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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 the School Governors, 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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09 Feb 2019

Easy come - easy go

Started the day thinking setting a balanced budget for 32019/20 was going to be difficult.

By 10:30 things were looking rosy – we were more than £74,000 up with more to be announced and detailed. The National Funding Formula is set from March for just a push towards completion rather than a single giant step, and so we haven’t to hit that wall (just yet). For April we are told there will be a slight shift in Primary School funding, with less coming as a set block to each school (currently £150,000 and dropping to £130,000 next financial year) and more by way of the charmingly known AWPU, or 'age-weighted pupil unit'. In other words, income per pupil. The same money but handed out by a different algorithm. Small schools lose out, larger school gain. Secondary Schools pretty much all gain, as money new to the city is going to that sector to increase the ratio (a euphemism for ‘disparity’) of funding.

By midday this had gone down to a less-celebratory £30,000 because of pay awards being properly factored in (over the full financial year), inflation costs rises, and staffing costs not previously known. The previously forecast deficit also had to be covered. £30,000 is less than 2% of annual income and so we would not have to register a plan or excuse for holding so much.

The projected balance rose a bit when we added in the ‘Sugar Tax’ income. This Health Capital is a one-off – who knows how much if anything will be raised in the second year. £2,500 to £3,000 will not be turned down, even if strings are attached as long as we can use it to effectively impact on the healthy habits of the less physically active in school (and outside). Back up to close to £35,000 surplus being forecast.

A change in Employer Pension Contributions for teachers is out for consultation right now, with expected implementation in September. A 3% increase took a huge slice off the projected surplus. We tried to get detail on a quietly announced Grant to schools to support them in delivering this pension change, but without detail we guessed at an income figure. It could put 3% to 3.5% into budget. These ideas cancelled out.

While the teachers’ pay grant is greater this time, because it covers the full year, the budget also has to cover the cost for the full year; budget neutral.

I was still pretty happy with all this at the start of the afternoon – we certainly wouldn’t need quiet so much restraint as I had feared.

Then, after a bit of quiet working, Office staff pointed to the obvious impending cost of (temporary) staff replacement (one teacher is pregnant and we assume will take some maternity leave), the obvious drop in income from having fewer children attracting Pupil Premium than a year before (£1,300 per pupil and six fewer) and extra costs from covering longer term staff absences that we guessed at. In all it brought the forecast down to £3,000 surplus.

While Mr Micawber might be happy with any kind of surplus, no matter how small, it really isn’t enough for us to plan anything new – it is one electricity price rise and gone, or one larger than hoped for repair bill and gone, or a second maternity / paternity leave and more than gone.

My dreams of expansive expenditure plans and sweeping improvements evaporated in a few hours, leaving ‘stability’ as the bye-word.

Finished the day thinking that setting a balanced budget might well be difficult for 2019/20.

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05 Nov 2017

If you don’t know where you are going ...

You’ll probably end up somewhere else.

We all deal with a whole lot of data in our work these days, teaching being no different from any other profession. This week, during the half term holidays, more data was released from the end of Key Stage 1 and 2 tests held back in May 2017. We have started picking through it all, to see if it changes our view on the world, or seriously our analysis of past performance and therefore focus points for this year.

We already felt unhappy with our 2017 performance in spelling, grammar and arithmetic. Not because they were below average but rather because they were below where we think our pupils at our school should be placed. We know how the other local schools (in S10 and in South west Sheffield, and in Sheffield as a whole) fared, and so have made comparisons.

We were also aware that there is a gap or difference in performance between the pupils that attract Pupil Premium funding (basically those who have some history of Free School Meal entitlement) and the pupils who do not. This gap is pretty much universal (as in, it occurs at most schools), and pretty much obstinately refusing to disappear, but that does not mean we accept it, or refuse to look for further options to reduce or remove the attainment gap between these two groups.

We are, further, aware that the PP group perform better here than the same group nationally, but that is not the measure used to compare performance. It is, after all, reasonable to ask and challenge schools to get those children to the same standards as everyone else.

We had just 13 PP pupils in last year’s Year 6 cohort, each counting as just under 8%. Getting just 3 extra to reach the national expected standard in maths would have us have no attainment gap at all.

We have seen a significant decline in the number and percentage of pupils eligible for Free School Meals and thus attracting Pupil Premium in the last three years. The number on Year 6 this year is even lower, and so the margin, in terms of actual headcount, is smaller and smaller, and each child’s progress becomes even more significant in terms of percentage points of gap.

Also available to schools is a ‘question level’ analysis. This shows how our children did, question by question, compared to the national average. It also throws up oddities, questions and quirks. Why should we have answered a couple of questions 16% poorer than the average? And why 11% better on others? And can we cover the shortfall  this year so any question phrased like that, or in that area of study, or using that skill or fact, is answered better, and particularly by PP pupils?

Within school we track pupils’ experience and progress. We know what each has been involved in, and what difference it has made to their performance. We know the success level of each intervention we run. We know how each child stands against our expectations for the year group. We know a good deal about the barriers each child faces.

Where are we trying to reach?

  • Spelling scores above average by at least 4%
  • Grammar scores ahead of average by at least 4%, and at at least as good as the S10 average
  • Arithmetic scores higher generally, and particularly for PP children
  • To get all pupils who left Key Stage 1 at a high standard to leave Key Stage 2 the same
  • Maths attainment to match our, significantly strong, reading attainment (and progress)scores
  • And all the time maintaining the exciting, engaging, enriched curriculum that we offer.

Once we had the destination clear we could set the Sat Nav to plan the best route, given current traffic conditions, and make good time on the journey. The latest data releases have actually only confirmed what we already knew, and were already working on. Anyone who’d like to visit my Office will see a wall of data, charts and graphs that has built up this picture over the last five months. By the end of term we should have a good idea about how much progress we have made already towards these goals. I’ll let you know.

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22 Sep 2017

Putting the ‘Private Fund’ into the public domain

The annual PTA UK survey of parents shows that what appears to be a rising concern about the expectation to contribute to school funds. The AVERAGE donation reported was £8.90 a MONTH!

At least 47% knew nothing about how schools used their Private Fund, and a fifth of parents thought it was spent on teacher salaries.

I think it might be time for some clarification:

Salaries, premises costs, curriculum resources, utilities, insurances, services, subscriptions, broadband, grounds maintenance and photocopying all get covered by our delegated school budget. This comes via the local authority from your taxes. The amount we get each year is formula-driven. It is accounted, reported, budgeted, monitored, audited, and regularly scrutinised. Our delegated school budget amounts to nearly £1,700,000 a year. 80% or so goes on the salaries of the nearly 60 staff, a similar percentage to pretty much every school. At the end of this financial year we expect to have about £19,000 left over to help us through the next.

Buildings’ improvements and purchasing new IT hardware can be covered, in part, by a separate ring-fenced allocation know as DFC, or devolved formula capital. This year we received £9,600 DFC funding, which might sound a lot until you consider the size of the plot, the buildings and their condition, and the amount of hardware needed in a school with 480 pupils.

We also get Government funding for Pupil Premium and Sports Premium, both spent as intended and reported on our website.

And that leaves income from other sources, donations and voluntary contributions. Our only major income source each year, as we do not rent out spaces or hire out staff, is the commission earned from school photographs. We do get a few donations each year, and last year these added up to £130.

Private Fund is the vehicle, principally, for us to collect voluntary contributions for activities that do not carry a charge. We only ever ask for voluntary contributions towards the cost of activities and trips that will enhance the children’s learning. We never ask for more than the actual cost of the activity and we never seek to cover any staffing costs this way.

Last year we received a little over £29,500 in voluntary contributions, and spent a little over £29,500 from Private Fund on the activities these contributions supported. We added in some more to cover the shortfall, as we won’t let a shortfall stop really useful activities or visits taking place. We, effectively, subsidised some trips, clubs, sports activities and other events from budget share or using that commission from photographs. The commission came to £1,127.90, or £2.34 per pupil.

Every single penny that went in to Private Fund from a charity collection (£2,648.60) went back out again, with a little bit added (£2,683.33).

We also use Private Fund to receive income from clubs that are ‘chargeable’. These are what the policy calls ‘optional extras’, and are after school or before school clubs with a cost. Again they are money in, money out, but supported via budget share with Sports Premium funds. We could try to raise funds by charging more for clubs and making a profit, but we choose not to.

Private fund raises less than 2% of our income. We spend the income on only the things we have stated. It makes no surplus over time. It is independently audited annually. It has the same financial safeguarding systems in place as the much larger school budget share, including separation of roles and multiple signatory requirements on spending. We report to Governors on the standing of the Private Fund, and give hen copies of the annual statement and audit report.

We do not ask parents to make a regular or non-specific contribution. No pupil is ever excluded from an activity or visit because their parent does not make a voluntary contribution.

Now, the income from last week’s BBQ at the autumn fair, that went to FOLA (the parent teacher and friends group) direct. And if you want to decide how it gets spent you’ll have to join in their meetings. They announce them on their Facebook page.

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12 May 2017

Members Only?

Have you ever played that 'oh that's good / oh that's bad' game, where you take turns to downplay or play up the circumstances of an event? Here's what we thought about this week...

When reviewing the Pupil Premium Statement and Plan we collated some data on access to extra-curricular activities.

We have 18 (at least) activities going on that children can join in with before, during or after the school day - gym, more gym, orienteering, table tennis, karate, fencing, netball, cricket coaching, French, Spanish, Art, HA Art, hand bells, choir, wind band, cookery, coding, card games and so on. This list is current, and doesn't include things like peripatetic instrument tuition or orchestra (as it is in lesson time).

We have 480 or so pupils with a range of interests and ability (and desire) to attend.

If each activity can accommodate 20 pupils then we have capacity for only 360 pupils. Who is attending, we wondered? Who attends more than one? Are all groups equally represented? Are we missing something? Is cost an issue? Is the inability to pay preventing some children from taking part?

A register check revealed that 309 individual pupils are taking up at least one activity each week here at school, some 65% of the pupils (a figure that impresses me). Some children attend more than one each week - in Y3JD for example, the 30 children take up 32 activities, and impressive 107%!

What does it hide?

Girls take up far more activities than boys, and far more girls take up activities than boys. In fact 74% of girls are involved in at least one activity each week against 'just' 60% of boys. The two most involved pupils (at four a week each) are both girls.

72% of Year 4 pupils are involved in extra-curricular activities at school, against 'only' 61% of Year 3 pupils and 64% of Year 6 pupils.

We started by asking about the engagement of pupils attracting Pupil Premium (PP) funding (due to 'disadvantage' such as entitlement to free school meals at some point in their school life). This is where the sharpest difference emerges:

67% of non-Pupil Premium pupils are involved in one or more out of hours activity (294 out of 437 pupils).

Just 38% of Pupil Premium pupils are involved in those same out of school hours activities (15 out of 40 pupils). For the two groups' engagement to match there needs to be a further 12 of this group involved in activities each week.

How does this gap occur, and what are we doing about it?

It isn't as simple as it seems at first sight. It would be easy to suggest it's a cost thing - those families with low income can't afford extras. But the vast majority of these activities are free to all or heavily subsidised, or we make them available for free to the PP pupils. Some are charged as they are run by private providers, but we actively seek to support access for those who couldn't afford to pay. We have happily and directly supported, through the school's Charging and Remissions Policy, the cost of attending the Year 6 residential, and the Friday Cooking Club, for some individual pupils. We help parents access music lesson subsidy of needed, or provide it ourselves. It may be cultural, and so we try to be inclusive - choir sings all sorts of songs and is most definitely not 'stuffy', for example. It may be about travel arrangements to and from school - perhaps parents have shift work patterns that make later pick up or early drop off at school really difficult. This one is much harder to solve. It is not as if activities require much kit - orienteering needs a pair of trainers and nothing else, cricket and table tennis just need the same PE kit they wear at school. Choir is just your voice. We have instruments in stock at school that we lend for free to children whose parents don't want to or can't afford to buy their own. Have PP children already acquired a negative or disengaged attitude to opportunities? Maybe they have experienced some failure and haven't yet got the resilience needed to stick at it until they improve and feel successful. We work on this with many children each day in school. We could certainly look to see if the group in question matches this description, and provide some additional work on raising their horizon. Perhaps children are involved in enough already outside school - we know we have dancers, trampolinists, horse riders, footballers, runners, Brownies, Cubs, Scouts, sailors, swimmers, choristers, crafters, and so on and so on. It seems unlikely, though, that PP children are in this category.

Later this term we are hosting the first of a short series of sports activities for Infant Schools in the immediate area. (Yes, Infant schools - it's a collegiate, partnership thing.) Dodge ball. Our Y6 pupils as coaches and organisers etc. The aim is only participation and enjoyment, not style or winning, and the target group at each Infant School is the children who do not otherwise take part in additional activities. It will run during the school day to overcome all the access barriers, and we hope it might change an attitude or two.

Our target, stated in our Pupil Premium Report and Plan, is to get equal uptake and engagement.

If you would like to suggest a barrier, and offer a solution to overcoming it, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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