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....
Patronising, insulting, condescending – tautological maybe, but how it makes me feel. The Chancellor’s ‘little extras’
In Monday’s Budget statement to the House of Commons, Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced a one-off £400 million grant to schools for ‘little extras’. Ignoring all the difficulties over defining ‘pupils’, (Nursery-aged? Pre-school? Sixth Form colleges? Special Schools? Alternative placements not called ‘schools’?) it is about £40 per pupil, assuming it is shared out equally per pupil. So Lydgate Junior School may stand to receive a bonus of £19,000 in the next financial year. Why such a churlish, ungrateful, response from Headteachers, then?
A I don’t know what ‘little extras’ are – it has been a long, long time since we bought anything simply because it would be nice.
B We are forecasting a budget deficit by the next financial year unless we make further cut-backs. And we are expected to spend this windfall on ‘little extras’ when I may have to cut still further into staffing to balance the books?
C The unbelievably crass, 1950’s, pin-money language of it – the man-of-the-house handing down the good wife something extra to buy herself a treat so she looks good / feels good on their Friday night out.
D Because it is, in reality, so little compared to what we have set aside, undone, these last five years. The repairs delayed, the improvements not even seriously planned, the corners cut, the staffing reduced, the services trimmed, the charges levied for things done for free previously and the impossible cost of the massive jobs needed still cannot be addressed with this one-off grant.
E Priorities and professionalism and care for pupils will mean we spend it on essentials, not ‘extras’, anyway. High level (low incidence) SEN/D support is massively expensive but essential for individual pupils and their peers (and the class teacher). In our case we are about to admit a new child with needs that will cost us an additional £18,000 a year. It is preposterous to think we will allow our budget to overspend by that much because we spend the grant on ‘extras’. Meeting the needs of a child with visual impairment is not an ‘extra’, nor is supporting children with diabetes who need frequent blood sugar checks, and nor is supporting a child who has mobility issues round our building and site (with its fourteen sets of steps / stairs and six ramps). We cut sickness absence insurance for support staff this year to save budget costs. The actual cost is lost provision for children who find learning harder. That is not a 'little extra' even if it is not legally essential.
F Improving IT hardware so it meets the curriculum requirements and challenges in, say, science, is not an ‘extra’. Mr Hammond suggested we buy a couple of (interactive) whiteboards or some extra laptops. He assumes, perhaps, that what we have works well as it is and meets needs. Ask your children how long it takes for the PCs in the suite to logon and open a document. Ask staff how often the Hall laptop loses network connection. Ask the Pastoral Team where their laptop went. Ask your children how many iPads we have to use in class, and how often they get to use them. Kit has become obsolete and incompatible with newer operating systems. We cannot meet the points for improvement in the last but one Ofsted report (2012) if we do not do this.
G I keep going back to that language – it smacks so much of ‘here’s five pounds; go and buy yourself something nice’.
H Michael Gove, when Education Secretary, sent every school a copy of the King James version of the Bible on the 400th anniversary. ‘Gove’s Bible’ many called it. Where is it now? What difference did such an unsupported, unrequested, action make? It was waste of time and money. This doling out of money seems to be a sop, and without plan. What noticeable difference does the Chancellor actually think will come about?
I was telling my Y5 class about an encounter with a family on Parents Evening. They were coming the opposite way through a doorway, and I held it open for the little child who was with them. I asked the class what the mother had said, and everyone chimed, ‘Say thank you’, and they were right. We say ‘thank you’ because it is polite, and because our mothers taught us to.
So, thank you, Mr Hammond. We will spend however much you might give us on something nice for the children in our school. We will send you a nice ‘Thank You card’ once we have the cheque you have promised, and we will let you know what we spent it on. But, please, do not think that adding just 1% to my school’s income for the year will make any sort of noticeable difference.
During Science week the children have been exposed to a great many novel words, but they do love a good word. There is a pleasure in rolling a good word round the tongue, almost to the point of savouring it, tasting it, feeling its texture.
The technical language and precise, subject-specific language is an essential part of the children’s learning. This metalanguage (a cracking word, that one) allows children to describe their thoughts and ideas with clarity and expertise. Listeners can understand, while the speaker can project confidence, free of ‘like’ and ambiguous gesture.
They have heard and used terms such as adaptation, prey, predator, chemical change, physical state, reaction, expansion, chromatography, force, gravity, friction, climate, environment, habitat, and the simply brilliant ‘non-Newtonian liquid’.
That last term describes a fluid that behaves, under certain conditions, like a solid. The children made a sample by mixing a whole lot of cornflour with a little water. You can pour it slowly, it runs off your fingers, it takes the shape of the bottom of the container, and you can slide a knife in easily enough. But if you poke or punch the surface then your hand is stopped by a seeming solid! When you try to stir it vigorously you can’t. A liquid with some qualities of a solid.
Children in Year 5 had absolutely no problem with the substance – they loved playing / investigating with it. They could describe what they saw and could expand a theory on what was going on. Not so amazing, you might think, but it staggers me that they could do this. You see, I first came across these ‘non-Newtonian fluids’ when I was studying for A Levels, aged 17. Doc Henderson, at Ellesmere Port Grammar School, presented it to us in the practical test and asked us to investigate the properties and to suggest what was occurring; for A Level. This is true – schools are not dumbing down and children are massively more knowledgeable than any previous generation.
Toast and Jam-boree
As well as being named and praised as the ‘Star of the Week’ from their class, 16 children a week get a certificate, a Gold Star, their photo on display (along with an explanation of the reason why they have been selected)and at the end of each half-term they get invited to a ‘Toast and Jam-boree’.
We held one this morning. For an hour we took over the lower playground. We had space-hoppers, bouncers, footballs, basketballs, rainbow scoops, table tennis, a sound system knocking out YMCA (and other classics), and treats to eat including toast, jam, lemon curd, chocolate spread and marmite, drinks and a final large tub of Celebrations left over from Christmas. We made sure that we had Gluten-free bread and spreads so all the children could enjoy the treats properly, of course.
It had a great atmosphere, with wonderful politeness: children thanked us for putting on something that was meant to thank them for their great behaviour, attitude, engagement and contributions, they helped pack away all the equipment and they left not one bit of mess behind.
It was, naturally, a fair bit of work for us in collecting the equipment and materials, getting it in place and setting up all in morning break ready to start, organising staffing and supervising all the toasting and spreading, playing and singing / dancing. It was also a perfect example of why it’s great being a teacher.
I had a lovely day, thanks, and so, I believe, did every child who joined us this morning.
The ‘BEST SCIENCE LESSON EVER’
Mr Sharrock, our Premises Manager, was standing next to me at the school gate at the end of school. He was having a good chuckle as he listened to one of our Year 4 children telling me, urgently and insistently, that she had just had the ‘BEST SCIENCE LESSON EVER!’
Apparently they had investigated and observed changing state through melting chocolate (at a very precise 350C), then reshaping it in to moulds, setting it solid again in the fridge and then testing it (by eating) to see if it was still chocolate. It was, she told me. A perfect example of why it’s great being a teacher.
I had a lovely day, thanks, and so, I believe, did every child in Year 4 science today.
Prospective Parents / Parents of Prospective Pupils
In my diary this afternoon I had an appointment with a couple who are checking out the local schools prior to applying for places. Very sensible of them to visit in the school day when the school (i.e. the people in it, and not the empty buildings) is open.
They were a bit surprised to find that I was showing them round, the Headteacher, but I’m really proud of my school and I like showing it off whenever I can. Normally this sort of thing lasts 30 minutes or so, but this was half one through to the end of the school day, because they wanted to see everywhere, everyone and everything and were obviously enjoying picking up the ethos / feel / atmosphere in school.
So we saw music and Spanish in Year 5, art, IT and science in Year 4, reading and spelling in Year 3, and PE and Forest Schools in Year 6. They saw playtime and the end of the day routine.
Their parting words were, oddly you might think, ‘See you in Court’. You see, they live out of ‘catchment’, but they were so impressed that they will, if needs be, use the Admissions Appeal process to try to secure places for their children. It makes me feel rather proud of all our school is that parents, with choice, will go through this to get their children into our school. A perfect example of why it’s great being a teacher.
I had a lovely day, thanks, and so, I believe, did all our visitors in school today.I hope you enjoy going to work as much as I did today.
I was stopped last week by a parent who wanted to chat about his perception of Parents Evening. He felt that his child’s class teachers had not got a clear position on the progress the child had made, and that the language my colleagues had used was vague and not reassuring.
We explored the changes in the curriculum that have only been fully in place since September, and won’t be in the assessment system for at least another eighteen months. He went away somewhat pacified by my assurance that the written reports sent home later in the academic year will focus on progress and not coverage.
The new assessment system is still evolving, much like a newly formed planet emerging from a cloud of gas and particles whirling after the collapse of a star system. The day after the publication of school performance tables (http://www.education.gov.uk/cgi-bin/schools/performance/school.pl?urn=106998) schools across England received links to more documents giving information about the revisions to end of Key Stage assessments for Foundation Stage, and Key Stages 1 and 2. (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/interim-frameworks-for-teacher-assessment-at-the-end-of-key-stage-2 and https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pre-key-stage-2-pupils-working-below-the-test-standard) .
These are ‘interim’ arrangements, and so we must not get used to them as, presumably, they will change again in 2017. I have mentioned before the new language that we will have to use to inform parents about their children’s attainment – they will either meet or not meet a national standard – a ‘scaled score around 100’. What we have today been told is how we must describe the performance of those children who are working below that national standard.
Keep in mind that this is to replace an out-moded, not fit for purpose, insufficiently challenging system that used ‘Levels’ where the number accorded to a ‘Level’ showed the (not necessarily linear) progression. Schools developed sub-levels to describe better the various shades of progress and this was accepted over time, and subsequently widely used.
Come July 2016 we will be telling parents that their Year 6 child is either working at / has progressed to:
Foundations for the expected standard
Early development of the expected standard
Growing development of the expected standard
Working towards the expected standard
Working at the expected standard, or
Working at greater depth within the expected standard
A quick, cheeky, question – have I put them in order or not? In what order would you place those statements? (And is it me, or does it look and feel rather like the ‘old’ ‘working towards’, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4 and Level 5?)
There’s a whole lot of murk out there still – we are constantly told not to interpret the end of Key Stage guidance to work out what children should be able to do (an age-related expectation) at the end of any other year group. We are told to enter only children for whom the test is accessible, but without knowing the ‘pass mark’ to guide us on whether there is any point or not. We can use the one set of sample papers published to see if children can answer any of the questions, but as we don’t know the minimum mark needed to register a ‘scaled scored’ we are still none-the-wiser. Hopefully clarity will emerge over time.
One slight, but unexplained, change is that schools will have to submit their ‘teacher assessments’ a whole month earlier than in previous years. (We have to send them to DfE as well as to parents.) The deadline just jumped from June 24th to May 27th. I cannot come up with a single good reason. My one suggestion is rather cynical and conspiracy-led: ‘they’ trust teacher assessment more than the tests (but would never admit it), and so want to confirm test outcomes against what the professionals, who have worked with the children for four years and more, think before setting the threshold for the national standard. Or the computer team at the standards and testing agency has a big holiday booked for late June.
And in the meantime, we’ll keep on teaching the children things they don’t yet know but could do with learning. Seems about right. (That would be 'Purposeful People engaged in Disciplined Thought taking Disciplined Action', one of the things remarkable associations do that others don't.)