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 three Teaching Assistants who work within the team: 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 overheard a conversation at the Office hatch a couple of weeks ago, and on reflection later I was embarrassed that a parent had felt it necessary to come and talk to school about the issue that was troubling them and their child.
Their son, they said, could not hang his coat in the cloakroom because his allocated hook was broken, had been broken for some time and, despite mentioning it, there was no sign that it would be replaced.
At first I was baffled that someone would raise what appeared to be a relatively insignificant matter in such a way - going to the trouble to come in to school to make representations. Then I got defensive and went through all my own complaints on the subject - how do hooks get broken? Why do bags get hung on what are 'coat and hat hooks'? why do bags have to be so big? can children not stand them up or put them under the bench as directed? And finally I got to the place where I accepted that the child was frustrated as much as the parent. Their offer to come in themselves with drill and screwdriver to do the job should be going too far, but I did get the point: for this child this was what mattered.
We do have our defenses, of course. It is children's actions that bend and break hooks. We replace 100 plus each year. The cloakrooms, all four of them, in the main building have been reconfigured and the number of hooks has been increased in each. Each hook has two parts - one for coat, and one for hat (hence their real title as 'coat and hat hook'). We only have so much caretaker time and only so much cash to either buy resources or to buy services. There are other, more pressing, priorities. Mobile classrooms are supposed to be temporary. Mobiles are not new, nor terribly solid, and fixing anything can be a challenge.
But once we accept that this is what matters to that child then we have to get on with the work.
So a new programme has started. The old, contiboard, planks and hooks have been removed, to be replaced by solid timber as in the main building. New double hooks (for coat and hat) have been fixed - some in technicolour - meaning there is a total fresh start.
We cannot make the space bigger (as cost prevents us extending what is, after all, supposed to be temporary) or because we need space in classrooms rather more than we need it in cloakrooms, so they will remain squashed. What I hope is that that pupil recognises that raising his issue incessantly until answered got things done. I hope his new hook is sound and does not get damaged. I also hope that each child recognises work done and uses the facility correctly. I may have mentioned this; they are coat and hat hooks, not coat, bag and instrument hooks - they are not designed for that bulk or that weight.
New hooks in a row (and already some bent out of original shape).
I was going to paste in a photo of a line of bent hooks - but here is the new set instead. (Clearly not a posed picture as you can tell from the drawstring PE bags in the shot!)
General Election campaigning has started, and I can only hope that education will become a central issue for all parties.
Neither school nor school staff will express any preference, of course, leading up to the election itself. Children are likely to ask colleagues which way they vote, because they always do, but staff will avoid saying what they intend to do. As we champion 'pupil voice' you would expect staff to participate and vote, and possibly enable discussions in class but we do not put forward our own views or seek to persuade.
There are actually guidelines on the proper use of maintained school premises, and that they should not be used to promote a particular political stance or party. I am never sure how politicians get away with visiting schools accompanied by hosts of cameras and journalists, but there you are. In our attempt to stay strictly neutral we once turned away a request to use the school hall as a venue for an MP's public meeting.
Obviously one issue will be front and centre in 2019, but education is too important not to feature in debate and in the choices voters make. We should assume that the next Parliament will last for five years and that the Government elected will therefore be responsible for school funding, special needs direction, curriculum reform, school inspection regimes, national standards, teacher training provision, school building programmes and Local Authority powers to support and challenge schools for five years also.
Every pupil in our school in December 2019, at the time of the general election, will still be of compulsory school-age at the end of the next Parliament. The education stance of the locally elected Member of Parliament and the education policy of the new Government will directly effect our pupils. I urge every elector to think carefully about the education policies of each party appearing on the ballot paper where they vote and to make it one of the key factors in how they vote.
'Purdah' (or purda) is the period between the calling of an election and the polling day itself. During the period civil servants, who always supposed to be impartial, are not allowed to make political statements or to initiate actions that might favour a particular candidate or party. This effectively means a further six weeks this time round without any of the urgent issues being addressed other than in words and promises.
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.