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 Sarah Beach
Address Harlestone Road, St James, Northampton, NN5 7AG
Phone Number 01604751475
Phase Academy
Type Academy converter
Age Range 3-11
Religious Character Church of England
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 448
Local Authority West Northamptonshire
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

Pupils like their lessons. They like to learn.

Pupils enjoy being at school. They work and play happily with each other throughout the school. They know that the staff care for them.

Leaders prioritise pupils' mental health and well-being. Pupils are highly motivated. They contribute positively to the life of the school.

Pupils have strong relationships with staff. Staff have high expectations of pupils' behaviour and conduct. Pupils behave well in and out of class.

They concentrate well on their learning. Pupils told inspectors that behaviour is mostly good and that bullying is not tolerated. Most pupils say that they feel safe.

Pupils are ...good at listening to the ideas of others. They talk about why it is good to be different. Pupils' knowledge of British values such as democracy is strong.

However, their knowledge of the rule of law and individual liberty is weaker.

Most parents and carers are very pleased with what the school offers their children. One parent's comment summed up the views of many: 'The school is like an extended family.

They go above and beyond to help pupils and families.' Parents appreciate how the staff put the pupils' well-being and education at the heart of the school.

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

The school provides a good quality of education.

Leaders have developed an effective curriculum in some subjects. They have set out what they want pupils to know and remember from Nursery through to the end of key stage 2. In some subjects, curriculum plans are at an early stage of development.

In these subjects, including personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), the key content and knowledge that pupils need to learn are not explicit enough.

Reading is prioritised across the school. In Nursery, there is a sharp focus on ensuring that children acquire a wide vocabulary.

Staff share rhymes and songs to develop children's communication skills. Leaders have ensured that pupils learn to read in a systematic way, including from the moment they start in Reception. Staff are trained well.

They teach pupils to use decoding skills to sound out unfamiliar words. Books are matched to the letters and sounds that pupils are learning. Staff are quick to provide support when pupils fall behind.

The mathematics curriculum is well organised. It allows pupils to build their mathematical knowledge and skills securely. Pupils remember what they have learned.

They appreciate that teachers help them to remember important facts. Children in Reception are given a broad range of mathematical tasks that deepen their understanding of number.

Teachers have a clear understanding of most of the curriculum, including in science and physical education (PE).

They know what pupils should learn and when. Staff subject knowledge is generally strong. They ask questions that support pupils to understand the learning.

However, there is not a sharp enough approach to assessment across the school. Teachers do not routinely check what pupils know and remember from the lessons. For example, in some subjects, leaders do not know precisely enough the reasons for some gaps in pupils' knowledge.

Staff adapt the curriculum well for pupils with emotional and special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). Leaders ensure that staff provide high-quality support in lessons so that all pupils can access the curriculum. All pupils engage well with their learning.

The quality of education in early years is strong. Relationships are very positive between children and adults. Leaders provide an engaging environment inside and outside the classroom.

Leaders have set out how learning in Nursery and Reception connects with learning that pupils encounter as they move through the school. This is very clear in plans for phonics, reading and mathematics. However, leaders have not yet set out the knowledge that children should learn in all areas of learning.

Opportunities to learn beyond the classroom reduced due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. However, leaders are now increasing such opportunities. Pupils have experienced 'careers in the classroom' events.

They have enjoyed working with the Royal Marines and Professor Robert Winston. Pupils take part in a wide variety of sports. Other clubs are planned, such as 'eco club' and a 'green fingers' gardening club for younger pupils.

Trust leaders are very knowledgeable about the work of the school. They play an important role in supporting leaders and holding them to account. They support leaders to develop the curriculum.

Trust leaders and those responsible for governance understand their statutory duties.

Leaders engage well with staff and take account of their workload. Staff appreciate leaders' support.

Leaders consider staff well-being and provide professional development.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

There is a culture of care at the school.

Leaders provide strong support to vulnerable pupils and their families. Leaders ensure that all staff are knowledgeable and receive frequent training. Staff pass any concerns on quickly.

Record-keeping is robust. Trust leaders and governors regularly check the school's safeguarding procedures.

Leaders have ensured that the curriculum provides opportunities for pupils to learn how to stay safe.

Pupils understand how to keep themselves safe, including when online. Pupils told inspectors that they know whom to go to if they have a concern.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• The school's curriculum is not yet sufficiently well planned and sequenced in some subjects, such as PSHE, computing and design technology.

In these subjects, it is not yet fully clear what pupils should learn and when. However, it is clear that leaders have already begun to review and plan the curriculum in these subjects. For this reason, the transitional arrangements have been applied.

• Teachers do not routinely assess pupils' understanding across the different subjects. As a result, teachers and leaders do not always know where and why there may be gaps in pupils' knowledge, including whether these gaps are a result of pupils' learning during the COVID-19 national lockdown restrictions. Leaders should make sure that teachers' use of assessment is sufficiently sharp to identify when there may be gaps in pupils' knowledge and why these gaps exist, to inform subsequent learning.

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