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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 our regular volunteers, 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 Mr Jones.We are also very lucky to be helped by Mrs Ainsworth, Mrs Cooper, Mr Jenkinson, Mrs Biggs and Mrs Dawes. 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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03 Jul 2019

Can it be explained away?

I think I can predict the common responses to our recently received report from the Year 6 height and weights checks. I think this because the results are very similar to last year and I heard attempts then to explain it away. From those two figures a report is produced by individual school, for Sheffield as a whole, the region and nationally that says what proportion of the Reception year and Year 6 population is in which weight category, from underweight to obese.

School Food Standards were introduced quite some time ago. Sports and PE Premium funding is intended to increase physical activity at school for all pupils. This year schools have received funding named 'Healthy Pupils Capital', coming from the 'Sugar Tax' on fizzy drinks and the like.

The measuring programme is necessary to measure the impact of the many interventions in place, and to show the scale of the remaining issue.

Some will say it is that the threshold is too low.

Some will say it is just 'puppy fat'.

Some will say that their child is as active as they can be, so what else could they do?

Some will say it is simply not a problem.

Some will say it is the parents' right to choose their child's diet and nothing to do with the state (the 'nanny state' answer).

Some will assume it is not their child.

Some will blame fast food and changing society.

Some will say that we are doing a massive amount already and there is nothing else we could do.

Whatever the response, the data for this current report says that 26.7% of our Year 6 children were calculated as being overweight or obese, 14.3% as obese. 2% as being underweight. That would be 8 pupils in each class, over 30 in a year group, and maybe 125 in the whole school. Even accounting for a margin of error that is a number that is unacceptably large.

Our interventions over the last four years have not reduced that proportion in our school. 

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22 Jun 2019

What do they teach them in schools these days!

It appears that Ofsted Inspectors, in testing out the new Inspection Framework, like to ask children about their learning in a very Secondary School subject structure: ’Can you tell me what you have learnt in history?’, or ‘Do you think you have learnt a lot in geography this year?’

Painfully for some schools the frequent response is a blank look, as children don’t seem to recognise that they have done any learning in subjects they might not recognise if they have ‘Topic’ instead.

This week, when our soon-to-be Year 3s visited for assembly and break, I posed the question, ‘What do we learn at school?’ on large whiteboard at the front of the Hall.

I was aiming to collect responses rich in ‘soft skills’, such as; how to be friends, to be kind, to try hard, that reading is fun, how to be healthy, that sort of thing.

In fact the first six answers were all subject specific – literacy, maths, DT, science…

It wasn’t until I wrote a sentence starter as a prompt that the children, from both Year 2 at our Infant feeder school, and our own Year 3, gave answers that went, ‘How to …’

I only had time to collect a few, but the children got the idea – school is about much more than just tables facts and a grammar rule.

I left the board and pens in the Hall for lunchtime and came back to find it full – on both sides.

(I did have to rub out some disappointing / rude contributions – all in the same handwriting and pen colour, so I am not claiming our pupils are all just perfect, but they were brilliant in joining in and contributing.)

Photos attached.

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09 Jun 2019

The Right2Food Charter and how it isn’t that simple

I shall apologise right now for this blog – it probably will sound a little ranty.

This week all schools got a letter from Nadhim Zahawi MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families. He wanted to draw our attention to the food situation of disadvantaged children, and to highlight three things in particular. These points were:

                A positive lunchtime experience

                Avoiding stigma, and

                Access to free drinking water.

He called for examples of outstanding practice in these areas.

I felt compelled to write, not because I think our provision is ‘outstanding’ but because I think the vast majority of schools already do their utmost to address these points and because of the limiting factors that make a very uneven playing field.

Addressing those points in reverse order, we can demonstrate how they are simply not relevant to our school because we have eliminated the problems.

Water, in jugs, is provided on every table at lunchtime. The four cloakrooms in the main building have fresh water fountains (installed this year to replace old facilities). Children are encouraged to bring a water bottle that they can refill at school. We provide cups (reusable) that they can otherwise use. Sorted.

Even before the introduction of an on-line payment system there was no distinction made between paid for and free school meals, at either end. The choices on offer are entirely the same. No reference is made, or even available, to FSM entitlement. No child is aware of the distinction, the lunchtime supervisors are not aware and neither is the kitchen. All the children who take a school meal are free to choice from the full selection on offer. When teachers take the dinner register, to record that day’s choices, there is absolutely no information displayed o available to staff or children about who does or does not pay for their meals. The children do not sit separately, queue separately, or get served separately. I say this because Mr Zahawi’s letter suggests that in some schools things are not so.

Success in providing a ‘positive lunchtime experience’ is not so straight forward. The relevant research says that, ‘Children place a high value on affordable healthy choices, avoiding queues and having enough time and space to eat with their peers’. If we pick that apart we could easily say that all three elements are met.

Our school meals cost £2.00, as simple as that. It matters not one bit what choices or quantities children take, whether they use the salad bar or not, or take a dessert, or have vegetables, or street food on a Wednesday, or what filling they put in a jacket potato, the daily cost is £2.00. The meals for a child who qualifies for FSM cost £2.00 as well.

Every meal OFFERED meets the national School Food Standards. The menus have been developed by a professional team of nutritionists, who do take children’s input and preferences as part of the design process but the restrictions of legislation can over-rule these desires. Then, of course, it very much depends on what children actually take and then subsequently eat. I have written many times about this: many children do not take a vegetable or salad choice, and many restrict their choice of dessert to something similar each day. The amount we later pick off the floor or that goes into waste bins is frustrating, baffling and troubling. It does demonstrate the gulf between offer and uptake. The answer to this is far from simple: when I asked parents whether they would support school in placing restrictions on what could be sent in as snacks the overwhelming response was to reject the idea of me being the arbiter of what was ‘healthy’. I cannot imagine a good level of support if I wanted to enforce taking and eating the full offer of fruit and veg with each meal. Money, want a surprise, would help, but it would need to be substantial.  A purpose-built and extra dining room would benefit the lunchtime experience, but our annual capital funding of less than £10,000 is never going to provide that. The Government’s grant of £24 million is only actually supporting 1,700 breakfast clubs – I say ‘only’ because there are more than 32,000 Primary Schools in the UK – and they are targeted at disadvantaged areas. The chance of our pupils benefitting is close to zero.

We avoid queues as far as absolutely possible by having an unusual staggered lunch break. The school was built for 360 pupils and having 485 means we would have 125 children queueing for a long time if we just kept the one start / end time. Effectively we save 240 children a day from queueing for 20 minutes each – a staggering 15,200 hours a year saved!  We do not force ‘second sitting’ classes to queue – but they do anyway! We have tried to improve this further when we investigated a portable servery arrangement to go in the hall, but the physical layout and logistics simply make it impossible. We are concerned a little by the shortness of time children spend at the servery hatch; it is here that staff might be able to introduce something new, fresh, healthy or extra. A second servery might help that. We support the return of trays and plates through staffing to reduce or remove queues at the back end of things. Daily observation tells us that all children are out of the hall and outside playing for at least 15 minutes each day, and that the last ones out are last because they choose to stay and chat in the hall.

Governors, in discussion with our school meal provider, recently asked if we could increase the cost of meals if it led to an improvement in quality of ingredients or the quality of meal provision by increasing staffing. We were told they is no mechanism for this.

What made me reply to Mr Zahawi’s letter was not a self-evaluation as ‘outstanding’ but the idea that a blanket letter is appropriate or that the answer (to a not necessarily significant issue) is within the school’s control. I suspect that many of the issues are Secondary School based, so why write to Primary Schools at all? And with our one-hall-does-all what exactly can we do to improve the place children eat?

A copy of the letter from Mr Zahawi is available from this link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-responsibilities-around-school-food-a-letter-to-schools

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24 May 2019

Busy, busy, busy!

Now that is what anyone would call a busy week!

The list and range is extensive, and if I try to name everything that school put on this week I would be sure to miss something important, but we had:

A concert with over 170 pupils from across school taking part,

A play from the 120 Year 3 children attended by a hall overflowing with audience members,

A swimming gala at Ponds Forge, with our fabulous inclusive team winning bronze medals in the first division,

An exploratory planning session with a social enterprise entrepreneur about establishing a new STEM offer,

An afternoon of visiting children from other schools enjoying sport on our carpeted lower playground, supported by our own Sports Leaders,

Four days of Forest Schools outdoor cooking experiences for every Year 6 pupil,

A Class assembly from a Year 4 class, to showcase their learning to parents,

A day of cricket coaching for Year 5,

Samba Sport for Year 6,

A visit to a local Church as part of RE learning for four classes,

Assemblies led by a local Church leader,

A campaigning demonstration and march, raising concerns about plastic pollution,

An appearance on Look North, BBC Radio Sheffield and in the Sheffield Star,

And lessons and learning across the curriculum, of course.

This could be why a large portion of responses in the parent opinion survey, run by Governors, shows a positive reception for our rich and broad and active curriculum.

Phew!

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17 May 2019

Star of the Week

This week, as every parent of a Year 6 child will know, was end of key stage 2 test week.

(While it is commonly known as ‘SATs Week’ they have never been formally called this – they are, properly, End of Key Stage Assessments, or EoKSA.)

I’d like to praise my pick as Star of the Week.

I know that children can get a bit fearful, and worry a bit about questions they got wrong or how well they have done, but generally they handle the process really well. The children have been prepared proportionately and had a very healthy diet of everything but tests in the months and weeks leading up to this point.

Every child who has given their best deserves credit, and I know they will want to take pride in their individual outcomes when they come back to us in July.

But here’s the amazing story. Out of 122 pupils in Year 6 just one was absent on Monday morning when they were due to start the tests with grammar, punctuation and spelling. (That’s attendance above 99%, showing that any ‘anxiety’ was overcome by resilience and determination and good preparation.) The same pupil was also off on Tuesday and so had missed the whole set of English papers as Reading was on Tuesday morning.

That could have been it, except when she came back to school on Wednesday she not only wanted to do that day’s maths tests (Arithmetic and Reasoning paper 1) but also catch up on the missed English tests.

I applied for her to sit the tests later in the week and so she did them all, finishing this morning (Friday) a single day after everyone else in the year group. (In fact pupils can do the tests up to five school days late under certain circumstances and with permission from the appropriate body.)

She smiled all the way through and I expect she will have done very well indeed.  She finished the last test with 20 minutes spare!

I really, really hope she gets results that make her very proud, because she did show an fabulous attitude in sitting tests that she did not have to and that we did not require her to take.

Well done all – all 700,000 Year 6 pupils across the country who took the tests this week. I hope you all take pride in your many achievements.

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