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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 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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16 Nov 2018

The Little Things

Oftentimes it’s the little things that give truth to the story, that provide all the back-up evidence you need to reach a conclusion on a service, a school or a person.

We took the infrequent but regular step of bringing the whole school together twice this week, both in the Hall and on the playground. It takes an age, and is a squash, so we don’t do this often, but we had two good reasons to do so.

On Monday we paid our collective tribute in remembrance of those who served and paid a heavy price for peace and freedom in the world. The whole school listened wonderfully as I showed some examples of remembrance from around the world that were both beautiful and moving. Then we moved out onto the playground at 11 o’clock. Mrs Philips, our brass teacher, played The Last Post and the children fell silent in total respect.

As that last, drawn, note slipped away the children, quite spontaneously, did something that was unexpected and in its way also respectful – they applauded her playing. And then they stood silently for a minute: another moment to make us proud of our school community.

It is difficult to outdo Wednesday's highlight, Year 6 enthralled by a performance of Macbeth, but Monday and Friday possibly have done.

And today, Friday, was the annual celebration, bun-fest, and organised daftness that is Children In Need. ‘James Pond’ was the official fastest duck, and all who had backed him to win then took part in events to find our £20 winner. Children raised more cash by Sponsored Silences, walking three-legged all day, paying to wear RRS colours, buying badges and wristbands, and running the cake stall. We watched some heart-breaking stories and laughed at Pudsey’s techno dancing. Back out on the playground we formed our annual rainbow-coloured heart and later swapped a promise – to respect other’s rights, and to ask that they respect ours.

I believe school has raised at least £1,500 to pass on to the fabulous cause.

We heard from one of our own Y5 pupils who is on a personal ‘Kindness Crusade’, and is, by himself, helping ‘children in need’ right here at our own school. That makes us all very proud.

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11 Nov 2018

Article 12 of the UN Declaration on The Rights of The Child – the right to be heard

Elections are won by those that turn up. Issues heard are only those that are raised. The best learning is active and engaging. Those who do not vote do not get to complain about the outcome. This last week, across school, included electioneering, manifesto production, hustings, advertising and polling in our School Council elections. We boosted it a little this year by having one week across school, culminating in children using real polling booths and ballot boxes (borrowed from Election Services in the City Council).

I was a sceptic about School Councils for a long time, not because of process or passion but due to the lack of power invested in them. I had worked in many contexts were all but the important things could be delegated, but once the topic needed a proper budget or would impact on the adults in the system then senior management claimed the discussion and decision making. School Councils became a Junior Parliament, playing at debate and decision, delegated an insignificant budget of a couple of hundred pounds, and staffed by dedicated but non-empowered colleagues.

It is inevitably true that children in school cannot possibly know the complex context and background to how school is structured and directed. There are too many extraordinary and subtle pressures at work for them to grasp or imagine. (Typically, younger children struggle to infer as they cannot imagine motives or outcomes beyond their concrete experiences.) This does not mean that they, the consumer, do not have valid opinions on what is presented for and to them daily. Maybe school should think more their way – and try to cut through the bindings of red tape, inertia and vested interest to produce rapid, simple, positive change.

All the candidates promoted their personal qualities to appeal to the voters. About half the candidates (self-nominated) had policy stances that they put on their literature. It is at this point that we have to shape School Council so that those interests and concerns (their manifesto pledges) are discussed and given serious consideration. With teachers running the meetings it would be simplicity itself for the adults to select the agenda for the whole year – back to hackneyed favourites such as healthy snacks and food waste, perhaps.

Those manifestos promised exploring longer playtimes, revised or removed playtime rotas, school meal choices, toilets and toilet access, respecting all members of school, lunchtime clubs, learning outdoors and more. These have to be the agendas for the first meetings (and possibly the next set, too). If we (school leaders) are really to listen actively we have to make sure we do not dismiss questions without serious consideration and balancing possible gains against real costs. And we have to attend – nothing says we think an activity is important as much as actually attending.

Well done each victorious candidate (to be announced next week) and equally well done to each defeated candidate. Thank you for taking part in the process and offering your involvement.

Children have that right to be heard. We have a duty to listen. We have to give them the chance to talk on the issues that matter to them and to the people with power. A micro-budget is a little condescending, I think, but having our ear is not if we actually listen and consider..

(The Y6 blog has a little more on how they ran the process.)

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01 Nov 2018

Patronising, insulting, condescending – tautological maybe, but how it makes me feel. The Chancellor’s ‘little extras’

In Monday’s Budget statement to the House of Commons, Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced a one-off £400 million grant to schools for ‘little extras’. Ignoring all the difficulties over defining ‘pupils’, (Nursery-aged? Pre-school? Sixth Form colleges? Special Schools? Alternative placements not called ‘schools’?) it is about £40 per pupil, assuming it is shared out equally per pupil. So Lydgate Junior School may stand to receive a bonus of £19,000 in the next financial year. Why such a churlish, ungrateful, response from Headteachers, then?

A             I don’t know what ‘little extras’ are – it has been a long, long time since we bought anything simply because it would be nice.

B             We are forecasting a budget deficit by the next financial year unless we make further cut-backs. And we are expected to spend this windfall on ‘little extras’ when I may have to cut still further into staffing to balance the books?

C             The unbelievably crass, 1950’s, pin-money language of it – the man-of-the-house handing down the good wife something extra to buy herself a treat so she looks good / feels good on their Friday night out.

D             Because it is, in reality, so little compared to what we have set aside, undone, these last five years. The repairs delayed, the improvements not even seriously planned, the corners cut, the staffing reduced, the services trimmed, the charges levied for things done for free previously and the impossible cost of the massive jobs needed still cannot be addressed with this one-off grant.

E              Priorities and professionalism and care for pupils will mean we spend it on essentials, not ‘extras’, anyway. High level (low incidence) SEN/D support is massively expensive but essential for individual pupils and their peers (and the class teacher). In our case we are about to admit a new child with needs that will cost us an additional £18,000 a year. It is preposterous to think we will allow our budget to overspend by that much because we spend the grant on ‘extras’. Meeting the needs of a child with visual impairment is not an ‘extra’, nor is supporting children with diabetes who need frequent blood sugar checks, and nor is supporting a child who has mobility issues round our building and site (with its fourteen sets of steps / stairs and six ramps). We cut sickness absence insurance for support staff this year to save budget costs. The actual cost is lost provision for children who find learning harder. That is not a 'little extra' even if it is not legally essential.

F              Improving IT hardware so it meets the curriculum requirements and challenges in, say, science, is not an ‘extra’. Mr Hammond suggested we buy a couple of (interactive) whiteboards or some extra laptops. He assumes, perhaps, that what we have works well as it is and meets needs. Ask your children how long it takes for the PCs in the suite to logon and open a document. Ask staff how often the Hall laptop loses network connection. Ask the Pastoral Team where their laptop went.  Ask your children how many iPads we have to use in class, and how often they get to use them. Kit has become obsolete and incompatible with newer operating systems. We cannot meet the points for improvement in the last but one Ofsted report (2012) if we do not do this.

G             I keep going back to that language – it smacks so much of ‘here’s five pounds; go and buy yourself something nice’.

H             Michael Gove, when Education Secretary, sent every school a copy of the King James version of the Bible on the 400th anniversary. ‘Gove’s Bible’ many called it. Where is it now? What difference did such an unsupported, unrequested, action make? It was waste of time and money. This doling out of money seems to be a sop, and without plan. What noticeable difference does the Chancellor actually think will come about?

I was telling my Y5 class about an encounter with a family on Parents Evening. They were coming the opposite way through a doorway, and I held it open for the little child who was with them. I asked the class what the mother had said, and everyone chimed, ‘Say thank you’, and they were right. We say ‘thank you’ because it is polite, and because our mothers taught us to.

So, thank you, Mr Hammond. We will spend however much you might give us on something nice for the children in our school. We will send you a nice ‘Thank You card’ once we have the cheque you have promised, and we will let you know what we spent it on. But, please, do not think that adding just 1% to my school’s income for the year will make any sort of noticeable difference.

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26 Oct 2018

The Three Fish Finger Puzzle

Friday is Fried Fish (and Chips) Day. It is the one day per week when fried food is on the school dinner menu and it is the day when most children take the school meal option (rather than a packed lunch).

So, Fish and Chips is popular, obviously.

The mystery is this: why would anyone take the full three fish fingers on offer and not eat a single bit of a single one of them?

I have been stationing myself at the return trolley for the last couple of weeks at lunchtime, asking why certain things have not been eaten, helping to clear plates and trying to drop the queues (no-one likes a queue really). Whole jacket potatoes get thrown away, untouched. Puddings not started get binned; entire portions of beans get scraped away.

Now what you have to know is that nothing gets forced on to a child’s plate; if they do not want peas they do not get given peas. If they want ketchup they get it but if not, then not. And if they do not want the full portion of three fish fingers then they are not given them.

I stood at the trolley and at least ten children brought back plates that held three slices of crumbed and fried fish, totally untouched. They had not cut them open and been put off by texture, colour, smell or taste. They had not been tried at all, so no claims of ‘soggy bottom’ are valid. They could not tell me they didn’t like them because:

A)     they chose them, and

B)      they hadn’t actually tried them.

It is ridiculous, and baffling and wasteful.

I asked each child, in a nice not a threatening way, why they hadn’t eaten any of the fish fingers. I am also worried by the sudden loss of articulacy shown by our normally talkative and observant children. I was told, ‘I don’t like them’, ‘I don’t like fish’, ‘They aren’t nice’, ‘Sorry’ and a lot of shrugs.

In conversations about what I want my school to offer I will normally say that I want to see a school that produces every child engaged all of the time. We are failing to engage these children in thinking about their food - what they want, what they like, how much they will eat, how much to take. We are failing to develop stamina and resilience if the children stop too soon or find it too hard to cut and eat. We are failing to fully promote and develop respect for the environment if children do not do something themselves to reduce their waste.

Some data to put this in context:

  • Hallam (our Parliamentary Constituency) has the 11th highest average earnings per family, and the highest outside London and the south east.
  • Only 4% of our pupils are on ‘free school meals’, against a Sheffield average of 21%.
  • Our school meal uptake is above average for Junior Schools.
  • We throw away an average of 22kg of unwanted but served food every school day.
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19 Oct 2018

The Headteacher's Day

07:30 Arrive at school

07:30 Collect up stray balls from yesterday’s play times (car park)

07:34 Remove barrier to ‘open’ a play area now judged dry enough to use

07:37 Take milk to staffroom

07:40 Write up today’s notices on staffroom whiteboard, being sure to include at least one ‘witticism’, focus on staff absence, a delivery / installation and after school activities

07:48 Read and review yesterday’s Behaviour Incident Notes from staff – make note to visit one classroom later

07:55 Return my overnight folder (of ‘homework’) to admin team for follow up

08:00 Leave for Springfield Primary

08:30 Locality F Headteachers meeting at Springfield Primary School – updates, information sharing and local decision making on teachers pay application, SEN funding, Ofsted handbook, Research-led training, Relationships and Sex Education curriculum planning

10:07 Leave to return to school

10:30 Arrive back at school for break duty (Point 1, overlooking top playground)

10:45 After seeing pupils back to class, follow up two points from Locality F meeting with relevant staff

10:54 Assist colleague with sound system / IT connection issue in Hall (new amp installed earlier this week) (needed for Singing Practice and FOLA’s Film Night later)

11:04 Admit defeat with sound system and revert to Plan A – turn it off and count to 100.

11:05 Toilet

11:10 Have conversation I do not fully understand about band width and Wi-Fi and network points and how the techie will be able to explain it so I do understand (and if I am thinking about spending money). Agree to listen to techie next week

11:20 Classroom visits

  • Y5 class in IT suite: notice that some (many?) children are using a generic login name and password instead of their unique identifier. Make note to raise this with staff. Also notice the class is one lesson ahead of my own
  • Y3 class in classroom: notice some children (all boys) swinging on one chair leg. Make quiet comments to them. Have louder conversations with three children about their maths work and what they have learnt this week
  • Y3 class in classroom: check on working attitude of two children I have been asked to monitor on behalf of the class teacher. Both children appear positive about their day. One has had a one to one session with the class teacher today

11:40 Safeguarding conversation with colleague over a recurring concern. Direction given to record, check transition information and contact parent for clarification and assurance

11:52 Grab a cup of tea to take to next meeting (staffroom)

11:55 Start meeting with Deputy Headteacher (delayed for three days now) to discuss staff issues of support, placement, development, performance management

12:05 Have meeting interrupted (twice). Pupils who wander through. A Year Leader needing to share discussions from a PM review. Listen and consider points given

12:15 Short conversation with ‘Cards Club’ leaders about no-show of expected children. Agree they will wait. Need to promote?

12:18 Lunch duty – supporting Midday Staff, and children, during the lunch break, in particular to monitor and improve dining room behaviour and to analyse reasons behind food waste

12:45 Continue Lunch Duty outside, monitoring use of playground equipment and observing activity levels – how many children are not moving about, or even outside at all

12:55 Snatch a conversation with a Supply Teacher on her experience in our school, and about pay rates through Agencies. Explain her options to her

13:13 Thank the class (Y4) for their great attitude when they had entered the classroom and immediately started the task given on the whiteboard

13:14 Pick up some (crisp packets, etc. ) litter left by picnicking packed lunch eaters on my way to wash my hands

13:16 Staff conversation about expected staff absence next week, and cover plans. Then second conversation with another colleague on the same subject.

13:25 Met with the Operations Manager from Taylor Shaw, our school meals catering contractor, for the first time. I responded in full to a ‘Satisfaction Survey’ earlier this week and it prompted a rapid response. Included short tour to demonstrate site issues. Finished with agreed plan of action for communication, promotion, menu selection, data provision, sampling / taster activities, possible curriculum tie-ins, equipment assessment. (Had to fit in break duty while talking. Point 1)

14:50 Revisit Y3 classroom to check on behaviour of a group of boys – have they managed to keep their feet, hands and unkind words to themselves today and all week?

15:01 Hall – get the laptop / amplifier ‘handshaking’ so we have sound for the Film Night. Reconnect laptop audio to amplifier, and re-select input channel. Check with an audio CD and DVD. Why me? Because Primary Schools cannot afford a technician for such things, or spare premises staffing

15:04 Conversation with colleague (Confidential)

15:06 Supporting a child in crisis

15:15 On duty at the end of the day (Point 1 does the 'top gate'), but especially supervising the departure from school of that ‘child in crisis’

Until 15:45 Supporting a parent

15:52 Unlock ‘The Wood’ to allow an authorised access

15:50 Telephone call with parent at the parent’s request. Agree follow up activity for both school and parent

16:00 Drop in to Film Night to check staffing / volunteer numbers. Visibility ensured. Exchange pleasantries and chat with parent volunteers

16:08 Lunch while reviewing a serious pupil behaviour incident (dealt with directly by other staff). More information needed, after calm and professional reflection accepting professional responsibility

16:30 Conversations with various senior colleagues reviewing aspects of staff relationships. To ask certain other colleagues to intervene

16:40 STEM Club leader has child not collected – as senior staff member at school responsibility falls to me to contact parent and keep child supervised until collected (eventually, at 17:35). To review ‘contracts’ and expectations for activity leaders so they know their responsibilities (or who is paying school if we retain all responsibility and have to have staff available until all clubs finish)

17:00 Check on newly installed second Table Tennis Table, lower playground – change plans for Assembly on Monday to mention facilities provided and respect expected

17:07 Checking on TA placement and availability in Y3 – merging timetables to check balance from provision – email to myself to complete work at home

17:25 (and earlier) Call in to Cooking Club. Low numbers but real competition from Film Night tonight. Office say all Clubs are full, so why such low numbers?

17:27 Film Night (to end) (note wet floor, spread of rubbish, absence of sweets, bubble wands not for sale, supervision at hand-over to parents)

17:46 Power down PC suite (8 PCs left on with monitors only turned off – this despite Pupil Monitors' efforts)

17:56 Supervise safe and correct stacking of chairs from Film Night in the Girls' Changing Room

18:10 Borrow a flask for Cross Country refreshments on Saturday

18:13 Pack ‘homework’ for the weekend. (Requests for Leave to consider, general mail, emails, Handling Plans, Risk Assessments prior to visits to approve / annotate, Partnership planning to review and comment on, Governors agenda items to approve, Newsletter to amend and add to, Blog to write …)

18:17 Leave school for home after an easy day

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