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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 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.


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Introduction

Welcome to the Y4 blog. 

The Y4 team consists of the following teachers: Mrs Purdom in Y4JP, Mrs Smith and Mrs Smith (yes, that's right) in Y4SS, Mrs Wymer in Y4CW and Ms Reasbeck and Mrs Drury in Y4RD. The children are also supported by our teaching assistants: Mrs Proctor, Mrs Cooper, Mrs Hornsey, Mr Jenkinson and Mrs Wolff. We have help from Mrs Farrell, Miss Lee and Mrs Grimsley too and some of the children are lucky enough to spend time in The Hub with Mrs Allen. What a team!


We know that the question children are mostly asked when they arrive home is 'What did you do today?' The response is often 'nothing'! Well, here is where you can find out what 'nothing' looks like. In our weekly blogs your children will share with you what they have been getting up to and show some of the wonderful work they have been doing. Check in each weekend for our latest news.


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Introduction

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

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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 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....

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18 Jan 2020

Addressing School-based Period Poverty

I want to write detail on the announcement this morning from DfE and phs of the plan to address school-age period poverty by providing free period products in every school in England.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/free-sanitary-products-in-all-primary-schools

Except that the content of the press release is all I have. I have scoured the usual main news feeds and only picked up rehashed versions of the same story, all built on the press release and an older DfE feed:

https://www.fenews.co.uk/fevoices/40720-government-rolls-out-scheme-to-introduce-free-period-products-into-all-state-schools-and-colleges-in-england

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/jan/18/free-period-products-to-be-available-in-schools-and-colleges-in-england

https://www.phs.co.uk/about-phs/period-equality-in-education/

What I am told is that we (schools) will receive an email on Monday inviting us to sign up for the scheme (as if we would say ‘no’ to an opportunity to provide what, on surface at least, appears to be a Universal Benefit).

How it will work if we don’t contract our sanitary disposal with phs I don’t know.

Whether it will actually be ‘Universal’ I don’t know.

How we will overcome anticipated resistance I don’t know either.

And, crucially, some sources are quoting some numbers that throw huge doubts on the scheme’s intended reach – an annual cost of less than £18 million and an uptake by 1.1 million ‘students’.

These are far, far too small to indicate ‘Universal’ uptake or access. There are around 720,000 pupils in each school year group in the UK; approximately 9 million ‘students’ in total in England’s schools. Half of them are girls and we might assume we need to make provision from Years 6 to 13 – leading to a total of at least 2.25 million children. How is the target of 1.1 million derived?

Are we about to see some screening and in a very well-meaning scheme some sort of block installed that becomes the next barrier to overcome? Is it actually going to be funded at the rate of free school meals in the schools, perhaps? Just under 20% of pupils in Year 3 and above are eligible nationally for FSM (only 4% in our school), and that equates to around the 1 million mark nationally.

So if this is how it works (the free part of provision), how will schools manage this? There is simply no way we are means testing children or holding period products in First Aid or the Office or in the teachers’ drawer and then applying a FSM test to distribution. Surely all schools will want to make access simple and possible or they will be working contrary to the whole idea of the scheme. What we will then be pushed to do is to provide, at school cost, free period products for all. It’s that, ‘at school cost’ bit that troubles me, as we will receive no funding top-up to do it (and what a wasteful money-go-round that would be anyway; give us money for us to give to a company the Government has selected to run the scheme).

I absolutely agree – period products ARE too expensive and VAT charging on them, even at the current 5% rate, is outrageous. The single most effective way to deliver a benefit though is to make it universally free at the point of access. Want to eradicate period poverty? Make access to period products free for all.

I’ll raise it with School Governors at the earliest opportunity (the Thursday after the invitation email arrives in school).

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11 Jan 2020

Eggs are not the only fruit

I called in on Cooking Club after school. They were just pouring their cake mix (Chocolate and Raspberry Cake) into the baking trays when I arrived.

I offered to lick out the bowls, but being as health conscious as they are the children themselves warned me about the inherent risk of food poisoning from eating uncooked eggs.

Now the activity leaders and I know that the Food Standards Agency advice on eggs has been updated recently, and is that they can, once again, be considered salmonella free and safe to eat soft boiled or even raw!

Since 4:30 I have been trying to think of a way to use this as an analogy for some part of education policy shift, and all I can come up with is the movement suggested in Ofsted’s Inspection of schools previously judged to be Outstanding.

It appears that these schools, up to 2,000 of them, some not Inspected since 2006, will soon face the prospect of a visit once every five years, just like the rest of schools. And a jolly good thing too, I say. It is patently obvious that many of these schools will still be performing really well, but some will have changed significantly in that period and will now need support and direction from external sources to return to their previous effectiveness.

We have also seen this week a suggestion by no less than the head of Ofsted that the organisation should stop ‘inspecting’ schools that are struggling to improve (they more have had successive poor or low Inspection outcomes over a number of years) and instead try supporting them.

You see, the similarity is that policy changes in all areas over time. Eggs were good, uncooked eggs were bad, and now uncooked eggs are good again.

Very, very few schools were once upon a time inspected by Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools, then all schools were Inspected, then only those not Outstanding were Inspected, now all schools will be Inspected again.

What I actually would like to see matches something I was told by a now retired Deputy Head in Doncaster. Ofsted, he said, is about proving not improving. For those schools in the most difficult circumstances, where, try as they might over years and years, they cannot overcome all the difficulties of community and context, Ofsted should be a long-term dedicated partner in school development and not the bearer of a big stick. Let’s have an Inspection regime that actually suggests how to change things around and stays around long enough to help it happen, perhaps shaping Government policy to help these schools and communities, rather than jumping in, wielding a big stick and running off with little responsibility.

Back when I was Student Union President, I did use a free range egg as a visual aid in a ‘Welcome to Sheffield City Polytechnic’ speech to new first year students on each of the then five sites of the Poly. I described how the exterior and badging of the egg could only tell you so much. To really appreciate all the egg had to offer you had to crack it open and get stuck in. The same, I said, applied to the Student Union movement and services. Eggs make good analogies, but I’m not sure cake mix does in this case.

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23 Dec 2019

A Short Christmas Blog

On the Sunday before Christmas I get to attend the Carol Concert at St. Columba’s Church in Crosspool. It has become a traditional Christmas invitation, and I am invited to give a Reading, along with other significant members of the local community.

There is a warmth in the welcome and a true community spirit in the event. The congregation is actually a combination form two churches in Crosspool. Accompaniment for the Carols is given by Tapton Wind Band (including some of our ex-pupils playing songs they were knocking out four years previously at St. John’s on our Concert evening). Readings are given by a local Councillor, staff from both Lydgate schools, the Chair of Crosspool Forum and poignantly a representative of a refugee charity here in Sheffield.

There are young people in the congregation who are current and past pupils at our school, and it was obvious that parents appreciated me being there and making my contribution. School is a central figure in the local area and our children contribute highly to the feel of the locality.

At school last week I was continually referring to the simpler messages of Christmas – that it is at its heart a simple story of hope and promise based on the lowly birth of a child. Three times I came back to gift giving and stressed that it is not the extrinsic cost of a gift that matters but the intrinsic value. In ‘in the bleak midwinter’ the ‘voice’ asks in the last verse what she or she can give, poor as they are? In the story of the Christmas significance of the Poinsettia we find an impoverished street child offering a posy of weeds as gift to the baby as it is all she has. And in the final reading we heard how Mohammed, an asylum-seeker living here in Sheffield, does voluntary charity work as he sees there are others in greater need. What can we give? We can give from the heart and of the heart.

This Christmas I am giving to all my family gifts I have made, with love. I remember a friend once explaining why her homemade bread was better than shop-bought. Simply, she said, it was because she kneaded in some love. Give love this Christmas, and find and share peace.

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13 Dec 2019

Numbers never lie

On a day where the news was all about the day before’s General Election, the annual School Pupil Performance Tables were published.

CLICK HERE for the DfE searchable database

Schools are far, far more than can be described in a simple set of results, but numbers can make for a good read and a bit of a puzzle over. I do urge everyone to consider context when looking at figures – they are simplistic and give very little contextual background. But here are some highlights:

Search for all Primary Schools in Sheffield, choose the radius of search and, for us, Primary Schools in the maintained sector.

By looking at the comparison group (My Schools – 85 schools) you see that Lydgate Junior School is / was:

First out of 85 schools on percentage of pupils attaining the expected standard in all three subject areas (reading, writing and maths),

12% to 23% ahead of national average on the same measure over the last three years,

Lowest funded per pupil,

Fifth best on reading progress score,

Tenth best on maths progress score,

Tenth best on percentage of pupils achieving the higher standards in all three areas,

5%, 6% and 7% ahead of national average on the same measure over the last three years,

Third best on average score in maths,

Third best attendance rate.

All this with the ninth highest Pupil : Teacher ratio in the comparison group (25.6 : 1 compared to a national average of 20.7 : 1) and in a Junior School (where, it is recognised, progress is lower on average).

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06 Dec 2019

Coat and Hat Hooks

I overheard a conversation at the Office hatch a couple of weeks ago, and on reflection later I was embarrassed that a parent had felt it necessary to come and talk to school about the issue that was troubling them and their child.

Their son, they said, could not hang his coat in the cloakroom because his allocated hook was broken, had been broken for some time and, despite mentioning it, there was no sign that it would be replaced.

At first I was baffled that someone would raise what appeared to be a relatively insignificant matter in such a way - going to the trouble to come in to school to make representations. Then I got defensive and went through all my own complaints on the subject - how do hooks get broken? Why do bags get hung on what are 'coat and hat hooks'? why do bags have to be so big? can children not stand them up or put them under the bench as directed? And finally I got to the place where I accepted that the child was frustrated as much as the parent. Their offer to come in themselves with drill and screwdriver to do the job should be going too far, but I did get the point: for this child this was what mattered.

We do have our defenses, of course. It is children's actions that bend and break hooks. We replace 100 plus each year. The cloakrooms, all four of them, in the main building have been reconfigured and the number of hooks has been increased in each. Each hook has two parts - one for coat, and one for hat (hence their real title as 'coat and hat hook'). We only have so much caretaker time and only so much cash to either buy resources or to buy services. There are other, more pressing, priorities. Mobile classrooms are supposed to be temporary. Mobiles are not new, nor terribly solid, and fixing anything can be a challenge.

But once we accept that this is what matters to that child then we have to get on with the work.

So a new programme has started. The old, contiboard, planks and hooks have been removed, to be replaced by solid timber as in the main building. New double hooks (for coat and hat) have been fixed - some in technicolour - meaning there is a total fresh start.

We cannot make the space bigger (as cost prevents us extending what is, after all, supposed to be temporary) or because we need space in classrooms rather more than we need it in cloakrooms, so they will remain squashed. What I hope is that that pupil recognises that raising his issue incessantly until answered got things done. I hope his new hook is sound and does not get damaged. I also hope that each child recognises work done and uses the facility correctly. I may have mentioned this; they are coat and hat hooks, not coat, bag and instrument hooks - they are not designed for that bulk or that weight.

New hooks in a row (and already some bent out of original shape).

I was going to paste in a photo of a line of bent hooks - but here is the new set instead. (Clearly not a posed picture as you can tell from the drawstring PE bags in the shot!)

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