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....
I heard this great story of rapid response and quick thinking.
At the Y6 Apprentice Sale one stall was not doing well. The stall holders had a fine set of books on show, but no paying customers.
They sat this out for quite a while, sure that the children in school are readers and would part with their pennies to buy a decent book.
They looked around and realised that the next stall was nearly sold out of their goods – hedgehogs made from paperback books using a little origami. (See photos on the Year 6 blog - http://www.lydgatejunior.co.uk/year-6/friday-5th-february)
So, they set to and converted all their books to paperback hedgehogs, and sold the lot!
Does this still count as putting books in the hands of young readers?
My Governors are about to start on the annual unpleasantness of finding areas where we can cut spending. Two years ago we cut out around £12,000. Last April another £26,000. We are staring at a deficit of £60,000 for 2016 / 2017 if we do nothing different or less, and all our skilled, experienced, dedicated and wonderful staff stay at our school.
Such a deficit must mean poor financial management, surely? Well, the easy, simple and honest answer is, ‘No’. All our monthly returns are approved by the local authority as accurate. Audit has no problems with our methods or accuracy. Governors get updates every seven or eight weeks. Our Finance Officer is a trained and qualified accountant. HR reports show we do not employ any superfluous staff or having excessive staffing levels. (In fact, a quick survey via publically available data shows that we are way under neighbouring schools – our TA / pupil ratio is a staggering 1:53 compared with Lydgate Infant's ratio of 1:31 and Broomhill Infant's at 1:15. http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/performance/index.html ) Our budget plans are checked over by centrally employed, and therefore independent, council finance staff and they never have any problem with our reports or plans.
So not mismanagement, then.
Spending on personal fads and ego-boosting 'vanity' schemes, then? I do have personal passions, such as outdoor learning, girls’ football, equality, inclusion, mental maths, 3d art, drama and performance, running, polite assertiveness. Have I overly funded them in the last three years? Well, we only ran the full Forest Schools scheme for one year, and that was from Private Fund. Our allotment is at no cost to school whatsoever. We are looking to FOLA (the parent / teacher group) to raise the capital to build a bike ramp entrance. Sports Premium funds to some extent some of our sports programme, but we no longer have girls’ football, and it was never at the exclusion of anything else. Cross Country runs on Saturdays with no staff cost whatsoever, and lots of parental support. My own office has had nothing spent on it in the two and a half years I have been in post – no carpets, no furniture, no lighting, no fancy phones, no new shelving or chairs. One replacement PC is all, in that time, apart from my own spending not claimed for. The list of things that we would like to do, or could really do with doing, is considerably longer than the list of things we have had done.
So not self-pleasing schemes, either.
Could it be higher costs? Does the school break the bank to pay staff ‘over the odds’? Again the answer is, ‘No’, though not quite as simply. We use the same national and local pay scales and ranges that other schools use. We use the Council’s Pay Policy. We have fewer posts that carry additional pay for additional responsibility than the average Sheffield school, though. And on the other side, we have more experienced staff who are paid at or towards the top of the appropriate pay ranges than the average. This brings advantages but does ‘cost’ us every year. As we have relatively low staff turnover this is not a new factor and so does not explain the continuing and growing funding / spending issue. And the school in Chesterfield has a higher average teacher salary than us, so we aren't really profligate. If anything we should be benefitting from economies of scale, one would think, being one of the larger Primary sector schools in Sheffield.
So not higher costs, really.
It couldn’t, could it, be some sort of funding disparity? Funny you should ask. Headteachers at all the schools in this part of the city, and across the city as well, have long complained about unfair, unequal funding for Sheffield schools against those in other cities, and for schools in the south-west in particular. My wife, also a teacher (Deputy Headteacher at a Rotherham school), is applying for Headteacher posts. She just sent one in for a vacancy at a school in Chesterfield; much smaller than Lydgate Junior School, and with considerable more disadvantage in the local area, and amongst the pupils on roll. But a quick bit of research about its context threw up a staggering funding difference. The DfE’s own data shows that per pupil funding at LJS was £3,447 in 2014. At the Chesterfield school it was £5,162. Per pupil! Multiply that up and the difference / gap / loss for us is over £750,000 a year – nearly half again on our total annual income. Some of this can be explained away, based on that ‘disadvantage’ – Pupil Premium at the Chesterfield school accounted for a lot of the gap, and the effect of ‘base funding’ being shared between fewer pupils there raises the income per pupil. (Every school in Sheffield gets £150,000 to start with, no matter its size – the smaller the school the more income per pupil because of the size of the share being larger.) Even after we have removed these two factors there remains a gap in funding per pupil - £495 per pupil per year, or a total of £240,000 per year. And £240,000 looks like six full-time teachers or ten Learning Mentors or 480 hours a week of TA support, or 24,000 times our capital (premises improvement) income, or enough to double our EAL, Pastoral, lunchtime AND admin staffing.
So unequal funding, then, seems a likely culprit.
Governors will make strategic and uncomfortable decisions. Things will have to go, or be allowed to go as opportunities arise. It is a familiar story, I suppose, but no easier for all that. The decisions will ultimately impact on our pupils because of reduced provision. You could help by raising the matter wherever you can. My Trade Union does, and the City Council does, too.
The ‘gap’ in school funding does not seem to be one that Government has done much to address, when it continues to press schools to work to close ‘gaps’ in pupil performance.
A Spanish study of over 1,400 schoolchildren in 2012 found that over half the children had backpacks exceeding 10% of their body weight. The study also found that those carrying the heaviest backpacks had a 50% higher risk of back pain than those carrying the lightest, and a 42% higher risk of diagnosed back problems. http://www.nhs.uk/news/2012/03march/Pages/rucksack-bags-back-pain-children.aspx
So why the heavy bags?
A completely unscientific survey of our school’s cloakrooms this week found each and every cloakroom had bags, coats and rucksacks on the floor, often being trodden on as children reached over to fetch their own things. In the same survey we found that up to 25% (actually 22.4%) of coat hooks were bent out of their original shape in the same cloakrooms. Though there were more than enough coat hooks for the number of coats, there were still coats on the floor.
Fire Service inspections, and basic health and safety common sense says that walk routes should be kept obstacle free, so these bags and coats have got to be put away properly.
So why the bags on the floor?
On inspection we found many bags slung from the coat hooks – and they are ‘coat hooks’, not ‘bag hooks’. Try a websearch for ‘bag hooks’ – you get lots of kitchen cupboard storage ideas for plastic carrier bags.
Yes, we do give some limited homework. Yes, we have lots of our children learning a musical instrument. Yes, some of our pupils may be staying one night at mum’s and the next at dad’s. But we keep PE kit at school in separate bags. And homework is a single sheet most often. We have water in our taps at school, and so the water bottle should weigh very little as they could refill when they arrive in the morning. We don’t issue our children with textbooks, so they don’t need carrying. None of our pupils bring a personal laptop or tablet PC to school, so that weight and bulk is not in the bag either. Certainly, near on 50% bring a packed lunch, but does that really need to be wrapped in foil, held in a lunchbox and then carried in a rucksack?
The mantra in the cloakroom is:
Zip your bag shut and place under the bench,
Hang up your coat,
Place your lunchbox on the bench.
Easy, neat, tidy and safe.
But the mantra has been around for a year, and still we tidy up after children or fume a little about it. I think many bags are much bigger than needs be. I think much stuff is carried that could be left at home (why bring a football when school provides playground equipment including footballs?). I think we (you and us) haven’t taught our children how to put things away ‘properly’. And why treble-pack a packed lunch (or why not have the school meal?).
Watch out for the arrival of ‘The Golden Broom’ trophy and award coming soon.