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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 our regular volunteers, 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 Mr Jones.We are also very lucky to be helped by Mrs Ainsworth, Mrs Cooper, Mr Jenkinson, Mrs Biggs and Mrs Dawes. 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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15 Mar 2019

A Career in Education

I once failed spectacularly at an interview for a Headteacher post, shooting myself out of contention with my honest answer to a question about the role of business in Primary Schools. The school in question was in the wealthy and leafy western part of Hartlepool and the Governor with the question was, it turned out, a ‘prominent’ local business owner. It said I thought business should have little or no role to play at all.

According to DfE research 96% of Primary Schools offer some sort of tailored careers education currently. Damian Hinds has announced £2 million for a quango to share with partners to further develop career-related learning in Primary Schools.

It astonishes me that the figure could possibly be so high. It baffles me that this is higher than the percentage of schools that offer effective swimming lessons that meet national curriculum requirements – just 94% in the same year!

Aged 10, when you struggle to calculate the simplest percentage of a whole (say, 20% VAT on an item costing £140), do you really need to know that Tax Inspectors exist, what they do or what qualifications you need to become one?

At the Primary Stage I would still suggest that 100% of schools are teaching tailored career-related learning: we teach every child literacy and numeracy skills which will be pretty vital whatever their future holds. We teach music which will help future composers and producers. We teach IT which will help future programmers and planners. We teach science, surely a future benefit for budding food producers. And when we teach languages we help possibly every child in an ever-widening global workforce.

I just don’t think children’s needs are best defined by the owners of factories.

... (Read More)
10 Mar 2019

All Aboard!

School's current average attendance: 98.4%

National average for Spring term 2018: 95.8%

That difference is just plus 2.6%, hardly anything it might seem, but it means a huge amount.

It is 2,390 extra days of school for our pupils in a year.

That's the equivalent of 12 pupil school years extra attendance and learning.

  • No wonder our results are good - we teach each child an average of 5 more days each year.
  • No wonder we use this to justify our judgement as providing valued and valuable education - didn't like and value school and children would be off more.
  • No wonder school feels full - because of that average extra 12 children each day.
  • No wonder staff have to work hard and long - more marking and prep than in the average school.
  • No wonder our resources are stretched - schools get paid whether pupils actually attend or not.


I choose to assume we are not seen as cheap and legally required child-care, but as the silver bullet to overcome poverty and the key to success. I choose to assume parents see us as doing a good job by their children. And when combined with the incredibly low 'mobility rate' (the number of moves in and out of school, on and off roll) - one fifth the Sheffield average - and we can see that parents and pupils like being here, value what we provide and are happy to stay.

Obviously it is far more complicated than that - parents work and need child care, parents who are well-educated and qualified themselves see the value of education, relative wealth brings better health, alternatives are actually limited in an area where all schools are full, and so on.

But daily attendance is very high - well done everyone who makes that happen.

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01 Mar 2019

Moving Mountains - quite a challenge

I issued a challenge today to a specialist in PE, and waved the carrot of over £4,600 in fees if he could come up with a viable solution to a persistent problem.

We have been informed, as I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, about our one-off income from the Health Capital Grant (Sugar Tax) - estimated at £4,623.

The source and the title suggest areas we should be spending it on, though there are few strings attached. We could have a go at Mental Health provision improvement, but we do have a lot of evidence about other basic health issues, such as obesity and inactivity.

Though we provide out-of-hours activities every day, analysis of the attendance registers shows that only a small percentage of our pupils are involved. Many children involved are engaged in more than one of the things we put on. And that means that an awful lot are not involved in any.

Of course many of those may be engaged in activities outside school, with parents or in local clubs and at local centres. However, the annual height and weight checks keep on telling us that 40% plus of our Year 6 pupils are overweight and worse. Observation shows that those same children tend to be less active at play times (and possibly so during our 2 hours a week PE sessions).

So the challenge I issued was this: formulate a plan for getting those currently unengaged and less-resilient children active on a regular basis and the £4,623 is yours to pay for the work in making it reality.

Sadly the national review of impact of years of health and education spending on children’s physical activity and associated health indicators shows it has not worked. I think what happens in creating a new opportunity is that they get taken up by children and families who are already engaged and active.

If we are to make the intended impact, with this money and with funding such as the Sports and PE Premium, we need to target it much better, and we need a better appeal to those children.

We have a spare slot for an extra out-of-hours activity – Tuesday before school because indoor athletics has had its season. I want to fill it with something that will attract and inspire a different demographic.

We’ve done the obvious – increased the range, used experts, connected with Clubs, asked the children, consulted School Council, improved facilities, narrowed who we make offers to, worked on Saturdays, started a mile a day, participated in every inter-school event, worked across partnerships and locality – but still the negative statistics linger. It seems to need something radical (as we won’t accept that the question is impossible to beat).

‘Those who can, do. Those who don’t, won’t’. I want to prove this wrong.

... (Read More)
20 Feb 2019

Pupil Mobility versus Social Mobility

Pupil Mobility is a measure of pupil movement during the academic year. The calculation is simple: add all the movements in and out and express that as a percentage of the number on roll. Our Pupil Mobility measure is at its lowest level in 7 years, at just 2.6%. It is now less than one fifth of the Sheffield average. There were just 11 pupils leaving or joining our school during term time in the last 12 months.

Parents can be worried about a negative impact on their children if they move during a key stage. They should be assured by the research evidence that shows that any negative impact is actually due to other factors, such as EAL, economic disadvantage and SEN. When simply accounting for prior attainment at the end of key stage 1, there is no negative impact on attainment due to moving schools.

The gross impact is much harder to measure. The schools with the highest levels of pupil mobility are also those with highest levels of disadvantage. There are correlations and coincidences in the data groups, but not necessarily any causal link. Pupil movement may be driven by four causes and circumstances and we can easily see how each might lead to both disadvantage and lower attainment:

  • International migration — Children joining / leaving schools as a result of families moving from / to countries overseas
  • Internal migration — Children joining / leaving schools as a result of families moving home within the UK, whether over long or short distances
  • Institutional movement — Children changing schools without moving home, including exclusions and voluntary transfers
  • Individual movement — Children changing schools as a result of moving alone, such as moves between separated parents or to live with foster parents.

Conversely and positively we can look at each of these factors as a factor likely to indicate aspiration and hope for improvement. International migration may be to escape hardship but is also a movement towards better, and presumably betterment. Which parent ever wanted less for their child than they enjoyed? Moving home and city (or just catchment area) can be as a result of new careers, career advancement and ‘making it good’. With it comes the chance to enjoy the schools offered in the new area. The vast abundance of data and other information about schools is supposed to allow parents to state their preference of school, and if they feel one is not right for their child then they have the right to seek a move to another. (This does require spaces to be available of course.) In an urban area parents often have to choose from many nearby schools, and they do do so for many reasons. Almost always it is sought for the child’s best interests. A child moving home does not mean a school move will have to happen, but hopefully the home change is also a positive one, and supports the child’s growth and development.

So, very few children leave Lydgate Junior School mid-year (maybe 5 or 6 in any 12 months), and a similar small number join us (coming in from a waiting list or via and Admission Appeal Panel decision). I remain convinced that the reason so few children leave is because we do provide a very good school experience for every pupil. We look after each well, and we promote very good standards of learning. That we always fill vacancies is for the same reasons: it is recognised that we do a good job for families and children. Sheffield is a great place to be. S10 is a great area within that city, with vibrant, welcoming, communities. People want to be here; they have made choices and, possibly, sacrifices to do so. When someone wants to move into the area, or get their child into a school in the area, it is because they want all these good things for their families.

Pupil Mobility can be used an indicator of other things. When it is low it indicates stable communities with all the advantages that brings. It is hard to find a downside to low Pupil Mobility in fact.

Social mobility is the movement of an individual or family between social strata relative to their current position. This is often linked to educational achievement and income. Unless all schools can give the same outcomes for all pupils, and then this lead to equality of opportunity at the next stage, parents will continue to look for a school that does better than the other so that their child has a better chance on life. Research suggests that we aren’t doing so well – children of rich parents stay rich and children of poor parents stay poor, by and large. The educational achievement gap can be as much as three years’ worth by the age of 15 between children from different advantage backgrounds.

That low mobility then seems to get in the way of the aspirational, ambitious parent. They perhaps see admission to a good school with good results as a passport to social mobility, but with no places available the door is simply closed. We are full, and at 120 pupils more than the school original design. We cannot simply take more pupils to support a social mobility goal as we have no room to take them into.

I do not have an answer other than the same line that has been stated over and over by politicians and education leaders at all levels for as long as I have been a school leader – every child deserves a good school, every community should have a good school, and every school should be a good school. (I suppose that most are just that already.)

... (Read More)
02 Feb 2019

Synchronicity - Mobile Phone Ban

I was struggling yesterday with some wording in the draft of the latest Newsletter around our ‘policy’ on smartphones at school.

Why the struggle?

  • Because Governors have not been asked to write an agreed formal Policy.
  • Because I do not want to ban them outright from the premises.
  • Because I want to avoid conflict with pupils or parents.
  • Because, most importantly, the problem at our school does not exist.
  • Because I do not want the wording to suggest a change in policy.

This morning the news broadcasts, news websites and some newspaper front pages have a story featuring statements from the school standards minister, Nick Gibbs, saying that, in his opinion, schools should ban children taking smartphones to either school or classroom.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-47095053


Our practical, and we think proportionate, sensible, approach is to allow them to be brought and not allow them to be used on site at all. So they are handed in first thing in the morning and given back at the end of the day. This avoids any misuse, deliberate or accidental, and any claims of misuse. It avoids damage or loss. It avoids something of value being taken without permission.

What we get is total compliance – we simply do not have incidents of children abusing this trust and application of a rule.

Schools have the power to ban smartphones.

Headteachers have the authority to decide if it appropriate to implement a ban.

Smartphone misuse can be a (very limited occurrence) problem.

Children are given increasing independence by the parents over the years of Key Stage 2.

The technology already exists and cannot be un-invented.

Active travel is seriously promoted, and that means getting children to walk, ride or scoot to and from school.

Parents want assurance that their child is on the way home of has a means to contact them.

Children have phones – households have more than one phone per family member.

We don’t need deceitful, underhand, underground, furtive, or complicit undermining of a rule that we cannot easily enforce by having parents and children sneaking a phone into school.

I’m not having every child turn out their pockets or bags so we could enforce a total ban – life’s too short and a ‘problem’ (if there even is one) is too small to need this action.

... (Read More)
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