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About St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Primary School
Children in the early years and pupils in key stages 1 and 2 are happy.
They enjoy their lessons and wide choice of after-school activities such as performing arts and science club. They gain much new learning from their educational trips. Pupils with whom we spoke told us of the beauty and atmosphere that they experienced in their recent visit to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and then the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.
Pupils are enthusiastic learners. They achieve strongly because of the high expectations of leaders and staff. A typical pupil comment was: 'We learn something new at school every day.'
Pupils correctly described the scho...ol as peaceful. In classrooms, pupils behave sensibly. Pupils said that they feel safe at the school.
They told us that staff deal promptly and successfully with the rare issues of bullying and misbehaviour by pupils.
Pupils' relationships with their friends and staff are positive. They are polite and keen to meet with visitors, such as inspectors.
Pupils respect other people. They are proud of their school. They agreed when one pupil said of the school: 'We're a family.
We respect everyone for who they are and what they do.'
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
Leaders and staff teach pupils about equality; for example, they celebrate disability awareness. Leaders and staff treat pupils equally, for instance making sure that pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) are included fully in school activities.
Staff give reasonable support to these pupils and to those who are disadvantaged to ensure that they learn well at the school. Pupils learn about the importance of supporting elderly people and raising charitable funding for those in need. Teachers discuss topical world issues with pupils.
Pupils develop high aspirations for their future careers.
Because of the help of their parents, carers, staff and school volunteers, pupils achieve well in their reading by the end of key stage 2. They enjoy reading the work of authors such as Cottrell-Boyce and Horrowitz.
They learn the meaning of fascinating new words such as cacophonous and synchronisation from other books. Older pupils told me how pleased they are with leaders' recent investment in providing a good range of information books and fiction books in the school library. Pupils said that the library is calm.
Even so, staff's provision of books for children in the Nursery and the teaching of reading in the early years and key stage 1 should be better planned. Some books used for pupils to practise their reading do not match their knowledge of phonics. Some staff's knowledge of the teaching of reading is underdeveloped.
Most of the time, pupils' behaviour is good, which means that teachers and teaching assistants can focus on teaching the curriculum.
Pupils throughout the school speak with confidence, clarity and fluency. In mathematics, pupils achieve well, including in their knowledge of mathematical vocabulary.
Leaders and staff are improving pupils' knowledge and skill in expressing their ideas in writing in different subjects. Staff inspire pupils to write through the stories that they share. In Reception, staff give children lots of meaningful opportunities to become skilled writers.
The new headteacher leads the school with clear vision and an accurate understanding of the work of staff and pupils. She is working successfully with staff to set out much more logically what they intend for pupils to learn in each curriculum subject. In some units of work, pupils know and remember essential information that teachers teach.
For example, in geography key stage 2, pupils understand the characteristics of climate zones and biomes. However, teachers sometimes plan pupils' work less well in some subjects. For instance, sometimes, staff are unclear which vocabulary to teach.
At other times, teachers plan activities that do not ensure that pupils remember important knowledge.
Parents and carers overwhelmingly support the work of the school. Staff really value the support and direction that the headteacher gives them.
Staff morale is high. Teachers feel that their workload is reasonable. Governors give effective challenge to leaders about the curriculum.
In the early years, staff plan much of the curriculum reasonably well. For instance, children have worthwhile opportunities to develop their physical control and strength through a wide range of outdoor activities. Even so, some school leaders lack understanding of the curriculum and teaching in Nursery and Reception.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Leaders and staff have a clear and well-informed understanding of safeguarding. They take pupils' views seriously and respond appropriately to protect pupils from harm.
Older pupils told me clearly about the school's emergency lockdown procedures. They understand how to stay safe when walking along local roads. They know to be sensible about making public comments online, because as one pupil said to me: 'The internet is written in ink.'
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
Sometimes staff do not plan which vocabulary to teach to pupils. Some planned activities do not help pupils to remember the knowledge that they need. Some leaders lack understanding of the curriculum in the early years.
These weaknesses hold back children's and pupils' and staff's understanding. Leaders should make sure that all subjects are planned with equal care and detail from Nursery to Year 6. These steps will help staff to ensure that all children and pupils develop a deep knowledge and understanding in each subject.
. Some of staff's planned teaching and the provision of books for children and pupils should be better. This weakness holds back the effectiveness of the curriculum for early reading.
Leaders should make certain that all staff understand recent national research about phonics and reading. Staff should improve how they plan the curriculum for books/early reading. Children and pupils will then be more able to make a stronger start to their reading in a range of subjects.
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