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The Headteacher's Blog

Introduction

Welcome to Lydgate Junior School.

We aim to ensure that all children receive a high quality, enjoyable and exciting education.

We feel that our school is a true reflection of the community we serve. Lydgate children are well motivated and come from a range of social and cultural backgrounds. Within the school community we appreciate the richness of experience that the children bring to school. This enhances the learning experiences of everyone and it also gives all pupils the opportunity to develop respect and tolerance for each other by working and playing together. We want your child's time at Lydgate to be memorable for the right reasons - that is, a happy, fulfilling and successful period of his/her childhood.

Yours sincerely,
Stuart Jones

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Introduction

Welcome to Year 3!

The Y3 Team includes Mrs Dutton & Mrs de Brouwer (3D/deB), Miss Cunningham (3EC), Mrs Webb & Mrs Watkinson (3W/W) and Miss Roberts & Mrs Noble (3AR). We have three Teaching Assistants who work with small groups and help across the four classes: Mrs Dale, Ms Kania and Mr Swain. Mrs Proctor, one of the School Governors, also helps out in all four classes.

We will use this blog to keep you up-to-date with all the exciting things that we do in Year 3, share some of the things that the children learn and show you some of their fantastic work. We hope you enjoy reading it!

The Y3 team.

 

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Introduction

Welcome to the Y4 blog. We know that the question that children are mostly asked as they leave school is 'What did you do today?' The response is often 'nothing'! Well, here is where you can find what 'nothing' looks like. In our weekly blogs we will share with you what your children have been getting up to and all of the wonderful work that they have been doing. The Y4 team consists of the following teachers: Mrs Shaw and Mrs Drury in Y4S/D, Mrs Smith and Mrs Smith (this is not a typo!) in Y4S/S, Miss Norris in Y4HN and Miss Wall in Y4AW. The children are supported by our teaching assistants too, including Mrs Biggs, Mr Jenkinson and Mrs Tandy. We also have help from Miss Lee, Mrs Cooper, Mrs Flynn and Mrs Wolff. Some of the children are lucky enough to spend time in The Hub too with Mrs Tandy. What a team!

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Introduction

Welcome to the Year 5 Blog page.

The Year 5 teaching team includes our class teachers, Mrs Parker (5AP), Mrs Rougvie and Mrs Jones (5RJ), Miss Reasbeck and Mrs Ridsdale (5RR) and Mrs Holden (5SH). . Many children are supported by Mrs Hill and Mrs Allen (the Year 5Teaching Assistants) who work with children across the 4 classes. Our Year 5 teaching team aims to create a stimulating learning environment that is safe, happy, exciting and challenging, where each pupil is encouraged to achieve their full potential.

As a parent or carer, you play a massively important role in your child's development and we'd love to work closely with you. Please feel free to make an appointment to see us if you want to discuss your child's attitude to learning, their progress, attainment or anything else that might be on your mind. We'd also love to hear from you if you have any skills that we could use to make our Year 5 curriculum even more exciting. Are you an avid reader, a talented sportsman, a budding artist, a mad scientist or a natural mathematician? Would you be willing to listen to children read on a regular basis? If so, please contact your child’s class teacher. Similarly, if you have a good idea, a resource, a 'contact' or any other way of supporting our learning in year 5, please let us know.

We are working very hard to ensure your child has a successful year 5, please help us with this by ensuring your child completes and returns any homework they are given each week. If there are any issues regarding homework or your child finds a particular piece of homework challenging, then please do not hesitate to come and speak to us. In order to help improve your child’s reading skills, increase their vocabulary and develop their comprehension skills, we also ask that you listen to your child read and ask them questions to ensure they have understood what they have read.

We look forward to keeping you up to date on the exciting things that we do in year 5 through our year group blog.


The Year 5 Team

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Introduction

We are the children in Y6 at Lydgate Junior School. There are 120 of us and our teachers are: Mrs Purdom, Mrs Phillips, Mrs Loosley and Mrs Wymer. Our Monday and Thursday morning teachers are Mrs Farrell, Miss Lee and Mrs Grimsley.We are also very lucky to be helped by Mrs Ainsworth, Mrs Cooper, Mr Jenkinson and Mrs Hornsey. We use this space to share all of the great things that are happening in our classrooms. Join us each week on our learning journey....

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19 Jan 2018

“Close, Sir? We never close.”

Three reasons why we open in snow, ice and cold weather, every year

Just to be clear; this is not me writing something to say we are ‘better’ or more efficient in any way than any school that had a delayed opening or was closed for a day during the adverse weather conditions recently. I do not know their particular, local contexts – there are likely to be serious concerns about safe access to the school site or another premises issue caused by the weather, or staffing issues caused by the same but in a different way.

One: Tradition

We are open. Simple. No need for a daily text or a website flashing icon. We open, we are open, we will be open. We have been open every winter’s day for at least the last 13 years. It is part of what we are and what we do. It is part of what you can expect. Staff know that we will be open and so they make sure they get here to teach and support. Parents know we will be open so they make the effort to get their children here.

We are not gung-ho or reckless – the site is carefully and fully checked before the gates and doors are unlocked and if the site was not safe, or it was not safe to get on site, we would not open. However, with the Caretaker living on-site we do have an advantage, especially as he, and the whole premises team, are so willing to make the extra efforts needed at this time.

Two: Dedication and location

The school car park is nearly empty on these snowy days because so many of my colleagues walk in from home. We are fortunate, perhaps, that a massive majority of staff live within walking distance of school and they are willing and able to don the walking gear and make their way in on foot.

Many live within the school catchment area. They might have to leave the heavy bags of marking at home when they walk to work but it gets them here safely and on time.

But others walk from further afield: Hillsborough, Walkley, Greystones, Bents Green.

We know how important it is to parents that they can rely on us being open for the full days we normally do. Every one of the usual before and after school clubs ran as normal this week, almost to the bafflement of some parents, but we make these offers seeking the same dedication and commitment from children as we too offer. We are just modelling good behaviours. If we open then parents can go to work as usual and no-one loses a day’s pay or a day’s effectiveness.

As it is we only open to the children on 190 days a year – we can’t afford to lose one to snow. At the moment we are chasing ‘late’ arrivers as those few lost minutes each day add up. I don’t like the hypocrisy, that moaning about one and allowing the other too easily, we would show unless a closure was essential and unavoidable.

Three: Resilience

Resilience is an attribute or attitude that schools should be promoting. Some schools actively and overtly teach it. We think that opening when it snows (or rains, or is hot, or is windy, or leaves are falling, …) shows the resilience of the organisation and the adults in school. It promotes the same in the children and subtly teaches the same resilience to the children. A bit of snow will not stop us – so it’s snowing? And?

Crosspool, Crookes, Fulwood, Lodge Moor, Nether Green and so on are on a hill. The weather is different up there from how it is in the city centre. It is colder, windier, wetter, and in winter it snows more and freezes more often. Local residents (the parents of our pupils) know this when they move here, and it is part of the attraction of the Outdoor City. I believe the local community is ready for the weather conditions we get most years, and has all the personal kit needed to manage in it successfully.

Nick Clegg MP once wrote in the Lib Dem local newsletter, Focus, that folks in these areas ‘live at altitude’. That might be over-stating it rather, but you can buy slip-on crampons in the local hardware store, kids arrive in school in salopettes, walking boots are almost de rigueur.

 

A friend of mine, on his first visit to the U.S. of A., asked a store assistant in one of those gigantic general stores what time they closed. “Close, Sir? We never close.”

‘Never’ might be going too far (we once had to close during an outbreak of a serious contagious illness to allow for vaccination), but it will be very rare indeed.

Please assume we are open unless otherwise officially informed.

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13 Jan 2018

How can it be possible that test scores keep going up?

Is it due to better and better teaching, harder and harder working pupils, greater and greater support from parents, education reforms, curriculum change, the positive impact of successive Secretaries of State for Education, evolution, the internet, an inevitable and unstoppable law of social change, or something else entirely?

GCSE results hit an all-time high: tests are getting easier?

(https://www.theguardian.com/education/2010/aug/24/gcse-results-2010-coursework )

A* at A Level reaches a new record high: curriculum is narrower?

(https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/a-level-results-2017-top-a-grades-reach-record-high-drop-reformed )

Three quarters of graduates get a 2:1 or first class honours degree: Universities are inflating grades?

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2018/01/11/three-quarters-graduates-get-21-firsts-regulator-issues-warning/ )

8% increase nationally in ‘new’ Key Stage 2 tests in their second year: teaching to the test and losing a ‘rich curriculum’?

(http://www.forschoolseducation.co.uk/key-stage-2-sats-national-averages/ )

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck was a French naturalist who developed a theory that learned behaviour of an animal, which is supposed to result from physical and chemical changes in the nervous system, can be inherited by its offspring. Lamarck was writing 70 years or so before Darwin.

According to the hypothesis of formative causation, there is no difference between innate and learned behaviour. This hypothesis therefore admits a possible transmission of learned behaviour from one animal to another, and leads to testable predictions of the Lamarckian theory.

'Cultural inheritance', whereby the offspring learn patterns of behaviour from their parents or other adults, is different – it requires the adult and offspring to be together. Lamarckian theory and ‘formative causation’ do not.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? If I learn a new skill, such as playing an instrument, speaking a new language or running a maze, my children will acquire the same skills quicker than I did?

Except this has been demonstrated in the lab (using rats learning to run mazes using negative stimuli). Successive generations of rats learn novel mazes quicker and quicker, even though they were not raised by their parents - the knowledge could not be passed by demonstration or modelling.

However, Lamarck’s theory fails to explain the continued presence of simple organisms, while Darwin’s expects them to always exist, and Lamarck’s ideas fell out of favour.

Students at all ages ARE scoring higher than ever before, so something is causing this progress. It may be hasty of any group to claim all the credit, though many would like to.
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03 Jan 2018

Time to 'Ban the Snacks'?

Is a simple outright ban on ALL playtime snacking the only answer to unsuitable, sugar-loaded, snacking?

I wrote about my concerns around snacking at school back in June and July 2017, (see Blog posts: http://www.lydgatejunior.co.uk/the-headteachers-blog/a-weighty-issue  and http://www.lydgatejunior.co.uk/the-headteachers-blog/not-a-healthy-snack  ) and about food waste in November 2017 (http://www.lydgatejunior.co.uk/the-headteachers-blog/love-food-hate-waste ).

This week we have seen announcements from Public Health England encouraging parents to limit children’s snacks to 100 calories and to no more than two a day. (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/phe-launches-change4life-campaign-around-childrens-snacking )

One third of Primary School aged children are over-weight or obese. 28% of pupils in our school are over-weight or obese, from Year 6 height and weight measurements by Health professionals. Schools should safeguard their pupils' health and well-being, and so this IS an issue for schools to take up. We could clearly do more than we already have in place, even though this includes:

  • All school meals meet the national school food nutrition standards,
  • We teach cookery and baking,
  • We host a cooking club,
  • We provide drinking water for free,
  • We have physical activities before and after school almost every day,
  • We have signed up to the PE Pledge to offer two hours per week PE,
  • We take longer swimming lessons than required,
  • We offer MAST access through school drop-ins,
  • We target some of our physical activities to less-engaged pupils,
  • We have introduced the Daily Mile sustainably,
  • Our PE Premium report shows how we are improving ‘outcomes’ through tr=argeted spending,
  • We have removed our Snack Shop,
  • We do not use sweets as rewards,
  • School meals provide for many dietary needs and are fully allergen-compliant,
  • School meals offer a salad bar every day, additionally and free.

I will not institute a rule that limits all snacks to a maximum of 100 calories – simply for the practical reasons of unenforceability.

We will not be searching lunch boxes, or turning out coat pockets, and confiscating snacks with ‘too much sugar’.

But with what appears to be direct links between snacking, unnecessary calories, food waste and obesity, we surely should be doing something effective.

An absolute ban would be the simplest thing to invoke, if it got full support and backing from parents and pupils. I wouldn’t want to see snacks being snuck in and sneakily snaffled in secretive scenes; that promotes rule-breaking and sets us on the path of conflict.

Would you, then, support a total ban on playtime snacks?

As I like to do, I have set up the simplest SurveyMonkey questionnaire (other web-based survey engines do exist) to collect opinion. Should take about 60 seconds from clicking this link:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/K53WMQJ

 

... (Read More)
01 Jan 2018

A Mathematical puzzle, the funding of Universal Infant Free School Meals, and How Funding Gaps Come About

Junior Schools do not provide the Universal Infant Free School Meal; obviously.

Primary Schools offer the UIFSM to just 3/7 of their pupils, the ones in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2.

Infant Schools obviously offer the UIFSM to all their pupils.

The funding stream is interesting.

Junior Schools get no funding for or from it.

Primary Schools get funding for and from it for 3/7 of their pupils, potentially.

Infant Schools get funding for and from UIFSM for all their pupils, potentially.

Even though it is free to all Infant pupils there is not a 100% take-up, and the Department for Education, in designing the annual funding stream, recognised this. But the methodology chosen has a few interesting quirks and potentials for securing funding that Junior Schools cannot access.

This is how it works:

Instead of a daily report on UIFSM uptake, submitted electronically to a central point, meal uptake on two Census days each year produces an ‘average’ and this is used as the root number.

Multiply that number of pupils by £2.30 for each of the 190 days of the school year and you derive that school’s UIFSM income for the year.

The cost, in Sheffield, with our preferred provider, is actually £2.27 per day.

If the number of meals taken is less than that taken on Census day then the school keeps the difference. Any higher and school pays, I think.

I set myself a bit of a logic number problem and have tried to calculate the potential for schools to improve their income, based on data released on city-wide whole-school meal uptake, free school meal eligibility, Key Stage 2 meal uptake, and our own individual school data for the same factors.

It all makes a potential, for an Infant school of our size, to make £26,900 a year from the way UIFSM is funded IF they promote the meal on census day and get a full take-up.

And if our 480-pupil school were a through-Primary, then 206 would be Infants, and we could be £11,523 up each year, just for running a very successful couple of day’s school meals promotion.

Neat.

Our kitchen asks me each year if I’d like them to run a special promotion on Census day. While I’m all in favour of every child taking the balanced, up-to-school-meal-standard-standard meal, a successful promotion at a Junior School does absolutely nothing to aid income.

Strange.

Junior Schools also missed out on one-off capital investment to improve and prepare facilities ahead of the implementation of UIFSM; obviously.

This all goes some way to explaining differences between our provision and that our children may have enjoyed at their previous schools.
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23 Dec 2017

Shaping Relationships Education

The Secretary of State for Education has announced the intention to make Relationships Education and, possibly, Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education mandatory in all Primary schools.

The DfE has launched a consultation to ask for your views on how the content of the subjects and how the current guidance on sex education should be updated. Your comments will, says the DfE, be used to help the department ‘further refine their thinking and proposals’.

The Department for Education is first considering how to update the existing guidance which, was last updated in 2000. The new guidance will ‘support schools in delivering the new subjects of Relationships Education at primary (and Relationships and Sex Education at secondary), as well as, potentially, Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE)’.

Currently Sex education (also known as Sex and Relationship Education) is only compulsory in maintained secondary schools. Primary schools have to have a policy on the teaching of sex and relationships, but this policy may be to NOT teach it. Many do choose to teach it, but the picture is not consistent across the country. Academies and free schools are encouraged to teach it as part of a broad and balanced curriculum.

Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) is a non-compulsory subject in state-funded schools and can encompass many areas of study. All schools are encouraged to teach PSHE and this expectation is outlined in the introduction to the national curriculum.

The decision to make Relationships Education compulsory was taken because children need support to navigate growing up in an increasingly complex and digital world. Whilst the internet is a mostly positive development in our lives, it does present significant challenges. With the visibility of social media, the prevalence of cyber-bullying and the risk that children learn about relationships from untrustworthy sources – the evidence was compelling that young people need support to make the right decisions and keep themselves safe and happy.

The consultation simply asks for your top three subject areas to be covered in each of Relations Education and PSHE.

You have until 12 February 2018 to give your views.

https://consult.education.gov.uk/life-skills/pshe-rse-call-for-evidence/

 

... (Read More)
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