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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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18 Sep 2017

The Broad and The Narrow

Here are two examples of the sorts of things we discuss, dissect, deliberate at school at senior leader level on a weekly basis. They probably demonstrate nicely the way that we work both practically and theoretically, wanting to assist children to reach their absolute potential and to make sure that nothing hinders that progress.

The Thousands Comma

What goes between the hundreds and the thousands digits? Is it a space (in what we think is the American style), a comma (traditional British style), or nothing (European, so as not to confuse with their way of indicating values in money)?

Over time it has been all three, or a combination of two from three. This week, on a walk round school, we happened to observe two different representations, in different year groups. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it can help children if they happen across different representations later on. However, in one class a child struggled to read aloud a four digit number while another child read a four digit number easily enough in the other class.

We discussed this minutia – imagine; seven adults discussing the various possible ways to record number, and deciding on what school should adopt as ‘policy’. We took account of the end of key stage assessment content, of course, but were not dictated to by it.

From now on it’s 6,435 or 2,008.

Actually, the change was quicker than this – the very next day, in the very next maths lessons across school, with each year group engaged in number topics, numbers were shown consistently with the ‘thousands comma’ in place.

 

Volunteering Policy

Alongside the very specific was some work on this more general policy development. It would be easy to think that we simply welcome all offers of help as many hands make light work after all. A quick online search brings up many school policies, and they seem to suggest all are welcome. But perhaps these schools struggle to attract partnership with the community, or have more capacity to support and direct teams of volunteers.

Any reader who works in other sectors or industries might take a very different view about volunteering. You can’t just rock up to Rolls Royce engineering and expect to walk in as a volunteer, or to a prison, or a pharmacy, or a utility company. Even where they do offer placements for work experience they limit numbers, control access, limit periods, risk assess like crazy, and keep volunteers away from any sort of sensitive or essential activity. Why should schools be different? (And why does no one ever volunteer to support the admin function or the premises team?)

We had a couple of experiences at the very start of term where people simply assumed they could turn up, sign up, and start the very next day. They can’t.

They can’t because:

  • We don’t know their motives,
  • They may need a DBS check,
  • They need, if accepted, an introduction and induction,
  • They will need to be managed and directed,
  • We will need to find a role for them to undertake,
  • We will want to match skills to need,
  • We will need to find a member of staff willing or keen to accept the volunteer,
  • We haven’t ‘interviewed’ them or taken references, something we would clearly do for a staff appointment,
  • We may be ‘full’ already,
  • We will want them to sign a few things, such as a Code of Conduct, to be sure that they understand the trust, confidentiality and discretion we will expect,
  • And finally because having a volunteer requires my staff to put in some extra work. I want my teachers to be able to teach well, and if having a volunteer, a student or a trainee negatively affects this beyond the initial period then I am not keen on hosting the extra adult.

This is one of those areas where the Headteacher really does get to have the final say. I, or my delegate, get to decide whether we offer a volunteer a placement or not, and also whether one has to be terminated. A formal policy is in hand, to be presented to Governors for approval later this term. In the meantime we will work assuming it has been agreed. It will be published on the school website as a draft shortly.

 

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27 Apr 2016

Why ‘Levels’ had to go?

Have I stumbled on the sort of data evidence that persuaded Ministers to radically change the Primary school assessment system?  I was preparing for a presentation and discussion this week by looking out some data on school performance.

There were lots of contradictory ideas and theories jumping out at me – Infant Schools get better KS 1 results than through-Primaries (so we should change to an Infant / Junior only organisation?), but through-Primaries get better KS 2 progress than Junior Schools (so we should move to a through-Primary only from an Infant / Junior organisation?).  Money brings provision and capacity, allowing wider opportunities, greater staffing, newer resources, newer building and so on, and so well-funded schools must be better. Except the highest attaining and highest achieving Primary-sector school in Sheffield happens to be one of the lowest funded per pupil (so we should reduce school funding in order to improve outcomes?).

Anyway, back to my bolt-of-lightning moment. I was looking at the list of Sheffield Primary-sector schools and had sorted them to see how many scored 100% in the measure of pupil progress at expected or better rates. (In old-money, this was 2 Levels + across Years 3 to 6.) What struck me, more than which schools or geography, funding, pupil numbers, SEN, character or prior position was the different numbers of schools (out of 130 Sheffield schools with published data) that scored that magic 100% in the different published areas of the curriculum.

For Reading – 9 schools scored 100% of children making 2 Levels + progress.

For Maths – 14 schools scored 100% of children making 2 Levels + progress.

For Writing – 33 schools scored 100% of children making 2 Levels + progress.

Writing was, and will be this year still, marked within each school, with around one third of schools having some of their assessment externally moderated.

Why nearly four times as many schools making 100% in writing compared to reading?

Is it a coincidence that we see the greatest changes to the assessment process coming in writing?

Does the greater number getting success in writing merely reflect a later development of those skills?

Are schools ‘massaging’ the figures?

And what chance that the new system changes any of this?

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11 Dec 2015

Words, damned words, and semantics

I was stopped last week by a parent who wanted to chat about his perception of Parents Evening. He felt that his child’s class teachers had not got a clear position on the progress the child had made, and that the language my colleagues had used was vague and not reassuring.

We explored the changes in the curriculum that have only been fully in place since September, and won’t be in the assessment system for at least another eighteen months. He went away somewhat pacified by my assurance that the written reports sent home later in the academic year will focus on progress and not coverage.

The new assessment system is still evolving, much like a newly formed planet emerging from a cloud of gas and particles whirling after the collapse of a star system. The day after the publication of school performance tables (http://www.education.gov.uk/cgi-bin/schools/performance/school.pl?urn=106998) schools across England received links to more documents giving information about the revisions to end of Key Stage assessments for Foundation Stage, and Key Stages 1 and 2. (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/interim-frameworks-for-teacher-assessment-at-the-end-of-key-stage-2 and https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pre-key-stage-2-pupils-working-below-the-test-standard) .

These are ‘interim’ arrangements, and so we must not get used to them as, presumably, they will change again in 2017. I have mentioned before the new language that we will have to use to inform parents about their children’s attainment – they will either meet or not meet a national standard – a ‘scaled score around 100’. What we have today been told is how we must describe the performance of those children who are working below that national standard.

Keep in mind that this is to replace an out-moded, not fit for purpose, insufficiently challenging system that used ‘Levels’ where the number accorded to a ‘Level’ showed the (not necessarily linear) progression. Schools developed sub-levels to describe better the various shades of progress and this was accepted over time, and subsequently widely used.

Come July 2016 we will be telling parents that their Year 6 child is either working at / has progressed to:

  • Foundations for the expected standard

  • Early development of the expected standard

  • Growing development of the expected standard

  • Working towards the expected standard

  • Working at the expected standard, or

  • Working at greater depth within the expected standard

A quick, cheeky, question – have I put them in order or not? In what order would you place those statements? (And is it me, or does it look and feel rather like the ‘old’ ‘working towards’, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4 and Level 5?)

There’s a whole lot of murk out there still – we are constantly told not to interpret the end of Key Stage guidance to work out what children should be able to do (an age-related expectation) at the end of any other year group. We are told to enter only children for whom the test is accessible, but without knowing the ‘pass mark’ to guide us on whether there is any point or not. We can use the one set of sample papers published to see if children can answer any of the questions, but as we don’t know the minimum mark needed to register a ‘scaled scored’ we are still none-the-wiser. Hopefully clarity will emerge over time.

One slight, but unexplained, change is that schools will have to submit their ‘teacher assessments’ a whole month earlier than in previous years. (We have to send them to DfE as well as to parents.) The deadline just jumped from June 24th to May 27th. I cannot come up with a single good reason. My one suggestion is rather cynical and conspiracy-led: ‘they’ trust teacher assessment more than the tests (but would never admit it), and so want to confirm test outcomes against what the professionals, who have worked with the children for four years and more, think before setting the threshold for the national standard. Or the computer team at the standards and testing agency has a big holiday booked for late June.

And in the meantime, we’ll keep on teaching the children things they don’t yet know but could do with learning. Seems about right. (That would be 'Purposeful People engaged in Disciplined Thought taking Disciplined Action', one of the things remarkable associations do that others don't.)

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17 Nov 2015

85% of people

‘85% of people cannot see the the mistake in this sentence.’

Have you fallen for one of these on Facebook or elsewhere? And felt a little bit stupid?

Well, in the course of duty, I’ve just watched a video that explained how Primary schools will have ‘value added’ calculated next year. Fascinating! And I think I spotted the mistake in the explanation.

The challenge is that Year 2 outcomes of three years ago measured against a different curriculum to that which Year 6 are studying now, in a different scoring system (‘Levels’ then, and a ‘scaled score around 100’ in 2016), using all teacher assessment against national tests and in a stable situation (no change at KS 1 since 2004) against a brand-new one (we won’t know how to attain the ‘scaled score around 100’ until after the tests have all been marked, externally of course).

Well, the video explain how, in a class of 28, each child counts. The calculation takes each individual’s KS 1 outcome, for maths, reading and writing, and finds the mean. It compares that one child’s KS 2 ‘scaled score around 100’ against the national average for children with the same KS 1 outcome. That child earns a plus or minus figure for the class, depending on whether they have exceeded or trailed the national average (for children of the same prior attainment).

The total for the class or cohort is added up and averaged. A positive value added is good, and a negative is poor (though Ofsted seem to be suggesting that down to -0.3 will still be considered ‘average’).

Did you spot the the mistake? Obvious, really – those cheeky chappies – such little scamps and jokers the lot of them. I mean, who ever heard of a class of only 28!

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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.

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