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 Mrs Proctor.
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....
Elections are won by those that turn up. Issues heard are only those that are raised. The best learning is active and engaging. Those who do not vote do not get to complain about the outcome. This last week, across school, included electioneering, manifesto production, hustings, advertising and polling in our School Council elections. We boosted it a little this year by having one week across school, culminating in children using real polling booths and ballot boxes (borrowed from Election Services in the City Council).
I was a sceptic about School Councils for a long time, not because of process or passion but due to the lack of power invested in them. I had worked in many contexts were all but the important things could be delegated, but once the topic needed a proper budget or would impact on the adults in the system then senior management claimed the discussion and decision making. School Councils became a Junior Parliament, playing at debate and decision, delegated an insignificant budget of a couple of hundred pounds, and staffed by dedicated but non-empowered colleagues.
It is inevitably true that children in school cannot possibly know the complex context and background to how school is structured and directed. There are too many extraordinary and subtle pressures at work for them to grasp or imagine. (Typically, younger children struggle to infer as they cannot imagine motives or outcomes beyond their concrete experiences.) This does not mean that they, the consumer, do not have valid opinions on what is presented for and to them daily. Maybe school should think more their way – and try to cut through the bindings of red tape, inertia and vested interest to produce rapid, simple, positive change.
All the candidates promoted their personal qualities to appeal to the voters. About half the candidates (self-nominated) had policy stances that they put on their literature. It is at this point that we have to shape School Council so that those interests and concerns (their manifesto pledges) are discussed and given serious consideration. With teachers running the meetings it would be simplicity itself for the adults to select the agenda for the whole year – back to hackneyed favourites such as healthy snacks and food waste, perhaps.
Those manifestos promised exploring longer playtimes, revised or removed playtime rotas, school meal choices, toilets and toilet access, respecting all members of school, lunchtime clubs, learning outdoors and more. These have to be the agendas for the first meetings (and possibly the next set, too). If we (school leaders) are really to listen actively we have to make sure we do not dismiss questions without serious consideration and balancing possible gains against real costs. And we have to attend – nothing says we think an activity is important as much as actually attending.
Well done each victorious candidate (to be announced next week) and equally well done to each defeated candidate. Thank you for taking part in the process and offering your involvement.
Children have that right to be heard. We have a duty to listen. We have to give them the chance to talk on the issues that matter to them and to the people with power. A micro-budget is a little condescending, I think, but having our ear is not if we actually listen and consider..
(The Y6 blog has a little more on how they ran the process.)
Call it what you will, but the spirit of charity, of love, of Christmas was certainly clearly with us this week. We held our second collection for the local Food Bank, which is based at St. Thomas’s in Crookes. The scale of the giving and collection became powerful, showing an outpouring of generosity, love and compassion.
This was giving, quietly done, avoiding the clamour of drums, bells or cymbals. Children and adults alike came, gave and left without seeking any reward. And the collection grew, and grew throughout the week. It filled the trugs we put out, then the baskets, then the bins and tabletops and worktop.
There was no ‘British Value’ on show here, as charity and neighbourliness knows no state boundary. Nor was this an act limited to the Christmas Christian festival. Yes, children of Christian backgrounds and faith gave, honouring Jesus’ teaching that we should love our neighbour as we love ourselves. But Jewish families supported the campaign also, in the same quiet way, teaching us about ‘Tzedakah’: to give donations anonymously to unknown recipients. Muslim children demonstrated by their actions one of the ‘five pillars’ – Zakat: paying alms or charity to benefit the poor. Sikhs also believe that a place in God’s court can only be attained if we do service to others in this world, as they were taught by the Guru Granth Sahib. Similarly Hindus are taught that they must help the poor as a way of building up good karma for themselves. Buddhists believe that by helping others they cease to be selfish and to move on the way towards enlightenment. Members of the British Humanist Society give money and/or time generously and regularly to an average of 6 charities each. Humanists tend to plan their giving rationally and selectively, but most also respond generously to emergency appeals and street collections. The most popular causes are those connected with social welfare. And those of no faith gave too, also demonstrating the spirit of sharing, community and love for others.
On Friday, at our Christmas Big Sing, we sang the Carol, ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’, based on a poem by Christina Rossetti. The final verse goes like this:
‘What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man
I would do my part;
Yet what I can, I give Him -
Give my heart.’
I believe that, by the giving to the Food Bank we have witnessed this week, we have also witnessed people giving their hearts to others, and to God.
Thank you for your support, and be sure that you have done good work this week.A very happy Christmas to you all.
A couple of times recently I have been challenged by parents over the time it has taken to respond to their initial contact. We try to answer calls quickly, we open post promptly and we read emails throughout the working day (and often times well-beyond it and over weekends). I wondered whether we shouldn’t have some sort of ‘Customer Services Standards’ that would mark just how quick we aim to be.
Sheffield City Council published theirs in 2013. You can find their ‘Charter’ here:
I suppose, as a maintained school, we could follow that lead. That would be:
Try to answer straight away,
If not, try within 7 days,
And if not then certainly in full within 28 days.
It would mean us not having to reply in full to a written enquiry for anything up to 28 days. I can’t imagine that that service would satisfy many of our ‘stakeholders’. A request to authorise a child’s absence that will start in four days (a typical time-scale for requests I receive) gets a response 24 days after the absence started! Not going to be good enough, is it?
I went looking, via a popular web search engine, for a school’s published ‘service standards’ and found only one within my boredom threshold period.
The school pretty much repeats the requirements of the relevant legislation, the Freedom of Information and the Data Protection Acts. And if we kept to those limits we would really disappoint a great many people who want or need to talk with us, meet with us or want an answer to something. That school promises 10, 20 or even 40 days to respond.
Here’s what we could do:
We could answer every call, never mind 90%, in five rings (if every one goes to an answer-phone recording).
We could respond to every email we receive within five minutes, never mind five days (if we simply set an auto-reply message).
We could meet with every visitor in person (if that meeting is less than 30 seconds).
But none of these is worthy as ‘service’.
As you’d expect they have an association in the US of A devoted to professionals working in schools’ public relations. The former President of the NSPRA, Jackie Price, “To gain and maintain strong customer support, we must excel at the business of teaching and learning, make sure our current and potential customers know that, court our customers by anticipating and complying with their needs and desires whenever possible, and look at ways we can be doing an even better job in the future”. So, who are our ‘customers’?
A friend of one of my sons has started working for the DfE. His professional language is sprinkled with the word ‘stakeholders’. It is a term we got used to a few years back. It indicates anyone from any group who has a interest, vested, personal or pecuniary, in education’s outcomes. It covers parents, Governors, local authorities, central government, the tax payer, employers, local residents, neighbours of schools, employees, contractors and, oh yes, children. Each ‘stakeholder’ might be a customer, but surely, please, the one that really matters is the child?
So, surely, our customer service standards should be about the provision we make for children? Imagine if we only aimed to answer a child’s question fully within 20 working days? Or if we promised to be in class on time, but if we couldn’t do that then we’d tell the children why not? Or if we aimed to respond to homework within 10 days if it was lengthy? Do we really need to make a Charter to promise to be friendly, respectful and polite towards children? Do we really need to promise to be prepared in advance of any meeting (that would be a lesson) we have booked with children?
Now we could promise to be more ‘customer facing’ in our staffing and activity, and address the concerns of people who contact us through any or all of the various methods open more quickly. To do so we would need, at times, to ignore the child in front of us, to ignore the class waiting for us or ignore some of our statutory responsibilities. The problem all businesses face with conflicting demands is that we will always disappoint someone when we do not prioritise their need or request.
So the truth is:
We cannot see, straight away, every parent who cold-calls us.
We cannot answer, immediately and fully, every question.
We cannot give everything first priority.
We cannot respond in full, within one day, to every email or letter received.
We cannot promise that the person you want to speak to will always be available when you want to speak to them.
The first rule of all the Customer Service Charters I’ve read this week seems to be that the organisation should listen to its customers. I must ask, then, for the children’s voice on what matters to them.
What do you, the ‘stakeholders’, think would make for a good level of customer service in terms of dealing with enquiries and visitors to school?