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.

Yours sincerely,
Stuart Jones

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Welcome to Year 3!

The Y3 Team includes Mrs Dutton (3JD), Miss Cunningham (3EC), Mrs Webb & Mrs Watkinson (3W/W) and Miss Reasbeck & Mrs Drury (3R/D). Mr Jones teaches 3JD on Fridays. We also have three Teaching Assistants who work with small groups and help across the four classes: Mrs Dale, Ms Kania and Mr Swain.

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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Welcome to Y4.
The team consists of the following teachers: Mrs Farrell and Mrs Ridsdale, Mrs Phillips, Mrs Hardy and Mrs Smith, Mrs Shaw and Mrs Smith and last but not least Mrs Finney. We also have help from Mrs Lee, Mrs Flynn, Mrs Hill, Mr Jenkinson and Mr Swain. Some of the children are lucky enough to spend time in The Hub with Mrs Allen and Mrs Tandy. What a team!
In our weekly blogs we will share with you all the exciting things that have happened in our classrooms be it learning or any magical moments. Watch this space!!!

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Welcome to the Year 5 Blog page.

The Year 5 teaching team includes our class teachers, Mrs Parker (5AP), Mrs Rougvie ,Mrs Jones (5R/J), Miss Roberts (5AR), Mrs Holden and Mrs de Brouwer (5H/deB). . Many children are supported by Teaching Assistants who work with children across the school. 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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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 Tuesday morning teachers are Miss Lee and Mrs Grimsley.We are also very lucky to be helped by Mrs Ainsworth, Mrs Cooper 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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25 May 2017

What it takes to win (Swimming Gala Winners 2017)

Quirky and interesting observations / facts from the swimming gala:

The annual Primary Schools’ Swimming Relay Gala took place tonight at Ponds Forge.

Obviously I’m delighted and proud of the team that took 97 points from a possible 100, and won the Shield for the first time in the history of the competition.

The event is run in two Divisions of ten schools each, with an annual threat / reward of relegation / promotion between them. Two years ago we were swimming in Division B, last year we were ‘Most Improved School’, and this year we topped Division A with a race to go. Fantastic.

Seven races won, and second place in the other three, with swimmers from all four year groups.

One wonders, then, what the secret is to becoming the top swimming school in Sheffield. A glance at the score board revealed one striking fact – five out of the ten schools in Division A are Junior Schools. This wouldn’t be at all striking if it wasn’t also for the fact that only 14 out of 135 Primary phase schools in Sheffield are Junior only. There should, at that rate, be only one in that top ten Division.

It would appear from this that your school is five times more likely to be good at swimming than it should be if it is a Junior School.

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20 May 2017

Trained Teachers Fail Test

Last week I wrote about the statistically unlikely (third in five years) external check of our end of key stage 2 test processes and system. This checked on the security and proper administration of reading, punctuation, grammar and spelling, arithmetic and mathematical reasoning tests. Clean bill of health, you might remember.

This week we have heard that we will also have external moderation of our Year 6 teachers’ assessment of writing.

We again have no worries about this, because:

  • We have focussed on this for two years,
  • We have led in the local school cluster on moderation,
  • We have taken external training for our literacy team on writing at ‘greater depth’,
  • We have kept aware of interim guidance,
  • We have a colleague involved in city-wide moderation training and locality moderation work,
  • We have continually given staff time to work on this area,
  • Senior leaders have stayed involved in the process and showed how it important to them,
  • Resources (including staff and time) have been given as fully as we can,
  • Our colleagues have agreed with colleagues across the local cluster of schools,
  • We have joined activities across the cluster in all four key stage 2 year groups.

However, there has been some doubt, ever since the changes to assessment expectations from the ‘new’ curriculum and the ‘new’ assessment system itself, about anyone’s ability, confidence and accuracy in reaching judgements.

The process as it currently stands is that teachers have to identify enough evidence across the curriculum that a ‘pupil can’, independently, meet all the required statements at a stage in order to be said to ‘meet the expected standard’ or to be ‘working at greater depth’.

The moderators were, at last this year, provided with some nationally provided training materials (and a very short timeline). They got to undertake some briefing and then work through three portfolios from three pupils. They had to decide if there was sufficient evidence to award one of the judgements, or if to say that a child had not yet met the expected standard. You’d hope, like I would, that, after training, all the moderators / teachers (all Year 6 teachers or literacy leads in schools, and all put forward by their Headteachers as knowing what they are doing) would take the test and pass. All they had to do, after all, was score 3 out of 3.

Oh, if only it were so simple. The TES website this week broke the following story of how the training hasn’t actually led to that outcome

‘Data uncovered by TES suggests the government has failed to ensure the “more consistent, reliable approach” to moderating teacher assessments of writing it promised following last year's Sats chaos.

Two-thirds of moderators trained for this summer incorrectly assessed pupils’ work when tested earlier this year’.

And it gets worse:

‘Responses from 101 local authorities also revealed large variations in the proportions of moderators managing to correctly assess all three portfolios of pupils’ work – ranging from 6 per cent in Sheffield to 100 per cent in 13 other authorities.’

If trained moderators cannot get it right, what possible hope is there for the rest of the profession?

2,547 team moderators were trained nationally. There are around 11,000 Primary schools in England. That’s at least 8,500 without a trained moderator in-house.

I do like to explain the theory of cognitive dissonance to colleagues and student teachers. It explains how, immediately after teaching in a Higher Education setting, knowledge and understanding of a taught topic was found to have regressed in comparison to before a lecture or teaching session. Psychologists suggest that it takes a while for learners to internalise new learning, especially where it challenges previously held belief and comprehension. Maybe the moderators were simply tested too soon after training – it was a rush job by all accounts, and the re-test with a new portfolio even more so (over one weekend in term time so it was on top of normal workload).

One wonders what score untrained Y6 teachers would get.

I am, typically, highly respectful of colleagues’ knowledge, position and role. But, if I don’t like the report after our moderation visit in June, I might just challenge on the grounds of, ‘do you actually know what you are talking about?’

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12 May 2017

Members Only?

Have you ever played that 'oh that's good / oh that's bad' game, where you take turns to downplay or play up the circumstances of an event? Here's what we thought about this week...

When reviewing the Pupil Premium Statement and Plan we collated some data on access to extra-curricular activities.

We have 18 (at least) activities going on that children can join in with before, during or after the school day - gym, more gym, orienteering, table tennis, karate, fencing, netball, cricket coaching, French, Spanish, Art, HA Art, hand bells, choir, wind band, cookery, coding, card games and so on. This list is current, and doesn't include things like peripatetic instrument tuition or orchestra (as it is in lesson time).

We have 480 or so pupils with a range of interests and ability (and desire) to attend.

If each activity can accommodate 20 pupils then we have capacity for only 360 pupils. Who is attending, we wondered? Who attends more than one? Are all groups equally represented? Are we missing something? Is cost an issue? Is the inability to pay preventing some children from taking part?

A register check revealed that 309 individual pupils are taking up at least one activity each week here at school, some 65% of the pupils (a figure that impresses me). Some children attend more than one each week - in Y3JD for example, the 30 children take up 32 activities, and impressive 107%!

What does it hide?

Girls take up far more activities than boys, and far more girls take up activities than boys. In fact 74% of girls are involved in at least one activity each week against 'just' 60% of boys. The two most involved pupils (at four a week each) are both girls.

72% of Year 4 pupils are involved in extra-curricular activities at school, against 'only' 61% of Year 3 pupils and 64% of Year 6 pupils.

We started by asking about the engagement of pupils attracting Pupil Premium (PP) funding (due to 'disadvantage' such as entitlement to free school meals at some point in their school life). This is where the sharpest difference emerges:

67% of non-Pupil Premium pupils are involved in one or more out of hours activity (294 out of 437 pupils).

Just 38% of Pupil Premium pupils are involved in those same out of school hours activities (15 out of 40 pupils). For the two groups' engagement to match there needs to be a further 12 of this group involved in activities each week.

How does this gap occur, and what are we doing about it?

It isn't as simple as it seems at first sight. It would be easy to suggest it's a cost thing - those families with low income can't afford extras. But the vast majority of these activities are free to all or heavily subsidised, or we make them available for free to the PP pupils. Some are charged as they are run by private providers, but we actively seek to support access for those who couldn't afford to pay. We have happily and directly supported, through the school's Charging and Remissions Policy, the cost of attending the Year 6 residential, and the Friday Cooking Club, for some individual pupils. We help parents access music lesson subsidy of needed, or provide it ourselves. It may be cultural, and so we try to be inclusive - choir sings all sorts of songs and is most definitely not 'stuffy', for example. It may be about travel arrangements to and from school - perhaps parents have shift work patterns that make later pick up or early drop off at school really difficult. This one is much harder to solve. It is not as if activities require much kit - orienteering needs a pair of trainers and nothing else, cricket and table tennis just need the same PE kit they wear at school. Choir is just your voice. We have instruments in stock at school that we lend for free to children whose parents don't want to or can't afford to buy their own. Have PP children already acquired a negative or disengaged attitude to opportunities? Maybe they have experienced some failure and haven't yet got the resilience needed to stick at it until they improve and feel successful. We work on this with many children each day in school. We could certainly look to see if the group in question matches this description, and provide some additional work on raising their horizon. Perhaps children are involved in enough already outside school - we know we have dancers, trampolinists, horse riders, footballers, runners, Brownies, Cubs, Scouts, sailors, swimmers, choristers, crafters, and so on and so on. It seems unlikely, though, that PP children are in this category.

Later this term we are hosting the first of a short series of sports activities for Infant Schools in the immediate area. (Yes, Infant schools - it's a collegiate, partnership thing.) Dodge ball. Our Y6 pupils as coaches and organisers etc. The aim is only participation and enjoyment, not style or winning, and the target group at each Infant School is the children who do not otherwise take part in additional activities. It will run during the school day to overcome all the access barriers, and we hope it might change an attitude or two.

Our target, stated in our Pupil Premium Report and Plan, is to get equal uptake and engagement.

If you would like to suggest a barrier, and offer a solution to overcoming it, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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11 May 2017

Serious Checkin (no 'g')

  1. We had our (annual it seems) ‘SATs Police’ (external independent scrutiny) visit this morning. Unannounced, our visitor watched the distribution of papers, the preparation of rooms and pupils, the opening of papers, the administration of the tests, the collection of papers, the use of scribes for transcription purposes, support of children in difficulty or crisis, the storage of papers and the administration of registers.
  2. The purpose is to warn off anyone even thinking about cheating or bending the rules, to catch miscreants, to ensure tight and strict adherence to the copious guidance, and perhaps to suggest improvements where some might be possible.
  3. She, the visitor, had to complete a form before leaving. I get a copy, DfE get a copy, the local authority get a copy.
  4. On the second side is a box for any required actions to be recorded.
  5. The box was left totally empty, as she was totally satisfied with our work. She made several very complimentary comments before leaving - atmosphere, welcome, properness of delivery, etc.
  6. Another vindication and validation of our organisation, staffing and methods.
  7. The question is; why we have had three of these visits in the last five years? Local Authorities are required to visit at least 10% of their schools each year, but not necessarily drawn at random. The Department for Education directs LAs to visit certain schools of the DfE’s choosing, and then to top-up if necessary to get to 10% minimum.
  8. In five years, at 10% a year, we should have, you might think, only a 50% chance of a visit. If those previously visited drop out of contention for a visit until all have been scrutinised (so every school gets a visit in a ten year period) the chance of a visit in the five years I have been here as Headteacher reaches 10% + 11% + 12.5% + 14% + 17% = 64.5%. If each year is totally unconnected to the previous year then you cannot accumulate a chance and it is simply 10% each year. The chance of two successive years is 1%, and three successive is 0.1%.
  9. If my tenure as Headteacher spans two periods the limit should be only two visits – one at the end of a cycle of ten years, and the second in the next cycle of ten. But not three visits in five years.
  10. We’ve also had our Year 6 writing teacher assessments externally moderated in this period.
  11. I am told that it doesn’t work that way, not entirely randomly. Schools are mostly selected for a reason, which may come from some area of question or concern or complaint, and form part of an investigation.
  12. I can come up with three possible scenarios:

- Our methods and results are not trusted, and so need regular, close scrutiny (even though we have never been found wanting in any scrutiny visit) – perhaps our scores are suspiciously too good,

- Something about our use of the system raises a flag of concern (perhaps the number of children we have each year who qualify, through the proper channels, for additional time or access arrangements), but only approved requests are ever implemented,

- We are known by the LA to be totally safe, and so we get picked so as to ensure a ‘clean’ report.

  1. I think it’s the second of these. We do apply for extra time for children who are slower readers, slower writers or who need to use someone to write for them. We do get large print versions for children with a visual impairment. We do use separate spaces for those who need low disruption. We do use ‘concentration breaks’ for children who find sticking at one task difficult for a whole hour block. At the same time 61 of our pupils sat in the Hall, together, with two teachers, and just got on with the reading test yesterday, and today’s grammar, punctuation and spelling tests. They had absolutely no additional help as they didn’t need it or ask for any.
  2. While the chance of three scrutiny visits in five years makes it unlikely to be just random (and at 0.81% chance it sure is low), the constant message in feedback is that everything is above board and correct. I have to assume that we are as sound as a pound.
  3. So, well done everyone – keep calm and do your best.
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25 Apr 2017

Spring is here - dance in the blossom

For a few days at least, children will delight all playtime-long in dancing in the shower of cherry blossom petals on the top playground.


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