St Thomas More Catholic Academy
Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom
About St Thomas More Catholic Academy
St Thomas More Catholic Academy is a Roman Catholic secondary school with sixth form, situated in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent. The school is mixed and has more than 1,000 students aged 11-18.
St Thomas More Catholic Academy is part of the All Saints Catholic Collegiate, alongside four primary schools in Stoke-on-Trent. The secondary school was built in 1980 and refurbished in 2012 through the Building Schools for the Future scheme. In 2013, the school converted to academy status.
More recently the school secured a bid for a new floodlit 3G pitch which is now fully operational.
Values and vision
St Thomas More Catholic Academy has the motto “Aspire to be More”, which references the school’s namesake, Saint Thomas More. The Catholic faith is at the heart of school life and pupils are encouraged to grow with their faith through their learning. The community plays an important part, with teachers emphasising love, peace and reconciliation in conjunction with Catholic teachings.
“The leadership of teaching is good. Staff have access to good quality training and development opportunities, enhanced by the partnerships within the company and with other highly performing schools. They have formal and informal opportunities to discuss ideas about teaching, and good practice is shared effectively. Staff expressed positive views about being part of the academy's future.”
Staff well-being – the things we do
Teaching and learning, planning and curriculum
• We trust teachers to decide the best approaches for their pupils.
• Teaching and learning policy is co-designed with subject specialists because they know what works best for different subjects.
• No need to write lesson plans of any kind.
• Although schemes of work and resources provided, they are not prescriptive – teachers can adapt them however they like.
• 44/50 periods of teaching per fortnight maximum.
• Expert reprographics.
• No pressure to ‘put on a show’ in lessons: A culture of typicality is reinforced by no lesson grading (outstanding, good, etc.).
• Staff cover lessons under the ‘Rarely Cover’ agreement, in line with the local authority. The school has cover supervisors to support learning when staff are not available. School is committed to using staff on allocation to cover on rarely.
• The school calendar is consulted by all staff before it is finalised each academic year.
• Everyone has the highest expectations of behaviour, with all staff (not just teaching staff) reinforcing those expectations.
• A clear system of sanctions which is applied consistently so that staff don’t have battles with students.
• Senior Leadership are very visible and all staff ‘own’ their corridors.
• Senior Leadership run lunch duty so behaviour doesn’t bubble up.
• Training/CPD for behaviour management is provided to support staff.
• Non-negotiables are clearly visible.
• Sanctions are clearly communicated with all staff to ensure that behaviour is dealt with effectively.
• Classes with a high staff to student ratio support effective classroom management.
• Alternative provision is put into place where required to ensure that provision meets each student’s needs.
Assessment and reporting to parents
• Clear guidelines are in place for the expectations for marking and feedback on pupil’s work. This is includes strategies to allow staff to work ‘smartly’ with time efficiency and effective marking and feedback.
• Marking is for one audience and one audience only: pupils.
• Only 4 data entries per year.
• We never ask for any data to be entered twice.
• No subject written reports are completed for parents/carers. Reports are sent to parents/ carers 3 times per year, 1 of which includes a form teacher summary comment. Otherwise, no subject written reports are completed for parents/carers at KS3 and 4.
• An effective pastoral team is in place to support the pupils and staff. This minimises the need for contact by phone with parents/ carers. Setting of detentions has been refined to allow staff to inform parents/ carers by email very simply using SIMS.
• CPD tailored specifically to staff needs, based on their feedback.
• Time is given for staff to put new things into action.
• Non-hierarchical approach to professional development – there are things a senior leader can learn from an NQT and vice versa.
• Targeted support plans are put into place for teachers who are struggling.
• Meetings take place during directed time on Monday evenings and do so when they are needed – not just because they are on the calendar. When meetings are not required directed time is given to staff CPD.
• Subject briefings are kept succinct.
• We develop leadership positions at all levels.
• There is comprehensive support for NQTs, with dedicated mentors and regular, timetabled meetings.
• There is a programme for all recently appointed teachers to support their induction to St Thomas More and provide opportunities to get to know colleagues.
• Development package for second and third year teachers.
• A teaching and learning celebration event takes place at the end of each academic year to celebrate and share good practice. The event is marked with a special thank you to staff such as a visiting ice cream van providing free ice cream.
• School staff are well supported by the availability of the school Chaplain.
• The school has a full time Lay Chaplain to support all staff.
• Liturgical celebrations are available to staff throughout the year including on staff INSET day and end of year whole school Mass.
• Staff retreats are available with financial and time support so staff can further develop where they are on their faith Journey.
• Staff spirituality weeks take place to provide opportunities for reflection and spiritual development in Advent and in Lent.
• Opportunities are available for staff to continue their faith journey through nationally accredited programmes such as ‘Alpha ‘ and ‘ the Gift’
• A spirituality group meets half termly to provide a forum for staff to contribute to spiritual opportunities for all staff.
• An annual spirituality INSET takes place in January, providing spiritual development and reflection for staff.
• CPD Spiritual opportunities are available for staff including and diocesan opportunities with the Birmingham Archdiocese.
• Strong links with CATSC and opportunities to attend voluntary Masses.
• There is a recognition and respect for staff members of other faiths.
We work hard, play hard
• A well-established staff well-being group meet with the Headteacher every half term.
• There are no prizes for looking busy or staying later – staff should feel free to work in a way that suits you and make sure you make time for yourself and your family.
• No expectation of answering parental emails outside school hours.
• No expectation to respond to work emails during unsociable hours.
• We are constantly streamlining all systems and processes so they take less time, e.g. the detention system.
• Free tea and coffee is provided every break time in the staff room.
• Prize draws every half term for 100% attendees
• No tick box culture – never do anything if it’s not going to make a difference.
• A culture of peer-to-peer praise (star of the week)
• Open-door Senior Leadership – no concern is too small.
• Regular staff social events out-of-school.
• In-school health events (Insanity, fitness, free flu jabs).
• Staff access to confidential Dove services.
• Seasonal events for everyone to show their less serious sides, e.g. World Book Day, Christmas jumpers, etc.
• Countless opportunities to get involved with the wider life of the school – Duke of Edinburgh, Retreats, study visits abroad.
• Part-time time budgets for parity with FTE staff.
• Additional communication – Friday briefings.
• Staff complete duties each week which is scheduled to fit in with staff timetables allowing flexibility as to when and where it takes place.
• Half termly ‘coffee and cake’ events take place delivered on a rotation by each department.
• Sandwiches are provided for staff on parents’ evening and a hot meal provided on inset days.