Churchmead School celebrates success

by Jo Duckles

THE new school term saw celebrations at Churchmead CofE School in Datchet, Berkshire as major improvements were praised by both Ofsted and SIAMS inspectors.

Chris Tomes with staff, upils and officials from Churchmead along with Cllr Eileen Quick, the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. Photo: The Windsor, Ascot and Eton Express

Chris Tomes with staff, pupils and officials from Churchmead along with Cllr Eileen Quick, the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. Photo: The Windsor, Ascot and Eton Express.

The leadership of Chris Tomes, who became headteacher in 2013 after the school had been plunged into special measures, was highlighted in the Ofsted report published in January. Their comments were echoed in a similar Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS) report, also published last month.

“It’s the first time in 17 years Churchmead has been classified as ‘good’ by Ofsted,” said Mr Tomes. “Both of these reports are real accolades for the school. It was a highlight of my career to share that outcome with the students and talk to them about how they made an impact on both inspections.” The Ofsted report stated: “The headteacher is passionate about wanting the very best outcomes for all pupils in the school. His clear leadership has led to rapid improvements in all aspects of the school’s work since the previous inspection.

Later in the report they said: “Pupils value the respect that they are shown and the many opportunities to get involved in the life of the school. They enthusiastically embrace, and recognise how they benefit from, taking on leadership roles within the school community, such as: heads of house; membership of the school council; leaders of literacy; student wordsmith; student poet laureate and sports ambassadors. Some older pupils take on the role of blue guardian angels to mentor and support younger ones.”

Similarly, the SIAMS report stated: “Every student is valued as a child whom God nurtures, and this is demonstrated through the emphasis on emotional wellbeing, including the Blue Guardian Angels scheme, and strategies to improve attendance.”

Chair of Governors, Steve Buckeridge, who is also one of the leaders at the Datchet Gospel Chapel, said: “This is such an answer to prayer and a real credit to Chris and his team. The atmosphere as you walk around is wonderful. There are students from such diverse backgrounds, and 45 different languages are spoken, and yet the Christian ethos runs through such a diverse group. We have really appreciated the support we have had from the diocese as we have worked for these improvements.”

And what do students enjoy about their school? Preet, from Year 10, said: “The Churchmead values allow us to become a community and we consider our school to be like a family.” Liam said: “I like how the school has changed in the few years I have been here. It is more comfortable and I feel safer.” Daniel added: “I like to come and learn more. I really like art, drama, PE and maths.”

Former Diocesan Education Advisor Eddie Carmichael was the chairman of the Interim Executive Board, which was set up to support Churchmead as it worked to improve. Eddie said he was thrilled and elated but not surprised by the Ofsted and SIAMS inspectors findings.

“At every stage in the school’s recent journey from inadequate to good, it has been Mr Tomes’s quite unassuming but inspirational servant leadership, determination and high personal standards that have driven the school forward.” Mr Tomes said the next goal is to become classified as “outstanding” in all areas by Ofsted. He said: “It’s been an incredible journey and one that everyone at Churchmead should feel proud of.”