Massive leap for St Stephen’s Junior School
Published on: 03 Dec 2015
ST Stephen’s Church of England Junior School in Soundwell has never in the history of Ofsted been rated Good – and it missed out on that judgement again in its latest inspection. Instead, the 353-pupil school was rated Outstanding!
The result makes St Stephen’s one of a small number of schools to move from the second-lowest level of Requires Improvement to Outstanding in one leap. This was achieved in just two years, thanks to the efforts of head teacher Louisa Wilson, teachers, teaching assistants, children, governors and parents.
The inspection team that visited in September said the transformation was due to outstanding leadership from Ms Wilson, who joined the school just before the previous Ofsted visit in 2013.
Inspectors also praised the staff team for their “unstinting drive for the highest academic and social success for pupils”. This was enabling children to make exceptionally rapid and sustained progress in a wide range of subjects and achieve some excellent results, they said.
The children were recognised for their exemplary attitudes to learning and the way they live the shared school values of respect, honesty, trust, responsibility, friendship and perseverance.
“Pupils always try hard and do not give up easily even when faced with difficult tasks. All pupils use the characteristics of the St Stephen’s ‘purple learner’ to chart their progress and to try to achieve an award in the weekly celebration assembly,” the report said.
Ms Wilson said a key factor in the school’s transformation had been a new, inquiry-based curriculum which was more engaging for the children and enabled them to become better learners.
“The curriculum is creatively planned, vibrant and exciting and promotes learning extremely well,” Ofsted said.
“Teachers make lessons inspiring, motivating and relevant. Pupils thrive in all aspects of their learning. Staff ensure that pupils develop a deep understanding in a range of subjects and apply their knowledge, skills and understanding practically.
“Teaching assistants provide skilled support to groups and individuals. They have strong subject knowledge and ask questions that promote highly effective learning.
“Pupils are proud of their achievements, the presentation of their work and their school.”
The school’s governors were also highlighed by inspectors as being exceptionally effective.
Ms Wilson said she was extremely proud of the efforts of everyone at the school.
“The children have worked incredibly hard and have risen to the challenge. They have come such a long way.
Their behaviour during the Ofsted visit was incredible. They were chuffed to bits when we told them that the school was now Outstanding,” she said.
* In the print version of Downend Voice and our sister paper Fishponds Voice, we got the surname of head teacher Louisa Wilson wrong. We apologise to her and to the school for this error and congratulate everyone at St Stephen's on their excellent achievement.