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 do like a puzzle, and I do love the bbc. I'm not one for Radio 4 myself, but in searching for one thing on the bbc website I came across the Today programme's Puzzles for Today page.
They're really good, but have left me disagreeing with some answers and having some heated debate about the precise interpretation of the questions.
If you have run out of revision tasks you might like to have a go at a few:
It was thought for quite a while that puzzles kept the brain active and could delay the onset of dementia. More recent research makes a subtle distinction. Brain Gym, Brain Training and Puzzling (things like crosswords and Sudoku) cannot prevent dementia, it is now thought, but such activities help build up the brain's ability to cope with disease.
Many of the tests pupils will take in their school career will require recall, but that is only one aspect of learning. More important, I would agree, is the ability to reason, think and argue. The puzzles on the Today pages really make you do that. Give them a go!
Pupil Mobility is a measure of pupil movement during the academic year. The calculation is simple: add all the movements in and out and express that as a percentage of the number on roll. Our Pupil Mobility measure is at its lowest level in 7 years, at just 2.6%. It is now less than one fifth of the Sheffield average. There were just 11 pupils leaving or joining our school during term time in the last 12 months.
Parents can be worried about a negative impact on their children if they move during a key stage. They should be assured by the research evidence that shows that any negative impact is actually due to other factors, such as EAL, economic disadvantage and SEN. When simply accounting for prior attainment at the end of key stage 1, there is no negative impact on attainment due to moving schools.
The gross impact is much harder to measure. The schools with the highest levels of pupil mobility are also those with highest levels of disadvantage. There are correlations and coincidences in the data groups, but not necessarily any causal link. Pupil movement may be driven by four causes and circumstances and we can easily see how each might lead to both disadvantage and lower attainment:
- International migration — Children joining / leaving schools as a result of families moving from / to countries overseas
- Internal migration — Children joining / leaving schools as a result of families moving home within the UK, whether over long or short distances
- Institutional movement — Children changing schools without moving home, including exclusions and voluntary transfers
- Individual movement — Children changing schools as a result of moving alone, such as moves between separated parents or to live with foster parents.
Conversely and positively we can look at each of these factors as a factor likely to indicate aspiration and hope for improvement. International migration may be to escape hardship but is also a movement towards better, and presumably betterment. Which parent ever wanted less for their child than they enjoyed? Moving home and city (or just catchment area) can be as a result of new careers, career advancement and ‘making it good’. With it comes the chance to enjoy the schools offered in the new area. The vast abundance of data and other information about schools is supposed to allow parents to state their preference of school, and if they feel one is not right for their child then they have the right to seek a move to another. (This does require spaces to be available of course.) In an urban area parents often have to choose from many nearby schools, and they do do so for many reasons. Almost always it is sought for the child’s best interests. A child moving home does not mean a school move will have to happen, but hopefully the home change is also a positive one, and supports the child’s growth and development.
So, very few children leave Lydgate Junior School mid-year (maybe 5 or 6 in any 12 months), and a similar small number join us (coming in from a waiting list or via and Admission Appeal Panel decision). I remain convinced that the reason so few children leave is because we do provide a very good school experience for every pupil. We look after each well, and we promote very good standards of learning. That we always fill vacancies is for the same reasons: it is recognised that we do a good job for families and children. Sheffield is a great place to be. S10 is a great area within that city, with vibrant, welcoming, communities. People want to be here; they have made choices and, possibly, sacrifices to do so. When someone wants to move into the area, or get their child into a school in the area, it is because they want all these good things for their families.
Pupil Mobility can be used an indicator of other things. When it is low it indicates stable communities with all the advantages that brings. It is hard to find a downside to low Pupil Mobility in fact.
Social mobility is the movement of an individual or family between social strata relative to their current position. This is often linked to educational achievement and income. Unless all schools can give the same outcomes for all pupils, and then this lead to equality of opportunity at the next stage, parents will continue to look for a school that does better than the other so that their child has a better chance on life. Research suggests that we aren’t doing so well – children of rich parents stay rich and children of poor parents stay poor, by and large. The educational achievement gap can be as much as three years’ worth by the age of 15 between children from different advantage backgrounds.
That low mobility then seems to get in the way of the aspirational, ambitious parent. They perhaps see admission to a good school with good results as a passport to social mobility, but with no places available the door is simply closed. We are full, and at 120 pupils more than the school original design. We cannot simply take more pupils to support a social mobility goal as we have no room to take them into.
I do not have an answer other than the same line that has been stated over and over by politicians and education leaders at all levels for as long as I have been a school leader – every child deserves a good school, every community should have a good school, and every school should be a good school. (I suppose that most are just that already.)
We had this term’s full Governing Body meeting last night. Governors gave me the full-on ‘support and challenge’ on all I presented, which included a further pupil performance data analysis, and a discussion about our treasured ‘rich and engaging curriculum’. I sparked a discussion about the conflict it causes between teaching times for elements of the curriculum offer – how do we teach more arithmetic without less music or forest school or art or PE?
Surely, one Governor asked, there is good evidence of a link between art and sport engagement and academic achievement?
There are correlations sure enough, but not proven causal links. A statistician will be able to tell you the difference – correlation is basically that two independent observable factors can move in a synchronised way, but be totally without link or have one causing the other:
Chocolate consumption and Nobel Prize winners per capita (countries that eat more chocolate win more Nobel prizes!)
IQ and Religiosity – 25% to 60% religiosity is correlated to the highest IQ scores (as in where that % said religion was important to them, drawn against an IQ measure of the country). The more extreme the importance of religion the lower the average IQ!
Autism diagnosis and organic food sales, 1998 to 2007 (Both show a trebling over the same period – does one cause the other?)
Shoe size is correlated with reading ability. (So your brains ARE in your feet?)
Star Sign is correlated, when younger, with IQ, but the correlation diminishes over time. (Librans and Scorpios score significantly higher in tests than any other star sign up to at least age 9. They also get picked in teams for their country in most contact sports more than others.)
Children who get privately tutored get worse grades than children who do not get tutored. (So tutoring must un-teach?)
The school with the best sporting pedigree may or may not be ‘best’ academically. The definition of ‘best’ is hard enough. Opportunity, health, wealth, family support, aspiration, tradition, facilities, selection of sports, funding, and so on may all be factors. And even if a school holds both top positions it still does not mean that the one causes the other. ‘Freakonimics’ did a marvellous job of debunking some of these myths – the number of books in the home correlates to the child’s school success. So in order to solve illiteracy all we have to do is put a load of books in every home? Might it not be also something to do with what you do with those books, and others, and talk and wider reading?
The frequency of a family eating together has a stronger correlation to academic grades than does whether the children live with one or two parents. In order to safeguard a child’s academic success we should provide the family home with a dining table? Is that where we should spend Pupil Premium income?
Given competent providers, up to an hour per day of physical activity can be added to the school curriculum by taking time from other subjects without risk of hindering academic achievement. On the other hand, adding time to "academic" or "curricular" subjects by taking time from a physical education programmes does not enhance grades in these subjects and may be detrimental to health. (So being active doesn’t make you cleverer, and physical fitness, rather than physical activity, does not associate / correlate with academic grades. You might lose weight but you won’t get better grades.)
Learning an instrument makes you better at maths? Psychology Today says, ‘researchers note that children who play a musical instrument may already have executive functioning abilities that somehow attract them to music and predispose them to stick with their lessons, ‘ that, ‘children and adults with extensive musical training show enhanced executive function when compared to non-musicians,’ and they use the word ‘might’ to describe a possible causal link.
May, might, and extensive. Even with ‘extensive’ practice it is still only may and might. And they may already have been that way before they took up the instrument.
Last time, in this blog, I referenced research into factors parents, of different income brackets, use to select schools. Examination outcomes were much stronger for middle and higher income parents. If we do not make the grade, literally, we are likely to have very difficult conversations ahead of us with parents, no matter how rich and engaging our curriculum may be. Not 'making the grade' would be the ultimate test of parents', and Governors', commitment to the school's vision.
Causation is where one thing does directly or indirectly lead to another. Not the same thing.
Quirky and interesting observations / facts from the swimming gala:
The annual Primary Schools’ Swimming Relay Gala took place tonight at Ponds Forge.
Obviously I’m delighted and proud of the team that took 97 points from a possible 100, and won the Shield for the first time in the history of the competition.
The event is run in two Divisions of ten schools each, with an annual threat / reward of relegation / promotion between them. Two years ago we were swimming in Division B, last year we were ‘Most Improved School’, and this year we topped Division A with a race to go. Fantastic.
Seven races won, and second place in the other three, with swimmers from all four year groups.
One wonders, then, what the secret is to becoming the top swimming school in Sheffield. A glance at the score board revealed one striking fact – five out of the ten schools in Division A are Junior Schools. This wouldn’t be at all striking if it wasn’t also for the fact that only 14 out of 135 Primary phase schools in Sheffield are Junior only. There should, at that rate, be only one in that top ten Division.
It would appear from this that your school is five times more likely to be good at swimming than it should be if it is a Junior School.
Have I stumbled on the sort of data evidence that persuaded Ministers to radically change the Primary school assessment system? I was preparing for a presentation and discussion this week by looking out some data on school performance.
There were lots of contradictory ideas and theories jumping out at me – Infant Schools get better KS 1 results than through-Primaries (so we should change to an Infant / Junior only organisation?), but through-Primaries get better KS 2 progress than Junior Schools (so we should move to a through-Primary only from an Infant / Junior organisation?). Money brings provision and capacity, allowing wider opportunities, greater staffing, newer resources, newer building and so on, and so well-funded schools must be better. Except the highest attaining and highest achieving Primary-sector school in Sheffield happens to be one of the lowest funded per pupil (so we should reduce school funding in order to improve outcomes?).
Anyway, back to my bolt-of-lightning moment. I was looking at the list of Sheffield Primary-sector schools and had sorted them to see how many scored 100% in the measure of pupil progress at expected or better rates. (In old-money, this was 2 Levels + across Years 3 to 6.) What struck me, more than which schools or geography, funding, pupil numbers, SEN, character or prior position was the different numbers of schools (out of 130 Sheffield schools with published data) that scored that magic 100% in the different published areas of the curriculum.
For Reading – 9 schools scored 100% of children making 2 Levels + progress.
For Maths – 14 schools scored 100% of children making 2 Levels + progress.
For Writing – 33 schools scored 100% of children making 2 Levels + progress.
Writing was, and will be this year still, marked within each school, with around one third of schools having some of their assessment externally moderated.
Why nearly four times as many schools making 100% in writing compared to reading?
Is it a coincidence that we see the greatest changes to the assessment process coming in writing?
Does the greater number getting success in writing merely reflect a later development of those skills?
Are schools ‘massaging’ the figures?
And what chance that the new system changes any of this?