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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 the School Governors, 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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14 Dec 2018

Performance Issues

Performance noun

  • how well a person, machine, etc. does a piece of work or an activity
  • the action of entertaining other people by dancing, singing,acting, or playing music:

a performance (mainly uk informal)

  • ​an action or type of behaviour that involves a lot of attention to detail or to small matters that are not important


DfE has published the annual ‘Performance Tables’ this week for end of Key Stage 2 assessments in 2018.

https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/


All the usual caveats must be applied when you read the data – are you comparing like with like, is it progress or attainment that matters, reading or maths, funding – does that matter, disadvantage levels, what does the data hide, why publish average teacher salary, what about the private sector, why are so many Academies excluded, how can you tell if small schools do well if their data isn’t published, Infant Schools have no data, is this a one-year snap shot or a three year average?

Dig back through this blog series and you will find me writing about a question at interview (how would you place the school) and about more important things than scores and gloating.

Well, we still are not top of the table, but we are doing very well, thank you. Out of Sheffield’s fourteen Junior Schools (surely a sensible comparison set) we have the:

  • second lowest absence
  • third highest percentage meeting the 'combined' (reading, writing and maths) expected standard
  • second highest reading progress score
  • third highest writing progress score
  • second highest maths progress score
  • fourth highest percentage for higher standard for 'combined'
  • fourth highest average score in reading, and
  • fourth highest average score in maths,
  • AND all with the fourth largest pupil to teacher ratio.

 

Year 4 thrilled a hallful of parents with the annual pantomime this morning in a demonstration of a different definition of ‘performance’. Huge applause and appreciation was heard and felt because it was brilliant. The story was ‘Cinderella’ but with plenty of twists included. Cinderella was forced to change her life goals once she saw how shallow and desperate the Prince was, and found happiness somewhere else entirely.

The singing was amazing – harmonies and split parts, solos and choruses, actions and dancing. Words were clear as a bell, and jokes were delivered with comic timing.

This was the sort of performance I really wouldn’t mind being judged on.

 

I hope we didn’t make too much of ‘a performance’ in our organisation and control around FOLA’s Christmas discos. These are run by the volunteer parent team, with a good slice of staff support. They want to be safe and sure and confident they have all the bases covered, and so felt the need to have booking tickets available, and to put out an indicative limit on attendance numbers.

We had two very busy events in the one evening and a whole lot of fun was had, but the volume of email, text and message must have added enormously to their stress leading up to opening the doors.

I think they did an excellent job.

 

It’s been another really good week.

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09 Jun 2018

Is there a future for School Uniform?

In the week that saw parents in a small region of France (Provins) vote to introduce school uniform (against that nation’s norm), and when our Year 4 classes are debating hot topics (Y4S/D were arguing the points around uniform), I’m asking your opinion.

Our Uniform Policy was introduced some years ago after over-whelming support by the then parent body. As far as I know, that group has not been asked for a confirmation since. The Policy statement talks about that parent support; but today’s parents are not those same people. So what do you think today? Is uniform still right? Is what we ask for practical, reasonable, suitable, reasonably priced? Setting the right tone? Open for enough individual variation? Helpful for children with specific needs? Non-discriminatory?

There’s a Survey Monkey link at the bottom of this blog if you’d like to comment.

Uniform will be one of the topics for our ‘Round Table Discussions’ next year.

Currently we ask for:

Dark royal blue sweatshirt, cardigan or fleece.

White or blue shirt or polo shirt.

Black, navy or grey trousers. Plain black, navy or grey jeans with no may be worn.

Headscarves should be blue, black or white.

Tights should be black, plain grey, navy or a neutral colour.

Sensible shoes, boots or trainers.

For those children who wish to wear something lighter in the summer months:

Gingham dress in blue & white, red & white or yellow & white.

Black, navy, grey or blue shorts (from above the ankle to just above the knee).

Sandals or crocs.

Jewellery – only watches and sleeper/stud earrings are allowed.

We have around 99% engagement / agreement, but we are having to be tight on this currently with some less-willing or less-aware pupils.

Questions:

Keep the uniform as it is?

Relax the uniform to ‘optional’?

Do away with a uniform totally?

Go for a standout colour instead of a plain-old blue?

Introduce a more formal code, such as blazers and shirt and tie?

Have four separate colours for PE kit, one for each Team?

Just click the link to take part:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RJY9FSV

 

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13 Jan 2018

How can it be possible that test scores keep going up?

Is it due to better and better teaching, harder and harder working pupils, greater and greater support from parents, education reforms, curriculum change, the positive impact of successive Secretaries of State for Education, evolution, the internet, an inevitable and unstoppable law of social change, or something else entirely?

GCSE results hit an all-time high: tests are getting easier?

(https://www.theguardian.com/education/2010/aug/24/gcse-results-2010-coursework )

A* at A Level reaches a new record high: curriculum is narrower?

(https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/a-level-results-2017-top-a-grades-reach-record-high-drop-reformed )

Three quarters of graduates get a 2:1 or first class honours degree: Universities are inflating grades?

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2018/01/11/three-quarters-graduates-get-21-firsts-regulator-issues-warning/ )

8% increase nationally in ‘new’ Key Stage 2 tests in their second year: teaching to the test and losing a ‘rich curriculum’?

(http://www.forschoolseducation.co.uk/key-stage-2-sats-national-averages/ )

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck was a French naturalist who developed a theory that learned behaviour of an animal, which is supposed to result from physical and chemical changes in the nervous system, can be inherited by its offspring. Lamarck was writing 70 years or so before Darwin.

According to the hypothesis of formative causation, there is no difference between innate and learned behaviour. This hypothesis therefore admits a possible transmission of learned behaviour from one animal to another, and leads to testable predictions of the Lamarckian theory.

'Cultural inheritance', whereby the offspring learn patterns of behaviour from their parents or other adults, is different – it requires the adult and offspring to be together. Lamarckian theory and ‘formative causation’ do not.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? If I learn a new skill, such as playing an instrument, speaking a new language or running a maze, my children will acquire the same skills quicker than I did?

Except this has been demonstrated in the lab (using rats learning to run mazes using negative stimuli). Successive generations of rats learn novel mazes quicker and quicker, even though they were not raised by their parents - the knowledge could not be passed by demonstration or modelling.

However, Lamarck’s theory fails to explain the continued presence of simple organisms, while Darwin’s expects them to always exist, and Lamarck’s ideas fell out of favour.

Students at all ages ARE scoring higher than ever before, so something is causing this progress. It may be hasty of any group to claim all the credit, though many would like to.
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17 Nov 2017

Correlation, not causation, or so the statisticians say

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?

Well …

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!)

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMon1211064

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!

https://philebersole.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/religion-and-iq-country-comparisons/

Autism diagnosis and organic food sales, 1998 to 2007 (Both show a trebling over the same period – does one cause the other?)

https://stats.stackexchange.com/questions/36/examples-for-teaching-correlation-does-not-mean-causation

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.)

https://ijbnpa.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1479-5868-5-10

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.

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05 Nov 2017

If you don’t know where you are going ...

You’ll probably end up somewhere else.

We all deal with a whole lot of data in our work these days, teaching being no different from any other profession. This week, during the half term holidays, more data was released from the end of Key Stage 1 and 2 tests held back in May 2017. We have started picking through it all, to see if it changes our view on the world, or seriously our analysis of past performance and therefore focus points for this year.

We already felt unhappy with our 2017 performance in spelling, grammar and arithmetic. Not because they were below average but rather because they were below where we think our pupils at our school should be placed. We know how the other local schools (in S10 and in South west Sheffield, and in Sheffield as a whole) fared, and so have made comparisons.

We were also aware that there is a gap or difference in performance between the pupils that attract Pupil Premium funding (basically those who have some history of Free School Meal entitlement) and the pupils who do not. This gap is pretty much universal (as in, it occurs at most schools), and pretty much obstinately refusing to disappear, but that does not mean we accept it, or refuse to look for further options to reduce or remove the attainment gap between these two groups.

We are, further, aware that the PP group perform better here than the same group nationally, but that is not the measure used to compare performance. It is, after all, reasonable to ask and challenge schools to get those children to the same standards as everyone else.

We had just 13 PP pupils in last year’s Year 6 cohort, each counting as just under 8%. Getting just 3 extra to reach the national expected standard in maths would have us have no attainment gap at all.

We have seen a significant decline in the number and percentage of pupils eligible for Free School Meals and thus attracting Pupil Premium in the last three years. The number on Year 6 this year is even lower, and so the margin, in terms of actual headcount, is smaller and smaller, and each child’s progress becomes even more significant in terms of percentage points of gap.

Also available to schools is a ‘question level’ analysis. This shows how our children did, question by question, compared to the national average. It also throws up oddities, questions and quirks. Why should we have answered a couple of questions 16% poorer than the average? And why 11% better on others? And can we cover the shortfall  this year so any question phrased like that, or in that area of study, or using that skill or fact, is answered better, and particularly by PP pupils?

Within school we track pupils’ experience and progress. We know what each has been involved in, and what difference it has made to their performance. We know the success level of each intervention we run. We know how each child stands against our expectations for the year group. We know a good deal about the barriers each child faces.

Where are we trying to reach?

  • Spelling scores above average by at least 4%
  • Grammar scores ahead of average by at least 4%, and at at least as good as the S10 average
  • Arithmetic scores higher generally, and particularly for PP children
  • To get all pupils who left Key Stage 1 at a high standard to leave Key Stage 2 the same
  • Maths attainment to match our, significantly strong, reading attainment (and progress)scores
  • And all the time maintaining the exciting, engaging, enriched curriculum that we offer.

Once we had the destination clear we could set the Sat Nav to plan the best route, given current traffic conditions, and make good time on the journey. The latest data releases have actually only confirmed what we already knew, and were already working on. Anyone who’d like to visit my Office will see a wall of data, charts and graphs that has built up this picture over the last five months. By the end of term we should have a good idea about how much progress we have made already towards these goals. I’ll let you know.

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