emotional development needs additional support. The school has refined the curriculum with a sharp focus on vocabulary. This ensures that children learn to communicate and manage their feelings in a respectful way.

Resources are used well to promote supportive interactions between staff and children. This, combined with strong building blocks in other areas of learning, means that children are well prepared for Year 1 and beyond.

Pupils, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), learn the same ambitious curriculum.

The school uses outside agencies to ensure that pupils with SEND have appropriate support. This means they learn the curriculum well.

Behaviour is impeccable across the school.

The school has built an exceptional culture that stems from its values. Children want to come to school. Leaders are relentless in ensuring that pupils attend well.

Pupils take an active interest and responsibility for the environment of the school. This is demonstrated when pupils independently tidy up the wealth of exciting lunchtime play equipment. The playground is full of laughter.

It is a happy place to be.

Leaders have placed pupils' wider development at the very heart of the school's work. Fundamental British values are embedded into everything the school does.

For example, pupils can compare school rules to laws in the wider world around them. The school goes above and beyond to expose pupils to diverse backgrounds and circumstances. For example, pupils support different charities such as a local homeless shelter.

Pupils have tremendous respect for others.

Staff appreciate the many professional development opportunities they have. This helps them to deliver the curriculum with precision.

Leaders are rigorous in their approach. Their work is respected by families and the St James' community.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• In recent years, pupils have had limited time to develop their spelling, handwriting and stamina. This has caused published writing outcomes to dip. The trust should ensure that the new writing curriculum is consistently and securely embedded so that all pupils achieve well over time.

Also at this postcode
St James After School Club

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