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 & Mrs Finney (3N/R) and Miss Wall (3AW). We have three Teaching Assistants who work within the team: Mrs Allen, Mrs Dawes and Mr Gartrell.
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....
There is normality going on, despite the seemingly overwhelming rush of continuous change that is taking place around us all in response to the COVID-19 crisis. We might have to look for it. The news is full of one story, as is our conversation and possibly our thoughts, but not, it turns out, my email inbox.
Yes, 99% is about the crisis response in one form or other:
Mental health service provision
Catering service resilience
Trade union responses and questions
Impact ion reporting to parents
June 1st opening?
Recruitment at arm’s length
Transitions into and from Key Stage 2
Remote learning demands
Parent challenges on provision allocation
SEND expectations and home / remote learning
Free School Meals in holidays
Alternative education provision
Sports Premium reports and carrying forward unspent balances
School uniform at wider opening
Consulting parents about RSE / Health Education changes
Budget setting in a period of massive uncertainty
And so on, including many, many from colleagues in school (but not working in school).
The contrast came this afternoon – despite all of what is going on, someone agreed the term dates for 2021 / 2022 academic year; I suppose at some point someone has to.
For a few minutes, in what seemed quite surreal calm, I considered where I’d like our five annual training days to fall, and then sent those ideas across to Lydgate Infant School, as we always do, to see if we could agree (as we always do after a nod, a chat or a concession).
We’ve got to be out of all this by then, haven’t we?
It’s all very well Government making big announcements with dashing headlines (Schools to reopen from 1st June) but when they don’t do the detail until later, and when that detail covers only half the possibilities, and when it misses a few of the fundamentals that apply to schools in some contexts, it is saying too much far too quickly.
I know that this sounds like a moan, but it is meant as an explanation of why we have not been able to make definitive statements yet, a whole week after the Prime Minister made his announcement to the nation.
The supporting guidance for schools actually only came out on Tuesday, and then was updated on Wednesday and again on Thursday.
Quite rightly, and with great foresight, our Local Authority lead advised us not to dash to plan or to inform parents as anything we planned was quite likely to be supplanted by revisions and new information. He was right.
The guidance is based around the mythical average Primary School – which may well not actually exist – but certainly does not reflect our context very well. We have three times the national average of ‘vulnerable’ pupils attending daily. We have five times the national average of key workers’ children attending. We have 484 children on a site built for 360. We already have staggered lunchtimes. We have, effectively, one entrance and exit. We are a Key Stage 2 only school – that has transition in and out. We have over a quarter of our parents indicated as ‘key workers’, about 20% more than average. We are one of the lowest funded schools per pupil in Sheffield and accordingly have one of the highest pupil:teacher ratios – we have the lowest staffing capacity to absorb absence. We have half our classes taught by job share teachers – about 25% above average. We have just one hall and two playgrounds but 16 classes – so we cannot have every class outside learning and not mixing. We are over capacity and over admission number and in two year groups we have classes of over 30 pupils.
All these factors make planning wider opening harder here than at an ‘average’ school. (There are many locations where it is going to be more complicated, near impossible; schools with even higher numbers of key and crucial workers, for example.)
Right now I do not know for sure who comes first – some Headteachers disagree with my interpretation of the guidance – children of key workers or children in YR, Y1 and Y6 or ‘vulnerable’ children. I do not know if we are supposed to effectively reserve places for all those children. I do not know for sure if we are implementing social distancing measures (2 metres apart) or a ‘contact bubble’ approach of keeping groups separated. I do not know for sure what to do if we cannot accommodate a whole set of children (the guidance has said (and not said) that no children should be in on a rota basis. Presumably offer all or nothing – the guidance just doesn’t say the ‘nothing’ option.) I do not know what the LA could do to find us extra teaching spaces to put groups of children or extra staff to teach them. I do not know or certain that we will be able to provide meals, or to serve them over an extended staggered lunch break. I do not know how many of my staff will be assured by restated guidance on shielding arrangements over critical health vulnerabilities. I do not have a workable, reasonable plan yet on how we would address a situation where someone fell ill with symptoms while at school. I do not know how we could possibly continue to provide materials to support home learning if all our teaching staff are engaged in teaching groups of up to 15 children all day each day. I do not know what we do with the 16th child – some of our classes have 31 children, so if we divide in two, where does the 16th child in a group go if groups should be no more than 15? I do not know how we arrange staggered starts and ends to each day when there will be sibling links within groups so children will arrive together and need to leave together. I do not see how we are keeping adults apart outside the gate. I do not have an effective method of seeing parents’ enquiries being answered when we are guided (by the Guidance) to not allow parents onto the site except with an appointment.
And all that needs sorting before we start wider opening and before we communicate plans to parents.
Then there is the on-going and summer term activity we are getting Y6 back to do – to meet the staff at the destination schools, to go on day visits, to explore a new curriculum and a host of other transition tasks. We have yet to fully explore how any of this might be done while at the same time limiting contacts outside each group. The Guidance says Secondary Schools will not host Primary pupils (not ‘may not’, but ‘will not’).
I’m sorry, but right now it feels like the things I do not know outnumber the things I do by a factor of 3 (on average). It is not an answer that inspires confidence and that is why I have not been communicating this to parents this week.
This morning I have spent an hour in a meeting listening to preparations for thinking about possible responses to announcements that may or may not be made in the next few days about reopening or partial reopening or staged reopening or not of schools and colleges. Or not.
There are so many computations, permutations and combinations of possibilities that we simply cannot plan and prepare for all of them in sufficient detail to initiate any suggestion or direction immediately. And so we wait.
In the meantime we continue to make provision in school and to offer home learning ideas. This is being supported locally and nationally to an amazing level.
Sheffield City Council, through Learn Sheffield, its staff and several brilliant other contributors and sponsors, is publishing today the first of a weekly series of supplements in The Star. It will be distributed free to 5,500 family homes this week and possibly 10,000 next week - demand has outstripped supply this first time round.
But in this age of digital you can simply click here:
and download a copy of a superb 16-page bank of ideas. Have fun!
Time, said Doctor Who in one of his / her more recent incarnations, is not so much a straight progression of cause to effect, ‘but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff’.
You must be experiencing this yourself as the world goes through (and that’s a positive move –we are ‘going through’ not ‘stuck in’) the Covid-19 crisis.
One day is very much like the previous now, and the next is shaped to be a repeat of the previous two. Wednesday today? Saturday tomorrow? We would expect to have achieved things in a relative period of time – washing on certain days, ironing on another, weekly shop on Fridays after work, swimming lessons on Saturday and dance class Thursdays at 7:00, and so on. Much of that seems gone for now. We know, we are assured, that our collective efforts and commitments are making a difference to help us come out of the crisis sooner than we might, less damaged than we might and more of us than we might be.
It is human nature, though, to be asking what’s next, and wanting some definitive answer to when and how we get back to where we once were (just six weeks ago, in fact). I am well-aware that there are multiple possibilities for what we might be directed to do, to seek, to implement, possibly as many possibilities as people in any conversation. It turns out fairly often that we get asked to implement something that we did not foresee and to implement it in a manner wold did not envisage, and so some of our preparations are wrong, unnecessary and even unhelpful.
We have, of course, given time to discuss the fundamentals of a return to school for all pupils; we have talked about issues related to staff well-being, to re-establishing routines and expectations, curricula issues, children’s different experiences during lockdown, safeguarding, transition, Special Needs and staffing. There are conversations taking place about classes for next year, where we pick up learning, summer holiday ‘clubs’ and so on.
The truth is, though, that we are no further forward with a plan nor a timeline. We are confident that all tunnels have light at the end; we just do not know how long this particular tunnel will turn out to be. We are one week further along from the start and therefore one week nearer the end, but this effort is like one of those mountains with a succession of false summits, a tunnel that twists and turns or The Doctor’s ‘wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff’; we still do not know how far away the end of things is.
Of course safety, health and well-being will be top of the list when a decision is made. Of course there will be a sensible, understanding approach taken in working with parents. Of course there will be some flexibility around different contexts. Of course there will have to be a period of settling back in. Of course some things will have changed while others stayed the same. Making sure that children and adults alike are safe will be the top concern, however. I just don’t know when, or in what order, or how.
A strange and cloudy message this week –I don’t really know too much, but neither do any of my Headteacher colleagues. Once we do you will be sure to hear about it straight away.
Thompson’s Law (of kitchen utensils) states, quite accurately, that kitchen utensils expand to fill the cupboard space available.
If you have ever moved house, or had a kitchen refitted or even had a kitchen extension you will know at first hand the literal truth of this observation. You go from one food cupboard, one for crockery and one for pans and maybe three drawers to the full catalogue kitchen with a central island and push spring opening doors and at least three cupboards for each area. You unpack, sort, place carefully in the swing-out baskets and well-positioned internal shelves, and lo! The cupboards are full.
Thompson’s Law is a specific extension of that classic, Parkinson’s Law, that says work expands to fill the time available, but I like to start with Thompson. It’s the same sort of principle, though with a kitchen it’s more about laying things out neatly and giving easy eyeballing on each item. With time management it may be about either getting the job done as well as you can, given the limited time available, or avoiding getting allocated any new task!
We have yet to hear numbers for how many people are out of work, how many are ‘furloughed’ and how many are confined to ‘working at home’ as a result of the current crisis, but judging solely on the impact on the school’s workforce, and the ease with which I can commute each day, it must be a very sizable slice of the adult population.
As the senior leader in school one thing I am intrigued by is what managers in other schools and other sectors might expect from their employees when they work from or at home. A single person in their own home, used to workplace employment, is going to find it quite a challenge to stay focussed on work-related tasks for a full 8 hour shift at keyboard or on the phone. And that’s to assume that you can find work-related, reasonable and useful tasks for them to do at a distance. With schools closed it must be becoming increasingly difficult for working at home parents to continue to produce significant work outcomes each day if they have their children at home to entertain, feed and possibly educate.
Teachers are not unused to working at home. There are few in the profession who can get it all done at school in normal times, even if they take advantage of the often extended site open hours. (Our school site is open to staff from just after 7:00 to just before 18:00 – a possible ten and a half hour day on site – and yet for many weeks of the year this would not be enough to complete the full set of duties.) A good chunk of planning, communicating, assessing, recording, reporting, researching, reviewing, preparing and sharing can be done away from school. But the essential contact with the class cannot. Flipped, it is the same for the children – without the classroom experience, it is not the same at all.
But what we are finding is that those elements of our role that can be done AFC (away from classroom) are simply, massively expanding to fill all the released time. We have never read and sent do many emails. We have never received some much briefing. We have never known a period of such intense updating, refreshing and clarifying. We are asking more questions and being asked more questions. We are working harder than ever to stay connected. We are preparing for all foreseeable eventualities, and getting caught out be the unforeseen ones.
I will be adding new tasks in for staff over the next three weeks of school closure – making more contacts with some children and families, starting Reports and transition arrangements, training online, contributing to planning for September changes – but we will find time for these quite easily, I think (if our own children at home allow us screen time and thinking space).
We are missing our day jobs. Every member of staff who comes in to support provision for the children of key workers is delighted to be in school and having some ‘normal’ work to do, but none are reporting a lack of work. None have asked what to do next because they have finished everything. Kitchen utensils have expanded / work has expanded to fill the time and space available.
Stay safe – we will see you soon.