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 & Miss Roberts (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....
Like many of you will have done, I stepped outside my front door yesterday evening to join the tribute to the entire NHS and social care staff team across the country. I blew a vuvuzela loud enough so my eldest son could hear it at his house two streets away! I clapped along with my next-door neighbours.
We, at school, are proud and humble at the same time, to be able to help in our own tiny way by offering essential child care for the real heroes - the critical workers.
We will be open over what was to be the Easter holiday. We have so many staff offering to be here that we could have a 3 to 1 adult to child ratio! We are happy to help in a small way a gigantic effort by the nation. We will be responsible by only having the necessary staffing level each day. All other colleagues are told to stay at home and limit social contacts.
What we must all do, the scientists and medics tell us, is to stay home, stay safe and save lives.
Dr Who, Jodie Whittaker, posted this message:
Easter is a time of hope. It is a message of triumph and overcoming the worst of times. It carries the important message that others are there for us, that love will overcome, and that God is eternal - this is not the end of things. (It's why we have not said 'goodbye' to the children - because we will see them again soon.)
Make a rainbow and send us a photo. Join in the annual Easter Egg Model Competition and send in an entry - see emails. Check out the weekly music and 'dance' video from school staff. Do a little of the learning activity we send out. But most importantly right now, stay home and stay safe. We will be together again soon.
As you will know the government has taken the decision to close schools from Friday 20th March. The government has published guidance about how schools will continue to support vulnerable children and the children of key workers.
The guidance makes clear that our priority, as a country, is to do everything that we can to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
If children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.
That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.
It is important to underline that schools, colleges and other educational establishments remain safe places for children. But the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.
Schools are, therefore, being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children:
- children who are vulnerable
- children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.
Vulnerable children include children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.
Parents who are critical to the Covid-19 Response
Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined below. If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in a critical sector, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision.
Many parents working in these sectors may still be able to ensure their child is kept at home and every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.
Please, therefore, follow these key principles that the government has set out:
- If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
- If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
- Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
- Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
We anticipate that our Sheffield schools will be open to support the children and young people that need to come on Monday.
If arrangements need to change in the days and weeks that follow, for example because there are not enough school staff to remain open, your school will keep you informed.
I am proud that all Sheffield schools have made such magnificent efforts to support our children and young people during this difficult time. We will be continuing to provide for the children of the other critical workers of our country. It is an essential part of our national effort to combat this disease.
Please help this effort by following this guidance - if your child can be safely cared for at home then that is where they should be - not in school on Monday.
Hard to say definitely, isn’t it, while there is a demand for more? But the same is true for so many things that schools provide, or provide access to. This week, as many weeks, we have seen parents seeking SEND support for their children being denied a formal assessment. We have had conversations about Social Care interventions where the parent has felt the threshold for intervention is too high (and in previous weeks, with other parents, set too low). We have talked with families where it is clear that sustained and effective therapeutic services are needed but not yet available for the child and their family.
So what have we done, what do we do, and what are we intending to do?
- We were in on the trial of the Healthy Minds Project that sought to improve links and understanding between CAMHS and schools.
- We bought into and promote the Rights Respecting Schools scheme because we believe in every child receiving the support they need.
- We still, despite cuts in funding and ‘austerity’, employ staff principally for pastoral work.
- We signpost to MAST agencies through drop-in sessions, held in school.
- We also attend and submit requests to a facilitation service known as Early Help Gateway.
- Our site is fully used, with outdoor activities a key part of what we do, to allow maximum exercise opportunities, fresh air and connection to nature –
- School Council actually listens to children.
- The Hub provides a secure learning environment for some vulnerable children.
- We let children choose where to sit for lunch; they sit with friends and sit outside if the weather is good.
- School lunches meet all the necessary standards.
- Lunchtime games club, and lots of others, provide spaces for children who do not feel comfortable outside in the hurly-burly.
- Rewards are many, vast in number and wide on range, and really carry weight with the children.
- Sanctions are few and light, and we rarely use them.
- We still have two play times each day, definitely bucking a trend.
- The title of our behaviour policy tells a great deal – the Positive Relationships Policy.
- Every new starter fits in quickly, having been supported by eager volunteer buddies.
- Children frequently ask to run fund-raisers and give the money away each time.
- We give a huge number of responsibilities and encourage helpfulness (one of the key factors in promoting resilience in younger children).
- PSHE and RRS lessons are given weekly, and these always include discussion.
- We encourage our pupils to be ‘politely assertive’ and we welcome conversations and questions from pupils.
- Transition, something that can lead to worry, is very well supported and is a thorough process.
- Low staff turnover means we know children and families very well.
- Children in crisis are listened to, are supported, are understood and are never blamed.
- Children living around a crisis are supported so that they can empathise and recognise that they are not harmed.
- Children’s friendships are always considered when we make changes.
- The school’s ethos is very much about enjoying learning – we want to present an exciting and engaging curriculum. We do not stress test scores or exam results.
- We have done as much work on developing social spaces as learning spaces.
- We are in the middle of an appointment process for two teaching Assistants so we can further support across school.
- Work continues with catering services with plans in place for noticeable improvements by Easter that will make lunchtimes better still.
- The lunchtime staff identified ‘making lunchtimes happier’ as an aim.
- The grant for ‘little extras’ is being spent directly on children, funding in entirety a trip for each class.
- Year 4 children all have yoga classes.
- Year 6 last year enjoyed a set of additional PE classes that was aimed at mental health.
- Parents and carers are actively encouraged to be involved in their child’s learning and school life (another key factor in developing resilience).
- We will be training some staff on therapy techniques so they can run activities in school.
- Drinking water is always available.
- Difference is respected.
Not a short list, but we hope an effective provision. We could, of course do more.
In the early days of my first Headship (Lydgate Juniors is my third) a well-meaning parent came to see me to alert me to a potential health and safety concern. She worked as a freelance gardening service and so was sharing professional knowledge when she told me that we had poisonous plants growing on site. ‘Was I aware of this?’ she asked.
At the risk of sounding smug, I told her I was, and that I was not concerned. We discussed the way school dealt with any risks involved in having Foxgloves growing wild (and wildly attractively) in a few flower beds. Foxgloves provide digitalis, and were the original source of this drug, used to treat certain heart conditions. It is potentially fatal, even in small doses.
How could I accept this on the school site? How could I rationalise away the risk to health?
I explained that we had many potentially harmful plants growing on-site, but all being acceptably managed. We were encouraging classes to grow fruits and vegetables in raised beds. There were tomatoes (poisonous leaves), potatoes (green skins can cause sickness), rhubarb (toxic leaves) and asparagus (posh, but the bright red berries are toxic).
We managed the risks and reduced them to an acceptable level by teaching the children not to eat the parts they shouldn’t and not to pick berries or fruit unless someone with expertise told them it was safe. And we kept on growing at the school and no children ever got poisoned.
This week the Sheffield Star has published a list of schools that have Asbestos on their premises, as listed in their respective Asbestos Reports. Lydgate Junior School is on that list. https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/revealed-the-schools-in-sheffield-containing-asbestos-and-the-plans-in-place-to-protect-pupils-1-9370131
If anyone had asked me directly I would have told them it was so, and it would not have needed a Freedom of Information request to find out. The design of our main building, erected in the 1970s used asbestos to provide insulation and fire protection, and the design is fairly common.
Asbestos is not good, of course, but its management is easy enough and good practice makes it safe to remain. Put simply, we do not disturb it. Anywhere where the substance may be is marked and recorded on our site report. Anyone who intends to knock even a nail in a wall is required to consult the site report and seek ’permission to work’. If there is a chance that even the minutest piece will be disturbed then the work is not allowed to proceed. As and when possible and sensible, asbestos-containing material is removed, and so the risk continually reduces over time.
Are the children and staff safe? Yes they are.
We ‘teach’ them not to touch or disturb, just like we teach the children not to eat things they shouldn’t, such as rhubarb leaves and unidentified seeds.
When we talk Child Protection and Safeguarding we often refer to ‘Protective Factors’, things that are most likely going to work to keep children safer. There are many of them coming from or related to school:
- Healthy peer groups,
- School engagement,
- Positive teacher expectations,
- Effective classroom management,
- Positive partnering between school and family,
- School policies and practices to reduce bullying,
- High academic standards,
- Consistent discipline,
- Language-based discipline,
- Extended family support,
- Mastery of academic skills (maths, reading, writing),
- Following rules for behaviour at home, at school, and in public places,
- Ability to make friends,
- Good peer relationships,
and probably many more.
Long-term readers of this blog may remember a display I posted about last year, one of the interactive boards I like to put up in the lunchtime entrance area. I asked the children to tell, in thought bubbles, who they could ask for help.
This week, in a similar way, I asked them who they would talk to if they were unhappy at various times in the day. Once we got past the teaching requirement (I needed to model better how to use a tally, and the classic five-bar gate) the results are interesting. There is a lot of children here who would actually resolve their unhappiness themselves, many who would rely on friends, lots who would turn to staff, plenty who find strength in family members, and quite a few with the confidence to call on anyone handy or well-placed.
Clearly the respondents have many ‘protective factors’ established and know to use them. This is very encouraging for us, and indicates strong, healthy, relationships with peers, family and school staff.