The Headteacher's Blog
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.
Welcome to Year 3!
The Y3 teachers are Mrs Dutton & Mrs de Brouwer (3D/deB), Mrs Holden (3SH), Mrs Noble & Miss Roberts (3N/R) and Miss Wall (3AW). We have four Teaching Assistants who work within the team: Mrs Dale, Mrs Allen, Mrs Dawes and Mrs Proctor.
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.
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), Mrs Webb and Mrs Ridsdale (5WR) and Miss Cunningham (5EC). . Many children are supported by Mrs Hill, Mr Swain and Ms Kania (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
We are the children in Y6 at Lydgate Junior School. There are 120 of us and our teachers are: Mrs Shaw and Mrs Watkinson (Y6S/W), Mr Bradshaw (until Mrs Phillips returns from maternity leave in Y6CP), Mrs Loosley (Y6NL) and Miss Norris (Y6HN). Also teaching in Year 6 is Miss Lee (Monday - Y6CP, Tuesday - Y6HN and Wednesday - Y6S/W) and Mrs Grimsley (Tuesday -Y6NL).We are also very lucky to be helped by Mrs Ainsworth and Mrs Biggs. 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....
Sadly this week I have had to consider replacing some signs on our school front doors.
Long ago I successfully argued that the red notices informing visitors that ‘Smoking Is Not Allowed On These Premises’ were superfluous as everyone knew the fact and no one ever tried to smoke on the school site. I made the point that we did not have a separate poster for all the other things that were not allowed – the trading of sheep, the grazing of cattle, laundering money, stealing school’s resources, selling cigarettes to children, and so on. I also won the day over removing the sign provided by the City Council that said aggression or verbal abuse shown to staff would not be tolerated.
After a week that contained some overly emotionally-charged exchanges I am going to examine my previous stance and consult on what we should overtly declare and expect. It seems it may be necessary to spell out once more what will not be either accepted or tolerated. I completely understand the emotional capital involved in being a parent, but I also understand the vulnerability of the teacher to abuse.
Many Health Centres and Practices have policies on display, and many are available to read online. More than one or two schools have similar ‘zero tolerance’ policies published online. Sheffield City Council has revised what was a customer care statement into the current ‘Customer Commitments’ statement. Now this is a well-worded and balanced document because it spells out what the customer can expect from Council staff while also saying what Council staff need from customers. Communication in meetings, on the telephone and via electronic media is a two-way thing after all.
I will take a measured approach to introducing a code or statement of expectations. I will start by discussing reasonable expectations for professional school staff and school functions before discussing what school expects from parents and other visitors. It is absolutely fair that all staff understand and agree the reasonable expectations that can be placed on our behaviour before we try setting expectations for others.
This discussion will start with Sheffield City Council’s ‘Customer Commitments’ because I think they can be applied to every sector of the Council’s work. School staff will look at both sets of expectations and I hopefully accept the expectations of them as much as they will back expectations of school visitors.
I want to be sure that we are neither hypocritical nor elevating our needs above any other groups – why should my staff be any more protected than the children we work with, for example? And if we state that all staff should be free from aggressive behaviour directed towards them shouldn’t we ensure that the same is true for all children?
Finally, I turned to the RRS Charter and looked for appropriate Articles that say what rights the children should enjoy. Article 12: Every child has the right to have a say in all matters affecting them, and to have their views taken seriously. Article 19: Governments must do all they can to ensure that children are protected from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and bad treatment. In the original form (adult-speak) these two Articles ensure that a parent can give us their views on their child’s education but also that they do so in a way that does not abuse or mistreat the employee.
If that all sounds rather negative I will just mention that SCC’s Customer Commitments give eleven promises to customers while having only three requirements of customers in return. We will, likewise, promise more things than we expect in return.
I think I have written this Blog post before; but I will take the risk of repeating myself, as maybe the weeks themselves do.
This week has not been anything particularly special and yet has been packed with variety and special, with each year group involved in something extra. These things serve to make every child’s school experience more engaging and more memorable.
On a wet Friday we had a Year 6 class enjoying some time on our wood, with Forest School type activities. At the same time a section of the same year group were undertaking Bike-ability cycle training. That’s been going on all week and will continue for another five school days.
On Wednesday Girls Footballers went to Woodbourne Road soccer complex to play in a tournament. They were a credit, I’m told, and were equally good as winners and as losers.
There was a morning of yoga for Year 4. (Last week they all took a trip into the city centre to watch a private screening of ‘Horrible Histories’.)
Year 3 classes, after having their morning walk exploring Crosspool last week, having been in the kitchen preparing fillings for jacket potatoes.
These activities are on top of the standard breadth of what we do, including more than one hundred instrument lessons, before and after school sport clubs, computing and art lessons, practical science, French and Spanish, the two hour PE Pledge and all our music provision. The visitors who came for a look round prior to applying for Key Stage 2 places could barely believe what we do.
The meeting of our MDSA team (Midday Supervisory Assistants) this week looked at how we are already doing at making lunchtimes a happy time in school. Though I framed each question to draw out positive examples I knew that colleagues would then add thoughts on possible improvements or gaps in what we do or provide, and challenges to the quality of what we do.
It is sensible to start positive – we really do have mostly happy lunchtimes already, and the vast majority of pupils enjoy themselves during the midday break.
What came up?
Staff know individual pupils and their idiosyncratic needs,
Staff avoid drama or a crisis when things go wrong, such as a forgotten packed lunch or a spilt plate,
Children get to choose to sit with friends, rather than being directed to sit in particular places or groups,
Queues are kept to a minimum with our 20 minute start / finish stagger,
Positioning the lunch tables in less rigid patterns helps with flow and informality,
Providing equipment for the playgrounds that children request keeps more of them engaged and active,
Broken, damaged or lost equipment is simply replaced without a fuss or a scene,
Rotas help – each class has an equal allocation at each piece of equipment over the half term,
The dinner register is simply kept, and is not a challenge to what a child is having for lunch,
Children can wait so they can sit with friends, rather than being pushed through the system at speed,
Staffing levels have been maintained throughout the period of ‘austerity’,
Water is refilled and always available,
Tables are wiped, the waste trolley is supervised and cleaned continually, and plate stacks are kept short,
When we challenge how much a child is throwing away we frame it as a question, not a condemnation,
Site security is maintained, with all site visitors, known and unknown, politely welcomed and challenged,
Spilled plates are simply replaced without fuss,
A child too nervous to approach the hatch to ask is simply accompanied and supported,
Indoor lunch games happen every day,
Individual pupils who need a quieter place to sit to eat are helped with this without fuss or barrier,
Discipline, as required, is provided in-line with our ethos, respecting each child and their rights,
Requests to ‘go first’ are approved so pupils can attend lunchtime clubs and activities,
Lower playground competitive games are supervised and supported, with staff intervening to ensure positive play,
Despite all this the dining hall (the hall) is noisy and busy, the seating is hard and the hall can be cold in winter. Children, we think, do not take advantage of the range of salad, fruit and veg available. Most take too little time to look at the food on offer to make choices. We don’t like how much food ends up on the floor. There are occasional disputes out on the playground. A few children sometimes do not play with equipment appropriately (with hoops ending up in the trees, for example). Just now and then we find it hard to find an empty place for a school meal eater. The uptake of activities led by pupils themselves can be surprisingly low. We’d like to replace and renew games for indoor use. Some children would like more access to quieter spaces.
We have a list of actions we are going to take to further improve what we do:
First Aid training (renewal) for all lunchtime staff, at the most appropriate level,
Sports Leaders training for the new Year 5 volunteers, alongside MDSAs,
Lunchtime Manager training (at YPO), titled, ‘Calmer Dining Halls and Positive Lunchtimes’ for two staff,
Implement as far as possible the Catering Service recommendations from two recent visits by their managers.
While we do think we might do better, we do think that the 480 children on site (on a site built for 360)enjoy positive and happy lunchtimes already.
I am pleased to see plans coming out to replace the various poor buildings that Walkley Primary School occupies. I had my final teaching practice in one of them (when it was Walkley Junior School) in 1985, and I found it difficult to work in then. Forty four years later and it is surely due for replacement rather than further tinkering and patching.
The story of the building process is illuminating, and highlights difficulties that would make a similar process here very difficult. Having a large, open, ‘brown-field’ site right next door will obviously help as not clearance work will be needed and there will be no restrictions on use of their current site while building goes on. When we pause for a moment we realise how difficult it would be to mount such a scheme here.
Contrary to popular thought perhaps, research fails to show new buildings by themselves increasing standards in learning or behaviour, and so it has to needed for other reasons – I think basic health and safety, and community well-being, counts.
Good luck to them, and I hope the process runs smoothly.
You can read more on the plans here.
Curriculum change will be in the forefront this year.
Ofsted has brought the quality of curriculum to a higher prominence – discounting schools’ internal assessment data to make room for Inspectors. Their latest Inspection framework makes much of the curriculum indicating the quality of education. Ofsted wants to see an offer that meets children’s needs, matches their interests, has a local context, provides appropriate challenge, builds internally so that each year group follows on rather than dotting about, that there is a clear purpose and that identified key learning does get into long term memory so it can be fluently recalled.
Sheffield LA uses a ‘categorisation’ system of self and peer evaluation to target inverse proportion support. The prompts we use have been rewritten for 2019 to reflect this new focus on curriculum quality.
This school has already undertaken three training activities, for school leaders, school Governors and school’s teachers, on Ofsted’s changes and our curriculum coverage.
Quality must not be confused with breadth. In the past schools have proudly trumpeted their ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum. But what Ofsted want to see is not just that teaching in all the Primary curriculum subjects takes place (though they do have a particular interest in children identifying subject teaching and learning) but that it is sequential, purposeful, thought through and likely to equip children with essential skills for later use.
The responses to our parent survey shows how much they value the breadth and richness of what we teach and offer – music lessons every week, swimming for all, inter-school sports, extra-curricular music, special days, geography and history topics, art and performance and PE. I find it extraordinary that we manage peripatetic music lessons for a quarter of our children every week.
But, just because we ensure weekly teaching and learning in modern foreign language, for example, does not mean we are necessarily doing it well. This year we will have Spanish taught from Year 3 to Year 5 and Mandarin in Year 6. It is going to take some ingenuity to demonstrate how we are building continuity of skills with that shift, perhaps.
One of the early ‘prompts’ in the LA Categorisation form is, ‘Does the curriculum equip pupils with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in life?’ I really do not know how to answer beyond, we think so’. We are possibly the wrong people to ask; our Secondary school colleagues are perhaps better placed to say whether we prepare our children well for what they come to next.
Put simply, Ofsted’s change appears an attempt to stop schools narrowing their curriculum in order to focus exclusively on tested subjects, to boost test outcomes. We know we do not do this, but this is not going to be enough to gain a good outcome at the next Inspection. Teaching disjointed bits and bobs would not be enough, and so subject and Year leaders will be working this year and next to ensure that we build skills sequentially, that planning starts with end points in mind, and that the curriculum we provide is engaging and exciting for all.
Actually we want to provide quality AND width.