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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 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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12 Jan 2019

When schools choose to increase their workload

Not long ago the DfE introduced a new assessment check for ‘proficiency in English’.

Schools had to assess EVERY child for their early English language acquisition and assess where they were on the journey towards competency so they could access the full curriculum. The assessment focused on children who are indicated by parents as having EAL, are bilingual or have dual nationality. Their English was graded A to E (plus possibly N – not yet assessed), from 'New to English' to 'Fluent'. We recorded this in SIMS and reported it in the spring term census.

Not one penny of extra funding was given to run assessments or as a result of assessments.

We did experience some resistance from a small number of parents, as there was suspicion over the motives for the assessment.

Now the HMI for EAL, Mark Sims (nice coincidence), has told schools that this collection of data 'is no longer required’ and it will not be collected in the census this term.

You would think that this would be seized on as an opportunity to reduce workload for all schools’ administration teams, except there is seen to be value in the assessment and data. Our LA, in-line with others, has urged ‘schools to continue to use these codes to assess EAL pupils’ levels of language acquisition, followed up by a more detailed EAL assessment framework, such as NASSEA, where appropriate’.

I come across these situations where I see the difference between being told that we 'do not have to do something’ and being told to ‘not do something’ too often.  Only one will reduce workload demands. The other means we continue, but it is our own fault.

Acronyms:

DfE          Department for Education

SIMS        School Information Management System

HMI         Her Majesty’s Inspector (of Schools)

EAL          English as an Additional Language

LA            Local Authority

NASSEA   The Northern Association of Support Services for Equality and Achievement
... (Read More)
04 Jan 2019

Spring Term 'Assembly' Themes

To make a change this year (change being necessary or children hear the same themes and the same assemblies each year for the four years they are with us) the Collective Worship themes for the spring term will ignore the 'special days' and festivals, and ignore any Church or faith cycle.

The overall theme will be, 'Famous People and Faith Leaders'.

We will ignore Valentine's Day, even though it falls in the last week of the first half term, and not need to worry about Easter because it falls AFTER the Easter holiday (if you can get your head round that one). St. David's Day and St. Patrick's Day will be passed over, as will the season of Lent.

The weekly focus will go like this:

  • Rich and Famous (Actions, not words)
  • Louis Braille (from humble beginnings)
  • Eureka! (Problem solving)
  • Louis Pasteur (Using talents wisely)
  • Go Compare! (comparison may not be helpful)
  • Tea with me? (Fantasy Dinner Party)
  • Who? Me? (Isiah)
  • How you cut it – a star inside us all
  • Humpty Dumpty – help from all the King’s men
  • A Day for Special People (not just mothers)

They will allow us to look at the contributions of scientists, celebrities and ourselves. The assemblies will include stories, discussions, role play, visual presentations and contributions from the children.

There are opportunities in the plan to demonstrate equality - using examples across gender, faiths, age, ethnicity and nationality.

At this point we have no visitors booked to lead these sessions, though we do have other speakers for other purposes and times.

I think they will be engaging and enjoyable sessions.

... (Read More)
22 Dec 2018

The Outliers

We were looking at some end-point data from one of the spelling interventions we run.  (To be sure that each intervention works we measure on the way in and on the way out.) It is a twelve-week programme, targeted at children who have a ‘spelling age’ significantly behind their chronological age.

The basic theory for a successful, effective, well-delivered SEND programme is that it should produce twice the normal rate of progress. So over the twelve weeks we hope / expect / want to see 6 months progress in spelling age (or reading age if it’s a reading programme), otherwise we start asking other questions: wrong intervention, wrong children, inaccurate measure, other factors, implemented as intended?

What the data has led me to is some personal professional (statistics) learning: I need to better understand ‘outliers’, how to define them, and when it is appropriate to remove them from a set of scores.

It is fairly easy to see how it would be hasty to base a judgement about the success of a programme on the progress or otherwise of a single participant. Likewise a single test might be too narrow to justify a confident statement of progress for the participant. To judge the programme / intervention itself we want to aggregate and average the progress scores from a decent sized group.

And this is what brought me to identifying my own learning need. Tests scores (using the same test in and out) showed a range, as we’d expect, of levels of progress. We calculated the number of months gained for each child in the programme, some with disbelief – not in the child but in the scale (and sometimes direction) of the scores. The lowest progress scores was minus 8 months, suggesting the child had lost eight months off their ‘spelling age’ in the three month period. The greatest progress was an apparent gain of two years and 10 months, or plus 34 months!

The majority were grouped between 1 month and 9 months, so that plus 34 looks extraordinary / unlikely / inexplicable. It matters because it puts over two months gain per pupil on the mean average. I needed to learn whether and how to discount it (and then what we would report to parents about this child’s progress if we disbelieved the test score).

'Mathwords', sort of helpfully, defines an outlier as: A data point that is distinctly separate from the rest of the data. One definition of outlier is any data point more than 1.5 interquartile ranges (IQRs) below the first quartile or above the third quartile.

So now I need to work out how to calculate the quartiles for the set of data, and the inter quartile range.

There is no hard and fast advice on whether to remove (and report) the outlier(s) as they may be the most interesting and significant data in the whole set!

We will continue to question it all, I think.

... (Read More)
14 Dec 2018

Performance Issues

Performance noun

  • how well a person, machine, etc. does a piece of work or an activity
  • the action of entertaining other people by dancing, singing,acting, or playing music:

a performance (mainly uk informal)

  • ‚Äčan action or type of behaviour that involves a lot of attention to detail or to small matters that are not important


DfE has published the annual ‘Performance Tables’ this week for end of Key Stage 2 assessments in 2018.

https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/


All the usual caveats must be applied when you read the data – are you comparing like with like, is it progress or attainment that matters, reading or maths, funding – does that matter, disadvantage levels, what does the data hide, why publish average teacher salary, what about the private sector, why are so many Academies excluded, how can you tell if small schools do well if their data isn’t published, Infant Schools have no data, is this a one-year snap shot or a three year average?

Dig back through this blog series and you will find me writing about a question at interview (how would you place the school) and about more important things than scores and gloating.

Well, we still are not top of the table, but we are doing very well, thank you. Out of Sheffield’s fourteen Junior Schools (surely a sensible comparison set) we have the:

  • second lowest absence
  • third highest percentage meeting the 'combined' (reading, writing and maths) expected standard
  • second highest reading progress score
  • third highest writing progress score
  • second highest maths progress score
  • fourth highest percentage for higher standard for 'combined'
  • fourth highest average score in reading, and
  • fourth highest average score in maths,
  • AND all with the fourth largest pupil to teacher ratio.

 

Year 4 thrilled a hallful of parents with the annual pantomime this morning in a demonstration of a different definition of ‘performance’. Huge applause and appreciation was heard and felt because it was brilliant. The story was ‘Cinderella’ but with plenty of twists included. Cinderella was forced to change her life goals once she saw how shallow and desperate the Prince was, and found happiness somewhere else entirely.

The singing was amazing – harmonies and split parts, solos and choruses, actions and dancing. Words were clear as a bell, and jokes were delivered with comic timing.

This was the sort of performance I really wouldn’t mind being judged on.

 

I hope we didn’t make too much of ‘a performance’ in our organisation and control around FOLA’s Christmas discos. These are run by the volunteer parent team, with a good slice of staff support. They want to be safe and sure and confident they have all the bases covered, and so felt the need to have booking tickets available, and to put out an indicative limit on attendance numbers.

We had two very busy events in the one evening and a whole lot of fun was had, but the volume of email, text and message must have added enormously to their stress leading up to opening the doors.

I think they did an excellent job.

 

It’s been another really good week.

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07 Dec 2018

Listen up at the back!

While we reserve the right to make the decisions (particularly because we are, ultimately, responsible for the outcomes of them), and want our professionality to be respected, we really do listen to the valuable opinion of ‘stakeholders’.

This week I met with a small but well-informed set of parents in a ‘round table discussion’ on school’s response to what is known as adverse weather. As a result of comments made by them, and in emails contributions, I will be changing the wording of some elements of our published scheme of working. They asked that I clarify authorisation of late arrival if a sibling’s school is opening later than us. So I will. And other points raised will be similarly explained.

I have been partly responsible for whipping up a little passion and idealism in our pupils, partly around School Council but also linked simply to them having a mind and speaking it. When one pupil decided to propose some environmentally-aware action she was not content to be told ‘no’ on the first request. She came back with a really coherent political and ethical argument. I admire the commitment and I have yielded to her request and told her (and her mum) how much I admire and respect her campaigning. School visitors will shortly see the outcome of her talking and talking to me until I agreed with her request.

Four Year 6 pupils have spent a good slice of each day’s playtimes with me (at their own choice) this week to discuss their request that they be allowed a ‘den’ to play in. They have not been put off but have responded positively and thoughtfully to every point I made, to every objection I raised. They ‘got’ the legitimacy of my issues and sensibly argued back, and conceded where it was obvious they had to. Five days later they are nearly there – I am just one sticking point away from conceding to their request (and possibly causing myself a lot of difficulty with colleagues and other pupils). They have moved me from a straight out ‘no’.

Colleagues have argued the case for staffing increases and supply cover. They are well-aware of financial pressures but critically aware of risks from under-staffing and the pressures on colleagues from the same. And so we have covered absences we previously haven’t, and are about to advertise to refill a vacancy we have run with for half a year.

Governors considered the normal range of issues at their committee meeting. While they recognise there are sensible and practical limits to what we can, they are still keen to continue to improve, and so small steps forward in site security will happen, and communication and challenge over school meal quality will continue.

The Local Authority, through the Schools Company ‘LearnSheffield’, offered us access to a website audit tool. This highlighted things we should improve to ensure full annual compliance and an up-to-date set of information. Reports, Policies, Strategy documents and links have been reviewed and improved as a result.

If we were rigid, unsympathetic and un-listening none of these changes might happen. We won’t promise to always agree with an opposing or even a novel view but we will continue to listen and consider.

... (Read More)
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