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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 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....

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18 Sep 2017

The Broad and The Narrow

Here are two examples of the sorts of things we discuss, dissect, deliberate at school at senior leader level on a weekly basis. They probably demonstrate nicely the way that we work both practically and theoretically, wanting to assist children to reach their absolute potential and to make sure that nothing hinders that progress.

The Thousands Comma

What goes between the hundreds and the thousands digits? Is it a space (in what we think is the American style), a comma (traditional British style), or nothing (European, so as not to confuse with their way of indicating values in money)?

Over time it has been all three, or a combination of two from three. This week, on a walk round school, we happened to observe two different representations, in different year groups. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it can help children if they happen across different representations later on. However, in one class a child struggled to read aloud a four digit number while another child read a four digit number easily enough in the other class.

We discussed this minutia – imagine; seven adults discussing the various possible ways to record number, and deciding on what school should adopt as ‘policy’. We took account of the end of key stage assessment content, of course, but were not dictated to by it.

From now on it’s 6,435 or 2,008.

Actually, the change was quicker than this – the very next day, in the very next maths lessons across school, with each year group engaged in number topics, numbers were shown consistently with the ‘thousands comma’ in place.

 

Volunteering Policy

Alongside the very specific was some work on this more general policy development. It would be easy to think that we simply welcome all offers of help as many hands make light work after all. A quick online search brings up many school policies, and they seem to suggest all are welcome. But perhaps these schools struggle to attract partnership with the community, or have more capacity to support and direct teams of volunteers.

Any reader who works in other sectors or industries might take a very different view about volunteering. You can’t just rock up to Rolls Royce engineering and expect to walk in as a volunteer, or to a prison, or a pharmacy, or a utility company. Even where they do offer placements for work experience they limit numbers, control access, limit periods, risk assess like crazy, and keep volunteers away from any sort of sensitive or essential activity. Why should schools be different? (And why does no one ever volunteer to support the admin function or the premises team?)

We had a couple of experiences at the very start of term where people simply assumed they could turn up, sign up, and start the very next day. They can’t.

They can’t because:

  • We don’t know their motives,
  • They may need a DBS check,
  • They need, if accepted, an introduction and induction,
  • They will need to be managed and directed,
  • We will need to find a role for them to undertake,
  • We will want to match skills to need,
  • We will need to find a member of staff willing or keen to accept the volunteer,
  • We haven’t ‘interviewed’ them or taken references, something we would clearly do for a staff appointment,
  • We may be ‘full’ already,
  • We will want them to sign a few things, such as a Code of Conduct, to be sure that they understand the trust, confidentiality and discretion we will expect,
  • And finally because having a volunteer requires my staff to put in some extra work. I want my teachers to be able to teach well, and if having a volunteer, a student or a trainee negatively affects this beyond the initial period then I am not keen on hosting the extra adult.

This is one of those areas where the Headteacher really does get to have the final say. I, or my delegate, get to decide whether we offer a volunteer a placement or not, and also whether one has to be terminated. A formal policy is in hand, to be presented to Governors for approval later this term. In the meantime we will work assuming it has been agreed. It will be published on the school website as a draft shortly.

 

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08 Sep 2017

Choosing A New School

Parents of children new to Year 6 will very soon have to turn their thoughts to making a choice about Secondary Education. With our local system of Infant, Junior, and Secondary stages, parents have to apply for school places on multiple occasions. Each time they can only 'express a preference', or up to three in fact.

What shapes those preferences, I wonder? Experience in all its sorts, word of mouth, publically available information and comparison data, reputation, tradition, the child's needs and interests, curriculum offer, and so on, will all play their parts.

For the last few years the majority of our leavers have gone on to Tapton School. We actually have 'feeder school' status with both Tapton and King Edward VII Schools, and so we might expect a more even split or for the balance to swing each year.

Linda Gooden, the Headteacher of King Edward VII, has been making time available for parents to meet her, and to learn more about her school. Her next 'drop-in' is at Nether Green Junior School on Thursday 14th September (18:00 start). Perhaps her school has something unexpected to offer your child.

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09 Aug 2017

What happens in those long holidays?

The six-week holiday is one of the busiest times of the school year, in fact.

How come? Because that is when we can get on with building and premises works without the restrictions caused by having to work round teaching hours, the health and safety difficulties of having 500 plus people on site, and the brief periods available in term time for developing projects.

So what have we been up to so far?

  • Visitors who think they know the school will find that the library has gone!
  • And that a teaching kitchen area has appeared where the library was,
  • The teaching base that was Y5AR has expanded! (built out sideways)
  • The teaching base has been re-carpeted,
  • A new library has opened up in what was the central open space known as the ‘Craft Area’,
  • Walls around the main building have been painted,
  • The air con has been fixed (at very long last),
  • Thirty three brand-new curriculum computers have been replaced and installed around school, with all the necessary software,

You might wonder how on Earth we can afford to do all this in a time when schools are crying out in fiscal pain? Actually the jobs are cheaper than you might think, are on the ‘never-never’, are being done in-house, or are paid for by ring-fenced funds.

The library / kitchen swap has been done by our own Premises staff, and funded partly by FOLA, partly with a ring-fenced Capital fund. We receive around £9,600 per year for premises development works, and didn’t spend last year’s, so we had £19,000 available and needing to be spent.

The carpets are paid for from our meagre premises improvements budget.

The ‘expansion’ works were again completed by Mr Sharrock and a colleague, with proper plans and permissions and building regulation approval.

The newly positioned library uses the same shelving and books – it is just costing us some time to shift everything and screw them down! (and a bit more carpet so as to quieten the area).

Three very large buckets of magnolia emulsion costs a lot less than the staff time to apply it. The Premises staff are ‘whole time’ which means they work 52 weeks a year (minus annual leave).

The air conditioning / heating / ventilation system in the main building has been problematic since its installation. The local authority has picked up the tab for the latest remedial work. Hopefully the attendance of the head of service will ensure it does not work properly. No further cost to school for this one.

We were already in a rolling lease for IT hardware. The idea is that we cannot afford to buy outright, so we simply stay in a lease/lend agreement and replace as machines become obsolete. The new ones are distributed right around school in classrooms and bases for children to use every day.

Still to come is some work on protecting the viability of one of the ‘mobile’ classrooms, by having contractors install (flame retardant) aluminium cladding, and finishing off all the started jobs.

I think you’ll notice the difference, and the children will, too.
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24 Jul 2017

The Gender Pay Gap

Schools are public bodies. There seems to be a story and interest in the 'gender pay gap' at the BBC. And there are some calls for disclosure by all public bodies and companies over a certain size to publish their data. So schools should publish?

The scale of the pinch of salt needed to be taken to ensure sufficient caution in reading the stark data headlines is quite significant:

  • The highest earner is male. BUT there is only one Headteacher, and I am paid on a nationally agreed pay scale appropriate to the school, at the same point as the previous Headteacher (who was female).
  • The pay differential between lowest salary and highest is 48 times (i.e. the highest gross pay for a member of staff is 48 times that of the lowest paid). BUT the lowest paid is for a term-time only post, on a different pay scale, in a different role, and only 3 hours 20 minutes per week. When corrected for fte the differential is 4.3 times. This takes no account of actual hours worked in a profession where teachers' terms and conditions of employment state that they can be expected to work such additional hours as may be necessary to carry out their professional duties. This compares the almost incomparable.
  • Women have the highest pay rates in three out of the five staff groups (but one is comprised solely of women).
  • The average salary for male staff is £741.61 higher than the average salary for female staff. BUT with just seven male staff (against fifty one female) the data gets easily skewed and any 'confidence interval' analysis shows the unreliability of the difference.
  • The actual gross pay is so spread that not one member of staff actually earns within £2,000 of the average for either gender.
  • Removing all 'post holders' (who are paid additionally for their extra responsibilities) from the calculations puts female staff as highest paid in all areas. Looking solely at teachers, female staff are 25% ahead of their male colleagues. Female teaching assistants would be 6% ahead of male teaching assistants.
  • The gender issues in schools are not about pay, really. The pay differential, where there is one, comes from the appointment of individuals to the few posts that arise. With established job profiles and good appointment and promotion procedures, very little staff change, and no new posts of responsibility being created, there is no 'gender pay gap' coming from an institutionally sexist system.
  • The issue that has existed for many years, and remains still, is the gender profile of applicants and staff. At our most recent appointment, for a full-time permanent teacher, fewer than a  third of applicants were male. (We thought we did quite well getting as many as we did.) A third of the student teachers we hosted this year were male. None of the applicants for lunchtime roles were male. None of the work experience pupils from local Secondaries were male.
  • There are seven posts of responsibility held by teachers, six of which are held by women.
  • Of our eighteen education support staff, five posts have extra responsibility. All five are held by women.
  • The Office Manager is female, as is the Lunchtime Manager.
  • Of the fifty eight employees of the school, just seven are male. That two of those seven are in posts of additional responsibility, against fourteen from fifty one female staff, puts just 1% male / female imbalance in posts held.
  • All this data is based on 2016 pay and post-holders (as that's what I have available at the time and in the place of writing). If it had been done when the (previous) Headteacher (female) and her Deputy (male) were in post the figures would be greatly different.

 

What do we learn? A reminder to handle all data carefully and to treat it with a little element of doubt, as it may not be telling you what you at first think.

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12 Jul 2017

Everything Must Go!

What have a golf umbrella, a blue bucket, a bath towel, a karate suit (red belt), a cycle helmet, and a plate from an orienteering course in common?

Answer: They are all sitting in our uncollected pile of un-named Lost Property.

I could have added to the 'miscellaneous' list a SHU baseball cap, two watches and one walking boot.

94 items just from the central collection of Lost Property, or one for every fifth pupil in school. There's some quality kit in there as well - Helly Hansen coat, Karrimor running bottoms, tops from Zara Kids. Some of it is obviously similar to the rest - blue sweatshirts are blue sweatshirts, after all, but much is unique and I would have thought they would be easily noticed as 'lost', searched for and found.

We will return everything that is named. We will display everything else. We will appeal to the children to identify and take everything that is theirs. We will walk them past the collection, plus items held elsewhere in school. But the remainder will go at the end of term.

Lost Property of this scale does make us wonder about the spare spending capacity of our pupils' families - it is another indicator of low levels of 'disadvantage', I suppose.

Everything must go - free to a good home - please come and take a look and take some things to reclaim or recycle.

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