School etc

St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Primary School

St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Primary School
Ward Avenue

phone: 01375 375826

headteacher: Mr Christopher Birtles

reveal email: adm…


school holidays: via Thurrock council

623 pupils aged 4—10y mixed gender
630 pupils capacity: 99% full

310 boys 50%


315 girls 51%


Last updated: June 19, 2014

Primary — Voluntary Aided School

Education phase
Religious character
Roman Catholic
Establishment type
Voluntary Aided School
Establishment #
OSGB coordinates
Easting: 561798, Northing: 178963
GPS coordinates
Latitude: 51.486, Longitude: 0.32895
Accepting pupils
4—11 years old
Census date
Jan. 16, 2014
Ofsted last inspection
July 4, 2012
Diocese of Brentwood
Region › Const. › Ward
East of England › Thurrock › Grays Thurrock
Urban > 10k - less sparse
Free school meals %

rooms to rent in Grays

Schools nearby

  1. 0.2 miles Grays Convent High School RM175UX (542 pupils)
  2. 0.2 miles The Grays School Media Arts College RM175LL
  3. 0.2 miles The Hathaway Academy RM175LL (691 pupils)
  4. 0.3 miles Quarry Hill Junior School RM175UT
  5. 0.3 miles Quarry Hill Primary and Pre School RM175JZ
  6. 0.3 miles Quarry Hill Academy RM175UT (553 pupils)
  7. 0.5 miles Little Thurrock Primary School RM175SW (564 pupils)
  8. 0.7 miles Deneholm Primary School RM162SS (412 pupils)
  9. 0.8 miles Tudor Court Primary School RM166PL (819 pupils)
  10. 0.8 miles Tudor Court Primary School RM166PL
  11. 0.9 miles Thameside Junior School RM176EF
  12. 0.9 miles Thameside Infant School RM176EF
  13. 0.9 miles Stifford Primary School RM175YN
  14. 0.9 miles Stifford Clays Infant School RM162JA
  15. 0.9 miles Stifford Clays Primary School RM162ST (731 pupils)
  16. 0.9 miles Thameside Primary School RM176EF (570 pupils)
  17. 0.9 miles Belmont Castle Academy RM175YN (720 pupils)
  18. 1.1 mile Woodside Primary School RM162GJ
  19. 1.1 mile Thurrock College RM162YR
  20. 1.1 mile Palmer's College RM175TD
  21. 1.1 mile Thurrock and Basildon College RM162YR
  22. 1.1 mile Woodside Academy RM162GJ (502 pupils)
  23. 1.2 mile Torells School RM162XN
  24. 1.2 mile William Edwards School and Sports College RM163NJ

List of schools in Grays

Age group 4–11
Inspection date(s) 4–5 July 2012
Inspection number 379028

St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic

Primary School

Inspection report

Unique reference number 115180
Local authority Thurrock
Inspection number 379028
Inspection dates 4–5 July 2012
Lead inspector Raymond Lau

This inspection of the school was carried out under section 5 of the Education Act 2005.

Type of school Primary
School category Voluntary aided
Age range of pupils 4–11
Gender of pupils Mixed
Number of pupils on the school roll 628
Appropriate authority The governing body
Chair Patricia Wilson
Headteacher Christopher Birtles
Date of previous school inspection 28 February 2007
School address Ward Avenue
RM17 5RW
Telephone number 01375 375826
Fax number 01375 390572
Email address reveal email: adm…

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Inspection team

Raymond Lau Additional Inspector
Gillian Bosschaert Additional Inspector
David Whiteside Additional Inspector
Emily Simpson Additional Inspector

This inspection was carried out with two days’ notice. The inspection team sampled

29 lessons, observing 21 teachers. Five lessons were observed jointly with members

of the senior leadership team. The team also conducted a series of brief observations
of learning in classrooms and around the school. Meetings were held with groups of
pupils, members of the governing body and staff.
Inspectors took account of the responses to the on-line Parent View survey in
planning the inspection, observed the school’s work, and looked at improvement
plans, records and analyses of pupils’ behaviour, the tracking of pupils’ progress and
examples of pupils’ work. They looked at the school’s attendance figures and
monitoring information. They also analysed questionnaire responses from staff,
pupils, and 115 parents and carers.

Information about the school

This school is larger than the average-sized primary school. Half of the pupils are

from minority ethnic heritages and the other half are White British. The proportion of

pupils known to be eligible for free school meals is low. The proportion of pupils who
are supported at school action plus or have a statement of special educational needs
is below average.

The school meets the government’s current floor standards, which set the minimum
expectations for pupils’ attainment and progress. It holds the Quality Mark in basic

skills, Healthy Schools status and Activemark accreditation, and has very recently
gained the Artsmark award.

Inspection judgements

Overall effectiveness 2
Achievement of pupils 2
Quality of teaching 2
Behaviour and safety of pupils 2
Leadership and management 2

Key findings

  • This is a good and improving school. St Thomas’ is highly inclusive; this is
    evident in its strong ethos that places pupils at the heart of the school’s
    operations. It is not yet outstanding because some teaching remains
    satisfactory rather than better, and attainment in mathematics is not as high as
    in English.
  • Pupils from all backgrounds achieve well overall, and attainment is rising.
    Children join the school with limited skills and understanding. They make good
    progress, but it is more rapid in Key Stage 2, where teaching is stronger, than
    in reception and Key Stage 1. When pupils leave at the end of Year 6,
    attainment is broadly average in mathematics but above average in English.
  • Good teaching is improving pupils’ achievement. Teachers and support staff
    have strong relationships with the pupils. Staff have high expectations of the
    pupils and plan activities that meet the needs of most learners well. On
    occasions, the more-able pupils are not stretched enough when teachers do not
    use assessment information to fine-tune their lesson planning. Teachers do not
    always give pupils good guidance on how to improve their work, or ensure that
    they respond to the comments made in marking.
  • Pupils have good attitudes to learning and behave well, demonstrating respect
    for each other and towards staff. They have a good understanding of what
    constitutes safe and unsafe practices. Pupils clearly enjoy coming to school, as
    reflected in their consistently above-average attendance.
  • The headteacher and deputy headteacher take strong and decisive actions in
    managing performance and improving the quality of teaching. The good
    curriculum includes extended opportunities for pupils to enhance their strong
    spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, but does not yet maximise
    pupils’ opportunities to develop their numeracy skills in different subjects.

What does the school need to do to improve further?

  • By September 2014, raise attainment in mathematics to the above-average
    levels seen in English, by:
    consolidating the improvements made to the teaching of mathematics this
    taking every opportunity to promote numeracy skills across the
  • By September 2014, ensure that teaching is good or outstanding across the
    school by:
    sharing the most effective teaching and assessment practices among staff
    ensuring that the marking of pupils’ work is consistent in providing the
    next steps for improvement, and that pupils respond to the comments
    consistently challenging the more-able learners in lessons, to ensure that
    their progress is rapid and sustained over time.

Main report

Achievement of pupils

In lessons observed during the inspection, pupils were typically making good
progress. Children enter reception with knowledge and skills that are typically below
national expectations, particularly in communication and language skills. Through a
varied range of activities, children develop their independence and social skills well,
interacting with other children. In other areas of learning they have made
satisfactory progress in the past, although they are now beginning to make better
progress thanks to better quality teaching. In one lesson, children were learning to
blend sounds together (phonics); with determination and increasing challenge, they
made exceptional progress.
Attainment is also rising in Key Stage 1. Attainment in reading is average. In a Year 2
session, led by a skilful support assistant, less-able pupils made good progress when
working on phonics blending the sounds to form well-constructed connectives. Pupils’
progress accelerates in Key Stage 2. By the end of Year 6, attainment is broadly
average in mathematics but consistently above average in English, including in
reading. The work seen during the inspection and the school’s unconfirmed national
test results show that attainment has risen across all subjects this year, as a result of
effective teaching across English and mathematics. In a Year 6 mathematics lesson,
pupils made good progress while working highly collaboratively in processing and
interpreting Venn diagrams to sort data.
Girls have achieved better than boys in the past, but the gaps are closing rapidly
thanks to well-targeted intervention work and effective action taken by the school to
improve the quality of teaching. Disabled pupils and those who have special
educational needs make good progress, as do the minority ethnic groups. Parents
and carers rightly feel that their children make good overall progress.

Quality of teaching

Teaching over time is good. It is most effective in Years 3 to 6. During the
inspection, the large majority of teaching observed was good or better. Parents,
carers and pupils support this view. Strong relationships fostered between staff and
pupils are a real strength in helping pupils to learn. In the most effective lessons, the
planning of well-sequenced activities meets the needs of all learners. The pace of
lessons is brisk, encouraging pupils’ attentiveness and promoting collaborative skills.
Disabled pupils and those who have special educational needs achieve well thanks to
the skills of well-deployed support staff. These aspects of teaching, along with good
use of well-targeted questioning and assessment, enable pupils to make typically
good progress. This was highly evident in a Year 5 English lesson. During the
inspection, pupils had attended a trip, dressing as people living during the ‘Tudor’
period, and applied the knowledge gained from this visit to turn prose into a play
script. The teacher modelled different responses that enabled pupils to subsequently
achieve well.
Marking and the pupils’ responses to this are usually good. While pockets of effective
practice exist, the next steps to help the pupils in their learning are not always made
clear. On occasions, even where this feedback is provided, pupils do not act upon
this guidance.
The teaching of mathematics has improved across the school and this is accelerating

pupils’ achievement. In an outstanding example in Year 2, pupils were identifying

numbers and using simple calculation techniques and strategies in solving some
complex problems. Through the buzz and excitement for learning in a strong
atmosphere of trust, pupils’ well-developed social and collaborative skills and the
exceedingly skilful support from the staff, pupils were able to make exceptional
progress. Reading is taught well in all age groups, and individual and small group
activities are led well by support staff.
During the inspection, a small minority of lessons were not as effective in promoting

pupils’ progress. On occasions, the teachers’ explanations were longer than was

necessary and the planned activities lacked challenge, particularly for the more-able

Behaviour and safety of pupils

Pupils’ behaviour is good. They are typically polite and respectful to each other in
lessons and around the school. They are courteous to staff. They work particularly
well in lessons when the teacher creates a culture for success that encourages pupils
to be enthusiastic and work collaboratively. A small minority of pupils, parents and
carers expressed some concerns regarding behaviour in lessons, and the way
behaviour management systems are applied by staff. Just occasionally, where the
teaching is not yet good, a few children are allowed to lose concentration by chatting
and this inhibits learning.
The school is a very inclusive and caring environment. The ‘nurture’ group provides
support to pupils who have behavioural and emotional needs, and helps them to
develop more positive behaviour and attitudes to learning. There have been no fixed-
term or permanent exclusions for some years. The school promotes positive
behaviour through the personal, social, health and education curriculum. As a result
of all these strengths, attendance is consistently above average.
The vast majority of parents, carers and pupils agreed that the school provides a
safe environment. Pupils interviewed stated that bullying very occasionally occurs,
but reported that the school tackles this appropriately. Pupils have a good awareness
of what constitutes safe and unsafe practices and different types of bullying, in
particular cyber-bullying. Pupils have strong moral views about the use of social
networking websites. Some pupils act as members of the school council, and Year 6
in particular act as ‘PALS’ at lunchtime to support pupils in the dining area and at
play. Pupils show concern for others when they raise money for local and national

Leadership and management

The good strategic leadership of the headteacher and deputy headteacher, along
with the assistant headteachers, has ensured greater accountability in managing and
developing the quality of teaching and learning. A range of mentoring and coaching
strategies and opportunities have had a clear impact in improving teaching, although
this has not included enough opportunities to share best practice. There remains a
minority of satisfactory teaching, and only a very small proportion is outstanding.
The subject coordinators play a key role and are committed to improving the quality
of provision. A sharp focus by the English and mathematics coordinators on
developing the pupils’ key skills has improved attainment and achievement during
the course of the current academic year. The new leaders of the Early Years
Foundation Stage, Years 1 and 2 have already taken swift and decisive action to
improve the quality of provision, which is beginning to have an impact on pupils’
outcomes in Year 2.
The curriculum is broad and balanced and meets pupils’ needs well. English is a key
strength, and the revised mathematics curriculum is helping to improve learners’
enjoyment and achievement across the school. The pupils commented that themed
days (such as a Roman day) support cross-curricular learning, but such planned
opportunities to develop numeracy skills are not yet commonplace. Pupils’ cultural
development is promoted well. Provision for music is good. The school has its own
orchestra and pupils have instrumental lessons. During the inspection, the choir were
singing with energy and increasing accuracy. The sporting provision is strong, with

noticeable successes at local level. The high uptake promotes the pupils’ social and

teamwork skills well. Their spiritual development is also promoted well through a
strong school ethos and a religious education curriculum that supports the pupils’
understanding of different faiths.
The governors play a proactive part, with a supporting and challenging role in
holding the school to account. The school works particularly well with parents and
carers, and has adapted its provision appropriately. For example, newsletters are
now sent via email. Nevertheless, the school continues to work with all parents and
carers to foster better relationships in supporting their children to learn. Strong
partnerships with the local parish and other external providers further support the

school’s work. All safeguarding requirements are met.

The school has shown that it has a good capacity to make further improvements.
Since the previous inspection, it has raised the quality of teaching across all key
stages, sustained above-average attendance, and raised pupils’ achievement in
English. Improvements made in the teaching of mathematics are now improving

pupils’ attainment. The school addresses equality of opportunity well, and the way in

which it tackles discrimination is good. Previous differences in achievement between
groups of learners are decreasing. Support is given for trips and activities to ensure
that the benefits for all pupils are maximised.


What inspection judgements mean

Grade Judgement Description
Grade 1 Outstanding These features are highly effective. An outstanding
school provides exceptionally well for all its pupils’ needs.
Grade 2 Good These are very positive features of a school. A school
that is good is serving its pupils well.
Grade 3 Satisfactory These features are of reasonable quality. A satisfactory
school is providing adequately for its pupils.
Grade 4 Inadequate These features are not of an acceptable standard. An
inadequate school needs to make significant
improvement in order to meet the needs of its pupils.
Ofsted inspectors will make further visits until it

Overall effectiveness of schools

Overall effectiveness judgement (percentage of schools)
Type of school Outstanding Good Satisfactory Inadequate
Nursery schools 54 42 2 2
Primary schools 14 49 32 6
20 39 34 7
Special schools 33 45 20 3
Pupil referral
9 55 28 8
All schools 16 47 31 6

New school inspection arrangements have been introduced from 1 January 2012. This means that
inspectors make judgements that were not made previously.
The data in the table above are for the period 1 September to 31 December 2011 and represent
judgements that were made under the school inspection arrangements that were introduced on 1
September 2009. These data are consistent with the latest published official statistics about
maintained school inspection outcomes (see
The sample of schools inspected during 2010/11 was not representative of all schools nationally, as
weaker schools are inspected more frequently than good or outstanding schools.
Primary schools include primary academy converters. Secondary schools include secondary academy
converters, sponsor-led academies and city technology colleges. Special schools include special
academy converters and non-maintained special schools.

Percentages are rounded and do not always add exactly to 100.

Common terminology used by inspectors

Achievement: the progress and success of a pupil in their

learning and development taking account of their

Attainment: the standard of the pupils’ work shown by test and

examination results and in lessons.

Attendance: the regular attendance of pupils at school and in

lessons, taking into account the school’s efforts to

encourage good attendance.

Behaviour: how well pupils behave in lessons, with emphasis

on their attitude to learning. Pupils’ punctuality to
lessons and their conduct around the school.

Capacity to improve: the proven ability of the school to continue

improving based on its self-evaluation and what
the school has accomplished so far and on the
quality of its systems to maintain improvement.

Floor standards: the national minimum expectation of attainment

and progression measures.

Leadership and management: the contribution of all the staff with responsibilities,

not just the governors and headteacher, to
identifying priorities, directing and motivating staff
and running the school.

Learning: how well pupils acquire knowledge, develop their

understanding, learn and practise skills and are
developing their competence as learners.

Overall effectiveness: inspectors form a judgement on a school’s overall

effectiveness based on the findings from their
inspection of the school.

Progress: the rate at which pupils are learning in lessons and

over longer periods of time. It is often measured

by comparing the pupils’ attainment at the end of a

key stage with their attainment when they started.

Safety: how safe pupils are in school, including in lessons;

and their understanding of risks. Pupils’ freedom

from bullying and harassment. How well the school
promotes safety, for example e-learning.

6 July 2012
Dear Pupils

Inspection of St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Primary School, Grays
RM17 5RW

Thank you for welcoming us to your school. We particularly appreciate the time
spent by those of you who spoke to us, were interviewed or completed the
inspection questionnaire. You go to a good school that is very caring and helps you

to achieve well by the end of Year 6. These are some of the other things that

impressed us most.

  • The school is led well and is improving.
  • Almost all of you enjoy coming to school, and this is reflected in your above-
    average attendance.
  • The rich curriculum matches your interests well. Music and sports are
    particularly strong. Your good-quality artwork is displayed across the school.
  • Despite the concerns a few of you expressed in the questionnaire about
    behaviour, we have judged that your behaviour is good and the school deals
    with any issues such as bullying appropriately.
  • You demonstrate good attitudes to learning. You usually work at a good pace
    and support each other with your learning.

We have asked your headteacher and teachers to improve the school by ensuring

  • you reach higher standards in mathematics across the school
  • you make even faster progress in your learning in all year groups
  • teachers always mark your work carefully, so you are clear about the next steps
    in your learning.

You can all help and play your part by continuing to work hard, behave well, enjoy
your learning, and respond to the feedback given to you in your work. I wish you all
the best for the future.
Yours sincerely
Raymond Lau
Lead inspector


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