St Mary’s Primary school is a caring community that values each child and family. Our Christian values and ethos, within our inclusive school, provide opportunities for all to flourish.
We aim to nurture successful learners, confident individuals and respectful citizens who are ready to take the next step in life.
‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’ Joshua 1:9
Courage, Respect & Opportunity
St Mary’s C of E Primary School is extremely proud to be part of a wider family of over 250 church schools belonging to the Our Christian values are at the heart of all we do, in the teaching and nurturing of our children, staff, families and members of our wider community, whatever their faith or background
Find out more about what it means to be a church school here.
Whole school acts of collective worship are held at the beginning of each new school day and are an important time for the whole school community to come together. Our worship reflects the Anglican tradition and is collective, open and invitational to all faiths and none, rather than communal as you would have in a church where the gathering of people is of one faith. They are an important time for the whole school community to come together as a Christian family and worship through prayer and song.
All children and teaching staff take part in Collective Worship which is planned around our Christian values and learning powers, as well as the main celebrations in the Christian calendar and that of other faiths. However, there is always flexibility within our worship to consider and reflect on current issues around the world and within our community.
Our daily Worship plays a very important part of school life and is either led by Rev’d Jonny Rapson, the Headteacher, Teachers or outreach workers linked to our Church. We also welcome weekly visits from OPEN THE BOOK, who explore Bible stories with the children in an interactive and engaging way using costumes and inviting children to help in the role play of the story.
Collective Worship always begins with the greeting 'The Lord is here' and the lighting of a candle; the children respond, 'His spirit is with us’. We close our worship with 'May peace be with you: and also with you’
Prayer is an important part of our collective worship. Our prayers are led by the Vicar or teaching staff and we also have a school Sharing Prayer that is recited at the close of any Collective Worship during which a class has shared their work with the school.
St Mary’s Sharing Prayer
Learning is fun,
Listening and learning from each other,
Looking at paintings and pictures,
Just being together make us feel good.
Pupils also give thanks through prayer before lunch and at the end of the day. Each year every class contributes a prayer to our Lunchtime Prayer Book and writes their own end of day class prayer.
The significant events in the Christian calendar such as Christmas, Easter are celebrated in St Marys Church with services designed and led by the children. In addition to these Christian celebration services, we end each term with a service at St Mary’s Church that we invite parents and family members to attend.
As a Church School the Christian values and ethos thread through everything we do and are central to our policies and practice.
Psalm 34:13 – “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.”
John 14:6 – “Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life.”
Matthew 22:39 – “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
1 Peter 2:17 – “Show proper respect to everyone.”
Romans 12:5 – “So, in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
1 Thessalonians 5:14 – “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
Luke 12:35 –“ Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit.”
1 Timothy 1:12 –“ I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service.”
John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Psalm 119:165 – “Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.”
Religious education in a Church school should enable every child to flourish and to live life in all its fullness (John 10:10). It will help educate for dignity and respect encouraging all to live well together (The Church of England Education Office, 2019)
RE plays an important role in expressing our Christian vision, it reflects the ethos and values that we hold and promotes understanding of people of all faiths and none. Never has it been more important for our children and young people to be able to understand the role of religion and belief in local, national, and global contexts. RE has the same high status as any other subject in our school and contributes to the overall development of our pupils from all backgrounds and traditions.
The school provides religious education for all pupils registered at the school. Following advice from the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education, the governors decided that religious education in our school should be based upon the Buckinghamshire Agreed Syllabus while also reflecting the requirements of the Statement of Entitlement for Religious Education published by the Education Office of the Church of England in February 2019. Religious education has the same status and importance as any other subject and, as such, the same high standards are applied to this as to other subjects. The national requirements for Religious Education are set out in the 1944, 1988 Education Acts and section 375(3) of the 1996 Education Act:
‘Every Agreed Syllabus shall reflect the fact that the religious traditions in Great Britain are in the main Christian, whilst taking account of the teachings and practices of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain’.
Purpose and Aims of RE
The purpose of RE is to teach children about the religious and non-religious world-views that they will encounter in modern Britain and enable them to engage in meaningful and considered dialogue with those of all faiths and none. This is religious literacy.
The aims of RE in our school are:
Curriculum and Time Allocation
Our RE curriculum has been approved by the governors. Christianity is taught in every year group, with key concepts revisited on a spiral curriculum. At least 50% of the teaching is devoted to Christianity. Other religions are covered according to the syllabus; e.g. Judaism in KS1, Hinduism & Sikhism/Islam in KS2.
In deciding which religions to study, we have considered the background of our pupils; how we are contributing to an understanding of the six principal faiths and non-religious worldviews; a broad coverage and balance of faiths across the key stages; worldviews to illustrate, develop or enrich an understanding of a key concept, or to engage pupils in school from different backgrounds not covered in the ‘in depth’ enquiries of a particular Key Stage. In this way pupils gain an understanding of all six principal faiths and Humanism.
The total time for RE is between 5% and 10% of the curriculum, and it is taught in dedicated lessons as appropriate. The time allocated to RE is separate from the time given to Collective Worship. In KS1 this will amount to approximately 36 hours per year; in KS2 this rises to 45 hours per year.
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
RE is taught using an enquiry based approach, that is challenging and robust. Learning is organised to encourage the development of attitudes such as self-awareness, respect for all, open-mindedness, appreciation and wonder, as well as providing opportunities to engage appropriately with Fundamental British Values. All faiths are treated respectfully, and opportunities will be made to engage in age-appropriate, meaningful discussion. Where possible pupils will encounter believers and visit places of worship.
RE in the Early Years and Foundation Stage:
As the 1988 Education Reform Act clearly states, all registered pupils in maintained schools have a statutory entitlement to Religious Education and thus it must be taught to Reception classes. However, the way learning here is structured is through the Early Years and Foundation Stage curriculum and not through the Agreed Syllabus itself. We teach to the seven areas of learning, working towards the respective Early Learning Goals as the basis of our planning and assessment.
The Areas of Learning identified in the Foundation Stage ensure that breadth of learning is possible across a range of individual experiences and activities. Our teachers use their professional expertise to elicit development in several areas from planned activities and learning experiences.
The Right of Withdrawal
Pupils may be withdrawn from RE or part of RE by a parent or guardian in accordance with Schedule 19 to the School Standards and Framework Act 1998; teachers can exercise their right to withdraw from teaching the subject. However, we hope that all parents and teachers will feel comfortable with the type of religious education being taught at St Mary’s. Parents who wish to withdraw their children must provide written notification to this effect to Mrs Hills and provide suitable activities for their children to undertake during the RE lesson time. The school will keep pupils safe but will not provide any work or reading material for pupils who have been withdrawn.
How to help at home
Here are some suggestions for ways you can support your child in their Religious Education:
Visit a place of worship
Take your child to a place of worship. Many places have open days, and your place of worship will be open for so many hours each week, in addition to the scheduled services.
Celebrate religious holidays
You may have no religious faith yourself, but national holidays such as Christmas and Easter, for example, are opportunities for your child to explore the religious significance of these events.
Familiarise your child with the significance of certain foods by having them help you prepare some traditional food from different religions.
Listen to music
Do you have a Spotify account or Alexa? Download some music from different religions to listen to while at home or in the car.
You can download and print dozens of free RE crosswords and word searches for your child. They will have fun playing, while simultaneously learning key religious vocabulary.
Create some RE flashcards of faith believers and their places of worship (using Google images) and place them face down on a table. Your child will turn over two cards. If the believer and place of worship match, your child will turn over two more cards. The point of the game is to match all the cards from memory.
Read Faith stories/stories from other world religions
There are lots of Faith story books. This can be a fun and easy way to explore the faith stories of other world religions.
Make use of holidays
As well as having fun in the sunshine, visit a local place of worship, especially if you are abroad. Compare the places of worship with our St Mary’s Church in Amersham.
St Mary’s Church Amersham
Our local church, St Mary’s Amersham , is at the heart of our busy community. Children and young people are valued contributors to the church and the church has close links with the many schools in the area.
All details of Church Services, how to live stream or watch recordings, and prayer evenings led by the clergy team, can be found in the What’s On Section.
The Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS) is the Church of England and Methodist Church’s outworking of the requirements of section 48 of the Education Act 2005. It is a key element of the life of all Church of England and Methodist schools in England.
All SIAMS visits have been delayed due to Covid, our next inspection is now due in the 2023-24 school year. As a result of our last inspection in October 2016, we were graded as ‘outstanding’ and the key findings were:
The distinctiveness and effectiveness of St Mary’s as a Church of England school are outstanding
· The strategic leadership of the governors and senior staff is highly effective in promoting the Christian vision and values of the school ensuring it is continually improving.
· The Christian values of the school are actively encouraged resulting in high standards of behaviour and quality relationships at all levels of the school.
· Religious Education (RE) significantly contributes to pupils’ reflectiveness and multi-cultural awareness.
· The school’s relationships with parents, St Mary’s Church and the community are strong stemming from the school’s Christian vision to promote the God-given potential of each child to the full.
Areas for development
· Ensure that children fully understand and lead the elements that comprise an act of worship so that their spirituality is deepened further.
· Enrich pupils’ spiritual experience still further by utilising a wider range of creative and vibrant approaches to prayer and worship both in and beyond collective worship times.
· Proclaim the school’s religious foundations and significant strengths as a church school more boldly in the environment and in public-facing documentation so the church school status is immediately clear.
The full report can be found here.
SIAMS inspection focuses on the impact of the Church school's Christian vision on pupils and adults. This involves looking at the school’s Christian vision, the provision the school makes because of this vision and how effective this provision is in enabling all pupils to flourish. Church schools will employ a variety of strategies and styles appropriate to, and reflective of, their particular context in order to be distinctively and effectively Christian in their character and ethos. SIAMS inspectors therefore do not look for a set template of what a Church school should be like, but rather take the particular context of the school into account and base their evaluation on the outcomes rather than the process.
A new and more rigorous framework for SIAMS inspections was introduced in 2022 which will be implemented from September 2023 .Under this new framework, instead of focusing on lists of inspection criteria, inspectors will explore with school leaders whether and how, through its theologically rooted Christian vision, the school is living up to its foundation as a Church school, enabling pupils and adults to flourish.
There are seven Inspection Questions (IQs) which frame school leaders’ and inspectors’ thinking about how a school may be living up to its foundation as a Church school, enabling people to flourish. By following the structure of the Inspection Questions (IQs), SIAMS will explore whether and how the vision is achieving its intended effect.
IQ1 How does the school’s theologically rooted Christian vision enable pupils and adults to flourish?
IQ2 How does the curriculum reflect the school’s theologically rooted Christian vision?
IQ3 How is collective worship enabling pupils and adults to flourish spiritually?
IQ4 How does the theologically rooted Christian vision create a culture in which pupils and adults are treated well?
IQ5 How does the theologically rooted Christian vision create an active culture of justice and responsibility?
IQ6 Is the religious education curriculum effective (with reference to the expectations set out in the Church of England’s Statement of Entitlement for Religious Education)?
IQ7 What is the quality of religious education in voluntary aided and former voluntary aided schools, or in former voluntary controlled schools in which denominational religious education is taught?
At the end of the inspection, SIAMS inspectors will reach one of two judgements.