CHRISTIAN values run through every aspect of Oxford's St John Fisher Catholic Primary School.

Its motto, Let all you do be done in love, underpins its ethos, and staff pride themselves on the caring, friendly atmosphere.

Yet as a Catholic school, St John Fisher is unusual in that only half its pupils come from the faith, although the numbers of Catholic children are growing.

Most pupils come from the surrounding area, mainly Boundary Brook, Greater Leys and Blackbird Leys.

But headteacher Jude Bennett said non-Catholic families still valued the way religion ran through school life.

She said: “We try to create an inclusive atmosphere, that is reflective, thoughtful, and spiritual.

“Parents like the fact it is a small school which is very caring and very gentle.

“There is a recognition that in Catholic schools, the behaviour is good and the nature of the relationships the adults have with the children is based on mutual respect.”

Government inspectors agreed when the school had its last full inspection in 2007.

Ofsted found pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development to be “outstanding.”

They said: “Pupils care for each other immensely and willingly including other pupils in their games at playtime. They take very good care of their surroundings.

“They have a very strong sense of moral responsibility.”

Prayer runs through the school life, and singing forms a big part of the curriculum.

Mass is regularly celebrated in school, with Father Nazarius Mgungwe from Sacred Heart Church and chairman of governors Father John Hancock from Blessed Dominic Barberi visiting regularly.

While Mrs Bennett oversees the day-to-day running of St John Fisher, the executive head, responsible for overall management, is John Hussey, head at Oxford’s Catholic secondary school, St Gregory The Great.

The two schools already share training opportunities, and Mrs Bennett said she hoped the relationship would strengthen further over the coming years.

St Gregory’s staff have already visited lessons to look at developing its own Key Stage Two curriculum for youngsters still at that stage when joining the secondary school, and the schools share joint inset days.

The school also works hard to get parents involved. Each Friday at 9am, mums and dads are invited to a ‘sharing assembly’ where children present work completed throughout the week, and celebrate achievements both in and out of school. With staff now working to set up a Friends group to help fundraising efforts.

A newly relaunched website gives each class group their own page, through which parents can find out what their children have been studying.

  • The school does not currently have a PTA group, but work has started on trying to form a Friends of St John Fisher group to carry out fundraising.

The initiative has grown out of work to strengthen the relationships between the school and pupils' parents.

This already sees dozens of parents visit for a ‘sharing assembly’ each week, and others going to one-off events throughout the school year.

But head of school Jude Bennett said setting up an organised friends group would also allow fundraising to support enrichment projects in the school, including trips and activities, which could otherwise be threatened as schools face tighter budgets.

The school’s Catholic status means that the trustees of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Birmingham own the buildings and provide the school, but it is maintained within the state system by Oxfordshire County Council.

The diocese is also represented on the governing body, which is chaired by Father John Hancock.

Teacher governor Jackie Lawrence said: “Parents tell us that they like the approachability of the staff and the supportive community feel.

“As a group of governors, we have got a large sense of the school’s caring Catholic ethos, and want to continue to build on that. It is the heart of the school.

“Above all, we want to continue to make the school a thriving environment.”