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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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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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01 Jan 2018

A Mathematical puzzle, the funding of Universal Infant Free School Meals, and How Funding Gaps Come About

Junior Schools do not provide the Universal Infant Free School Meal; obviously.

Primary Schools offer the UIFSM to just 3/7 of their pupils, the ones in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2.

Infant Schools obviously offer the UIFSM to all their pupils.

The funding stream is interesting.

Junior Schools get no funding for or from it.

Primary Schools get funding for and from it for 3/7 of their pupils, potentially.

Infant Schools get funding for and from UIFSM for all their pupils, potentially.

Even though it is free to all Infant pupils there is not a 100% take-up, and the Department for Education, in designing the annual funding stream, recognised this. But the methodology chosen has a few interesting quirks and potentials for securing funding that Junior Schools cannot access.

This is how it works:

Instead of a daily report on UIFSM uptake, submitted electronically to a central point, meal uptake on two Census days each year produces an ‘average’ and this is used as the root number.

Multiply that number of pupils by £2.30 for each of the 190 days of the school year and you derive that school’s UIFSM income for the year.

The cost, in Sheffield, with our preferred provider, is actually £2.27 per day.

If the number of meals taken is less than that taken on Census day then the school keeps the difference. Any higher and school pays, I think.

I set myself a bit of a logic number problem and have tried to calculate the potential for schools to improve their income, based on data released on city-wide whole-school meal uptake, free school meal eligibility, Key Stage 2 meal uptake, and our own individual school data for the same factors.

It all makes a potential, for an Infant school of our size, to make £26,900 a year from the way UIFSM is funded IF they promote the meal on census day and get a full take-up.

And if our 480-pupil school were a through-Primary, then 206 would be Infants, and we could be £11,523 up each year, just for running a very successful couple of day’s school meals promotion.

Neat.

Our kitchen asks me each year if I’d like them to run a special promotion on Census day. While I’m all in favour of every child taking the balanced, up-to-school-meal-standard-standard meal, a successful promotion at a Junior School does absolutely nothing to aid income.

Strange.

Junior Schools also missed out on one-off capital investment to improve and prepare facilities ahead of the implementation of UIFSM; obviously.

This all goes some way to explaining differences between our provision and that our children may have enjoyed at their previous schools.
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