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 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.
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
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....
First Parent Evening of the year done today. It seems, from everything I could pick up, that it has gone over really well. Just seven parents from 477 children have not contacted us to make an appointment (a hit rate of 98.5%). All bar three parents were pleased or satisfied with what they heard from the class teacher and just three wanted to see me later (a success rate of 98.7%). Books were available everywhere. Class share teachers who are part-time and do not work Tuesdays came in anyway, so five sets of parents got ‘two for the price of one’. In one class, where we have had a supply teacher for most of the half term, the temporary teacher provided the consultations, and to an overwhelming positive reception. Maps and signs worked fairly well, but staff on site showed people round where needed. The mood and atmosphere was warm and friendly wherever I went.
We experimented last year with altering the timings of the four Parent Evenings but reverted to the tried and tested format for this week’s sessions. Here’s why.
We tried starting a little earlier on two of the four evenings, and a little later on one of the others. The intentions of the early starts were two-fold – to offer more early appointments, which are always in greatest demand, and to partly address staff well-being issues. We then put in a later start in the spring term in response to a counter demand, mostly by parents with work commitments that would suit a later appointment. (This meant a later finish for staff who still had to work the full day the next day, of course.)
There was no gushing ground-swell of approval for either scheme.
There were, however, plenty of arguments against both:
- Staffing the pupils when teachers were in early consultations before the end of school,
- Housing the pupils at that time if it was wet outside,
- Securely transferring children to the right adult when they were with staff who might not know the arrangements and personnel so well,
- Safeguarding concerns around site security and unescorted visitors on-site while children were present,
- Clashing with the end of Lydgate Infant School’s day,
- The limited number of additional early slots actually provided,
- The observation that some parents still selected deliberately, it appeared, the final slot so that they could take more time than allocated (and thus causing staff to still finish later than on a normal working day,
- Coordinating multiple appointments (for siblings) was made no easier (or harder),
- Staff did not really get a break between school and the start of the ‘late’ session, so it really extended the working day,
- Preventing an early start to the later start was difficult as some parents did not leave the premises in-between,
- We still weren’t going late enough to satisfy every request,
- and so on.
Since then we have been adopting, adapting and developing the online booking system. This has been this year’s ‘innovation’. What we aimed for was a quicker, smoother, paper-free, joined-up, accessible, transparent system that would allow parents to book across multiple classes swiftly, and would free teachers from a paper-chase. The technical issue came about because we did not anticipate the scale of instant response, and did not have server space that could cope with so many parents accessing the system at once (without logging out when done). It was fixed pretty quickly though.
We reviewed last year’s trials, and considered a further extension and option. What about just one, super-long, Parent Evening each term, with all 30 appointments in one run? 3:40 to 8:40 would give 10 minutes per child, but with absolutely no gaps and no margin of error. Add on 10% wiggle room and we have a finish time of 9:10. This might be just what some parents would prefer as it would fit very well around their working hours. But Staff haven’t eaten since lunch, have been at work since 7:30 am, haven’t marked any books or set up for the morning, and have to be in and on top form ten hours later. It didn’t strike me as a sensible option, and so it was rejected.
My problem, shared I think by many others, is that the ten minutes we can allocate per pupil is often not enough, or as much as might be useful. It derives from class size, partly, and subsequent workload. Cash cost prevents us from releasing teachers during the day to make time. A moral standpoint on what constitutes a school session prevents us from closing early and forcing the children home at, say, 1:30 so we could free up four hours extra (8 more minutes per consultation). Cash again prevents us giving teachers extra cover in return for working beyond their directed time contracted. And we remain full to admission limit because parents keep on sending their children to us. Coming full-circle in the piece, back to the variants we tried last year we could see how an earlier start could allow extra time for each discussion, but the cost of implementation tipped the balance against.
By the end of Thursday’s sessions we will have seen 98% of parents and provided good, useful, information to 98% of them. We will be trying to meet, and meet the expectations, of both 2% in future.
The definition of Safeguarding most widely accepted is: ‘the action that is taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm’. From this you can see that the subject is much wider than recruitment checks.
We think we have a safeguarding culture, based on being ‘risk aware’. This last week we have:
- engaged in a behaviour audit with an external consultant,
- managed tree damage following the annual tree survey,
- ordered safety knives for kitchen use by children,
- arranged wasp nest removal,
- contacted Capita HR services (for clarification and guidance to help us recruit and manage correctly),
- attended Children In Need meeting,
- listened to concerns about children lifting heavy boxes,
- risk assessed several trips,
- checked for a personal health care plan, and reviewed the one we use,
- discussed a concern about alleged bullying, and agreed actions,
- reported former pupils on roll as ‘missing education’,
- ensured a new Supply Teacher had all necessary checks and qualifications,
- reissued national guidance on keeping children safe to all staff,
- reissued, to Governors, the Code of Conduct,
- attended Sheffield’s Primary Inclusion Panel that works to prevent permanent exclusions,
- listened to individual parents’ concerns,
- sent a policy on the acceptance, vetting and placement of volunteers to Governors for discussion and approval later this term,
- held review discussions with admin staff about ‘signing in’ procedures,
- repainted the zebra crossing and white lines in the car park,
- arranged some ‘Friends’ training for our pastoral support staff.
And this was not an unusual week, really. This surely suggests we have a live culture of safeguarding at a realistic, reasonable, sustainable level that keeps the children safe.
The six-week holiday is one of the busiest times of the school year, in fact.
How come? Because that is when we can get on with building and premises works without the restrictions caused by having to work round teaching hours, the health and safety difficulties of having 500 plus people on site, and the brief periods available in term time for developing projects.
So what have we been up to so far?
- Visitors who think they know the school will find that the library has gone!
- And that a teaching kitchen area has appeared where the library was,
- The teaching base that was Y5AR has expanded! (built out sideways)
- The teaching base has been re-carpeted,
- A new library has opened up in what was the central open space known as the ‘Craft Area’,
- Walls around the main building have been painted,
- The air con has been fixed (at very long last),
- Thirty three brand-new curriculum computers have been replaced and installed around school, with all the necessary software,
You might wonder how on Earth we can afford to do all this in a time when schools are crying out in fiscal pain? Actually the jobs are cheaper than you might think, are on the ‘never-never’, are being done in-house, or are paid for by ring-fenced funds.
The library / kitchen swap has been done by our own Premises staff, and funded partly by FOLA, partly with a ring-fenced Capital fund. We receive around £9,600 per year for premises development works, and didn’t spend last year’s, so we had £19,000 available and needing to be spent.
The carpets are paid for from our meagre premises improvements budget.
The ‘expansion’ works were again completed by Mr Sharrock and a colleague, with proper plans and permissions and building regulation approval.
The newly positioned library uses the same shelving and books – it is just costing us some time to shift everything and screw them down! (and a bit more carpet so as to quieten the area).
Three very large buckets of magnolia emulsion costs a lot less than the staff time to apply it. The Premises staff are ‘whole time’ which means they work 52 weeks a year (minus annual leave).
The air conditioning / heating / ventilation system in the main building has been problematic since its installation. The local authority has picked up the tab for the latest remedial work. Hopefully the attendance of the head of service will ensure it does not work properly. No further cost to school for this one.
We were already in a rolling lease for IT hardware. The idea is that we cannot afford to buy outright, so we simply stay in a lease/lend agreement and replace as machines become obsolete. The new ones are distributed right around school in classrooms and bases for children to use every day.
Still to come is some work on protecting the viability of one of the ‘mobile’ classrooms, by having contractors install (flame retardant) aluminium cladding, and finishing off all the started jobs.I think you’ll notice the difference, and the children will, too.
Here’s the thing:
Should I, a week on Friday, teach my regular class all day, attend a ‘Locality’ Headteacher meeting or be released from class in order to escort Nick Clegg MP on a tour of the buildings and site?
I mean to ‘walk the talk’, as they say, and put my words into practice. So when I want my staff to be committed to their job then I obviously have to be that, too. I want every class teacher and every teaching assistant to enjoy working with children, and to be as engaged in the process as we want our pupils to be. I obviously have to be that, too.
As you may know, we have changed around some of the teacher placements from after the Easter holidays; six classes will be affected in total. Part of that change sees me swapping PPA work in Years 3 & 5 for a day each week in Y3D/D – I’ll be teaching them all day every Friday. Some parents have been quite worried about possible disruption and loss of continuity because of these changes. It’s pretty obvious that this is something we want to avoid and are taking steps to reduce any negative / step up any possible positive impact. Personally, I want to commit to my Fridays at least as much as I did to the parts I taught earlier in the year. The class deserve my devotion to their learning as I expect commitment and engagement from them. As a week on Friday will be only the second of the term I really should be there to teach the class.
Local Authorities are gradually being dismantled and local arrangements, whether through ‘Learning Partnerships’, ‘Federations’ or ‘Multi-Academy Trusts’, put in their place. Our Locality (from Sheaf to Rivelin) meets just once per half term, and this next meeting, a week on Friday, will discuss plans for high needs SEN support (and its funding). As we could lose up to £23,500 through the changes proposed it really is an important one to attend. It’s also the route by which schools get briefed on many developments, and where networks are developed. As it is only one of two meetings this term I really should be there, or my Deputy in my place. To attend costs supply cover and to not go costs potential loss of income through not knowing the system.
Our Deputy Headteacher is also teaching that day, covering for a colleague so we save supply costs and provide quality and continuity of provision, so she cannot simply attend on my place.
Mr Clegg is paying us a return visit: he was last here to open the slide and tour the site to see what amazing things a school can do with limited space but a creative mind. As a constituency MP who is very active in Parliament, his constituency work is almost always conducted on Fridays.
This time we have invited him to come and see the state of our buildings and site, to try to get his support for additional premises improvement funding. You may know of roof leaks, power outages, the lack of full coverage in our fire alarm system, site security issues, deterioration of mobile classrooms, the difficulty faced by disabled visitors to the site in accessing the main building, the difficulties in teaching in open-plan spaces, signage deficiencies, and so on and so on. We are not considered a priority for additionally funded works for many reasons – one of which is that our buildings are not the worst around, a reason that does not reduce the needs of our building. Mr Clegg is our local MP, the former Deputy Prime Minister, and his voice and support might be very helpful. Purely out of respect for the position he holds, I really should be there to show him round (along with premises staff in school).
And there’s the problem: I should do all three of these things. The day of the week for all three is Friday, and none is movable. All three need to happen. We want to avoid supply teacher costs wherever we can. We want support in finding premises improvement funding. We want to access the best provision to support pupils with ‘high needs’. We want to demonstrate our commitment to teaching every single day.
The options are very limited: Mrs. Dutton (of Y3D/D) doesn’t work on Fridays so she cannot step in for me for a while. The HLTAs are teaching other classes and do not work Friday afternoons. Mrs. Farrell (DHT) is teaching elsewhere in school. We have no 'spare' teacher complement to provide cover for me or Mrs. Farrell. Mrs. Buck (Finance Officer), who invited Mr. Clegg to visit school, has retired and so won’t be here to show him round. And whichever I choose not to do, it sends a signal that I think that aspect of my work and responsibility is less important or not important at all. This is one subtle impact of budget constraints, and shows what we are doing so as to avoid yet further staff reductions.
So which do I do?
I’ve set up a one-question survey, if you’d like to suggest what I should choose to do a week on Friday. Click on the link below:
(I’ve not given a ‘Boaty McBoatface’ option; sorry.)