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....
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.
On a day where the news was all about the day before’s General Election, the annual School Pupil Performance Tables were published.
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).
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!)
How do Headteachers get held accountable for what their schools do when Ofsted only visit so rarely? (If your school is rated Outstanding then you can have gone ten years and more since that last Inspection.) Once in post is it all very safe and sound and unquestioned in a position of ultimate power?
These last three weeks have seen me challenged more effectively and thoroughly than ever before in over 14 years as a Headteacher in three schools.
I have had Governors grill me during three meetings for well over five hours on issues as diverse as school academic performance, attendance, staff absence, school security, staffing appointments, communications, development planning priorities, pay awards and progressions, progress made by every different group, and school meal improvements.
Parent after parent has demanded time with me to question practice and policy, and each has been met and listened to and debated with.
Staff have used appropriate and proper routes to question and challenge, sometimes with Trade Union support, decisions made and plans proposed.
My peers, Headteachers from local schools, have set dates to visit our school to undertake a review day that will lead to shared feedback and staff development activity in January.
Children have talked to me, asked me questions, written to me about concerns and stood in great number for election as School Councillors. (Their contributions this week include the Tuesday school meal menu, wanting to start a fingerboard club, and a petition to retain a temporary member of staff.)
There has been one official written Complaint received in that time after the parent’s concern could not be resolved informally. This will now be handled by the Chair of Governors, and she will start by questioning me about the substance of the Complaint.
The Annual Staff Census has been completed and data submitted to DfE on the correct filing date. This will, eventually, form part of the contextual information provided to Inspectors prior to Inspection.
I was quizzed by a local authority officer after he heard the school was featured in an online news story (that I hadn’t heard about).
We have arranged a site visit for next week from the LA Health & Safety team (at our request) to check on our site security. We are voluntarily completing an audit on the same subject so that Governors are fully informed at their next relevant Committee meeting.
The Chair of FOLA (Friends of Lydgate Association –better known perhaps as The PTA) visited to talk about what we wanted money for from the group. He wanted to know our real needs and what impact the money would have. We explained the difference between need and wish.
We have been reminded to update our annual statement about our use of, and effectiveness of, the Sports and PE Premium. This grant is intended to help us get the inactive active. The statement has to be prominently published on our website. The statements are moderated by the Sheffield Sports Partnership.
It was payday today – I really do think I earned it all this month.
Today's round of Primary Schools Cross Country was at Bradfield School. We have had two weeks of Marti Pellow weather and Bradfield is out of the city. The course, largely on the school field, hosted the Secondary Schools version the weekend before.
Brilliant route; there are a couple of banks across the field so of course the route goes up them, twice each. There's a pond off to one side so the route skirts the edge so that the route is really wet. As it is still the football season the course hugs a straight line between two pitches in the middle of the field. And the field outside the school that the Y5 and Y6 runners lapped was described as 'heavy'.
Get 500 or so children to run a path about 5 metres wide on waterlogged grass and it quickly looks like a festival field. The corners were churned, the edges were filthy, the finish was gloopy. There were dirty legs and faces and bottoms and hands - you could easily tell how fast each child had run by how high up their backs the mud splashes reached.
If ever a sporting activity is going to test resilience it is this. Cross Country like this is sapping and hard. There is huge achievement but not so much fun while you are actually running. The hot chocolate afterwards is good and the stories are told for hours - of lost shoes, and muddy legs, and falling over. There was a course inspection at 8:00 on the morning of the racing and we knew it was perfectly safe (and set to be very tiring). The race distances are kept relatively short because the children are young and because we want them to want to come back next time (two weeks - Longley Park). One of our runners was thrilled with his performance and proudly told me of his 133rd place - he'll be back for more, and he'll become a stronger and stronger person because of it.
I was a Marshal - I get there about 8:00 to help set up, mark out and test the route, and get the first flags up.
I was tasked with keeping adults off the fields, and I was, as expected, rather a failure - you cannot keep a determined parent from following their child across a muddy field to cheer them on. We wanted to limit the squelch by reducing the foot traffic on the field; Bradfield School had instructed us to do so; I hope they are understanding.
It is the simplest of sports and literally anyone can participate. Ability ranges are huge and applause is given from first to last runner in every race. In fact, the best reception was for the very back marker in the Y5/6 boys race (and he had the biggest smile). Kit requirements are minimal - some run in fancy spikes but many wear football boots or trainers or even walking shoes. These are 'events' and new runners are always able to simply turn up and join in.
First race in a fortnight is at 10:00 and will be Y3/4 girls. Make sure you have some soap powder in at home and bin sacks to cover the car seats, and come and join in.
An extra Blog this week - Coat Pegs (a burning issue) coming up as soon as I can find the photos I took on Friday.