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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 teachers are Mrs Dutton & Mrs de Brouwer (3D/dB), Miss Hayden (3RH), Mrs Holden (3SH) and Miss Wall (3AW). We have several Teaching Assistants who work with Y3 children at different times through the week: Miss Mahon, Mr Bartholomew, Mrs Dawes and Miss Kania.

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. 

The Y4 team consists of the following teachers: Mrs Purdom in Y4JP, Mrs Smith and Mrs Smith (yes, that's right) in Y4SS, Mrs Wymer in Y4CW and Mrs Drury in Y4JD. The children are also supported by our teaching assistants: Mrs Proctor, Mrs Cooper, Mrs Mulqueen, Mrs Allen, Mrs Hill and Mr Gartrell. We have help from Ms Reasbeck, Miss Lee and Mrs Grimsley too. What a team!

We know that the question children are mostly asked when they arrive home is 'What did you do today?' The response is often 'nothing'! Well, here is where you can find out what 'nothing' looks like. In our weekly blogs your children will share with you what they have been getting up to and show some of the wonderful work they have been doing. Check in each weekend for our latest news.


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Introduction

Welcome to the Year 5 Blog page.

The Year 5 teaching team consists of: Mrs Loosley (5NL), Miss Cunningham (5EC),  Mrs Ridsdale and Mrs Webb (5W/R) and Mr Bradshaw (5BB).  The children are also supported by our teaching assistants: Mr Swain, Mr Jenkinson, Mrs Hornsey and Mrs Allen. We have help from Mr Jones, Miss Lee, Ms Grimsley and Ms Reasbeck too. What a fantastic team!

Our PE days are Tuesday (indoor) and Wednesday (outdoor): the children need to wear their PE kits for school on those days. 

Spellings are sent home every Monday, to learn ready for a spelling dictation each Friday. 

Homework books (maths and SPaG) will be sent home once a week - the days will be decided by the class teachers who will let their classes know. They will have a whole week to complete the homework tasks. 

In our weekly blogs, the children will share some of the things they have been doing at school. Check in each weekend for the latest Y5 news!


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 Shaw and Mrs Watkinson (Y6S/W); Mrs Rougvie and Mrs Jones (Y6R/J); Mrs Phillips (Y6CP); and Miss Norris (Y6HN). Also teaching in Year 6 are: Miss Lee (Thursday in Y6R/J); Mrs Farrell (Thursday  in Y6HN); Mrs Grimsley (Thursday in Y6CP); and Mr Jones (Thursday inY6S/W).We are also very lucky to be helped by Mrs Hill, Mrs Mulqueen and Mr Gartrell. 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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07 Feb 2020

The School Fruit and Veg Scheme

pka (or ‘properly known as’) School financial value standards

Following on from last week’s Blog, we are about to present the annual SFVS self-evaluation to Governors. Nothing stays the same for long as it is in a new format this year. Front section is all Yes / No / In part answers to question. These are all worded slightly differently to previous versions and so a simple ‘copy and paste’ will not do.

The back provides (another) set of comparative data fields. These will allow or encourage Governors to discuss their aims in setting and targeting a budget. It will allow us to consider if we spend our income where we want to in order to achieve what we are after.

However …

The problem is that anomalies are not easily removed, income cannot be easily or significantly raised and some data is simply contradictory. It is all true, no doubt, but not at all simple.

That we spend 55% of income on teacher costs puts us in the top 10% of ‘similar’ schools. Two points here – who says that that’s a bad thing, seeing as we get results in the top 20% of schools? And how are we to reduce teacher costs by 5% to get to average; by losing two teachers?

The number of senior leaders (two) for a school of our size (480 plus pupils) puts us in the very low end of things. But to increase the team would certainly increase that percentage spent on teachers!

There is a novel calculation, an expression of pupil contact for each teacher, made by dividing the number of classes by the full-time equivalent number of teachers. Our figure is so high it is flagged as a risk, and requires investigation and action. So we either need fewer classes (bigger classes if we have the same number of pupils) or more teachers, and we know what that would do to the percentage spend on teacher costs!

Our average class size puts us in the top 20% as well (which is not where you want to be, in fact, but it does suggest financial efficiency) but with the ludicrous figure of 30.2 pupils per class. 0.2 indeed! To reduce the class size to the average for ‘similar’ schools we would need to have 4 fewer pupils or 0.13 classes more. Both of these are impossible – I try my best to avoid the admission of any extra pupils over admission number but Appeal Panels sometimes place children with us. How would we run a class for just 4 hours a week?

This odd state of affairs comes about really from two factors: we are currently the lowest funded (per pupil) school in Sheffield, and we have a very, very stable staff who are, me included, at the top of the pay range. Recognising the issues does not make a solution any easier – it is no simple thing to increase our income by £100,000 per year, nor to suddenly employ eight newly qualified teachers when we have none currently.

It’ll make for an interesting discussion when presented, but won’t lead to any significant changes: we have no vacancies to fill cheaply, and we have no room for extra pupils.

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20 Feb 2019

Pupil Mobility versus Social Mobility

Pupil Mobility is a measure of pupil movement during the academic year. The calculation is simple: add all the movements in and out and express that as a percentage of the number on roll. Our Pupil Mobility measure is at its lowest level in 7 years, at just 2.6%. It is now less than one fifth of the Sheffield average. There were just 11 pupils leaving or joining our school during term time in the last 12 months.

Parents can be worried about a negative impact on their children if they move during a key stage. They should be assured by the research evidence that shows that any negative impact is actually due to other factors, such as EAL, economic disadvantage and SEN. When simply accounting for prior attainment at the end of key stage 1, there is no negative impact on attainment due to moving schools.

The gross impact is much harder to measure. The schools with the highest levels of pupil mobility are also those with highest levels of disadvantage. There are correlations and coincidences in the data groups, but not necessarily any causal link. Pupil movement may be driven by four causes and circumstances and we can easily see how each might lead to both disadvantage and lower attainment:

  • International migration — Children joining / leaving schools as a result of families moving from / to countries overseas
  • Internal migration — Children joining / leaving schools as a result of families moving home within the UK, whether over long or short distances
  • Institutional movement — Children changing schools without moving home, including exclusions and voluntary transfers
  • Individual movement — Children changing schools as a result of moving alone, such as moves between separated parents or to live with foster parents.

Conversely and positively we can look at each of these factors as a factor likely to indicate aspiration and hope for improvement. International migration may be to escape hardship but is also a movement towards better, and presumably betterment. Which parent ever wanted less for their child than they enjoyed? Moving home and city (or just catchment area) can be as a result of new careers, career advancement and ‘making it good’. With it comes the chance to enjoy the schools offered in the new area. The vast abundance of data and other information about schools is supposed to allow parents to state their preference of school, and if they feel one is not right for their child then they have the right to seek a move to another. (This does require spaces to be available of course.) In an urban area parents often have to choose from many nearby schools, and they do do so for many reasons. Almost always it is sought for the child’s best interests. A child moving home does not mean a school move will have to happen, but hopefully the home change is also a positive one, and supports the child’s growth and development.

So, very few children leave Lydgate Junior School mid-year (maybe 5 or 6 in any 12 months), and a similar small number join us (coming in from a waiting list or via and Admission Appeal Panel decision). I remain convinced that the reason so few children leave is because we do provide a very good school experience for every pupil. We look after each well, and we promote very good standards of learning. That we always fill vacancies is for the same reasons: it is recognised that we do a good job for families and children. Sheffield is a great place to be. S10 is a great area within that city, with vibrant, welcoming, communities. People want to be here; they have made choices and, possibly, sacrifices to do so. When someone wants to move into the area, or get their child into a school in the area, it is because they want all these good things for their families.

Pupil Mobility can be used an indicator of other things. When it is low it indicates stable communities with all the advantages that brings. It is hard to find a downside to low Pupil Mobility in fact.

Social mobility is the movement of an individual or family between social strata relative to their current position. This is often linked to educational achievement and income. Unless all schools can give the same outcomes for all pupils, and then this lead to equality of opportunity at the next stage, parents will continue to look for a school that does better than the other so that their child has a better chance on life. Research suggests that we aren’t doing so well – children of rich parents stay rich and children of poor parents stay poor, by and large. The educational achievement gap can be as much as three years’ worth by the age of 15 between children from different advantage backgrounds.

That low mobility then seems to get in the way of the aspirational, ambitious parent. They perhaps see admission to a good school with good results as a passport to social mobility, but with no places available the door is simply closed. We are full, and at 120 pupils more than the school original design. We cannot simply take more pupils to support a social mobility goal as we have no room to take them into.

I do not have an answer other than the same line that has been stated over and over by politicians and education leaders at all levels for as long as I have been a school leader – every child deserves a good school, every community should have a good school, and every school should be a good school. (I suppose that most are just that already.)

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22 Dec 2018

The Outliers

We were looking at some end-point data from one of the spelling interventions we run.  (To be sure that each intervention works we measure on the way in and on the way out.) It is a twelve-week programme, targeted at children who have a ‘spelling age’ significantly behind their chronological age.

The basic theory for a successful, effective, well-delivered SEND programme is that it should produce twice the normal rate of progress. So over the twelve weeks we hope / expect / want to see 6 months progress in spelling age (or reading age if it’s a reading programme), otherwise we start asking other questions: wrong intervention, wrong children, inaccurate measure, other factors, implemented as intended?

What the data has led me to is some personal professional (statistics) learning: I need to better understand ‘outliers’, how to define them, and when it is appropriate to remove them from a set of scores.

It is fairly easy to see how it would be hasty to base a judgement about the success of a programme on the progress or otherwise of a single participant. Likewise a single test might be too narrow to justify a confident statement of progress for the participant. To judge the programme / intervention itself we want to aggregate and average the progress scores from a decent sized group.

And this is what brought me to identifying my own learning need. Tests scores (using the same test in and out) showed a range, as we’d expect, of levels of progress. We calculated the number of months gained for each child in the programme, some with disbelief – not in the child but in the scale (and sometimes direction) of the scores. The lowest progress scores was minus 8 months, suggesting the child had lost eight months off their ‘spelling age’ in the three month period. The greatest progress was an apparent gain of two years and 10 months, or plus 34 months!

The majority were grouped between 1 month and 9 months, so that plus 34 looks extraordinary / unlikely / inexplicable. It matters because it puts over two months gain per pupil on the mean average. I needed to learn whether and how to discount it (and then what we would report to parents about this child’s progress if we disbelieved the test score).

'Mathwords', sort of helpfully, defines an outlier as: A data point that is distinctly separate from the rest of the data. One definition of outlier is any data point more than 1.5 interquartile ranges (IQRs) below the first quartile or above the third quartile.

So now I need to work out how to calculate the quartiles for the set of data, and the inter quartile range.

There is no hard and fast advice on whether to remove (and report) the outlier(s) as they may be the most interesting and significant data in the whole set!

We will continue to question it all, I think.

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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.

https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/


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.

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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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