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 several Teaching Assistants who work with Y3 children at different times through the week: Mr Jenkinson, Mrs Proctor, Mrs Hill, 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 turned down the invitation to send colleagues on a training course, even though the title was exactly on the topic at the heart of our school development planning this year; boy’s greater depth writing.
Partly my reluctance was based on cost – at £265 per person for the one day course, transport to the nearest venue (Manchester or Leeds), and a day’s supply cover, the course would cost school in the region of £500 per person, and we’d want at least two colleagues to attend.
I’m also reluctant because it only directly impacts on one or two colleagues, and when they try to impart their learning back at school the effect becomes less and less at each tier - maybe only 10% as effective. The trickle-down or cascade approach has accepted law of diminishing returns built-in inefficiency. Combine that with the challenge of covering all 28 of our teachers, many of whom are part-time and we would have accept next-to-no impact in places.
Then there’s the lack of prior knowledge of the trainer, and their expertise and skills. With no ‘CheckaTutor’ or ‘Tutor Advisor’ app available, with ratings provided by precious trainees, it is not easy to tell whether the training will be that good.
And finally I don’t like the implied put-down on our own staff, that we have to get someone to tell us how to improve because presumably we don’t know ourselves or have expertise in-house.
So what we do instead is confidently, happily and with commitment take part in a school peer partnership programme with our local colleagues. All seven local Primaries in our S10LP (Sheffield 10 Learning Partnership) group signed up two years ago to a scheme that research (there’s a thing!) supports as effective in developing school effectiveness. EEF (Education Endowment Foundation) research has shown that using coaching principals, outside eyes and trusted colleagues, but without giving answers, continues, in a sustained manner, to help schools find the answers themselves.
It draws on an unstated fact – in the teaching staff body there is vast experience. Our 28 teachers share about 600 years of teaching between us. We probably have seen it before, and we probably do have possible answers to most problems within our experience or our ‘skill-set’.
It absolutely requires us to demonstrate ‘vulnerable trust’. We have to be open and honest with our colleagues outside our own school, and to be willing to accept that the problem may be ourselves. How we teach, how we organise, what we teach and the order in which we teach it, the behaviour management methods we choose, the curriculum arrangements and so on are the choice of professionals and so changes are in their capacity also. We have to open up so that colleagues can see what we really do and the outcomes we really get.
Earlier this term two Headteachers and a Deputy Headteacher visited us for a day and went full-on into an investigation on boys’ engagement in lessons and how that might be impacting on the percentage of boys attaining higher writing levels. This week the Deputy Head and another middle leader from a further school came to run an improvement workshop for our teaching staff, following on directly from that day of review. The two colleagues in this role are known as ‘Improvement Champions’ – they come to enable and encourage, presenting research that might help and then challenge us to choose a pathway and commit to action on it.
So far, at no cost to us. This work is quid pro quo, as they must have said in Roman schools back in the day. I have been on a review day at one of the partnership schools as lead, and will do another next term. Our Deputy will be the second reviewer at yet another local school next month. Two of our class teachers will act as Improvement Champions before the summer. Total financial cost about £1,000. But ALL our teachers have had training and inspiration, two teachers have been able to visit other schools and to develop leadership skills and experience, Head and Deputy have been challenged skilfully and able to learn from practice elsewhere.
The simplest measure of whether the group thinks it works is that all seven schools were at a review meeting this week. Two years in and we are training more staff in the various roles so we can ensure sustainability. The very next morning after our workshop I kept coming across colleagues talking about the issues raised and covered. We have booked two further activities because we have committed to actions. I think it is more effective than sending one person (or two) on a more expensive day out course. If we didn’t think it worked it would have faded away by now and we would be spending our time and (limited) money some other way.
Are there any? any schools like ours?
You’d think, like I did, that schools in our local area would be pretty much the same as us. Being in the same postcode area, S10, and in the same Parliamentary Constituency, Hallam, and in the same city, Sheffield, surely seven schools nearby have more in common than separates us?
We do have an interest in finding similar schools, and we are in fact urged to do so by bodies such as Ofsted and the DfE. By looking at a ‘similar’ school, how it spends its money and then its school performance, we can ask questions about whether we are efficient and effective, or not.
In the olden days (aka the 1990’s) Ofsted made a simple judgement in Inspection about ‘value for money’. It sounded a bit too commercial for most of us, like comparing schools with a loaf of artisan bread, perhaps, but it did say something both profound and simple at the same time.
Last week we got notice about the publication of the most up to date (but still a full year old) dashboard, the ‘Benchmarking Report Card’. It gives a few headline scores on the ways schools spend their resources – things like percentage of funds spent on teachers, and pupil : teacher ratio.
Schools like ours, then.
The Report Card finds five schools most like Lydgate Junior School; English Martyrs’ RC Primary School, 35 miles away in Leeds; High Ham C of E Primary School, 168 miles away in Somerset; Saint Alban and St Stephen Catholic Junior School, 123 miles away in St Albans; St Luke’s Halsall C of E Primary School, 63 miles away in Liverpool and Warrender Primary School, 133 miles away in Ruislip, Middlesex.
Normally we compare ourselves with schools just a mile or two away, and that’s how the national performance tables like to present things. Parents make informed choices based on information presented geographically based on a search point centered round a postcode. Yet what the DfE’s own Benchmark Report Card suggests is that our Division of the League table should be much wider spread!
So here is our own league table, formed round these five schools and our point of interest this year, greater depth writing scores:
Percentage of pupils achieving at a higher standard in reading, writing and maths
Lydgate Junior School
English Martyrs’ RC Primary School
High Ham C of E Primary School
Saint Alban and St Stephen Catholic Junior School
St Luke’s Halsall C of E Primary School
Warrender Primary School
The Report Card suggest we question why we spend 55% of our budget on teaching staff (above the average of our statistical neighbours, while running a pupil : teacher ratio above all bar one) but the school performance tables suggest we are doing rather well, even in an area where we are looking to improve further. Whoever we are like, we really do appear to be doing rather well by our pupils.
There's a public version of benchmarking available here. https://schools-financial-benchmarking.service.gov.uk/?utm_source=BRC_maintained_19&utm_medium=email
On a day where the news was all about the day before’s General Election, the annual School Pupil Performance Tables were published.
Schools are far, far more than can be described in a simple set of results, but numbers can make for a good read and a bit of a puzzle over. I do urge everyone to consider context when looking at figures – they are simplistic and give very little contextual background. But here are some highlights:
Search for all Primary Schools in Sheffield, choose the radius of search and, for us, Primary Schools in the maintained sector.
By looking at the comparison group (My Schools – 85 schools) you see that Lydgate Junior School is / was:
First out of 85 schools on percentage of pupils attaining the expected standard in all three subject areas (reading, writing and maths),
12% to 23% ahead of national average on the same measure over the last three years,
Lowest funded per pupil,
Fifth best on reading progress score,
Tenth best on maths progress score,
Tenth best on percentage of pupils achieving the higher standards in all three areas,
5%, 6% and 7% ahead of national average on the same measure over the last three years,
Third best on average score in maths,
Third best attendance rate.
All this with the ninth highest Pupil : Teacher ratio in the comparison group (25.6 : 1 compared to a national average of 20.7 : 1) and in a Junior School (where, it is recognised, progress is lower on average).
How do Headteachers get held accountable for what their schools do when Ofsted only visit so rarely? (If your school is rated Outstanding then you can have gone ten years and more since that last Inspection.) Once in post is it all very safe and sound and unquestioned in a position of ultimate power?
These last three weeks have seen me challenged more effectively and thoroughly than ever before in over 14 years as a Headteacher in three schools.
I have had Governors grill me during three meetings for well over five hours on issues as diverse as school academic performance, attendance, staff absence, school security, staffing appointments, communications, development planning priorities, pay awards and progressions, progress made by every different group, and school meal improvements.
Parent after parent has demanded time with me to question practice and policy, and each has been met and listened to and debated with.
Staff have used appropriate and proper routes to question and challenge, sometimes with Trade Union support, decisions made and plans proposed.
My peers, Headteachers from local schools, have set dates to visit our school to undertake a review day that will lead to shared feedback and staff development activity in January.
Children have talked to me, asked me questions, written to me about concerns and stood in great number for election as School Councillors. (Their contributions this week include the Tuesday school meal menu, wanting to start a fingerboard club, and a petition to retain a temporary member of staff.)
There has been one official written Complaint received in that time after the parent’s concern could not be resolved informally. This will now be handled by the Chair of Governors, and she will start by questioning me about the substance of the Complaint.
The Annual Staff Census has been completed and data submitted to DfE on the correct filing date. This will, eventually, form part of the contextual information provided to Inspectors prior to Inspection.
I was quizzed by a local authority officer after he heard the school was featured in an online news story (that I hadn’t heard about).
We have arranged a site visit for next week from the LA Health & Safety team (at our request) to check on our site security. We are voluntarily completing an audit on the same subject so that Governors are fully informed at their next relevant Committee meeting.
The Chair of FOLA (Friends of Lydgate Association –better known perhaps as The PTA) visited to talk about what we wanted money for from the group. He wanted to know our real needs and what impact the money would have. We explained the difference between need and wish.
We have been reminded to update our annual statement about our use of, and effectiveness of, the Sports and PE Premium. This grant is intended to help us get the inactive active. The statement has to be prominently published on our website. The statements are moderated by the Sheffield Sports Partnership.
It was payday today – I really do think I earned it all this month.
Now that is what anyone would call a busy week!
The list and range is extensive, and if I try to name everything that school put on this week I would be sure to miss something important, but we had:
A concert with over 170 pupils from across school taking part,
A play from the 120 Year 3 children attended by a hall overflowing with audience members,
A swimming gala at Ponds Forge, with our fabulous inclusive team winning bronze medals in the first division,
An exploratory planning session with a social enterprise entrepreneur about establishing a new STEM offer,
An afternoon of visiting children from other schools enjoying sport on our carpeted lower playground, supported by our own Sports Leaders,
Four days of Forest Schools outdoor cooking experiences for every Year 6 pupil,
A Class assembly from a Year 4 class, to showcase their learning to parents,
A day of cricket coaching for Year 5,
Samba Sport for Year 6,
A visit to a local Church as part of RE learning for four classes,
Assemblies led by a local Church leader,
A campaigning demonstration and march, raising concerns about plastic pollution,
An appearance on Look North, BBC Radio Sheffield and in the Sheffield Star,
And lessons and learning across the curriculum, of course.
This could be why a large portion of responses in the parent opinion survey, run by Governors, shows a positive reception for our rich and broad and active curriculum.