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 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.
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
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....
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.
I am, at times, a little embarrassed by the appearance of my school. I want to spend time, staff time, and money, lots of money, on making it look better:
- there’s litter round the outside of the site,
- a length of the rail fence rotted and fell last year and we haven’t replaced it,
- the signs outside look mouldy and sad,
- massive puddles collect silt and mud outside the top gate,
- flower beds by our Shore Lane entrance have beer cans and crisp packets in them,
- our gates would look great with a real ‘Lych Gate’ built around them,
- we have muddy strips down the sides of the paths,
- you can barely make out there is a school on the site due to poor or lacking ‘signage’,
- the adventure equipment is marooned on muddy grass areas,
- we have pools of water round equipment off the top playground,
- the lower playground collects silt and mud round the one drain,
- an under-developed courtyard,
and so on.
We appeared on the front page of The Star last year when a parent, who lives very nearby, was appealing for admission for her daughter to our school. They (The Star) showed a photo of the front of the school where she was offered a place. It was all cherry blossom and flower beds, sunshine and openness, with a bright, clean, new sign proudly stating the school’s name. Underneath was a photo of our battered, rain-damaged, sad-looking sign at our top gate, with just a glimpse of the top of the Y6 mobiles.
I mentioned this to a committee of our Governors, as we discussed premises improvements we might make, and how the outside appearance must give a negative impression to parents of current and prospective pupils.
‘Aye,’ said one Governor, ‘but they want their children to come here, don’t they?’
Because, after all, the quality of what we have here is not in the bricks and mortar. Today, just a normal Friday, we had baking in Golden Time, Orchestra, Wind Band, Cookery Club, Fencing Club, art, singing, maths and English, topic, basketball, fish Friday, …