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 three Teaching Assistants who work within the team: 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 Loosley (5NL), 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 5 Teaching 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 Parker returns) in Y6AP), Mrs Phillips (Y6CP) and Miss Norris (Y6HN). Also teaching in Year 6 is Miss Lee (Monday - Y6AP, Tuesday - Y6HN and Wednesday - Y6S/W) and Mrs Grimsley (Tuesday -Y6CP).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....
RECALL NOTICE -
Due to the fast-moving nature of all plans and protocols at this moment what I wrote yesterday is now out-of-date and doe snot reflect all plans for the coming weeks. Read what follows with caution as plans from 13th April onward are NOT the same as described here.
The first (and possibly only) food 'hampers' / parcels are planned for the week beginning Monday 6th April, arriving on doorsteps by the Tuesday or Wednesday.
There are so many incredible things going on in response to the Covid-1 9 crisis. I am in awe of the planning and preparation that has taken place and the speed with which they are being put into full-speed action.
Schools have closed. School provision for ‘key workers’ has opened up. Easter holiday provision was detailed, planned, offered and taken up. Home schooling ideas were formed and shared. Communications have been enhanced. Big names in music, film, TV, sport and other areas of culture and literature have put together podcasts and other online resources. Subscription services have gone free-of-charge. Working from home has established. Social distancing has gone from being an unknown phrase to being the normal behaviour. Queuing, something the British feel skilled and experienced at, has become expert level. Praise and thanks, in public and out loud, is the norm. Support for every conceivable vulnerable group has been promoted and given.
22% of the national school population is eligible for Free School Meals. The Government decided to close schools. In doing so they have separated those children from that daily free lunch. At our school it is only 26 children – a little over 5% - but that meal may be essential in ensuring a healthy diet and avoiding family household poverty.
The simple answer would be to open up at lunchtime and have those children attend for lunch – but this conflicts with all the guidance about staying home and staying safe. It would inevitably increase the number of contacts for those children, other children in school, staff at work and then families back at home. It cannot be done safely. And so another system is needed.
Within two weeks of announcing school closures the Government announced the launch of a school meal voucher system, a £3.00 a day supermarket voucher scheme, to be issued weekly.
Except it’s not quite as simple as that.
We still want to uphold national school food standards, we still want cost efficiency, we still want to promote a healthy range in the diet offered, and we want to ensure that the money goes on the intended outcomes. Going straight to a universal voucher scheme runs too many risks of not doing that.
So before the voucher is a middle option; a weekly food parcel or ‘hamper’. The organisation of this on a local and national scale is extraordinary.
There are around 4,600 children eligible for FSM in Sheffield. The plan is to prepare a weekly food hamper for each and every one of them and then to have them swiftly and freshly delivered to their front doors. This is a system that did not exist two weeks ago. We may be hearing of local stores delivering locally – but maybe only twenty boxes at a time. This is the equivalent of over 200 such shops setting up the exact same standard scheme within two weeks, at no additional cost to schools or the recipient.
Schools are being urged to help the delivery process. The local authority’s catering contractor has no established experience or structure for delivering across the city. It has not got the capacity to transport so much to so many places in such a short period and at such low cost.
The plan has it that, where numbers are low, schools will receive the boxes on Tuesday or Wednesday and then deliver them themselves. The vast majority of each school’s pupils live locally to that school (in its catchment area) and so it is hoped that they will have the ability to distribute the parcels.
We could put the parcels outside the school front door, and ask parents to come to collect, but that we consider to be a risk we should avoid – too many people gathering in one place, too many journeys taking place.
For our school it is 26 parcels going to 24 addresses, all bar two in the Sheffield 10 postcode area. It looks like a route of around 15 miles in total to get round them all. At the moment this looks simplicity itself and I am sure we will have staff lining up to do the task.
There are two parts of the process that are staggering – what putting together those 4,600 boxes of canned, tinned, cartonned and fresh produce will look like, and how the chain is turned off when no longer needed.
So we expect, straight after what would have been the Easter Holidays (Tuesday 14th April), we will start receiving weekly food parcels and then passing them on the same day to 24 households. We hope it helps. No doubt we will get thanked for what we are doing, and yet it is a mere nothing in the scale of things.
Like many of you will have done, I stepped outside my front door yesterday evening to join the tribute to the entire NHS and social care staff team across the country. I blew a vuvuzela loud enough so my eldest son could hear it at his house two streets away! I clapped along with my next-door neighbours.
We, at school, are proud and humble at the same time, to be able to help in our own tiny way by offering essential child care for the real heroes - the critical workers.
We will be open over what was to be the Easter holiday. We have so many staff offering to be here that we could have a 3 to 1 adult to child ratio! We are happy to help in a small way a gigantic effort by the nation. We will be responsible by only having the necessary staffing level each day. All other colleagues are told to stay at home and limit social contacts.
What we must all do, the scientists and medics tell us, is to stay home, stay safe and save lives.
Dr Who, Jodie Whittaker, posted this message:
Easter is a time of hope. It is a message of triumph and overcoming the worst of times. It carries the important message that others are there for us, that love will overcome, and that God is eternal - this is not the end of things. (It's why we have not said 'goodbye' to the children - because we will see them again soon.)
Make a rainbow and send us a photo. Join in the annual Easter Egg Model Competition and send in an entry - see emails. Check out the weekly music and 'dance' video from school staff. Do a little of the learning activity we send out. But most importantly right now, stay home and stay safe. We will be together again soon.
As you will know the government has taken the decision to close schools from Friday 20th March. The government has published guidance about how schools will continue to support vulnerable children and the children of key workers.
The guidance makes clear that our priority, as a country, is to do everything that we can to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
If children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.
That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.
It is important to underline that schools, colleges and other educational establishments remain safe places for children. But the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.
Schools are, therefore, being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children:
- children who are vulnerable
- children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.
Vulnerable children include children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.
Parents who are critical to the Covid-19 Response
Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined below. If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in a critical sector, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision.
Many parents working in these sectors may still be able to ensure their child is kept at home and every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.
Please, therefore, follow these key principles that the government has set out:
- If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
- If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
- Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
- Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
We anticipate that our Sheffield schools will be open to support the children and young people that need to come on Monday.
If arrangements need to change in the days and weeks that follow, for example because there are not enough school staff to remain open, your school will keep you informed.
I am proud that all Sheffield schools have made such magnificent efforts to support our children and young people during this difficult time. We will be continuing to provide for the children of the other critical workers of our country. It is an essential part of our national effort to combat this disease.
Please help this effort by following this guidance - if your child can be safely cared for at home then that is where they should be - not in school on Monday.
When Lydgate Middle School was opened, in 1974, it occupied only what is now our main building, and had a pupil capacity of 360. It was in the style of the time; open-plan, fluid, with support or withdrawal spaces, and a space allowance for cultural activities that might make noise.
In response to two pressures – the impossibility of teaching three classes in each open-plan base, and local needs for more Primary school places - we now have 485 pupils and so-called ‘mobile’ classrooms for 8 classes.
All schools have what is known as an ‘Indicative Pupil Number’ – this is the number of pupils at which the school is most efficient; any more pupils and each we have will suffer a little of what is called ‘prejudice’. It is not a legal limit (unless the school is open just for Key Stage 1, because they are limited by Infant Class Size rules) but does lead to admission numbers and the need for both Admission Policies and Admission Appeals.
Once we are full (at 120 or more in a year group) any new applications are simply refused by the Local Authority. But as we live in a fully-functioning democracy parents get to use the appeal process if they wish. An independent panel of three hears the LA case (basically ‘we are full’) and then the parents’ case. They, the Panel, make a decision that is binding on both parties – if they award a place then we have to admit the child and make no fuss about it.
Should I argue at all to try to prevent extra admissions at appeal; after all it is rather flattering that parents want to send their children to our school, isn’t it? Each extra child admitted will, eventually, bring extra cash into school’s budget, and a local need will have been met. A local family will have been supported, and the local community will have been strengthened. A parent’s wishes and preferences will have been met. Travel and transport issues are likely to be reduced. Our school’s own future will be sustained.
I ‘lose’ about 40% of appeals – children are admitted over our admission number in about 4 in 10 appeals. The school does not fall apart as a result of an extra child being admitted; we carry on much as before and outcomes remain remarkably high. So why do I try so hard to prevent extra admissions?
I submit a statement in advance of each appeal hearing that runs to 9 pages. I still attend the panel hearings even though I know many Headteachers do not. Successive panel chairs have complimented me on the thoroughness, honesty and accuracy of my statement. They say it pretty much removes the need for them to ask me any questions, and parents very rarely do ask anything.
Though I do sympathise with the parent appealing for a place here I argue in favour of protecting the provision for the children we already have. I know that admitting one more pupil does impact on every one we have in school already, child and adult alike. School classrooms are simply not the same as a lecture theatre – the interaction is vastly different and ratio is hugely important in allowing it to be positive and tuned to individual need. (I do remember when the ‘new’ lecture theatre was opened on the Collegiate Crescent site of Sheffield City Polytechnic, in about 1986, and it being too small for the BEd (Hons) course – in every lecture some students sat on the steps in the aisles. Same lecturer, same notes, same lecture.)
This is where Franz Kafka comes in. You’d think that I would be learning from the 60% I ‘win’, and from the 40% l ’lose’, and improving my average over time. Once I hear what it was about a particular argument that won a place I should be able to counter that next time, and so continually shut off avenues of approach. I’d do that if only I knew why one parent wins and another loses. You see, we only get told the outcome of the appeal and not the reasoning behind it.
There is an obvious absurdity in Kafka’s The Trial when the protagonist is arrested by unidentified officers of an unidentified authority on unspecified charges, and told to appear at an unspecified time before an unidentified court in an un-named room. Not being told why we won or lost feels a little like this. I have to reconcile that I do not need to know on this particular occasion because the decision is final, and as each appeal is separate; one outcome in one appeal is supposed to be irrelevant to the next appeal. We have, indeed, had multiple appeals in one day, winning some and losing others, but never we assume on the grounds that having given a place to the first one the school is now too overfull.
I question whether I should be honest, but I strongly believe that there is a simple moral imperative here. I cannot truthfully say that my school will be in crisis if we accept another pupil into any year group, because it will not be. We will continue to manage and teach well and school will continue to be highly successful. If my being honest is one of the reasons we lose some appeals (when the question is asked about whether we could cope) then we must accept that we will continue to lose.
I do ‘get’ parents’ frustration – they buy an expensive house in the catchment for a highly successful school and then find once they move in that no places are available. They get offered a place at a school a couple of miles and two bus journeys away, where getting there will pose family care problems and getting to work on time problems. Some will be choosing us for the feeder school status (we aren’t so blinkered as not to realise this) and will hate that moving into S10 does not guarantee their preference. All this I note and understand, but how do we ensure the quality of what we must provide for the 485 that we already have? Space is the final frontier, and we have precious little of it with 125 children more on site than school was designed and built for in 1974.
I will keep on arguing against further admissions and hope to maintain a win / loss ratio of 1.5 to 1 or better.
The next Admission Appeals for our school (two children, two different year groups, no idea about the context as we don’t get told and it’s none of my business) are in a couple of weeks. I have tweaked my submission having been asked a novel question at last week’s Panel (and ‘lost’) and I will appear again at the Panel hearing.
There may be hearings after Easter about September admissions into Year 3 if we are over-subscribed and parents push for Appeals. I’ll appear there, too. It is an unseen part of the Headteacher’s role.
It might be tempting, in a school as busy as ours, to be distracted by the very breadth and frequency of what we offer and then to judge us on that alone.
I have many times before written about our ‘ordinary’ weeks and the incredible things we have organised and offered. We sometimes, it seems, forget that the regular offerings are not so regular in all schools and are certainly not part of any guarantee. There is not a week that goes by that does contain something different – I literally find myself laughing at what we put on at times.
The last five school days were no different to this picture of everyday normality at Lydgate Junior School – there were children who are not the best swimmers perhaps out at Ponds Forge for an ‘AquaFest’ all paid for by PE & Sports Premium. We had assemblies led by Reverend Nockles, where she daubed the Headteacher with ashes as she told the children about Ash Wednesday reminding people about their own limited life-span. There was a School Council meeting, with a pupil representative form each class. A Speech and Language specialist came in to work with a couple of pupils. Our Year 6 Leader went to one of the neighbouring Secondary Schools to start the transition process for children moving on in September. World Book Day saw children dressed up, books on sale, free book tokens exchanged, a book swap in full-flow, outdoor learning on a treasure hunt, and parents visiting our new library. A Year 4 class used the wood. FOLA hosted a second hand uniform sale after school. Year 5 pupils, all of them, went to the City Hall for a Halle Orchestra concert and Year 6 went to Birkdale School for a performance of Les Miserables. I attended two Admission Appeals at the Town Hall (and lost both – see next week’s blog). Three pupils went to Lydgate Park as part of their School Council work. Parents attended SEN reviews with our SENCO and the class teacher (and admin support). Taylor Shaw area manager visited to review changes and improvements made recently to service, and to update on plans. Fairly normal activities, but on top of the usual lessons and extra-curricular range.
As I say, we could then confuse the level of activity (width) with the impact of that activity (quality).
The children who went swimming were deliberately chosen. Rev.Nockles helps us build community links. School Council listens to children and helps them feel listened to in school. Individual needs are met. Smooth movement is ensured. Literacy is promoted successfully. Active and outdoor learning promotes engagement. Parents are involved usefully in school. We have a positive environmental impact. Children enjoy a vastly rich culture, and we do not take anything for granted, assuming all our pupils do this outside school. Activities are (sometimes) provided totally for free. Developments are sustained. Parents are listened to and are provided with good quality information.
I think we provide both quality and width – massive provision, all of good quality.