A report onWyclif Independent Christian SchoolWyndham StreetMachenCaerphillyCF83 8PUDate of inspection: January 2018byEstyn, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Educationand Training in Wales

A report on Wyclif Independent Christian SchoolJanuary 2018About Wyclif Independent Christian SchoolWyclif Independent Christian School is an all-age co-educational independent dayschool operating from three sites in the village of Machen, near Caerphilly. Theschool was founded in 1982 and is a registered charity with a board of governors.The school is organised into three sections. The primary school is from kindergartento Year 4, the middle school from Year 5 to Year 8, and the senior school from Year9 to Year 13. The total number of pupils across the school is 133. There is littledifference in the total number of boys and girls although this varies in particular yeargroups across the school.Many pupils travel from a wide catchment around Machen including from Newport,Cardiff, Pontypridd, Pontypool and Merthyr. Almost 30% of pupils are from minorityethnic backgrounds. Most pupils speak English as their first language. A very fewpupils speak English as an additional language. No pupils speak Welsh as their firstlanguage. The school does not aim to make pupils bilingual in English and Welsh.The school identifies about 5% of pupils as having additional learning needs,including a very few with a statement of special educational needs.The school operates an open admissions policy and does not select by ability.The school was last inspected in 2012, when the current headteacher was in post.Wyclif is a Christian school that bases its educational philosophy on mainstreamevangelical principles and concepts. The school aims ‘to enable each pupil todevelop his or her own potential to the full as far as possible’.1

A report on Wyclif Independent Christian SchoolJanuary 2018SummaryPupils at Wyclif Independent Christian School have positive attitudes to their learningand they are extremely respectful and polite. Many pupils make strong progress inrelation to their individual starting points and achieve well. By the end of Year 11,most pupils achieve consistently good outcomes in GCSE examinations.Throughout the school, pupils enjoy their lessons and concentrate well. A particularlystrong feature of teaching is the high level of mutual respect and the extremelysupportive relationships between teachers and pupils. However, overall, there isconsiderable variation in the quality of teaching and assessment, with shortcomingsin a minority of lessons.Pupils’ spiritual and moral development is central to the vision and work of theschool, and leaders promote this vision strongly. However, aspects of the school’sstrategic leadership require improvement, including the provision for tracking,monitoring and reporting on pupils’ progress.The school meets almost all of the Independent School Standards (Wales)Regulations 2003.Inspection areaJudgementStandardsGoodWellbeing and attitudes to learningGoodTeaching and learning experiencesAdequate and needs improvementCare, support and guidanceAdequate and needs improvementLeadership and managementAdequate and needs improvement2

A report on Wyclif Independent Christian SchoolJanuary 2018Compliance with the regulations for registrationIndependent school inspections are governed by the Education Act 2002 and relatedregulations: the Independent School Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003. Theseregulations require an independent school to meet an appropriate standard in thefollowing areas:The quality of education provided by the schoolThe school meets the regulatory requirements for this standard.The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupilsThe school meets the regulatory requirements for this standard.Welfare, health and safety of pupilsThe school does not meet the regulatory requirements for this standard.Although the school meets almost all of the regulatory requirements for this standard,in order to comply fully with the Independent Schools Standards Regulations 2003the school should: ensure that it has a satisfactory level of fire safety, identified by its riskassessment under Part II Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997, and byany report from the Fire Authority. Note. This legislation is now superseded by theRegulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO 2005) 3.5 (a)(b)The suitability of proprietors and staffThe school meets the regulatory requirements for this standard.Premises of and boarding accommodation at schoolsThe school does not meet the regulatory requirements for this standard.Although the school meets almost all of the regulatory requirements for this standard,in order to comply fully with the Independent Schools Standards Regulations 2003the school should: ensure there is sufficient access so that emergency evacuations can beaccomplished safely for all pupils, including those with special needs 5(g)The provision of informationThe school meets the regulatory requirements for this standard.The manner in which complaints are to be handled3

A report on Wyclif Independent Christian SchoolJanuary 2018The school meets the regulatory requirements for this standard.RecommendationsR1 Take steps to comply fully with the regulations for registrationR2 Provide purposeful opportunities for pupils to solve problems, make choices anddevelop their independenceR3 Improve the quality of teaching and assessment to match the best practice in theschoolR4 Ensure that assessment data is used effectively to inform teachers’ planning andto provide additional support or challenge to pupils.R5 Increase the rigour of self-evaluation and quality of improvement planning toprovide a clear strategic focus on enhancing teachers’ professional learning andimproving outcomes for pupilsWhat happens nextSince the school does not meet the standards required for registration, the NationalAssembly for Wales will require the proprietor to submit an action plan within aspecified period of time. This plan will set out the steps that the school will take tomeet the standards, and the timescale within which it will complete each step.Estyn advises the proprietor to amend its current development plan to show whatactions the school intends to take in response to the recommendations. It is alsoadvisable to circulate this plan, or a summary of it, to all parents/carers at the school.4

A report on Wyclif Independent Christian SchoolJanuary 2018Main findingsStandards: GoodThe standards reached by many pupils across the school are high.As they progress through the school, many pupils make strong progress in relation totheir attainment prior to joining the school. They develop subject knowledgeeffectively, have secure recall of their previous learning and use this suitably to helpthem in their current work. Most pupils with additional learning needs makeparticularly strong progress.Across the school, nearly all pupils develop their oracy skills to a high standard.They listen well to each other and to adults and speak assuredly in a range ofdifferent situations. For example, pupils in Year 4 talk eagerly about how theyimprove their writing, and Year 10 pupils offer their opinions enthusiastically aboutthe character of Sherlock Holmes.In the primary section of the school, most pupils develop their reading skills quickly.Pupils in the kindergarten use their knowledge of phonics well to help them decodenew words. By Year 2, many pupils have a very positive attitude towards reading.They enjoy a variety of different books and become confident, fluent readers. Asthey progress further through the school, many pupils continue to improve theirreading skills effectively. They read a wider range of texts and use their readingskills confidently to support their learning in other subjects. For example, many moreable pupils in Year 9 use inference skilfully to decide whether Joan of Arc is a trueheroine of France.Most pupils develop their writing skills effectively as they move through the primarysection of the school, such as Year 3 pupils writing thoughtful poems on light, andaccurate descriptions of the ocean. As they progress on to the middle and seniorschools, during English lessons many pupils write for an extensive range of differentaudiences using imaginative vocabulary and a wide range of appropriatepunctuation. For example, Year 5 pupils write accurate instructions on how to makea milkshake, and Year 7 pupils write creative accounts for their ‘Danny the Championof the World’ projects. Overall, however, throughout the school, pupils do not usetheir writing skills well enough in different contexts across the curriculum. A majorityof pupils do not take enough care with the presentation of their work.As they progress through the school, many pupils develop their numeracy and datahandling skills well in mathematics lessons and apply them successfully in differentcontexts. For example, Year 1 pupils recognise and use common shapes todecorate their musical instruments, while Year 11 pupils use measuring and dataskills accurately in chemistry to investigate the concentration of solutions.Overall, the majority of pupils develop their thinking skills suitably. However, in aminority of lessons, pupils do not always make the progress of which they arecapable. Mostly this is because these pupils do not have enough opportunities tosolve problems and think things through for themselves, or because the work doesnot stretch them enough.5

A report on Wyclif Independent Christian SchoolJanuary 2018Most pupils in the middle and senior school develop their information andcommunication technology (ICT) skills suitably and apply them in a range of contexts.For example, pupils in Year 7 and Year 8 use their word processing skills andpresentation software creatively to draft a school magazine or newsletter.Overall, pupils’ performance in standardised tests and external examinations isstrong.At the end of key stage 4, over the last three years, most pupils achieved the level 2threshold (equivalent to 5 GCSEs at grade A* to C) including English andmathematics. During this same period, the average number of pupils gaining five ormore grades A* or A at GCSE is just over 40%. This percentage is broadly in linewith the average for independent schools and well above the average for maintainedschools in Wales. Overall, these are very high outcomes.In the sixth form, over the last three years, pupils’ performance at A level has beensound. In 2017, about 70% of all A level grades were A*-B, which is higher than thenational average.For the last three years, no pupil has left the school without a recognisedqualification. At the end of Year 11, nearly all pupils remained in full-time education,and at the end of Year 13 most pupils progressed to higher education.Wellbeing and attitudes to learning: GoodAcross the school, pupils have high levels of wellbeing and positive attitudes to theirlearning. From the very youngest, pupils know that they have a trusted adult in theschool whom they can turn to if they are worried or concerned about anything.Almost all pupils feel safe and secure and part of a caring family community.Almost all pupils interact very well with each other, their teachers and other adults inlessons and at break and lunch times. They are extremely respectful and polite. Inthe senior school in particular, pupils relate in a mature manner to their teachers,other adults and visitors to the school.Pupils enjoy the opportunities they have to work together and support each otherbeyond the classroom. For example, in the primary school pupils act as buddies toothers, and pupils from middle school help younger pupils with their reading. Pupilsin the primary and middle schools represent their peers on student councils. Thesegroups are starting to seek pupil opinions on different aspects of school life such asmaking improvements to the external school environment, including the purchase ofplay and storage equipment.Pupils in the senior school help to co-ordinate Eisteddfod celebrations and sportsday, and a very few senior school pupils take responsibility for helping others duringlessons. For example, sixth-form pupils assist with the teaching of swimming.However, although other pupils in the senior school take on responsibilities as houseleaders, generally pupils have limited opportunities to develop their leadership rolesor to influence the work of the school.Almost all pupils understand the importance of eating a healthy diet and takingregular exercise. They make the most of the opportunities provided to take part in6

A report on Wyclif Independent Christian SchoolJanuary 2018physical activities. For example, pupils participate enthusiastically in the school’sannual fund-raising running event at which older pupils support younger pupils tocomplete the course.Most pupils enjoy school and their lessons and they are proud to share their work.Almost all pupils concentrate well in lessons and engage positively in their learning.A few ask thoughtful questions to clarify or extend their understanding, particularly inthe senior school. When given the opportunity, pupils generally work wellindependently. However, overall, throughout the school pupils do not have enoughopportunities to work independently or to seek a variety of solutions when theyapproach their work in lessons.Teaching and learning experiences: Adequate and needs improvementThe school provides a broad and balanced curriculum that meets the IndependentSchool Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003.The curriculum promotes the school’s aims and ethos well to provide an educationbased on Christian values and teaching that largely supports pupils to make suitableprogress in their learning. The school places a particular emphasis on the coresubjects and on developing pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills. The range ofcourses provided at key stage 4 and in the sixth form generally meets the interestsand abilities of most pupils. The school is particularly flexible in accommodating thechoices of a few pupils who wish to study specific subjects at A level.There are suitable arrangements for pupils to develop their ICT skills in the middleand senior schools. The school does not set out to develop pupils’ ICT skills in theprimary classes.There is an appropriate range of visits and guest speakers that support pupils’learning well. For example, there are valuable opportunities for pupils to visit theSenedd and Houses of Parliament as well as overseas trips to Valencia. Pupils alsobenefit from visiting speakers who, for example, explain their work supporting theRwanda Restored project that provides homes and education for orphaned children.These events help pupils develop an understanding of national institutions andservices as well as an appreciation and respect for other cultures. However, thereare limited opportunities for pupils to take part in extra-curricular activities on aregular basis.Across the school there is considerable variability in the quality of teaching andassessment. A particularly strong feature of teaching is the high level of mutualrespect and the extremely supportive working relationships between teachers andpupils. The close family atmosphere and teachers’ frequent praise andencouragement helps engage pupils successfully and contributes well to theirprogress.In many lessons, teachers’ secure subject knowledge and enthusiasm help pupils todevelop a particular interest in the topics they study and to acquire an assuredunderstanding of key concepts and principles. In the majority of lessons, teachers’clear explanations and effective use of questioning build well on pupils’ earlierlearning and assist pupils to deepen their knowledge and understanding. In theselessons there is a strong focus on developing pupils’ use of relevant subject-specificterminology.7

A report on Wyclif Independent Christian SchoolJanuary 2018In a minority of lessons, teachers have high expectations of what pupils can achieve.They use a suitable range of engaging tasks and resources to challenge pupils toextend their thinking and to support their learning. These teachers focus well ondeveloping pupils’ understanding more deeply and providing opportunities for pupilsto improve their work.In a minority of lessons, teaching does not engage pupils successfully. There are notenough opportunities for pupils to think carefully, or to discuss their ideas with others,for example to solve problems. In these lessons, there is too much closedquestioning and pupils are not encouraged to extend their responses. Further, toooften tasks are not planned well enough to challenge and support pupils of differingabilities effectively. As a result, the majority of pupils in these lessons do not makesuitable progress in developing their skills and understanding.In most lessons, teachers provide constructive verbal feedback that motivates pupils,extends their understanding and helps them to improve the standard of their work.Overall, the quality of written feedback and the usefulness of teachers’ comments,varies too much. In a minority of cases, teachers’ comments contribute successfullyto improvements in pupils’ work. For example, in history many pupils strengthen theirresponses by exemplifying specific points more clearly when evaluating theachievements of King Alfred the Great. However, too often marking is cursory,praise is given too easily and there is not a consistent focus on improving pupils’spelling, grammar and presentation.Overall, the quality of teaching is adequate and needs improvement.Care, support and guidance: Adequate and needs improvementPupils’ spiritual and moral development is central to the work of the school. There isa strong sense of community and belonging in which nearly all pupils thrive in theirpersonal, social and emotional development. As a result, pupils feel safe and secureand display positive attitudes towards their learning. All staff know their pupilsextremely well and offer support that nurtures strong working relationships.Staff, pupils and parents work effectively together as an extended family to ensurepupils’ high levels of wellbeing. The school’s open-door policy and the opportunitiesteachers provide to help parents to support their child’s learning reinforces this closeworking relationship. Teachers make effective use of the homework diary to supportcommunication between school and home. Annual reports to parents celebratepupils’ achievements and their attitude to learning well, but do not always provideparents with enough detail about how their child can make further improvements intheir learning.Pupils with additional learning needs are identified promptly and receive beneficialsupport, including one-to-one teaching. This support enables these pupils to makestrong progress towards both their learning and social targets. The school alsomakes effective use of outside agencies to support the specific needs of a very fewpupils when necessary.The school supports pupils effectively to develop their understanding about makinghealthy choices. For example, there are useful strategies to promote healthy8

A report on Wyclif Independent Christian SchoolJanuary 2018lifestyles such as agreeing exercise targets for pupils in their homework diaries. Thehealth studies course taught from kindergarten to Year 5 includes relevant topicssuch as ‘wonderful me’, ‘taking care of our world’ road safety, and mental health.However, the provision for personal, social and health education in Years 7 to 10 islimited. In addition, the school provides little guidance for pupils to understand howthey should remain safe online.School leaders gather a range of useful data from pupil outcomes in tests andexternal examinations. However, little use is made of this data to inform teachers’planning and to provide additional support or challenge to pupils.Overall, there are limited opportunities for pupils to undertake a range ofresponsibilities and to influence the work of the school, including offering their viewsabout how and what they learn.Although the school’s arrangements for safeguarding pupils meet requirements, avery few health and safety issues were raised with the school during the inspection.Leadership and management: Adequate and needs improvementLeaders have developed a clear vision for the school that they share successfullywith all members of the school community. This vision is based on providing pupilswith a Christian education that places a strong emphasis on positive attitudestowards learning and ensuring pupils’ wellbeing. The school has an ethos of mutualsupport, which includes effective pastoral support for pupils and staff.Many members of staff have a secure understanding of their individual roles andresponsibilities. However, the school does not have any formal job descriptions tohelp strengthen this knowledge for all staff. For example, although the school hasextended its leadership team with the appointment of four senior teachers, there isnot enough clarity in their responsibilities. Currently the senior teachers’responsibilities are largely operational rather than strategic. Leaders organiseinformative weekly meetings for staff. However they do not use these meetings wellenough to address school development priorities.Governors are experienced and enthusiastic and know the day-to-day workings ofthe school well. They use their individual talents and interests, for example as anarchitect and in finance, to support the school effectively. Governors challenge theschool suitably in areas such as in the standards that pupils achieve at GCSE.However, they do not monitor how well the school is addressing targets in the schooldevelopment plan.Leaders recently undertook a useful whole-school review by asking staff, pupils andparents for their views on the school’s strengths and areas to improve. They usedthis information well to inform their latest self-evaluation report. However, the schooldoes not consider a broad enough range of evidence to inform its improvementplanning. For example, leaders do not monitor the quality of teaching or pupils’ workwell enough to evaluate effectively the impact of teaching on pupils’ learning and thestandards they achieve.In addition, the school does not have robust systems to manage the performance of staff9

A report on Wyclif Independent Christian SchoolJanuary 2018or to improve the quality of their teaching. At a strategic level, leaders do not havesuitable processes for identifying and addressing individual staff development needs.As a result, there are still wide variations in the quality of learning and teaching and inthe quality of written feedback to pupils at the school. Overall, the school has madelimited progress in addressing the recommendations from the previous inspection.The school’s treasurer, together with members of the governing body, manages theschool’s finances prudently. The school has a suitable number of well-qualified andexperienced staff. Leaders mostly deploy them carefully to teach the curriculumappropriately and to provide pupils with a high level of pastoral care. The school’sresources support teaching and learning suitably. Leaders make appropriate use ofthe school’s limited space within their three sites to provide pupils with relevantlearning areas. For example, they have developed the outdoor area in the primaryschool to provide pupils with improved facilities for outdoor play.The school meets almost all of the Independent School Standards (Wales)Regulations 2003.10

A report on Wyclif Independent Christian SchoolJanuary 2018Copies of the reportCopies of this report are available from the school and from the Estyn website( the Independent School Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003, the school mustprovide copies of the report to all parents of the school. Where a pupil is subject toplacement by a local authority, a copy of the report should be sent by the school toeach relevant authority.Estyn evaluates a provider’s effectiveness using a four-point judgement scale:ExcellentStrong, sustained performance and practiceGoodStrong features, although minor aspects may requireimprovementAdequate andneeds improvementStrengths outweigh weaknesses, but important aspectsrequire improvementUnsatisfactory andneeds urgentimprovementImportant weaknesses outweigh strengthsThe report was produced in accordance with section 163 of the Education Act 2002.The main purpose of inspection under this section is to report on compliance with theIndependent Schools Standards Regulations 2003. In schools that provide nonmaintained nursery education, this report also satisfies the requirements of Schedule26 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.Every possible care has been taken to ensure that the information in this document isaccurate at the time of going to press. Any enquiries or comments regarding thisdocument/publication should be addressed to:Publication SectionEstynAnchor Court, Keen RoadCardiffCF24 5JW or by email to [email protected] and other Estyn publications are available on our website: Crown Copyright 2018: This report may be re-used free of charge in any format or mediumprovided that it is re-used accurately and not used in a misleading context. The material must beacknowledged as Crown copyright and the title of the report specified.Publication date: 26/03/201811

A report on Wyclif Independent Christian School January 2018 1 About Wyclif Independent Christian School Wyclif Independent Christian School is an all-age co-educational independent day school operating from three sites in the village of Machen, near Caerphilly. The school was founded in 1982 and is a registered charity with a board of governors.