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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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03 Jan 2018

Time to 'Ban the Snacks'?

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:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/K53WMQJ

 

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27 Oct 2017

A Problem Shared

When we talk Child Protection and Safeguarding we often refer to ‘Protective Factors’, things that are most likely going to work to keep children safer. There are many of them coming from or related to school:

  • Healthy peer groups,
  • School engagement,
  • Positive teacher expectations,
  • Effective classroom management,
  • Positive partnering between school and family,
  • School policies and practices to reduce bullying,
  • High academic standards,
  • Consistent discipline,
  • Language-based discipline,
  • Extended family support,
  • Mastery of academic skills (maths, reading, writing),
  • Following rules for behaviour at home, at school, and in public places,
  • Ability to make friends,
  • Good peer relationships,

and probably many more.

Long-term readers of this blog may remember a display I posted about last year, one of the interactive boards I like to put up in the lunchtime entrance area. I asked the children to tell, in thought bubbles, who they could ask for help.

This week, in a similar way, I asked them who they would talk to if they were unhappy at various times in the day. Once we got past the teaching requirement (I needed to model better how to use a tally, and the classic five-bar gate) the results are interesting. There is a lot of children here who would actually resolve their unhappiness themselves, many who would rely on friends, lots who would turn to staff, plenty who find strength in family members, and quite a few with the confidence to call on anyone handy or well-placed.

Clearly the respondents have many ‘protective factors’ established and know to use them. This is very encouraging for us, and indicates strong, healthy, relationships with peers, family and school staff.

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17 Oct 2017

Making Time To Talk

First Parent Evening of the year done today. It seems, from everything I could pick up, that it has gone over really well. Just seven parents from 477 children have not contacted us to make an appointment (a hit rate of 98.5%). All bar three parents were pleased or satisfied with what they heard from the class teacher and just three wanted to see me later (a success rate of 98.7%). Books were available everywhere. Class share teachers who are part-time and do not work Tuesdays came in anyway, so five sets of parents got ‘two for the price of one’. In one class, where we have had a supply teacher for most of the half term, the temporary teacher provided the consultations, and to an overwhelming positive reception. Maps and signs worked fairly well, but staff on site showed people round where needed. The mood and atmosphere was warm and friendly wherever I went.

We experimented last year with altering the timings of the four Parent Evenings but reverted to the tried and tested format for this week’s sessions. Here’s why.

We tried starting a little earlier on two of the four evenings, and a little later on one of the others. The intentions of the early starts were two-fold – to offer more early appointments, which are always in greatest demand, and to partly address staff well-being issues. We then put in a later start in the spring term in response to a counter demand, mostly by parents with work commitments that would suit a later appointment. (This meant a later finish for staff who still had to work the full day the next day, of course.)

There was no gushing ground-swell of approval for either scheme.

There were, however, plenty of arguments against both:

  • Staffing the pupils when teachers were in early consultations before the end of school,
  • Housing the pupils at that time if it was wet outside,
  • Securely transferring children to the right adult when they were with staff who might not know the arrangements and personnel so well,
  • Safeguarding concerns around site security and unescorted visitors on-site while children were present,
  • Clashing with the end of Lydgate Infant School’s day,
  • The limited number of additional early slots actually provided,
  • The observation that some parents still selected deliberately, it appeared, the final slot so that they could take more time than allocated (and thus causing staff to still finish later than on a normal working day,
  • Coordinating multiple appointments (for siblings) was made no easier (or harder),
  • Staff did not really get a break between school and the start of the ‘late’ session, so it really extended the working day,
  • Preventing an early start to the later start was difficult as some parents did not leave the premises in-between,
  • We still weren’t going late enough to satisfy every request,
  • and so on.

Since then we have been adopting, adapting and developing the online booking system. This has been this year’s ‘innovation’. What we aimed for was a quicker, smoother, paper-free, joined-up, accessible, transparent system that would allow parents to book across multiple classes swiftly, and would free teachers from a paper-chase. The technical issue came about because we did not anticipate the scale of instant response, and did not have server space that could cope with so many parents accessing the system at once (without logging out when done). It was fixed pretty quickly though.

We reviewed last year’s trials, and considered a further extension and option. What about just one, super-long, Parent Evening each term, with all 30 appointments in one run? 3:40 to 8:40 would give 10 minutes per child, but with absolutely no gaps and no margin of error. Add on 10% wiggle room and we have a finish time of 9:10. This might be just what some parents would prefer as it would fit very well around their working hours. But Staff haven’t eaten since lunch, have been at work since 7:30 am, haven’t marked any books or set up for the morning, and have to be in and on top form ten hours later. It didn’t strike me as a sensible option, and so it was rejected.

My problem, shared I think by many others, is that the ten minutes we can allocate per pupil is often not enough, or as much as might be useful. It derives from class size, partly, and subsequent workload. Cash cost prevents us from releasing teachers during the day to make time. A moral standpoint on what constitutes a school session prevents us from closing early and forcing the children home at, say, 1:30 so we could free up four hours extra (8 more minutes per consultation). Cash again prevents us giving teachers extra cover in return for working beyond their directed time contracted. And we remain full to admission limit because parents keep on sending their children to us. Coming full-circle in the piece, back to the variants we tried last year we could see how an earlier start could allow extra time for each discussion, but the cost of implementation tipped the balance against.

By the end of Thursday’s sessions we will have seen 98% of parents and provided good, useful, information to 98% of them. We will be trying to meet, and meet the expectations, of both 2% in future.

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30 Sep 2017

Safeguarding Culture

The definition of Safeguarding most widely accepted is: ‘the action that is taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm’. From this you can see that the subject is much wider than recruitment checks.

We think we have a safeguarding culture, based on being ‘risk aware’. This last week we have:

  • engaged in a behaviour audit with an external consultant,
  • managed tree damage following the annual tree survey,
  • ordered safety knives for kitchen use by children,
  • arranged wasp nest removal,
  • contacted Capita HR services (for clarification and guidance to help us recruit and manage correctly),
  • attended Children In Need meeting,
  • listened to concerns about children lifting heavy boxes,
  • risk assessed several trips,
  • checked for a personal health care plan, and reviewed the one we use,
  • discussed a concern about alleged bullying, and agreed actions,
  • reported former pupils on roll as ‘missing education’,
  • ensured a new Supply Teacher had all necessary checks and qualifications,
  • reissued national guidance on keeping children safe to all staff,
  • reissued, to Governors, the Code of Conduct,
  • attended Sheffield’s Primary Inclusion Panel that works to prevent permanent exclusions,
  • listened to individual parents’ concerns,
  • sent a policy on the acceptance, vetting and placement of volunteers to Governors for discussion and approval later this term,
  • held review discussions with admin staff about ‘signing in’ procedures,
  • repainted the zebra crossing and white lines in the car park,
  • arranged some ‘Friends’ training for our pastoral support staff.

And this was not an unusual week, really. This surely suggests we have a live culture of safeguarding at a realistic, reasonable, sustainable level that keeps the children safe.

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04 Dec 2016

Four (or more) Benefits of Volunteering

Four (or more) Benefits of Volunteering, plus a little reference back to ‘Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc’

At the Percy Pud road race today volunteers from the Archer Project were collecting donated Christmas Puddings for the Food Banks there (Sheffield Cathedral) and in S6. So that’s people giving their time to collect and transport donated Puddings just given to them by volunteers at a race organised and run by volunteers for the joy of sport and competition. And so they can stock a food bank for Sheffield residents they do not know and who will never be able to pay back directly those who gave in the first place.

And it felt good.

Research says all sorts of positive things about volunteering and how it is as good (or better) for the volunteer as it is for the person receiving the gift or support. You have to read the reports carefully as they can assume causal links where there might not be any (coincidental occurrence does not mean that one thing causes another – the leaves falling off trees happens at about the same time as the autumn rugby season but does not cause it) but a lot of it makes good sense.

The most striking four benefits of volunteering seem to be:

  1. Volunteering time makes you feel like you have more time. Professor Cassie Mogilner wrote in the Harvard Business Review that those who volunteer their time feel like they have more of it. This is similar research showing that people who donate to charity feel wealthier. Said Mogliner: “The results show that giving your time to others can make you feel more ‘time affluent’. “  It is ‘quality time’, and though the reticent may feel a lack of time in their lives the giving of our time enriches our lives to the extent that we feel we have more. (Perhaps we just use it more efficiently?)
  2. Volunteering your body helps you have a healthier body. “Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health… those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.” C.N.C.S.

(Caution here – maybe those who volunteer also look after themselves better through diet, exercise and rest, for example, but it’s well worth a pop, isn’t it?) For more information on this, read “Can Volunteering Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease?

  1. Volunteering your experience helps build your experience. Volunteering in a new industry might give you knowledge to help you change careers. If you want to move from the business world to the non-profit or public sectors, volunteering can help prove your commitment and build your knowledge and confidence in the meta-language. The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have published articles about how volunteering can help you into your next job.
  2. Volunteering your love makes you feel more love. Love, being an abstract, is a hard thing to measure. But researchers at the LSE examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness, and found the more hours people volunteered for, the happier they were. Volunteering needs and supports empathy, strengthens social inclusion and makes you smile — all factors that increase the feeling of love.

Volunteering also seems to lower stress, increase feelings of positive mental health, aid social interaction, reduce the risk of depression, and can boost the sills of the volunteer.

Now that’s a lot of really strong reasons for volunteering if you wanted to look at doing it for selfish reasons. The benefits appear to be stronger, however, if giving is done for altruistic reasons, for the benefits of others.

The cost benefits for a school of volunteering must be huge. We have volunteer reading mentors, volunteer bakers, volunteer Club and activity leaders, volunteer sport leaders, volunteer fund raisers, volunteer organisers, volunteer Governors, and students and staff who give well beyond their paid hours. The available data doesn’t seem to show the number of people nationally who do this – schools don’t feature collectively in the list of organisations produced by the Institute for Volunteering Research (who knew there is one?), but at just 5 volunteers per school it would be the fifth largest group in the UK.

We always want our volunteers to have a purposeful experience so that they feel useful and can experience making a difference. We have been known to turn down offers only occasionally, but only when we had nothing ‘real’ to offer.

And for those that have seen through me; yes, this is about FOLA having to cancel the Christmas Discos. I share their disappointment.
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