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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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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
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18 May 2018

Is everything ‘measurable’, and do only those things matter which can measured easily?

This was the annual ‘SATs’ week for 700,000 children in Year 6, including every last one of our 120 Year 6 pupils.

By Friday lunchtime every single one of our Year 6 pupils had completed every single one of the tests set.

 

And you might well think that this is just how it should be. But two of the children were sick on Monday and went home to miss the next day or two.  Another pupil attends a different setting for part of the week and so missed tests back with us on two mornings.

So here’s an indication of qualities and attitudes, rather than knowledge or skills: all three children, and their parents, wanted to complete the full suite of tests. There are systems available now that allow this to happen (as long as I apply for and gain permission) through a timetable variation.

When they returned I applied and gained the necessary nods of approval from the appropriate body. Though it was inconvenient for us and required some difficult reorganisation, we staffed it properly to ensure the secure running of their tests.

Just consider what they did; they had been off ill, or educated off-site, and none of them actually had to sit the tests, but all wanted to and asked to. There is no scale of resilience or determination, but if they are both binary qualities all three children score 1 in both measures.

I honestly have no idea how they will fare when it comes to marks and standards – for one thing I am not allowed to even look at the test papers once the children have completed them. I do know that these three (along with all the other children across the country who have tried so hard) deserve to get full marks. The external marker has no idea when each child sat the tests they are marking and so no allowance is made. The mark they get will only record their score in the test. So does the approach, attitude, stick-at-it-ability not matter nor get recorded?

Answer: yes and yes. We have noted it, and will report it to parents in the children’s Reports at the end of the year. That’s one of the things Reports do that raw test scores cannot. It is why we still write prose as well as report scores.

Proud of them, I am.

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03 Feb 2018

Knowing your Known Knowns and Learning the Known Unknowns

It’s a bit obvious, I suppose, but Fredrik Barlett’s research shows that the memory errors we make tend to focus around the unfamiliar elements of the things we are learning – we accurately recall the old stuff and make mistakes with the new.

He then argues that you need to integrate new ideas into what you already know, making connections between old and new information if you’re going to successfully recall them. The trick to making teaching and learning understandable is to make it relatable.

Research also makes the obvious point that you are more likely to engage with someone being passionate and amusing than being disconnected, nervous or dull. If you don’t care about them either way, you won’t care about what they say. You won’t follow up. You won’t even remember. It doesn’t mean an effective teacher has to be all animated and larger than life, but they are most engaging when they clearly are interested in the lesson being led.

When I watch children complete / attempt a ‘Beat the Clock’ challenge (a rapid and randomised multiplication facts recall task) I see children answer the ones they know first. There are children who insert all 144 answers in time, but oftentimes children run out of clock before they are done. Observing the practice of those children we see that they answer the ones they know. It gives some quick fill-in, but …

What it does for them is only practice what they know and fails to teach what they do not.

The task does provide challenge, and the more competitive children do love a challenge; them against the clock or them against their previous score. What the task does not do is to teach them either a method for calculating unknown answers nor the actual facts bare of relation to other, previously-held, facts.

We need to actively teach them two things: what they don’t know and how to learn the things they don’t know. Otherwise they will not extend their confident knowledge range or their rapid recall score. We need to actively teach it, as it won’t come by osmosis or magic.

Two things that research is telling us –

              Relate the new learning to what children already know, and

Make sure that the teacher is engaging, that the teaching is engaging, so that the learning is something children will care about.

I discussed this with the teacher in class when the ‘Beat the Clock’ was progressing. I wanted to stress the only way this activity could maximise learning. It had to lead to the teacher identifying common unknown facts and links and then explicitly teaching these. Barlett’s research then supports over-learning until there is confident recall.

What my observation suggests is that Alice Littlehailes was right and still is – babies do not grow any heavier by being weighed. Children do not learn only by testing. The teaching is crucial, and it leads learning. The testing should inform and direct the teaching focus.
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13 Jan 2018

How can it be possible that test scores keep going up?

Is it due to better and better teaching, harder and harder working pupils, greater and greater support from parents, education reforms, curriculum change, the positive impact of successive Secretaries of State for Education, evolution, the internet, an inevitable and unstoppable law of social change, or something else entirely?

GCSE results hit an all-time high: tests are getting easier?

(https://www.theguardian.com/education/2010/aug/24/gcse-results-2010-coursework )

A* at A Level reaches a new record high: curriculum is narrower?

(https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/a-level-results-2017-top-a-grades-reach-record-high-drop-reformed )

Three quarters of graduates get a 2:1 or first class honours degree: Universities are inflating grades?

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2018/01/11/three-quarters-graduates-get-21-firsts-regulator-issues-warning/ )

8% increase nationally in ‘new’ Key Stage 2 tests in their second year: teaching to the test and losing a ‘rich curriculum’?

(http://www.forschoolseducation.co.uk/key-stage-2-sats-national-averages/ )

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck was a French naturalist who developed a theory that learned behaviour of an animal, which is supposed to result from physical and chemical changes in the nervous system, can be inherited by its offspring. Lamarck was writing 70 years or so before Darwin.

According to the hypothesis of formative causation, there is no difference between innate and learned behaviour. This hypothesis therefore admits a possible transmission of learned behaviour from one animal to another, and leads to testable predictions of the Lamarckian theory.

'Cultural inheritance', whereby the offspring learn patterns of behaviour from their parents or other adults, is different – it requires the adult and offspring to be together. Lamarckian theory and ‘formative causation’ do not.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? If I learn a new skill, such as playing an instrument, speaking a new language or running a maze, my children will acquire the same skills quicker than I did?

Except this has been demonstrated in the lab (using rats learning to run mazes using negative stimuli). Successive generations of rats learn novel mazes quicker and quicker, even though they were not raised by their parents - the knowledge could not be passed by demonstration or modelling.

However, Lamarck’s theory fails to explain the continued presence of simple organisms, while Darwin’s expects them to always exist, and Lamarck’s ideas fell out of favour.

Students at all ages ARE scoring higher than ever before, so something is causing this progress. It may be hasty of any group to claim all the credit, though many would like to.
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05 Nov 2017

If you don’t know where you are going ...

You’ll probably end up somewhere else.

We all deal with a whole lot of data in our work these days, teaching being no different from any other profession. This week, during the half term holidays, more data was released from the end of Key Stage 1 and 2 tests held back in May 2017. We have started picking through it all, to see if it changes our view on the world, or seriously our analysis of past performance and therefore focus points for this year.

We already felt unhappy with our 2017 performance in spelling, grammar and arithmetic. Not because they were below average but rather because they were below where we think our pupils at our school should be placed. We know how the other local schools (in S10 and in South west Sheffield, and in Sheffield as a whole) fared, and so have made comparisons.

We were also aware that there is a gap or difference in performance between the pupils that attract Pupil Premium funding (basically those who have some history of Free School Meal entitlement) and the pupils who do not. This gap is pretty much universal (as in, it occurs at most schools), and pretty much obstinately refusing to disappear, but that does not mean we accept it, or refuse to look for further options to reduce or remove the attainment gap between these two groups.

We are, further, aware that the PP group perform better here than the same group nationally, but that is not the measure used to compare performance. It is, after all, reasonable to ask and challenge schools to get those children to the same standards as everyone else.

We had just 13 PP pupils in last year’s Year 6 cohort, each counting as just under 8%. Getting just 3 extra to reach the national expected standard in maths would have us have no attainment gap at all.

We have seen a significant decline in the number and percentage of pupils eligible for Free School Meals and thus attracting Pupil Premium in the last three years. The number on Year 6 this year is even lower, and so the margin, in terms of actual headcount, is smaller and smaller, and each child’s progress becomes even more significant in terms of percentage points of gap.

Also available to schools is a ‘question level’ analysis. This shows how our children did, question by question, compared to the national average. It also throws up oddities, questions and quirks. Why should we have answered a couple of questions 16% poorer than the average? And why 11% better on others? And can we cover the shortfall  this year so any question phrased like that, or in that area of study, or using that skill or fact, is answered better, and particularly by PP pupils?

Within school we track pupils’ experience and progress. We know what each has been involved in, and what difference it has made to their performance. We know the success level of each intervention we run. We know how each child stands against our expectations for the year group. We know a good deal about the barriers each child faces.

Where are we trying to reach?

  • Spelling scores above average by at least 4%
  • Grammar scores ahead of average by at least 4%, and at at least as good as the S10 average
  • Arithmetic scores higher generally, and particularly for PP children
  • To get all pupils who left Key Stage 1 at a high standard to leave Key Stage 2 the same
  • Maths attainment to match our, significantly strong, reading attainment (and progress)scores
  • And all the time maintaining the exciting, engaging, enriched curriculum that we offer.

Once we had the destination clear we could set the Sat Nav to plan the best route, given current traffic conditions, and make good time on the journey. The latest data releases have actually only confirmed what we already knew, and were already working on. Anyone who’d like to visit my Office will see a wall of data, charts and graphs that has built up this picture over the last five months. By the end of term we should have a good idea about how much progress we have made already towards these goals. I’ll let you know.

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