Working at St James

St James is a thriving, diverse and proud community. As an inclusive and committed team we are positively and diligently raising standards.  Our aim is for students to achieve excellent outcomes, move onto exciting post-16 activities and most importantly to gain a range of skills and experiences which enable them to be happy and successful in the future.

 We are an 11-16 mixed comprehensive school of 900 students situated in the East of Exeter on a relatively new, purpose-built site which offers excellent facilities for all our departments. We are a school with very high expectations of, and for, our students; only their best is good enough. We provide students with opportunities to shine through excellent teaching and innovative practice, a vibrant extra-curricular provision and a curriculum that challenges and inspires from the start of year 7 and is increasingly personalised as students move up through the school.   

 We are one of the highest performing schools in the area, and regularly over-subscribed, because we believe that students achieve excellent outcomes as a result of five years at a school where they are happy and engaged at all times; where they are challenged from day one and are consistently supported to be the best they can be.  Ofsted judged us to be a strong Good in our recent inspection in January 2018, but clearly acknowledged that we were on a clear trajectory to achieve Outstanding in the near future.

 In 2018 St James’ GCSE results were the strongest to date, building on previous high levels of performance that have been sustained for a significant number of years. This continued improvement has been achieved in a year when nearly all subjects are now following the new much more rigorous and challenging style GCSEs. Headline figures show that 56% of students are leaving with a grade 9-5 in English & Maths and 73% with a grade 9-4 in English & Maths.  81% of students achieved a 4 or above in English, and 67% a 5 or above, whilst in Maths 82% achieved a 4 or above, and 66% a 5 or above.  55% of students achieved at least five ‘strong’ 9-5 passes including English & Maths with 69% achieving at least five grade 9-4 ‘standard’ passes including English & Maths. 

Over 12% of all grades awarded were grades 8 & 9 and 25% of all grades awarded were 9-7.  These top grades were achieved across all subjects with the following grade 9-7%: Biology 80%, Chemistry 75%, Physics 75%, Computing 35%, French 32%, Music 31%, Maths 30%, Media Studies 29%, English Language & Literature 27%, iArt (photography) 25%, Geography 21%, History 20%, Food Nutrition 20% and Religious Studies 20%. 

 The school’s aspirant and academic curriculum means that 36% of students achieved a ‘strong’ pass in the Ebacc qualification and 54% of all students achieved at least a ‘standard’ pass of grade 9-4 in the same suite of subjects.  The high percentage of students entered for the Ebacc (73%) and the strong achievement in French (32% 9-7, 64% 9-5, 84% 9-4) are two of the reasons why St James has been asked to become an MFL Hub by the Department for Education (one of only nine hubs in the country). For more information on this exciting development, please see http://www.stjamesexeter.co.uk/latestnews/3666/.

 Our staff are incredibly committed and passionate about all that they do and their wellbeing is one of our key priorities year on year to ensure that they are looked after and generously rewarded for their contributions.

 We offer our staff:

  • A bespoke CPD programme for each member of staff, utilising in-house and external sources
  • In-house and Trust-wide career development and progression opportunities
  • Regular staff-wellbeing events of a sporting and social nature.
  • A clear, robust, high expectations based behaviour system that all staff and students follow; learning is key and cannot be disrupted.
  • A school that is 100% teaching and learning focused; that philosophy is at the heart of every decision made and action carried out – what happens in the classroom needs to be good enough on a day to day basis for our own children – and drives the school forward. There is no room for egos or for game playing; it is all about the students.
  • Great students who really want to learn and who have clear aspirations for their own futures – you can make a massive difference to them
  • Wellbeing Wednesday – staff actively encouraged to leave school site (if they wish to) at 3pm so that they have the afternoon for their own personal use.
  • A reduced calendar of meetings. All department, CPD and CLT meetings scheduled for Tuesdays, with Parents’ Evenings and school events on a Thursday (periodically), leaving Monday, Wednesday and Friday free for individual time.
  • A number of staff wellbeing initiatives – cake at break, heroes of the week, hospitality before evening events, welcome back wellbeing bags, early finish/late start cards, no morning briefing after a late evening school event, reduced duties during the school day – to name but a few.
  • A visible, aware, reflective and supportive SLT who know their staff and students and who lead by example
  • Time: we employ two cover supervisors which means that a) staff are used for rarely cover as little as possible and (b) that there is ample opportunity for staff to attend external CPD, engage in shared planning opps and run enrichment events for students
  • Flexible timetabling to fit personal circumstances, where appropriate and possible
  • Generous PPA allocations (within the local context) for TLR posts
  • Two days paid absence per 12 month rolling period for ‘child sick’ unplanned absences
  • Paid absence for significant family occasions, e.g. weddings, graduation
  • Same-day centralised detentions which help to support the expectation for impeccable behaviour, leaving teachers free to teach and prepare their lessons
  • Feedback policies that are department based so designed to match your subject, curriculum structure and assessment plan and that respond to developments in feedback strategies – they are not whole school and do not involve marking for markings sake.
  • A whole school CPD programme that involves 30 minute sessions that are 100% focused on sharing good practice and promoting efficient and effective teaching strategies; its purpose is to support staff to continuously develop.
  • A Quality Assurance Review process that is department and individual driven – we believe that trusting our staff with autonomy helps to develop a strong staff culture and sense of accountability
  • Only three data drops a year (with an additional for just year 11), ensuring it is manageable, yet valuable, with marksheets being time-efficiently created to ease completion.
  • Collaborative department planning with centralised, shared units of work and resources
  • A professional progression model to enable great teachers to remain in the classroom via our Lead Practitioner and Lead Teacher – Dept/Whole School routes, in addition to the SLE route within the TSA.
  • State of the art facilities in a PFI school, centrally located surrounded by the beautiful Devon countryside.

 The Governing Body:

The Local Governing Body operates with full delegated authority from the Ted Wragg Multi Academy Trust and is directly accountable to the Trust.   The governors understand well their statutory duties to hold leaders to account as well as setting the strategic direction of the academy and ensuring the academy has a sound financial footing.  Their commitment is absolute, believing in social justice they bring a rich background of experience beyond education. They are led by a chair determined for the academy to be a first choice for parents and where every child is given the opportunity to fulfil their potential.