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....
Are there any? any schools like ours?
You’d think, like I did, that schools in our local area would be pretty much the same as us. Being in the same postcode area, S10, and in the same Parliamentary Constituency, Hallam, and in the same city, Sheffield, surely seven schools nearby have more in common than separates us?
We do have an interest in finding similar schools, and we are in fact urged to do so by bodies such as Ofsted and the DfE. By looking at a ‘similar’ school, how it spends its money and then its school performance, we can ask questions about whether we are efficient and effective, or not.
In the olden days (aka the 1990’s) Ofsted made a simple judgement in Inspection about ‘value for money’. It sounded a bit too commercial for most of us, like comparing schools with a loaf of artisan bread, perhaps, but it did say something both profound and simple at the same time.
Last week we got notice about the publication of the most up to date (but still a full year old) dashboard, the ‘Benchmarking Report Card’. It gives a few headline scores on the ways schools spend their resources – things like percentage of funds spent on teachers, and pupil : teacher ratio.
Schools like ours, then.
The Report Card finds five schools most like Lydgate Junior School; English Martyrs’ RC Primary School, 35 miles away in Leeds; High Ham C of E Primary School, 168 miles away in Somerset; Saint Alban and St Stephen Catholic Junior School, 123 miles away in St Albans; St Luke’s Halsall C of E Primary School, 63 miles away in Liverpool and Warrender Primary School, 133 miles away in Ruislip, Middlesex.
Normally we compare ourselves with schools just a mile or two away, and that’s how the national performance tables like to present things. Parents make informed choices based on information presented geographically based on a search point centered round a postcode. Yet what the DfE’s own Benchmark Report Card suggests is that our Division of the League table should be much wider spread!
So here is our own league table, formed round these five schools and our point of interest this year, greater depth writing scores:
Percentage of pupils achieving at a higher standard in reading, writing and maths
Lydgate Junior School
English Martyrs’ RC Primary School
High Ham C of E Primary School
Saint Alban and St Stephen Catholic Junior School
St Luke’s Halsall C of E Primary School
Warrender Primary School
The Report Card suggest we question why we spend 55% of our budget on teaching staff (above the average of our statistical neighbours, while running a pupil : teacher ratio above all bar one) but the school performance tables suggest we are doing rather well, even in an area where we are looking to improve further. Whoever we are like, we really do appear to be doing rather well by our pupils.
There's a public version of benchmarking available here. https://schools-financial-benchmarking.service.gov.uk/?utm_source=BRC_maintained_19&utm_medium=email
In the week that saw parents in a small region of France (Provins) vote to introduce school uniform (against that nation’s norm), and when our Year 4 classes are debating hot topics (Y4S/D were arguing the points around uniform), I’m asking your opinion.
Our Uniform Policy was introduced some years ago after over-whelming support by the then parent body. As far as I know, that group has not been asked for a confirmation since. The Policy statement talks about that parent support; but today’s parents are not those same people. So what do you think today? Is uniform still right? Is what we ask for practical, reasonable, suitable, reasonably priced? Setting the right tone? Open for enough individual variation? Helpful for children with specific needs? Non-discriminatory?
There’s a Survey Monkey link at the bottom of this blog if you’d like to comment.
Uniform will be one of the topics for our ‘Round Table Discussions’ next year.
Currently we ask for:
Dark royal blue sweatshirt, cardigan or fleece.
White or blue shirt or polo shirt.
Black, navy or grey trousers. Plain black, navy or grey jeans with no may be worn.
Headscarves should be blue, black or white.
Tights should be black, plain grey, navy or a neutral colour.
Sensible shoes, boots or trainers.
For those children who wish to wear something lighter in the summer months:
Gingham dress in blue & white, red & white or yellow & white.
Black, navy, grey or blue shorts (from above the ankle to just above the knee).
Sandals or crocs.
Jewellery – only watches and sleeper/stud earrings are allowed.
We have around 99% engagement / agreement, but we are having to be tight on this currently with some less-willing or less-aware pupils.
Keep the uniform as it is?
Relax the uniform to ‘optional’?
Do away with a uniform totally?
Go for a standout colour instead of a plain-old blue?
Introduce a more formal code, such as blazers and shirt and tie?
Have four separate colours for PE kit, one for each Team?
Just click the link to take part:
As the vast majority of our pupils leave school through the ‘top gate’ towards Manchester Road, and there are far more parents there, I made the change some time ago to be at that gate rather than on the top playground within the site at 3:15.
The literature on discipline, parent views, trust, happiness of staff and pupils and pupil academic progress all points towards school leaders being highly visible.
Professor and Dame, Alison Peacock (CEO, Chartered College of Teaching) references key leadership practices that build trust in her book Learning without limits. She lists visibility as sixth in her top ten ‘Leadership Practices’. She says that, ‘Headteachers have to be omnipresent and regularly seen in and around school by the whole school population’.
Visibility is a big issue in any school and Headteachers should not be noted for their absence at key points in the day when being seen really matters. Everyone notices this; parents, pupils and staff. If a Headteacher is rarely seen first thing in the morning or is office-bound at home-time then these are valuable missed opportunities to build trust, inspire confidence and communicate.
And so we, my Deputy and I, are at the gate as often as we possibly can, at both ends of the day.
By being at the gate we can welcome children, calm issues, assist parents, answer queries, and give an assurance to parents that we are in school, working hard each day to help their children’s learning and promoting the best behaviour and discipline.
All very well-intended and purposeful, well-thought out and researched.
Except some people read other things into our actions. Our being at the gate has been seen by some parents as a deliberate barrier and an obstacle to their talking to teachers.
Not sure what we are to do, but I have put a short piece in the Newsletter trying to allay this fear.
Spinning the positive message
Obviously we say it our way, and put news out in a positive light. We do dress things up a bit, choose to keep quiet about less favourable elements of what we do, and talk up the positive.
The cynical or negative-minded might look at what any organisation claims as successes and turn over the facts and put the negative. I guess they might see how we talk about the school’s work and outcomes as ‘spin’. Wikipedia wouldn’t – its definition says it needs experts to ‘spin’, and we aren’t that! And we don’t charge!
We do structure what we put out to the public of course, we choose the order we talk about things, and we stress parts we want to.
- When we talk about test outcomes we stress the high percentage that achieve the standard and do not focus on the percentage that misses it,
- When we talk about the opportunities of clubs and activities we do not talk about how many children cannot access them due to capacity limits,
- When we talk attendance we do not talk absence,
- When we talk about provision that meets needs, we do not talk about unmet needs and missing provision,
- When we talk funding we do not talk about what we have dropped to save money,
- When we talk about engagement we do not talk about children who do not participate in extra activities (though it might be implied).
I received notice this week that our HR-provider advisor was moving to a new post. The email recognised the much-appreciated support and advice she had given to schools, and wished her well in her new job. What did it not do? The email did not say who, if anyone, was picking up that work, and did not talk about a replacement process. Perhaps this was a clever way of telling schools that a quiet cut was taking place.
There are things that I simply avoid writing about, in Newsletters or here on my blog, partly because I fear the reception and perception of what I might discuss and describe. The newly-appointed Minister for Administrative Affairs (Yes, Minister) was told that his decision was ‘brave’, by which the staff meant wrong or foolish or naïve. For me to talk openly about staff reductions and how they reduce what we can offer to children and families, or about behaviour incidents and how they impact on overall safety, relationships and learning, or on-site conditions and how they present an image of poor security, would undoubtedly be ‘brave’ unless I really wanted to make a political point.
For me the problem of ‘spinning’ is loss of trust – if we overly positively present news that is clearly not that good we lose face, lose trust and lose respect. We are, perhaps, less likely to be believed in future. This may be one element of disillusionment with the politics.
I have looked many times at data and shown how selective presentation can skew the message and interpretation. The same goes for using selective quotes.
I was thanked at our most recent Governor Committee meeting for presenting a succinct report on staffing issues. Not ‘the whole truth’ though all true. Is being selective in what is presented okay because there isn’t time to present it all? Is there trust so that you know we are presenting the important stuff and in an honest way? Does trust require that we sometimes give the negative news as well so you can see we are not sugar-coating everything?
Anyway, to finish in a typically flippant fashion, here’s a picture that represents spin:
(Those light-up spinners that are sold all along the promenades on your summer holiday abroad.)
It is that time of year, nearly, but it is so sad to see this in schools up and down the country:
The guidance for administering the end of key stage 2 tests tells us we have to cover up or remove anything that might give the children an advantage that is not on the approved (very short) list - dictionaries, spelling lists and rules, grammar prompts, tables facts, 'learning' and 'working' wall displays, number lines and so on. So 17,000 or so Primary Schools will look like this for the next week.
The photo above is actually just a Collective Worship display in the hall, where 63 pupils will take the tests (and do very well, no doubt) - but what if one of the spellings in the test is 'worship'? Sometimes, it is said, the law is an ass.