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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 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.

 

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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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26 May 2018

School Meals - to sit in or take out

Let’s call a spade a shovel, shall we, and just talk about the problems we have in ‘the dining room experience’?

It is too loud, too much food is wasted, the Hall can be cold in poor weather, some children are behaving poorly despite repeated warnings, shocking amounts of food are dropped on the floor, cutlery joins it too often, little fruit or vegetable is taken, fingers are often the chosen implement for feeding, and the whole thing is rushed.

Despite a defensive tendency, I will happily argue that anything and everything is possible. We could surely address every one these problems, as long as we accept the costs involved?

To reduce noise we could carpet the Hall, use acoustic-engineering to dampen echoes, have individual tray return stacks instead of a single collection trolley with a piles of plates, bowls and trays, and cutlery lobbed in a tray, have far fewer children in the Hall at one time, use more spaces for eating (such as the IT suite or a classroom), or build an extra dining space on-site.

To stop food waste we reduce portion sizes, or increase the quality of food, or ban playtime snacks outright, or force every child to clear their plate at every meal.

We have a one-way movement scheme in place due to numbers and space, so the rear door of the Hall is used as the exit. It is a single barrier and heat escapes and cold enters every time it is opened. The solution would be a ‘heat curtain’ of sufficient strength or an extension beyond the Hall to act as an air lock.

This month’s Behaviour Incident reports from lunchtime staff show four occasions on which (Year 6) pupils have been admonished for throwing food, and a couple of taking someone else’s food and throwing it around, a couple for shouting in the Hall. Solutions include closer supervision of those children, reminders about behaviour expectations, sanctions including not sitting with their friends, separate eating time for those children, or exclusion at lunchtime, hoping it goes away, and not allowing these children in the Hall at all.

We had one incident where a pupil was standing on the seat and shouting across the Hall. I could simply exclude that child at lunchtimes (each lunchtime exclusion counts as a half day, and as I can exclude for up to 15 days without making it permanent the exclusion could last most of the next half term.)

Food on the floor includes whole pieces of fish, chips, grapes, slices of bread, sandwich filling, new potatoes, slices of fruit, crackers, sliced cheese, potato wedges, … As well as the waste and carelessness / selfishness of the act it means that the floor has to be washed each day after lunch and so the afternoon access for PE is delayed. With only the one Hall we could do without the delay. We try to spot it happening but very rarely do. Any attempt to persuade a child to pick it up is met with denial that it is theirs. Possible solutions include: eating in silence, facing the table squarely, having a place inspected before permission is given to leave, wearing pelican bibs, spoon-feeding, or children responding to our repeated requests to be more responsible.

Cutlery gets dropped all along the way, from the trays in the servery right through to the collection and disposal point, ‘Rosie’. It just doesn’t seem to get picked up by children – they perhaps do not notice it on the floor. Perhaps we need pots of cutlery on the tables, or wider trays so plate, bowl, cup and cutlery have a bit more room, a ‘count them out and count them back’ approach to issuing cutlery, or just to accept some spillage as inevitable when 477 are passing through for dinner.

School dinners have a 100% record of meeting the school food standards. It’s part of the contract with Taylor Shaw. But what is on a child’s plate, and what they actually eat, is not the same as what is on offer, because we do not ever force a child to take from the full range available. If they didn’t want any from the baked beans, green beans, cucumber, sweetcorn, cherry tomatoes, salad leaves, mandarin orange slices, fruit salad or fresh whole fruit on offer yesterday we did not make them take any. I do and will comment to children as I notice ‘no fruit, no veg?’ but it draws little more than a wry smile. We think that putting it on a plate regardless will simply create waste and friction, so we don’t. What’s to be done: accept it as inevitable (a recurring option), put veg / fruit on every plate, insist at least one portion is selected, do away with the School Food Standards, continue to prompt, advertise the offer to parents and see if generational pressure might work, educate, hide veg / fruit in pies, biscuits, sauces, custard, yoghurt, pizza topping, try to enforce buy in or opt out (take the full offer or do not take it at all), model by adults taking a school meal.

I do acknowledge the global creep of Americanisation in all things, including how we eat, and the rise of Street Food. But schools are supposed, and are expected, to teach more than just the core curriculum. So, old-fashioned as it may seem, we will continue to distribute knives and forks and expect children to use them. Not as ‘lollipop sticks’ either, with a whole sausage skewered onto the fork, but to cut up into bite sized pieces, and eat neatly. The ever-popular baked potato seems to defeat many attempts at using a knife to cut up food, with just the inner soft potato spooned out. We could go all-out on Street Food and finger food menus I suppose, and alleviate the problem of dropped cutlery at the same time, but it does little for manners. We could remind, expect, cajole, reward, praise, teach, demonstrate, assist, engage the support of parents, make food softer / liquid, not serve anything that is begging to be picked up in fingers (chips, wedges, biscuits, pizza, sliced bread, carrot sticks, pasta salad) and only serve broth, and soup and stews and casseroles.

An academic study by a leading nutritionist showed that children typically spend very little time at the hatch choosing their meal. The Sheffield School Meal Study (The School Food Plan and the social context of food in schools: Caroline Sarojini Hart, Mar 2016) wrote: many children preferred to eat quickly, or not eat the whole meal, in order to have more time to play. Time to eat was limited by the need to get many children in and out of dining spaces that could not cater to all pupils at once. (The photo of a ‘well-stocked, large, self-service salad bar’ (Figure 3) is from our school, by the way.)  We could build a second dining area, spread lunch break over two hours, making eating and playing separate times so all of one period was in the Hall, have a formal Breakfast Club then Snack Break and have lunch at the end of the school day giving a limitless period to go play, or continue to persuade children not to queue if they are on second sitting – they could go play first and be called when needed.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0305764X.2016.1158783

We will be working on this. Some are simply in the category of unacceptable and will be directly challenged. Some will go to School Council to get pupils support that way. Some will be part of discussions with Taylor Shaw, and others will go out to parents.

I have put out a call for parents to come and sample a school lunch and lunchtime, and then participate in a Round Table conversation on their thoughts and observations. That may also produce some alternative insights. In the meantime we have a legal duty to provide a hot meal every day, and to provide free meals for those that qualify. We will continue to work with children to try to make the experience of every child better than it has been recently.

 

 

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11 May 2018

It cuts both ways – how one action can be seen in different ways

As the vast majority of our pupils leave school through the ‘top gate’ towards Manchester Road, and there are far more parents there, I made the change some time ago to be at that gate rather than on the top playground within the site at 3:15.

The literature on discipline, parent views, trust, happiness of staff and pupils and pupil academic progress all points towards school leaders being highly visible.

Professor and Dame, Alison Peacock (CEO, Chartered College of Teaching) references key leadership practices that build trust in her book Learning without limits. She lists visibility as sixth in her top ten ‘Leadership Practices’. She says that, ‘Headteachers have to be omnipresent and regularly seen in and around school by the whole school population’.

Visibility is a big issue in any school and Headteachers should not be noted for their absence at key points in the day when being seen really matters. Everyone notices this; parents, pupils and staff. If a Headteacher is rarely seen first thing in the morning or is office-bound at home-time then these are valuable missed opportunities to build trust, inspire confidence and communicate.

And so we, my Deputy and I, are at the gate as often as we possibly can, at both ends of the day.

By being at the gate we can welcome children, calm issues, assist parents, answer queries, and give an assurance to parents that we are in school, working hard each day to help their children’s learning and promoting the best behaviour and discipline.

All very well-intended and purposeful, well-thought out and researched.

Except some people read other things into our actions. Our being at the gate has been seen by some parents as a deliberate barrier and an obstacle to their talking to teachers.

Not sure what we are to do, but I have put a short piece in the Newsletter trying to allay this fear.

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04 May 2018

Differing Opinions

It’s been a confusing week in parts, with feedback that contradicts.

One set of parents insisted that we are too soft on poor behaviour and that we need to be seen to be much harder on anything that hints of bullying. (Their son felt we simply didn’t do anything about his complaints.)

The very next set of parents were deeply concerned that their child had been admonished the day before and felt that school’s discipline was far too harsh. (Their son was worried about coming back to school that morning because of our severe sanctions.)

The truth is that we try to be consistent, but we do not operate with a set list of fixed responses to specific actions.

We believe that, once get past a child’s initial and sometimes inevitable denial of action or responsibility, they know that what they did was wrong (or right) and they do not need us to go on and on about it. If they quickly and honestly accept that their actions were wrong then we move on rapidly. Is that ‘soft’?

But we are thorough and determined. A child who seeks to deny and defy, obscure or be outraged, will find us to be utterly stubborn, and willing to dedicate an age to uncovering the truth. This process is itself uncomfortable and often enough of a sanction to have imposed – a child might easily squirm and struggle and want to avoid that feeling in future. Is that ‘soft’?

And holding a child to account, ensuring that they do not get away with a blanket denial of something reported by a member of staff, is that being too ‘hard’? If we allow a child to get away with the denial they come to believe it as true, and to expect to blame others rather than accepting responsibility for their own actions. Only by accepting that personal responsibility can someone hope to change for good and for themselves.

We never, simply never, impose a sanction that is dangerous, difficult or humiliating. We might use sanctions that are proportionate, appropriate and, sadly, called-for. Isn’t that part of learning?

What we are looking for is for children, when they have done something wrong, to own up and apologise. And that is not too much to ask, is it?

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13 Apr 2018

Collective Worship, Summer term 2018

I understand that our themes for Collective Worship, and a perceived imbalance towards Christian themes, were one of the issues raised by a few parents in their response to the recent Ofsted Inspection questionnaire.

The list below shows what I intend to cover this term. Some have a clear Christian basis, some a faith element only, and some might be seen as totally secular – more ethos and social than ‘worship’.

Being Determined

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

 

Discipline

Training and strengthening by saying, ‘no’ to temptations.

Tolerance

I have a dream, that one day…

Cooperation

Tug of War

Honesty and Truthfulness

http://www.assemblies.org.uk/pri/242/a-tissue-of-lies

Reliability

Nemo

 

 

Caring

Protective Clothing

Patience

William Wilberforce (abolition of the slave trade)

Happiness

The dog, the goose and the jar

Understanding

God Understands Everything

Love in Faith

Why smiles matter / how smiles make a difference

Revolution - change

Making a difference, making things better and better

New Horizons

Leaving and moving on

 

The simple answer as to why we (schools, not just this school) still have a daily ‘act of worship’ is because the Law requires it. ‘Assembly’ has been the tradition, but ever since the 1944 Education Act schools have been required to provide some form of ‘worship’. The most recent requirements and clarifications are looking old, at 24 years ago, but the lines of the 1994 DfE circular still apply.

As long ago as 2004 the then Chief Inspector of Schools, David Bell, stated that 76% of Secondary Schools were failing to meet their legal requirement on daily acts of worship. If three quarters are not doing what the law requires (but are not being closed down / taken over / locked up / named and shamed) why do we bother? As is most often the case there is a really lengthy answer available that covers education policy history, a chunk of politics, school inspection reports, Law, practice, differences of opinion, accountability, responsibilities, and the needs of our school community. There are dozens of reports and research articles available from academics and secular and non-secular organisations.

The simple answer is in our recent Ofsted Report:

https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/106998

School Short Inspection Report,

Lydgate Junior School

Leaders are determined that pupils should achieve well both academically and as rounded individuals who are respectful and make a positive contribution to their school and community. The curriculum ensures that pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is given high priority. Consequently, pupils demonstrate tolerance and respect for others and they value being able to contribute their ideas and suggestions.

Ofsted, April 2018

Pupils ‘demonstrate tolerance and respect’. The curriculum ensures ‘that SMSC development is given high priority.’ Our Collective Worship provision therefore adds to the development of our pupils and is in part responsible for their continued outstanding behaviour.

We do it because it works.

 

If you want to know what the legal requirements are for schools it is covered by Circualr 1/94, found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/collective-worship-in-schools

Circular number 1/94

Religious Education and Collective Worship

All maintained schools must provide religious education and daily collective worship for all registered pupils and promote their spiritual, moral and cultural development.

Local agreed RE syllabuses for county schools and equivalent grant-maintained schools must reflect the fact that religious traditions in the country are in the main Christian whilst taking account of the teaching and practices of other principal religions.

Collective worship in county schools and equivalent grant-maintained schools must be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character.

DfE 1994

 

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11 Nov 2017

We’ll just have to wait and see

Would a negative Ofsted outcome at our next Inspection directly lead to a fall in pupil numbers? Would it threaten the stability of school’s budget, staffing and provision because of the subsequent loss of income?

Would a positive outcome lead to increased demand for places? Would it mean even less pupil, and staff, movement, and ensure a stable income?

Confidently predicting the future is near-impossible in even the simplest situations, with limited factors at play. In this sort of situation there are far too many factors involved for us to begin guess, or even to know what might happen.

I am already involved in meeting, and touring school with, parents of prospective pupils for Y3 in 2018. The closing date for applications is 15th January 2018, just nine school weeks away. What do these parents look for? There is a mass of information available for parents to use, and some interesting research on what actually influences decisions about which schools to put as 1, 2 and 3 on the application form.

The British Social Attitudes Survey ( http://natcen.ac.uk/our-research/research/british-social-attitudes/ ) reveals a great deal, and some of its findings are quite challenging.

School Performance (league tables) data has been published for many years. Ofsted reports for each school and setting are readily available on-line. ParentView is an online database that shows the views of current and past years’ parents to a short series of questions. Local communities have opinion. School admissions services can tell parents which schools are over-subscribed and which, typically, have spare capacity (a possible ‘empty pub’ phenomenon example for selecting a school). School put on open-evenings, tours, visits, handbooks, sessions for pupils to visit for lessons and experiences. Older siblings probably have tales to tell, and thus many parents have prior personal knowledge. In areas with very stable populations some parents may have attended the local school themselves.

One ‘make or break’ fear ahead of an Ofsted Inspection is that a negative outcome might lead to parents voting with their feet (or application for admission) and take their children elsewhere. The research suggests that parents aren’t actually that shallow.

NFER research, using that Social Attitudes Survey data in 2016, suggests that Ofsted grading was only the fourth top factor in their choice, after:

  • A school that suits my child (48%),
  • Location (46%),
  • Behaviour that promotes learning (43%).

Examination results were a distant sixth factor, only influencing 32% of parents.

Because the Survey holds data in detail it also reveals much about differences in attitudes linked to income. With ‘disadvantage’ (generally meaning eligibility to Fee School Meals) very low at our school, around a third of the national average, we can assume that mean household incomes for our parent body fall above the ‘Lower Income’ bracket. ‘Higher Income’ parents are less influenced by location, the qualifications of teachers or a school’s reputation for taking parent views into account. They are more influenced than ‘Lower Income’ parents by discipline, exam results and the effectiveness of the school’s senior leadership team. ‘Lower Income’ parents are slightly more likely to let the child decide (a difference of 7%), and ‘Higher Income’ parents are far more likely to discuss choices with other parents (a difference of 19%).

Hypothetically, then:

A negative Inspection that nonetheless says learning behaviour is sound may have little or no impact,

A negative Inspection that highlights examination results that are not as good as they should be may have impact on the parents of the majority of children at our school,

A negative Inspection that says behaviour is negatively affecting learning would be the outcome most likely to trouble our parent body.

A positive outcome from an Inspection that nonetheless highlights some attainment or progress shortfall might still have a negative impact on the majority of our parents,

A positive outcome from Inspection that says that leadership and management could improve might still concern the majority of our parent body, and

A positive outcome that highlights good grades, good behaviour and a leadership team that are aware of the school’s strengths and weaknesses is possibly the only outcome that satisfies all sections of the parent body.

Realistically, however, it simply isn’t as simple as that. An Inspection grade can only impact on admission numbers and pupil on roll numbers when the parents have a real choice and available alternative option. When the nearest school with spaces is at least two buses or 2.5 miles and a couple of Sheffield’s hills away moving school is not really an option for more than a very few children and parents.

The only option, and the one we embrace, is making sure that we provide that good school locally that every family wants and every child deserves.

Our next Inspection will, we expect, lead to a positive outcome. It will not, however, lead to an increase in pupil numbers because we are full already, have been full for years, and our feeder school is full in the next three years. We do not expand to accommodate every application. Next week, at the Autumn Term meeting, I am sure the Governing Body will once again confirm the Indicative Admission Number at 120 pupils per year group for 2018 admission.

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