St Mary’s is a large, very diverse urban primary school in Slough town centre which was set up by the church in the 19th century to serve the needs of its local community; it is a Christian ‘church school’.
Now, whatever children’s culture, background or religion, more than 150 years on, we continue to do this. At present the school’s largest population is largely from a Muslim faith and Asian cultural backgrounds with parents supporting the school’s commitment as a ‘faith’ school, sharing many values.
St Mary’s accepts children throughout the year, works to meet their needs, recognising their cultures, backgrounds, former experiences, abilities, gender and beliefs and enabling all of our children to shine while they are with us and beyond. We strive to deliver an excellent curriculum to achieve this and ensure a high standard of education for our children, underpinned by our core values of Love, Forgiveness, Responsibility, Honesty and Respect at every level.
Our strapline of ‘Building a bright future for myself, my school and my community’ reminds us to shine our light on all that we do and to stay true to the school’s Christian values. It is grounded in the Bible verses: Matthew 7 v 24 ‘Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.’ and Matthew 5:16 ‘In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’ Our values play a major role in all that we do at school – we are led by our moral and Christian purpose as well as our statutory duties and all children and adults are supported to work together to create a bright future.
All staff and pupils are expected to attend acts of collective worship; time is specifically set aside for these as a school and in classes Collective Worship Ambassadors ensure that these times are valued and respected. We demonstrate respect for the Christian calendar by ensuring that all class worship areas as well as the hall are displayed with the correct colour cloth for the Church of England Christian Season and that when these are changed children know why. Children are invited to lead and partake in services, to receive blessings and where appropriate to receive Holy Communion.
Our local Parish Priest is very involved as an active ‘Foundation Governor’ and regularly leads worship, storytelling sessions and leads services, such as Eucharist, Christmas Service and Ashing, held at St. Mary’s Church and welcomes all year groups to visit the Church at key times in the Christian calendar. He also blesses all class candles during our Candlemas evening of hope and light and visits all classes to see our Easter Gardens before displayed at church.
The local Methodist and Baptist minister regularly lead collective worship and present in school alongside other faith leaders from, e.g. CCIS (Christian Connections in School) and Datchet Gospel Chapel, and representatives from other beliefs.
‘Discovery RE’ and ‘Understanding Christianity’ materials form the basis for our question-led RE curriculum and we adhere as a ‘Voluntary Controlled’ Church of England school to The Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education Pan-Berkshire.
We are supported by our Oxford Diocesan Board of Education (ODBE) service agreement and regular visit by our School Link Adviser, with RE Lead, SLT and governors attending their training.
SIAMS Report 2014