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Report to Parents from the Interim Executive Board – October 2014

Dear Parents,

Soon after we were established as the Interim Executive Board (IEB) for St Luke’s, just over a year ago, we met with you to explain our role and function, listen to your views and begin the process of getting to know the school and its community.  It was clear at that meeting that there was much to do and achieve, though, even at that early stage, many of you were already seeing signs of progress.  As governors and advisors, we were impressed with the level of commitment to the school shown by parents at that meeting and since.  You knew the school well and were committed to ensuring that it would flourish in the future.  However, confidence in the school had been undermined and it was clear we all needed more than reassurance; we needed to see real progress.

Over the past year we have continued to get to know many of you better through meeting you at parents’ evenings, school events and celebrations.  Perhaps more importantly we have also been able to get to know your children and their teachers.  Through being part of inset days we have been able to see and be part of the training offered to improve teaching and the ethos of the school.  With Local Authority and Board of Education Advisors we have observed class lessons regularly through the year and have seen the quality of teaching improve significantly.  We have been involved in interviewing new teachers; supported the school leadership in securing a strong staffing body with effective senior teachers who have the capacity to continue the process towards outstanding.  We have worked beside teachers assessing and scrutinising children’s work and seen the quality of feedback to colleagues.  Through being in school on a weekly basis we have seen for ourselves the consistent improvement in children’s behaviour, attitude to work and quality of work throughout the school.  This first-hand knowledge of the school has enabled us to challenge the school leadership rigorously and encourage them to build on already ambitious targets for whole school achievement.  Much has been achieved this year and more importantly, the framework, through the federation, has been put in place to ensure the school has the capacity to continue to improve in the years to come.

The IEB has also worked closely with Christchurch School governors, the Local Authority and the Diocesan Board of Education in planning the possible long term future of the two schools.  In reflecting on the strengths and opportunities the St Luke’s/Christchurch federation has offered both schools, we are in a better position now to recommend a way forward which we feel will sustain the two schools in the long term.

The function of the IEB is to challenge the school on its work and achievements and to monitor its progress, initially towards being a good school and then to be outstanding.  Our focus during visits and meetings has been relentlessly on the quality of teaching, the quality of the learning and the progress being made by children.  During each term of the previous academic year (Autumn, Spring and Summer) the school has received rigorous, external and independent inspection or review.  A summary of each of these reports might offer us a picture of how the school has developed over the year.

Ofsted inspection 19th/20th November 2013 found that the school required improvement and was not ‘good’ because:

  • There was too much variation in the progress made by different groups of pupils,
  • There was some inadequate teaching and some which required improvement,
  • The work planned was not challenging for all pupils, especially the most able,
  • Work in some pupils’ books was untidy and adults’ expectations of what pupils could do were not high enough,
  • Leaders did not check information on pupils’ progress and attainment closely enough and some leaders lacked the skills to make good use of the information that they gathered.

This report was followed by a HMI Ofsted report the following February and that report clearly identified the progress being made.  Though the school still ‘required improvement’, the report noted:

Staff have worked with determination to continue the journey of improvement.

  • Teachers were making better use of data and information from assessment to pitch teaching at the right level, providing challenge and support as needed.
  • Better quality of work in books (and) increased opportunities for extended writing in different contexts.
  • Consistency and much improved behaviour across the school.
  • The quality of teaching had continued to improve.
  • Middle leaders were making the most of the time they now have to monitor their areas of responsibility
  • Leaders were analysing more effectively the results of lesson observations, learning walks and work scrutiny by leaders at all levels to target support and identify areas for improvement.

Finally in June 2014 the Local Authority conducted a full review across both schools which reported that the school was now ‘Good’, because…

Teaching overall was effective in promoting learning

  • Across both schools, pupils’ attitudes to learning were consistently positive.
  • Pupils at both schools were highly positive about their experiences.
  • Across both schools, classroom learning environments were attractive, well organized and up to date.
  • A scrutiny of pupils’ books provided evidence of good teaching over time.
  • All books were well presented and pupils clearly took a pride in their work.
  • Middle leaders at both schools were seen to have a clear understanding of priorities and were seen to be proactive in supporting their colleagues to promote high achievement for all groups of pupils.

Although we are aware the journey is by no means complete, these reviews and inspections have offered us an external validation of the good, consistent progress made by the school over the past year.  The structure of the federation with Christ Church School has offered the schools strengths in curriculum and leadership which has enabled both schools to progress

St Luke’s is currently, as you know, in a ‘soft’ federation with Christ Church CE School in Streatham and the Executive Head leads both schools. A ‘soft’ federation is a voluntary alliance between two schools to work together, to share resources and staff and to develop shared policies and good practices so that both schools continue to improve. There is a formal agreement between the schools, The Southwark Board of Education and Lambeth Council setting out how the schools will work together.  In the current ‘soft’ federation both schools retain their own governing bodies, and although there are joint appointments, the staff are formally based in one school or the other.  This arrangement also enables both schools to maintain their individual character and distinctiveness.

The current federation has worked well as the progress outlined demonstrates. Inevitably at the beginning  of the process, Christ Church School contributed more staff time and expertise to begin the process of improvement at St Luke’s, but as St Luke’s has improved then the benefits are much more mutual with shared finance and office services being led by someone from St Luke’s, and curriculum development and staff training are now led from both schools for the federation.

Both schools are well supported by Lambeth Council and by The Board. Both organisations acted quickly once the scale of the problems at St Luke’s became clear and created the federation with Christ Church and put an Executive Head in place. They then put an interim board with considerable relevant experience in place and have supported the school through staff expertise and through brokering secondments. That support has not just stabilised St Luke’s but has set it on a path of rapid improvement which Ofsted have recognised as effective.

The current option, which we intend to move forward with, of extending the current ‘soft’ federation has many advantages. The arrangements are working well; both schools are contributing well to supporting each other, while both schools maintain their distinctiveness and their separate identities. The beneficial effects of shared staff appointments can continue to develop along with joint training and curriculum development. Given that the schools serve very different communities, the existence of separate governing bodies, though demanding of senior staff time, serves the important purpose of keeping the schools closely linked to their local churches and their local communities.

We fully expect the school to continue making progress, eventually towards ‘outstanding’.  In the medium term we would expect to move towards more normal governance arrangements and we remain excited about the future of our school.

 

    Story Telling with fans.  A big hit for our  learners.  Thank You, Winston!

 

 

  

 

Some of the winners of our 'God is Great and I am Grateful'

Project

Congratulations!

 

 

 

Click here for the latest Ofsted update 

I hope you enjoy our website and find the information contained here helpful.  Please do not hesitate to telephone the school if you have any queries on 020 8670 1981.

 

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