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....
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.
It is much to our embarrassment, but undoubtedly true, that some children’s needs are not met as fully or as rapidly as some others. We respond to the high profile, the loud, the distracting and disturbing, the risk of wider impact much quicker, for longer and with greater resource than the quietly stated, even where the quiet need is persistent and undeniable.
Parents will recognise this in the way schools operate, some from personal experience, in relation to special needs or behaviour concerns. It can lead to claims of unfairness, inequality or inequity, with the ‘in your face’ stuff getting instant, urgent and considerable response. In a finite resource context this can (and does) easily lead to unaddressed, unanswered, unresolved needs.
Schools are aware of the problem and the failure in the system, but find that addressing this effectively and fairly is incredibly difficult to do. We feel guilty about failing to meet even one child’s needs and we have, for many years, been aware of the risk of overlooking the ‘quiet’ one. We use analogies from emergency first aid to prompt our thinking – at the scene of an accident should you first attend to the injured party that is screaming in pain or the one who is silent?
The ‘noisy’ problem may impact directly on the teacher’s ability to teach the whole class, or on the ability of the whole class to learn, and so it often gets immediate address. The ‘quiet’ problem may involve only one child who appears to be managing to cope anyway, and has no wider implication immediately. To not address the ‘noisy’ one would fail everyone. But to not address the ‘quiet’ problem helps no one either, and is not a proud position to take.
The Bible's Book of Judges (12:4-6) tells the story of the Ephraimites, who, after they were routed by the Gileadite army, tried to retreat by sneaking across a ford of the Jordan River that was held by their enemy.
The Gileadites, wary of the ploy, asked every soldier who tried to cross if he was an Ephraimite. When the soldier said "no," he was asked to say "shibboleth" (which means "stream" in Hebrew). Gileadites pronounced the word ‘shibboleth’, but Ephramites said "sibboleth." Anyone who left out the initial "sh" was killed on the spot.
When English speakers first borrowed "shibboleth," they used it to mean "test phrase.”
We accept ‘noise’ too readily as the ‘shibboleth’, the password to intervention, support and provision, and we do not use ‘quiet’ anywhere near enough, but what are we to do when the ‘noisy’ need can be so demanding and potentially disruptive?
I have been humbled this week by a child who has written to me to make a simple request concerning their personal need in school. The child should not have to do this in order to give the password; they should not have to say, ‘please’, and they certainly should not have to raise their need themselves when we have been well-aware of this for some time.
That the circle cannot be squared, in terms of making provision easily available, that resource is finite, that the child is one of a very small group with a similar need, that the fact of being in a school of 480 pupils built for 360 only aggravates the problem, does not make me feel any less guilty at not meeting this child’s needs.
Kirk and the Enterprise return to search for Spock (Star Trek III – The Search for Spock). Spock, ever the logical thinker, asks Kirk why he put so much at risk for his sole sake. “Because,” says Captain Kirk, “the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many," (neatly reversing Spock’s line from the end of the previous storyline where he sacrifices himself to save the rest of the crew).
The grossest difficulty of operating in this finite resource context is that we have to choose which essential to do, and the risk is that we fail to do any fully.
SEN/D is both a black-hole and ‘the third rail’. We might never be able to fund it so as to address fully and successfully all needs, and it is evidently true that the more we can provide the more demand increases. At the same time it is simply not an area that anyone will ever suggest cutting or trimming, as it is the education equivalent of touching the live rail that powers the underground train – touch it and die.
I expect we will make some provision to help this child and a few others, and that we will do it for no or minimal financial cost. I’ll continue to worry about other ‘quiet’ problems that we are potentially not seeing and not addressing. The cost will be either extra workload or colleagues having to let something else go – and that risks either touching the third rail or not providing someone else’s ‘essential’ provision.
As anyone who has watched The Big Bang Theory (E4, just about every evening) will know, Dr. Cooper has a thing with labelling stuff, including his label-maker. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattcornock/9069083283/
We have a label-maker, too. In fact, ours pre-dates his. It was in a drawer, labelled ‘label-maker’, obviously.
While I was off work this week for a couple of days someone learnt how to use it and set about labelling a few things – so far I have spotted, ‘Heads Door’, Heads Door Handle’, ‘Heads Desk’, ‘Heads Table’, ‘Heads Filing Cabinet’, ‘Heads Clock’, ‘Heads Computer Screen’, ‘Heads Tea Mug’, and one on a piece of paper that says, ‘Missing Apostrophe’.
I am not outraged, nor upset, nor baffled, nor disappointed, nor worried at any of this, because it does not show disrespect or waste. It may well show some silliness, but it also shows, in great measure, wit and intelligence, spirit and morale, creativity and thoroughness, and a recognition that the school has a Headteacher who can laugh and likes to do just that.
I wrote a blog a short while back about looking after the healthy minds and hearts of my staff, so that they are in turn healthier, stronger and better able to look after the children in their care. I reckon the laughs they got in setting this up on Friday, and the laughs they will get each time I discover another label (there will be a ‘Heads Pen’ and a ‘Heads Hole-punch’), are part of that process. We aim to be a healthy school, a whole healthy school, in minds and bodies and spirits.
I’ll check the label-maker on Monday to see if it is now labelled.
Anyone who needs things sorting, classifying and labelling – we can probably loan out some staffing and equipment.
One way in which we protect / safeguard children is making sure they feel they can talk to us about their concerns, hopes and fears. We build, or seek to build, relationships that are open, respectful, cheerful, positive, encouraging and personal. We try to give the time that children want from us, so they know they have been listened to fully. As our children are so receptive and open we also try to make the time to explain the adults’ view of things, our hopes and wishes.
But with 480 children, and even though we employ sixty adults, there will be children who find it hard to talk to us, or to find the opportunity or the starting point. Their talk and support can come from younger and older people of course. Sometimes, when all they need is a friendly voice, talking with other children ticks all their needs.
This is a photograph of a temporary display in one of the entrance areas (where the ‘school dinner eaters’ come in for lunch). Every speech bubble has been filled by separate children.
They have listed individuals and groups that they know they can talk to:
Children in their classes,
And many, many individually named children in the school.
Comforting to know, isn’t it, that our children recognise that they have so many people available to them who can help and support whenever they need it?
A Spanish study of over 1,400 schoolchildren in 2012 found that over half the children had backpacks exceeding 10% of their body weight. The study also found that those carrying the heaviest backpacks had a 50% higher risk of back pain than those carrying the lightest, and a 42% higher risk of diagnosed back problems. http://www.nhs.uk/news/2012/03march/Pages/rucksack-bags-back-pain-children.aspx
So why the heavy bags?
A completely unscientific survey of our school’s cloakrooms this week found each and every cloakroom had bags, coats and rucksacks on the floor, often being trodden on as children reached over to fetch their own things. In the same survey we found that up to 25% (actually 22.4%) of coat hooks were bent out of their original shape in the same cloakrooms. Though there were more than enough coat hooks for the number of coats, there were still coats on the floor.
Fire Service inspections, and basic health and safety common sense says that walk routes should be kept obstacle free, so these bags and coats have got to be put away properly.
So why the bags on the floor?
On inspection we found many bags slung from the coat hooks – and they are ‘coat hooks’, not ‘bag hooks’. Try a websearch for ‘bag hooks’ – you get lots of kitchen cupboard storage ideas for plastic carrier bags.
Yes, we do give some limited homework. Yes, we have lots of our children learning a musical instrument. Yes, some of our pupils may be staying one night at mum’s and the next at dad’s. But we keep PE kit at school in separate bags. And homework is a single sheet most often. We have water in our taps at school, and so the water bottle should weigh very little as they could refill when they arrive in the morning. We don’t issue our children with textbooks, so they don’t need carrying. None of our pupils bring a personal laptop or tablet PC to school, so that weight and bulk is not in the bag either. Certainly, near on 50% bring a packed lunch, but does that really need to be wrapped in foil, held in a lunchbox and then carried in a rucksack?
The mantra in the cloakroom is:
Zip your bag shut and place under the bench,
Hang up your coat,
Place your lunchbox on the bench.
Easy, neat, tidy and safe.
But the mantra has been around for a year, and still we tidy up after children or fume a little about it. I think many bags are much bigger than needs be. I think much stuff is carried that could be left at home (why bring a football when school provides playground equipment including footballs?). I think we (you and us) haven’t taught our children how to put things away ‘properly’. And why treble-pack a packed lunch (or why not have the school meal?).
Watch out for the arrival of ‘The Golden Broom’ trophy and award coming soon.