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 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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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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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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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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20 May 2017

Trained Teachers Fail Test

Last week I wrote about the statistically unlikely (third in five years) external check of our end of key stage 2 test processes and system. This checked on the security and proper administration of reading, punctuation, grammar and spelling, arithmetic and mathematical reasoning tests. Clean bill of health, you might remember.

This week we have heard that we will also have external moderation of our Year 6 teachers’ assessment of writing.

We again have no worries about this, because:

  • We have focussed on this for two years,
  • We have led in the local school cluster on moderation,
  • We have taken external training for our literacy team on writing at ‘greater depth’,
  • We have kept aware of interim guidance,
  • We have a colleague involved in city-wide moderation training and locality moderation work,
  • We have continually given staff time to work on this area,
  • Senior leaders have stayed involved in the process and showed how it important to them,
  • Resources (including staff and time) have been given as fully as we can,
  • Our colleagues have agreed with colleagues across the local cluster of schools,
  • We have joined activities across the cluster in all four key stage 2 year groups.

However, there has been some doubt, ever since the changes to assessment expectations from the ‘new’ curriculum and the ‘new’ assessment system itself, about anyone’s ability, confidence and accuracy in reaching judgements.

The process as it currently stands is that teachers have to identify enough evidence across the curriculum that a ‘pupil can’, independently, meet all the required statements at a stage in order to be said to ‘meet the expected standard’ or to be ‘working at greater depth’.

The moderators were, at last this year, provided with some nationally provided training materials (and a very short timeline). They got to undertake some briefing and then work through three portfolios from three pupils. They had to decide if there was sufficient evidence to award one of the judgements, or if to say that a child had not yet met the expected standard. You’d hope, like I would, that, after training, all the moderators / teachers (all Year 6 teachers or literacy leads in schools, and all put forward by their Headteachers as knowing what they are doing) would take the test and pass. All they had to do, after all, was score 3 out of 3.

Oh, if only it were so simple. The TES website this week broke the following story of how the training hasn’t actually led to that outcome

‘Data uncovered by TES suggests the government has failed to ensure the “more consistent, reliable approach” to moderating teacher assessments of writing it promised following last year's Sats chaos.

Two-thirds of moderators trained for this summer incorrectly assessed pupils’ work when tested earlier this year’.

And it gets worse:

‘Responses from 101 local authorities also revealed large variations in the proportions of moderators managing to correctly assess all three portfolios of pupils’ work – ranging from 6 per cent in Sheffield to 100 per cent in 13 other authorities.’

If trained moderators cannot get it right, what possible hope is there for the rest of the profession?

2,547 team moderators were trained nationally. There are around 11,000 Primary schools in England. That’s at least 8,500 without a trained moderator in-house.

I do like to explain the theory of cognitive dissonance to colleagues and student teachers. It explains how, immediately after teaching in a Higher Education setting, knowledge and understanding of a taught topic was found to have regressed in comparison to before a lecture or teaching session. Psychologists suggest that it takes a while for learners to internalise new learning, especially where it challenges previously held belief and comprehension. Maybe the moderators were simply tested too soon after training – it was a rush job by all accounts, and the re-test with a new portfolio even more so (over one weekend in term time so it was on top of normal workload).

One wonders what score untrained Y6 teachers would get.

I am, typically, highly respectful of colleagues’ knowledge, position and role. But, if I don’t like the report after our moderation visit in June, I might just challenge on the grounds of, ‘do you actually know what you are talking about?’

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04 Jan 2017

Training Days - what? Again?

Staff completed their third and fourth training days of the year this week, while the school’s pupils had an extra-long Christmas and New Year holiday.

There are long-established reasons for placing the training days like this, always up against the start or end of holidays. We hope it makes it easier for parents/ carers to arrange childcare, that it gives greater opportunity to take a vacation out of term time by increasing the length of break and number of possibilities, and it keep s the term time itself intact as one block. We always synchronise with our feeder school, but cannot do so with the many Secondary schools that our pupils’ siblings attend. Too many Secondaries and far too many feeder schools unless all would take the same days. And as many are now Academies with full freedom to select their own arrangement of five training days there really is no way to insist on coordination.

We used these two days to concentrate on:

  • The next stages of Rights Respecting Schools work – how we cover all the Articles in our cross-curricular teaching,
  • Moderating writing within and across year groups, leading from the annual John Lewis TV advert - using writing specifically produced by all the pupils for assessment to develop further our own understanding and recognition of ‘working at greater depth’ and ‘meeting the expected standard’,
  • Planning for the teaching of English in year groups, and for mastery maths lessons – so that we share planning skills and roles, ensuring quality provision is continuous,
  • Interventions available in school including Lexia, First Class at Number, Catch up Reading and others – what they can provide, who they are aimed at, what can be expected from them, what they need in order to be most effective,
  • Staff well-being – so that we are fit and well in order to look after our pupils as best we possibly can and as they undoubtedly deserve.

Our fifth and final training day closure is in June, fitted alongside the May half term holiday. This year we will have been able to have one on each of the five days of the working week – helping our part-time staff and hopefully inconveniencing each part-time working parent / carer a little less.

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16 Sep 2016

Mnemonics, Acronyms and Learning how to spell ‘tricky words’

For me it’s ‘guarantee’ and ‘liaise’, and 'diarrhoea' – I always want to put an ‘e’ in the middle of ‘guarantee’ instead of the ‘a’, and I struggle to place both ‘i’ in ‘liaise’. And 'diarrhoea' makes all of us want to use a four-letter word instead. Spellcheck is often of no use.

After you‘ve mastered synthetic phonics there will still be words that don’t work that way. Some have to be learnt using graphemes, knowledge of word roots, families of words, alternative pronunciation / phoneme and so on. We use, as do many schools, handwriting to support the learning of some spelling patterns (it’s known as a ‘hand for spelling’).

The use of mnemonics (‘Oh yUo Lucky Duck’ to remember the pattern ‘ould’ in could, and should, and would) and acronyms is an established method for those ‘tricky words’. However, there is an oft repeated fault or missed opportunity with the majority use of the method. Many a child (and adult) will say, ‘Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants’ as a way to remember the spelling of ‘because’. The fault, as I see it, of the method is that there is nothing to remind the child that they are using a prompt for the word ‘because’ – they have to know the first letter or ‘sound’.

I think the method is even better and more effective if the mnemonic starts with the word being spelt out – so to remember ‘because’ you might say, ‘BECAUSE Eleven Coats And Umbrellas Seem Effective’ or ‘BECAUSE Elephants Cope And Usually Seem Energetic’. Say the word you want to spell and it starts you going with the mnemonic itself.

I’m not actually sure that it is the mnemonic that is assisting with the learning, but the build-up to it. It needs quite a bit of thinking about to come up with even a silly, if grammatically correct, sentence or phrase. It needs a lot of looking at and checking you have all the right letters in the right order. You have to repeat it a few times to get the phrase down off pat. You have to look again. People ask you to repeat it because it sounds such fun. They have a go and hearing their versions triggers the letter pattern in your head. We generally call this ‘over-learning’ or rote.

Anyway, diarrhoea – ‘DIARRHOEA Is A Really Rather Horrible Openly Evacuating Anus’

Liaise – LIAISE In An Italian Secret Escape

Guarantee – GUARANTEEs Aren’t Usually Read And Never Treat Employees Equally

Can you make some to help remember which / witch goes where / were / wear and whether / weather  their / there / they’re is right?
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27 Nov 2015

Creative Mis-Spellings

Let’s play ‘Only Connect’ – spot the link... Horn-ed Viper, you say?

For four points – Ronnie Barker?

For three points – Ronnie Barker and John Lennon?

For two points – Ronnie Barker, John Lennon and Stanley Unwin?

(Final clue at the bottom)

The Witches scene from Macbeth is the most quoted Shakespeare, apparently – all that ‘fire burn, and cauldron bubble’. No chance of it being ‘Pointless’, then.

I was treated this week when offered the chance to read re-workings by two Year 6 boys. (I know, boys writing! Amazing!). They discussed the original and their in-the-style-of work eloquently and with some real understanding. They had the rhythm just right, the syllabic pattern, the rhyme, the circular end / beginning. And they had well-thought out explanations for Shakespeare’s intent and word selection.

They told me how they had had to think really hard in order to understand some of the unfamiliar language, which is fair. I’m pleased with their resilience, for one thing.

In both pieces I saw examples of creative and original phrases and wording, a nod to Shakespeare’s record as the greatest individual inventor of new words in the English language.

The first had added to the brew, ’a piece of old oak bar’. I explored the words and tried to guess the intention – is the bar suggesting strength, like a steel bar, or perhaps or was it a section of a gate, door or barricade? Clearly the ‘old oak’ was referencing the traditional tree of England, and was perhaps a metaphorical use?

In the second I found, in the final chorus, ‘double, double, toil and rouble’. How politically aware is this kid? Is it a filmic reference to the frequent portrayal of Eastern Europeans as the ‘baddie’ in English language films? By sleight of hand has he deliberately placed an older spelling of the Russian currency in his evil brew to condemn that state's role in modern conflicts?

Clearly we have on our hands two writers who deserve a wider audience and encouragement in this field of cultural expression and invention.

And then I asked them what their intentions had been – was I right in any of my thoughts?

For one point - Ronnie Barker, John Lennon, Stanley Unwin and William Archibald (Dr) Spooner?

The connection is deliberate misspellings – Ronnie Barker wrote many ‘Two Ronnies’ scripts himself including the ultimate, ‘Four Candles / Fork Handles’ sketch. (Six minutes of pure, pure gold.)

 John Lennon liked a play on words and a cheeky reinvention through misspelling – his second published book of poetry was ‘A Spaniard in the Works’.

Stanley Unwin, of course, made a career out of getting words wrong. His mother hurt herself coming home one day because, she had "falolloped over and grazed her kneeclabbers".

And Dr Spooner has his own category of mixed up phrases in the self-named ‘Spoonerisms’.

I’d perhaps awarded the lads a little too much respect, but they were gentle with me and terribly honest. They had intended, ‘old oak bark’, and ‘double, double, toil and trouble’, but spellchecker is a wonderful thing.

I can’t begin to tell you what they put when they meant to add to the infernal brew, ‘ squid's tentacles’, but did make me laugh and wince!

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07 Nov 2015

Don't they know the Queen's English?

Don’t they know the Queen’s English?

To which an acceptable, though ignorant, answer would be, ‘Is she?’

The use of apostrophes to indicate contractions or omission is now in the English curriculum for Year 2 – that’s before our school even starts. And, to meet the national standard for Y2, children have to be, 'spelling some words with contracted forms'.

No problem – just get children to speak fully, correct sentences without any informal form of a word or words, then compare with the contracted, informal variety. Add apostrophes accordingly.

Except Costa Coffee in Broomhill has this sign on display in the front window:


It’s been there for a couple of years now.

And Iceland in Hillsborough is displaying this sign:


Same word, same misuse, same mistake. The copywriters or sign-writers both fail to meet the (interim) teacher assessment standard for the end of Key Stage 1, if (un)til is in their list, and certainly fail to meet the standard for end of Key Stage 2. You will only be ‘working towards ‘ the Y6 Standard if you are, ‘using capital letters, full stops, question marks, exclamation marks, commas for lists and apostrophes for contraction mostly correctly’.

And if you’re not sure what I am talking about – do they mean that the shop till is not open on time? That the till will be open later than usual? No, they mean that the shop will be open until late on. That would be ‘Open ‘til late’.

So I could become all, ‘Mr. Pedantic from Peterborough’, but that is not what good teachers do. Instead, we use these examples with our pupils and ask them to work out what is wrong. This improves their own reading, spelling and punctuation.

I just hope neither sign was written, approved, printed or hung by one of my former pupils.

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