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 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.
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
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....
We had this term’s full Governing Body meeting last night. Governors gave me the full-on ‘support and challenge’ on all I presented, which included a further pupil performance data analysis, and a discussion about our treasured ‘rich and engaging curriculum’. I sparked a discussion about the conflict it causes between teaching times for elements of the curriculum offer – how do we teach more arithmetic without less music or forest school or art or PE?
Surely, one Governor asked, there is good evidence of a link between art and sport engagement and academic achievement?
There are correlations sure enough, but not proven causal links. A statistician will be able to tell you the difference – correlation is basically that two independent observable factors can move in a synchronised way, but be totally without link or have one causing the other:
Chocolate consumption and Nobel Prize winners per capita (countries that eat more chocolate win more Nobel prizes!)
IQ and Religiosity – 25% to 60% religiosity is correlated to the highest IQ scores (as in where that % said religion was important to them, drawn against an IQ measure of the country). The more extreme the importance of religion the lower the average IQ!
Autism diagnosis and organic food sales, 1998 to 2007 (Both show a trebling over the same period – does one cause the other?)
Shoe size is correlated with reading ability. (So your brains ARE in your feet?)
Star Sign is correlated, when younger, with IQ, but the correlation diminishes over time. (Librans and Scorpios score significantly higher in tests than any other star sign up to at least age 9. They also get picked in teams for their country in most contact sports more than others.)
Children who get privately tutored get worse grades than children who do not get tutored. (So tutoring must un-teach?)
The school with the best sporting pedigree may or may not be ‘best’ academically. The definition of ‘best’ is hard enough. Opportunity, health, wealth, family support, aspiration, tradition, facilities, selection of sports, funding, and so on may all be factors. And even if a school holds both top positions it still does not mean that the one causes the other. ‘Freakonimics’ did a marvellous job of debunking some of these myths – the number of books in the home correlates to the child’s school success. So in order to solve illiteracy all we have to do is put a load of books in every home? Might it not be also something to do with what you do with those books, and others, and talk and wider reading?
The frequency of a family eating together has a stronger correlation to academic grades than does whether the children live with one or two parents. In order to safeguard a child’s academic success we should provide the family home with a dining table? Is that where we should spend Pupil Premium income?
Given competent providers, up to an hour per day of physical activity can be added to the school curriculum by taking time from other subjects without risk of hindering academic achievement. On the other hand, adding time to "academic" or "curricular" subjects by taking time from a physical education programmes does not enhance grades in these subjects and may be detrimental to health. (So being active doesn’t make you cleverer, and physical fitness, rather than physical activity, does not associate / correlate with academic grades. You might lose weight but you won’t get better grades.)
Learning an instrument makes you better at maths? Psychology Today says, ‘researchers note that children who play a musical instrument may already have executive functioning abilities that somehow attract them to music and predispose them to stick with their lessons, ‘ that, ‘children and adults with extensive musical training show enhanced executive function when compared to non-musicians,’ and they use the word ‘might’ to describe a possible causal link.
May, might, and extensive. Even with ‘extensive’ practice it is still only may and might. And they may already have been that way before they took up the instrument.
Last time, in this blog, I referenced research into factors parents, of different income brackets, use to select schools. Examination outcomes were much stronger for middle and higher income parents. If we do not make the grade, literally, we are likely to have very difficult conversations ahead of us with parents, no matter how rich and engaging our curriculum may be. Not 'making the grade' would be the ultimate test of parents', and Governors', commitment to the school's vision.
Causation is where one thing does directly or indirectly lead to another. Not the same thing.
Love food, hate waste
Boy, do I do both. I could do a full A to Z of food I love, asparagus to zucchini, apple pie to zatar (a mixed spice from Egypt).
But I detest waste – we just don’t do it in my house. An empty plate at the end of a meal is the norm, and we very rarely throw anything away. It is a waste of money, a sad waste of resource, and it does not sit well alongside support for feeding those in need in the community through supporting food banks. Three million meals were supplied by Britain’s Food Banks last year. How can we have some going without and others throwing away as they have too much?
At lunchtime on the last two school days I have been in the hall wiping tables, clearing plates, doing door duty, helping the odd individual child. Both days I have been troubled by the amount of waste – the volume that is thrown away despite being chosen by the children themselves. By 12:45 today the bin was (discretely) full.
I weighed it, using some bathroom scales. 23 kilogrammes of food was thrown away by 460 pupils.
If each meal weighs about 500g (see First Steps Nutrition Guide 2013), that was 46 complete meals thrown away, or 10% of children taking a meal and throwing the whole lot in the bin.
It wasn’t lack of choice leading to food on a plate that children did not want – chicken curry and rice, Mexican bean tortillas, jacket potato with any of three fillings, and a choice from three desserts.
It wasn’t too much on a plate – no-one ever complains of that, and far too few take the vegetables or salad on offer to all.
It wasn’t quality –we are the second-most popular meal provider amongst Sheffield’s Primary Schools, and many staff regularly take the same school meal (and pay for it every time). Some children try to be last in and persuade the Cook to serve them extra if there’s ‘left-overs’.
It is not being rushed – no-one ever gets forced to rush or harassed if lunchtime is running out.
It is not to be with their friends – the children have full choice about where to sit and who to sit with.
It is not lumpy / cold / unusual / made off-site / ugly / off / ready-made / unknown / not as ordered.
I totally accept the NHS advice on portion sizes, that we should not force children to clear their plates, especially if, as research suggests, we tend to serve children with adult portions instead of the 75% portion-size appropriate for the age of the children we have in school.
But scary calculation time:
23 kg each day?
This becomes 4.37 tonnes or 8,740 meals of waste each school year!
I cannot accept that without challenging what is going on.
- So should it be a campaign?
- Smaller portions?
- No play-time snacks?
- Insisting on trying to eat more?
- Education and practising how to cut up baked potato skin?
- Inviting parents in and enlisting their help?
- Longer lunchtimes?
- Different serving arrangements? (mains and dessert separately, perhaps)
- More pandering?
It does raise some weird questions from observation:
- Why do the children run to the dinner queue if they are not so hungry that they want to eat all they are served?
- Why choose it and then throw it?
- How is it that on a Friday, when meal uptake is the highest in the week, we still get the same level of waste?
- How does any / so much get on the floor?
- What is the situation at home?
- Why do more than half our children take a school meal if, as it appears from the amount of waste, they dislike them?
So I’m asking School Council for their opinion. I’m asking Taylor Shaw what they think. I’m going to put up a display asking the dinner queue for input. I’m going to weigh and publish every day for a month. I’m going to stand by Rosie (ask the children) and see if I make any difference that way. I’ll ask the Cook and kitchen staff, and the midday supervisors. I’ll display some ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ posters. I’ll ask the children directly why they are throwing away.
I suspect that I’m about to make myself highly unpopular with a campaign that challenges habits, choice, personal behaviour and something that might be considered selfish ignorance. Some people will think I’m telling them off. Some will think I should have better things to do. I’m doing it anyway.
Apple pie, bread, cheese, dates, eggplant, fried onions, green beans, hummus, ice cream, jam, kidney beans, limes, mince pies, Nice biscuits, olives, peanut butter, Quorn roast, roast parsnips, sausages, toasted crumpets, upside-down cake, veggie pizza, watermelon, Xacuti, yogurt, zucchini, aubergine, broad beans, carrot cake, Dundee Cake, Éclair, French Fancy, Gateaux, Hot Cross Bun, Iced Bun, Jumble, Kuglehopf, Linzer torte, Madeira, Parkin, Queen’s Pudding, Rock Buns, Scone, Treacle Tart, …
Would a negative Ofsted outcome at our next Inspection directly lead to a fall in pupil numbers? Would it threaten the stability of school’s budget, staffing and provision because of the subsequent loss of income?
Would a positive outcome lead to increased demand for places? Would it mean even less pupil, and staff, movement, and ensure a stable income?
Confidently predicting the future is near-impossible in even the simplest situations, with limited factors at play. In this sort of situation there are far too many factors involved for us to begin guess, or even to know what might happen.
I am already involved in meeting, and touring school with, parents of prospective pupils for Y3 in 2018. The closing date for applications is 15th January 2018, just nine school weeks away. What do these parents look for? There is a mass of information available for parents to use, and some interesting research on what actually influences decisions about which schools to put as 1, 2 and 3 on the application form.
The British Social Attitudes Survey ( http://natcen.ac.uk/our-research/research/british-social-attitudes/ ) reveals a great deal, and some of its findings are quite challenging.
School Performance (league tables) data has been published for many years. Ofsted reports for each school and setting are readily available on-line. ParentView is an online database that shows the views of current and past years’ parents to a short series of questions. Local communities have opinion. School admissions services can tell parents which schools are over-subscribed and which, typically, have spare capacity (a possible ‘empty pub’ phenomenon example for selecting a school). School put on open-evenings, tours, visits, handbooks, sessions for pupils to visit for lessons and experiences. Older siblings probably have tales to tell, and thus many parents have prior personal knowledge. In areas with very stable populations some parents may have attended the local school themselves.
One ‘make or break’ fear ahead of an Ofsted Inspection is that a negative outcome might lead to parents voting with their feet (or application for admission) and take their children elsewhere. The research suggests that parents aren’t actually that shallow.
NFER research, using that Social Attitudes Survey data in 2016, suggests that Ofsted grading was only the fourth top factor in their choice, after:
- A school that suits my child (48%),
- Location (46%),
- Behaviour that promotes learning (43%).
Examination results were a distant sixth factor, only influencing 32% of parents.
Because the Survey holds data in detail it also reveals much about differences in attitudes linked to income. With ‘disadvantage’ (generally meaning eligibility to Fee School Meals) very low at our school, around a third of the national average, we can assume that mean household incomes for our parent body fall above the ‘Lower Income’ bracket. ‘Higher Income’ parents are less influenced by location, the qualifications of teachers or a school’s reputation for taking parent views into account. They are more influenced than ‘Lower Income’ parents by discipline, exam results and the effectiveness of the school’s senior leadership team. ‘Lower Income’ parents are slightly more likely to let the child decide (a difference of 7%), and ‘Higher Income’ parents are far more likely to discuss choices with other parents (a difference of 19%).
A negative Inspection that nonetheless says learning behaviour is sound may have little or no impact,
A negative Inspection that highlights examination results that are not as good as they should be may have impact on the parents of the majority of children at our school,
A negative Inspection that says behaviour is negatively affecting learning would be the outcome most likely to trouble our parent body.
A positive outcome from an Inspection that nonetheless highlights some attainment or progress shortfall might still have a negative impact on the majority of our parents,
A positive outcome from Inspection that says that leadership and management could improve might still concern the majority of our parent body, and
A positive outcome that highlights good grades, good behaviour and a leadership team that are aware of the school’s strengths and weaknesses is possibly the only outcome that satisfies all sections of the parent body.
Realistically, however, it simply isn’t as simple as that. An Inspection grade can only impact on admission numbers and pupil on roll numbers when the parents have a real choice and available alternative option. When the nearest school with spaces is at least two buses or 2.5 miles and a couple of Sheffield’s hills away moving school is not really an option for more than a very few children and parents.
The only option, and the one we embrace, is making sure that we provide that good school locally that every family wants and every child deserves.
Our next Inspection will, we expect, lead to a positive outcome. It will not, however, lead to an increase in pupil numbers because we are full already, have been full for years, and our feeder school is full in the next three years. We do not expand to accommodate every application. Next week, at the Autumn Term meeting, I am sure the Governing Body will once again confirm the Indicative Admission Number at 120 pupils per year group for 2018 admission.
You’ll probably end up somewhere else.
We all deal with a whole lot of data in our work these days, teaching being no different from any other profession. This week, during the half term holidays, more data was released from the end of Key Stage 1 and 2 tests held back in May 2017. We have started picking through it all, to see if it changes our view on the world, or seriously our analysis of past performance and therefore focus points for this year.
We already felt unhappy with our 2017 performance in spelling, grammar and arithmetic. Not because they were below average but rather because they were below where we think our pupils at our school should be placed. We know how the other local schools (in S10 and in South west Sheffield, and in Sheffield as a whole) fared, and so have made comparisons.
We were also aware that there is a gap or difference in performance between the pupils that attract Pupil Premium funding (basically those who have some history of Free School Meal entitlement) and the pupils who do not. This gap is pretty much universal (as in, it occurs at most schools), and pretty much obstinately refusing to disappear, but that does not mean we accept it, or refuse to look for further options to reduce or remove the attainment gap between these two groups.
We are, further, aware that the PP group perform better here than the same group nationally, but that is not the measure used to compare performance. It is, after all, reasonable to ask and challenge schools to get those children to the same standards as everyone else.
We had just 13 PP pupils in last year’s Year 6 cohort, each counting as just under 8%. Getting just 3 extra to reach the national expected standard in maths would have us have no attainment gap at all.
We have seen a significant decline in the number and percentage of pupils eligible for Free School Meals and thus attracting Pupil Premium in the last three years. The number on Year 6 this year is even lower, and so the margin, in terms of actual headcount, is smaller and smaller, and each child’s progress becomes even more significant in terms of percentage points of gap.
Also available to schools is a ‘question level’ analysis. This shows how our children did, question by question, compared to the national average. It also throws up oddities, questions and quirks. Why should we have answered a couple of questions 16% poorer than the average? And why 11% better on others? And can we cover the shortfall this year so any question phrased like that, or in that area of study, or using that skill or fact, is answered better, and particularly by PP pupils?
Within school we track pupils’ experience and progress. We know what each has been involved in, and what difference it has made to their performance. We know the success level of each intervention we run. We know how each child stands against our expectations for the year group. We know a good deal about the barriers each child faces.
Where are we trying to reach?
- Spelling scores above average by at least 4%
- Grammar scores ahead of average by at least 4%, and at at least as good as the S10 average
- Arithmetic scores higher generally, and particularly for PP children
- To get all pupils who left Key Stage 1 at a high standard to leave Key Stage 2 the same
- Maths attainment to match our, significantly strong, reading attainment (and progress)scores
- And all the time maintaining the exciting, engaging, enriched curriculum that we offer.
Once we had the destination clear we could set the Sat Nav to plan the best route, given current traffic conditions, and make good time on the journey. The latest data releases have actually only confirmed what we already knew, and were already working on. Anyone who’d like to visit my Office will see a wall of data, charts and graphs that has built up this picture over the last five months. By the end of term we should have a good idea about how much progress we have made already towards these goals. I’ll let you know.
When we talk Child Protection and Safeguarding we often refer to ‘Protective Factors’, things that are most likely going to work to keep children safer. There are many of them coming from or related to school:
- Healthy peer groups,
- School engagement,
- Positive teacher expectations,
- Effective classroom management,
- Positive partnering between school and family,
- School policies and practices to reduce bullying,
- High academic standards,
- Consistent discipline,
- Language-based discipline,
- Extended family support,
- Mastery of academic skills (maths, reading, writing),
- Following rules for behaviour at home, at school, and in public places,
- Ability to make friends,
- Good peer relationships,
and probably many more.
Long-term readers of this blog may remember a display I posted about last year, one of the interactive boards I like to put up in the lunchtime entrance area. I asked the children to tell, in thought bubbles, who they could ask for help.
This week, in a similar way, I asked them who they would talk to if they were unhappy at various times in the day. Once we got past the teaching requirement (I needed to model better how to use a tally, and the classic five-bar gate) the results are interesting. There is a lot of children here who would actually resolve their unhappiness themselves, many who would rely on friends, lots who would turn to staff, plenty who find strength in family members, and quite a few with the confidence to call on anyone handy or well-placed.
Clearly the respondents have many ‘protective factors’ established and know to use them. This is very encouraging for us, and indicates strong, healthy, relationships with peers, family and school staff.