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....
I want to write detail on the announcement this morning from DfE and phs of the plan to address school-age period poverty by providing free period products in every school in England.
Except that the content of the press release is all I have. I have scoured the usual main news feeds and only picked up rehashed versions of the same story, all built on the press release and an older DfE feed:
What I am told is that we (schools) will receive an email on Monday inviting us to sign up for the scheme (as if we would say ‘no’ to an opportunity to provide what, on surface at least, appears to be a Universal Benefit).
How it will work if we don’t contract our sanitary disposal with phs I don’t know.
Whether it will actually be ‘Universal’ I don’t know.
How we will overcome anticipated resistance I don’t know either.
And, crucially, some sources are quoting some numbers that throw huge doubts on the scheme’s intended reach – an annual cost of less than £18 million and an uptake by 1.1 million ‘students’.
These are far, far too small to indicate ‘Universal’ uptake or access. There are around 720,000 pupils in each school year group in the UK; approximately 9 million ‘students’ in total in England’s schools. Half of them are girls and we might assume we need to make provision from Years 6 to 13 – leading to a total of at least 2.25 million children. How is the target of 1.1 million derived?
Are we about to see some screening and in a very well-meaning scheme some sort of block installed that becomes the next barrier to overcome? Is it actually going to be funded at the rate of free school meals in the schools, perhaps? Just under 20% of pupils in Year 3 and above are eligible nationally for FSM (only 4% in our school), and that equates to around the 1 million mark nationally.
So if this is how it works (the free part of provision), how will schools manage this? There is simply no way we are means testing children or holding period products in First Aid or the Office or in the teachers’ drawer and then applying a FSM test to distribution. Surely all schools will want to make access simple and possible or they will be working contrary to the whole idea of the scheme. What we will then be pushed to do is to provide, at school cost, free period products for all. It’s that, ‘at school cost’ bit that troubles me, as we will receive no funding top-up to do it (and what a wasteful money-go-round that would be anyway; give us money for us to give to a company the Government has selected to run the scheme).
I absolutely agree – period products ARE too expensive and VAT charging on them, even at the current 5% rate, is outrageous. The single most effective way to deliver a benefit though is to make it universally free at the point of access. Want to eradicate period poverty? Make access to period products free for all.
I’ll raise it with School Governors at the earliest opportunity (the Thursday after the invitation email arrives in school).
Hard to say definitely, isn’t it, while there is a demand for more? But the same is true for so many things that schools provide, or provide access to. This week, as many weeks, we have seen parents seeking SEND support for their children being denied a formal assessment. We have had conversations about Social Care interventions where the parent has felt the threshold for intervention is too high (and in previous weeks, with other parents, set too low). We have talked with families where it is clear that sustained and effective therapeutic services are needed but not yet available for the child and their family.
So what have we done, what do we do, and what are we intending to do?
- We were in on the trial of the Healthy Minds Project that sought to improve links and understanding between CAMHS and schools.
- We bought into and promote the Rights Respecting Schools scheme because we believe in every child receiving the support they need.
- We still, despite cuts in funding and ‘austerity’, employ staff principally for pastoral work.
- We signpost to MAST agencies through drop-in sessions, held in school.
- We also attend and submit requests to a facilitation service known as Early Help Gateway.
- Our site is fully used, with outdoor activities a key part of what we do, to allow maximum exercise opportunities, fresh air and connection to nature –
- School Council actually listens to children.
- The Hub provides a secure learning environment for some vulnerable children.
- We let children choose where to sit for lunch; they sit with friends and sit outside if the weather is good.
- School lunches meet all the necessary standards.
- Lunchtime games club, and lots of others, provide spaces for children who do not feel comfortable outside in the hurly-burly.
- Rewards are many, vast in number and wide on range, and really carry weight with the children.
- Sanctions are few and light, and we rarely use them.
- We still have two play times each day, definitely bucking a trend.
- The title of our behaviour policy tells a great deal – the Positive Relationships Policy.
- Every new starter fits in quickly, having been supported by eager volunteer buddies.
- Children frequently ask to run fund-raisers and give the money away each time.
- We give a huge number of responsibilities and encourage helpfulness (one of the key factors in promoting resilience in younger children).
- PSHE and RRS lessons are given weekly, and these always include discussion.
- We encourage our pupils to be ‘politely assertive’ and we welcome conversations and questions from pupils.
- Transition, something that can lead to worry, is very well supported and is a thorough process.
- Low staff turnover means we know children and families very well.
- Children in crisis are listened to, are supported, are understood and are never blamed.
- Children living around a crisis are supported so that they can empathise and recognise that they are not harmed.
- Children’s friendships are always considered when we make changes.
- The school’s ethos is very much about enjoying learning – we want to present an exciting and engaging curriculum. We do not stress test scores or exam results.
- We have done as much work on developing social spaces as learning spaces.
- We are in the middle of an appointment process for two teaching Assistants so we can further support across school.
- Work continues with catering services with plans in place for noticeable improvements by Easter that will make lunchtimes better still.
- The lunchtime staff identified ‘making lunchtimes happier’ as an aim.
- The grant for ‘little extras’ is being spent directly on children, funding in entirety a trip for each class.
- Year 4 children all have yoga classes.
- Year 6 last year enjoyed a set of additional PE classes that was aimed at mental health.
- Parents and carers are actively encouraged to be involved in their child’s learning and school life (another key factor in developing resilience).
- We will be training some staff on therapy techniques so they can run activities in school.
- Drinking water is always available.
- Difference is respected.
Not a short list, but we hope an effective provision. We could, of course do more.
The meeting of our MDSA team (Midday Supervisory Assistants) this week looked at how we are already doing at making lunchtimes a happy time in school. Though I framed each question to draw out positive examples I knew that colleagues would then add thoughts on possible improvements or gaps in what we do or provide, and challenges to the quality of what we do.
It is sensible to start positive – we really do have mostly happy lunchtimes already, and the vast majority of pupils enjoy themselves during the midday break.
What came up?
Staff know individual pupils and their idiosyncratic needs,
Staff avoid drama or a crisis when things go wrong, such as a forgotten packed lunch or a spilt plate,
Children get to choose to sit with friends, rather than being directed to sit in particular places or groups,
Queues are kept to a minimum with our 20 minute start / finish stagger,
Positioning the lunch tables in less rigid patterns helps with flow and informality,
Providing equipment for the playgrounds that children request keeps more of them engaged and active,
Broken, damaged or lost equipment is simply replaced without a fuss or a scene,
Rotas help – each class has an equal allocation at each piece of equipment over the half term,
The dinner register is simply kept, and is not a challenge to what a child is having for lunch,
Children can wait so they can sit with friends, rather than being pushed through the system at speed,
Staffing levels have been maintained throughout the period of ‘austerity’,
Water is refilled and always available,
Tables are wiped, the waste trolley is supervised and cleaned continually, and plate stacks are kept short,
When we challenge how much a child is throwing away we frame it as a question, not a condemnation,
Site security is maintained, with all site visitors, known and unknown, politely welcomed and challenged,
Spilled plates are simply replaced without fuss,
A child too nervous to approach the hatch to ask is simply accompanied and supported,
Indoor lunch games happen every day,
Individual pupils who need a quieter place to sit to eat are helped with this without fuss or barrier,
Discipline, as required, is provided in-line with our ethos, respecting each child and their rights,
Requests to ‘go first’ are approved so pupils can attend lunchtime clubs and activities,
Lower playground competitive games are supervised and supported, with staff intervening to ensure positive play,
Despite all this the dining hall (the hall) is noisy and busy, the seating is hard and the hall can be cold in winter. Children, we think, do not take advantage of the range of salad, fruit and veg available. Most take too little time to look at the food on offer to make choices. We don’t like how much food ends up on the floor. There are occasional disputes out on the playground. A few children sometimes do not play with equipment appropriately (with hoops ending up in the trees, for example). Just now and then we find it hard to find an empty place for a school meal eater. The uptake of activities led by pupils themselves can be surprisingly low. We’d like to replace and renew games for indoor use. Some children would like more access to quieter spaces.
We have a list of actions we are going to take to further improve what we do:
First Aid training (renewal) for all lunchtime staff, at the most appropriate level,
Sports Leaders training for the new Year 5 volunteers, alongside MDSAs,
Lunchtime Manager training (at YPO), titled, ‘Calmer Dining Halls and Positive Lunchtimes’ for two staff,
Implement as far as possible the Catering Service recommendations from two recent visits by their managers.
While we do think we might do better, we do think that the 480 children on site (on a site built for 360)enjoy positive and happy lunchtimes already.
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!
Is a simple outright ban on ALL playtime snacking the only answer to unsuitable, sugar-loaded, snacking?
I wrote about my concerns around snacking at school back in June and July 2017, (see Blog posts: http://www.lydgatejunior.co.uk/the-headteachers-blog/a-weighty-issue and http://www.lydgatejunior.co.uk/the-headteachers-blog/not-a-healthy-snack ) and about food waste in November 2017 (http://www.lydgatejunior.co.uk/the-headteachers-blog/love-food-hate-waste ).
This week we have seen announcements from Public Health England encouraging parents to limit children’s snacks to 100 calories and to no more than two a day. (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/phe-launches-change4life-campaign-around-childrens-snacking )
One third of Primary School aged children are over-weight or obese. 28% of pupils in our school are over-weight or obese, from Year 6 height and weight measurements by Health professionals. Schools should safeguard their pupils' health and well-being, and so this IS an issue for schools to take up. We could clearly do more than we already have in place, even though this includes:
- All school meals meet the national school food nutrition standards,
- We teach cookery and baking,
- We host a cooking club,
- We provide drinking water for free,
- We have physical activities before and after school almost every day,
- We have signed up to the PE Pledge to offer two hours per week PE,
- We take longer swimming lessons than required,
- We offer MAST access through school drop-ins,
- We target some of our physical activities to less-engaged pupils,
- We have introduced the Daily Mile sustainably,
- Our PE Premium report shows how we are improving ‘outcomes’ through tr=argeted spending,
- We have removed our Snack Shop,
- We do not use sweets as rewards,
- School meals provide for many dietary needs and are fully allergen-compliant,
- School meals offer a salad bar every day, additionally and free.
I will not institute a rule that limits all snacks to a maximum of 100 calories – simply for the practical reasons of unenforceability.
We will not be searching lunch boxes, or turning out coat pockets, and confiscating snacks with ‘too much sugar’.
But with what appears to be direct links between snacking, unnecessary calories, food waste and obesity, we surely should be doing something effective.
An absolute ban would be the simplest thing to invoke, if it got full support and backing from parents and pupils. I wouldn’t want to see snacks being snuck in and sneakily snaffled in secretive scenes; that promotes rule-breaking and sets us on the path of conflict.
Would you, then, support a total ban on playtime snacks?
As I like to do, I have set up the simplest SurveyMonkey questionnaire (other web-based survey engines do exist) to collect opinion. Should take about 60 seconds from clicking this link: