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.

Yours sincerely,
Stuart Jones

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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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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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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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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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10 Mar 2019

All Aboard!

School's current average attendance: 98.4%

National average for Spring term 2018: 95.8%

That difference is just plus 2.6%, hardly anything it might seem, but it means a huge amount.

It is 2,390 extra days of school for our pupils in a year.

That's the equivalent of 12 pupil school years extra attendance and learning.

  • No wonder our results are good - we teach each child an average of 5 more days each year.
  • No wonder we use this to justify our judgement as providing valued and valuable education - didn't like and value school and children would be off more.
  • No wonder school feels full - because of that average extra 12 children each day.
  • No wonder staff have to work hard and long - more marking and prep than in the average school.
  • No wonder our resources are stretched - schools get paid whether pupils actually attend or not.

I choose to assume we are not seen as cheap and legally required child-care, but as the silver bullet to overcome poverty and the key to success. I choose to assume parents see us as doing a good job by their children. And when combined with the incredibly low 'mobility rate' (the number of moves in and out of school, on and off roll) - one fifth the Sheffield average - and we can see that parents and pupils like being here, value what we provide and are happy to stay.

Obviously it is far more complicated than that - parents work and need child care, parents who are well-educated and qualified themselves see the value of education, relative wealth brings better health, alternatives are actually limited in an area where all schools are full, and so on.

But daily attendance is very high - well done everyone who makes that happen.

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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.

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.

... (Read More)
14 May 2016

Do you come here often?

‘Do you come here often?’ is not the same as, ‘Do you come here regularly?’

The High Court decision this week on the ‘Isle of Wight holiday in school term time’ case ( seems at odds with the dictionary definition of ‘regular’ at first glance.

The ruling, however, seems to be about whether ‘often’ is the same as ‘regularly’. Parents are required to ensure that their children attend school ‘regularly’.  None involved in the case just at Court seems to dispute that piece of Law, but the argument was around what constitutes ‘regular attendance’.

The dictionary seems fairly clear to me – frequency is a subjective thing –though you can measure it and record it and state it, but what constitutes ‘frequent’ is arbitrary. Someone has to decide how often an event has to happen in order that it is frequent. The Government increased the threshold for what is known as ‘persistent absence’ from 85% to 90% (School Census Guide 2014/2015 April 2015). From this we might assume that Government thinks that frequent attendance at school is anything more than 90% of the year. That still allows any child to miss 19 school days a year, whether authorised or not, and still not be considered to be a ‘persistent absentee’.

‘Regular’ is somewhat different: regularity is the occurrence of a repeated event with the same time period in-between – every five seconds, 1,000 times per second, each hour, once a day every day, once every Preston Guild, on Wednesdays, when there’s an R in the month, and so on. The regularity of an event occurring is a statement of its frequency, but it does not follow that a regular event happens very often. Writing this blog every week – that’s regular but not necessarily what anyone would call frequent or often.

I like to extend arguments to the absurd limits to test the sense or otherwise of what is being proposed. Try that here and up come some pretty stupid thoughts:

  • If regular attendance is what we are after, how about if a child attends school Friday only, but every Friday? It’s certainly regular.
  • If you can miss a couple of weeks a year and still have attendance considered to be regular, can you miss 34 weeks?
  • If Government increases the ‘persistent absence’ threshold to 95%, has it changed the definition in commonly-held meaning of ‘regular’?
  • If a child misses only one day a year, but it is the same day each year (say, March 5th), is that not ‘regular non-attendance’?
  • Do we apply the 90% threshold after just the first week (child misses one day), or wait until the end of the year (19 days), or at any point when it becomes impossible for a child to make 90% plus (having missed 19 days in total - allowing a five day absence in term time for whatever the parent chooses)?

There’s some thought that the threat of a fine or a court appearance and possible criminal record is driving parents to ensuring better attendance at school.  Our school attendance rate is up (98.8% last week), yet we have not yet applied for the issue of a Fixed Penalty over unauthorised leave in term time. There’s also concern about there being another example of a ‘Postcode Lottery’ in all this – some schools and some local authorities are doing this differently (in Wiltshire the Code of Conduct says a Fixed Penalty ‘will’ be issued, in Bradford theirs’ says ‘may’ be issued and in Sheffield schools ‘can’ request one be issued).

And right at the heart of it all is the discretion of the Headteacher – the Headteacher gets to decide on every application for Leave of Absence on Term Time. The national guidance is only guidance, and is terribly vague, as it has to be because each application is based on individual circumstances.

How I (and it has to be ‘I’ as I am the Headteacher) apply this in our school is based on the guidance and local discussions (with other Headteachers in the area), the pupil’s ordinary attendance (this year and last), whether leave for the same purpose has been taken before (annual breaks are clearly not ‘exceptional), what choice the parent(s) has over dates (unless they are the ones getting married, they probably did not choose the date for a family wedding), the reason for absence (birthday is ‘no’, funeral is ‘yes’), the duration of the absence (never to take it over the persistent absence threshold) and the verifiable truth of the application (that you really cannot get a ’plane to the destination the next day).

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19 Oct 2015

This week's Big Number - 98.8%

Oh my word - last week's whole school attendance was 98.8%.

I'll say that again, I think - 98.8%!

Or, converted into attendance numbers, that's 2,386 school days attended across school in one week. That's 12.5 school years' worth of learning and play, friendship and cultural development, free childcare and growing up.

If we replicated that across the entire school year we'd have 90,669 school days attended. These are big numbers indeed.

For the people who prefer the glass is half-empty model - there was still a 1.2% absenteeism recorded. That was 29 days lost in the week, or 1,101 over a year at the same rate per week. This is just over 5 children missing an entire year (and everyone else being in every day).

Why is attendance so very high?

Our teaching is engaging? Our methods are stimulating? We are meeting children's needs? Children feel happy and safe here? The level of support (and challenge) is about right for every child? We give an appropriate variety? School itself is a healthy place to be? We work effectively where issues do occur to support children coming to school?

Or is it that our parents really value education? Or they go to work and really need the childcare? Or parents are afraid of 'the system' and daren't have a child off school? Or our attendance officer is really scary? (We don't have one attached - we use local authority services when needed.) All our pupils live in catchment? (not so, actually.)

Or the relative wealth in the S10 area leads to healthier and stronger children who are more resilient to coughs and colds, are physically stronger because of their involvement in so many active activities, have high prior attainment and so have experienced success at school and hence reward / pleasure and so want to repeat the pleasurable experience?

Whatever it is, it is impressive.

And for those who like statistics, and what you can make them say, 98.8% and just 29 absences means that we may have had not one class with 100% attendance, or fifteen. We may have had four days with every single child here, right across school, or none. We may have had not one class on any one day with more than one child off, or we may have had fourteen classes with two children off on the same day. We could even have had a class with only one child in school for a day, and the other 29 off!

Someone suggested that, if we get a whole school score of 100% we should be able to take a half-day as reward, but this does seem a little illogical to me.

... (Read More)
20 May 2015

Success Measures

You could wait until the test scores are out (early July), or until the publication of the next batch of Performance Tables. You could hold on a term or so (won't be any longer than that) for our next Ofsted Inspection and report. Or you could have a listen to what goes on in school in this normal week:

Year 3 classes have been hosting Class Assembly presentations for their parents. Each has a good turnout and each is stunning. Not because of hours and hours of practice, which they haven't had, but because of the progress the children have made, because of the massive range of activity they have engaged in, because of the diverse talents on show, because of the cross-curricular ways of teaching and learning employed that truly captures the interest of every learner, because of the inclusive practice that is simply the norm and leads to every child taking part, because of the fun the children had and the obvious pride the parents hold for them.

Year 4 classes have been making 'bug hotels'. Though we share planning in year groups that has been developed by one colleague in each subject we still have variation then on the theme. So we have massive building projects in the wood, and intimate little constructions in classrooms. Despite the clamour for ever higher  standards in English and maths, and possibly because of it, we had hammers and saws out, we had armfuls of proffered collections from home and we have a truly practical, kinaesthetic learning experience. Why did every child behave so well and enjoy the day so much? That would be because it appealed so strongly to them.

Year 5 children have been keeping caterpillars (see their Blog). You could click on YouTube and show a video explaining life cycles, or read a poster, or copy a diagram. Keeping the caterpillars, watching them grow, change, hide away in a chrysalis and then wait for the miracle to happen is real, exciting and deep learning. Insisting that they knew when and how to move the caterpillars into the hatching net meant the children really were reading for purpose.

Year 6 are mostly away, pretty typical after test week, but some 20 children are still here. They are in the wood, being practical, having fun and all present, every one of them, when it would be easy to be absent with parent approval.

Tomorrow after school, when Year 6 return from Edale, they have to choose between going home to bath and bed or taking part in choir, representing school in the football finals or being down at Ponds Forge for a Primary School Swimming Gala. And they will be there in good numbers.

I have seen myths written, watched mathematical artwork completed, heard good RE discussions, listened as instrumentalists have practised, heaped praise on fresh veg takers at lunchtime, sat in to support a pupil-run lunchtime Coding Club, okayed a Talent Show, laughed with delight (and with colleagues) as we saw children dance and twirl on the playground with streamers and pom-poms ...

I'll be at another Admission Appeal Hearing on Friday. What makes our school over-subscribed? See above.

... (Read More)