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 several Teaching Assistants who work with Y3 children at different times through the week: Mr Jenkinson, Mrs Proctor, Mrs Hill, 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....
The education news this week has been heard before, and I’m pretty sure I have written about it previously on these pages;
- Covid-19 outbreaks and schools’ responses,
- changing guidance,
- potential mental health impact and response,
- obesity and the effectiveness or otherwise of strategies in response,
- cycling and other green means of travel to school (and other work places),
- funding inequalities and a ‘fair funding formula’.
It’s true that I’ve never written about ‘teachers’ pay rises, and this has been in the news this week; the Secretary of State accepted the recommendations of the independent pay review board and so teachers will receive, eventually, a pay award of 3.1%.
Well, no; not quite.
There seems to hardly ever be decisions or issues that are that simple – the only one I ever come across is when the fire alarm sounds: we all get out of the building, no matter what we are doing. Everything else is far more complicated and layered.
There will be delay as various levels of responsibility and accountability either refuse to make a decision or are not in the position of authority to make a decision:
The local authority is not the employer in academy schools and so it has absolutely no power to set pay levels there.
The DfE decision will set a minimum – not a fixed point - so someone else has to decide what that is.
Local authorities will want there to be pay equality across the maintained school sector, to avoid claims of unfair pay, so they will want all Governing Boards to set the same pay scales / ranges. But as each Governing Board is separate they make separate decisions, so there is a risk of difference.
A school that has the cash and the need to attract staff might consider going it alone and setting higher rates in order to attract more or better applicants.
Las are not supposed to instruct the individual Governing Boards on what their pay policies and scales / ranges should be, but as I said above they still want them to be the same.
HR services merely advise; they do not set policy or guide in that way, so asking them each year, as I do, is fruitless.
So LAs say ask HR, HR say ask the LA or Trade Unions, and Trade Unions, funnily enough, say ‘implement it in full and as high as it can be done in the framework set’.
Payroll is not supposed to start paying it until authorised and directed by each individual school – so it certainly won’t happen in September’s pay check (as the first GB meeting next academic year is not until October).
Then there’d the little matter of detail and the devil; it is not a blanket ay rise at all.
That 3.1% is an average of some sort. (I don’t know if it’s mean, mode or median, and I very much doubt that whatever sort of average it is it will not be so for each school as the teacher profile is considerably different in any set of schools. We have most of our staff at the top of their relevant pay ranges as they are experienced in their roll.)
Some (maybe only one) of our teaching staff will get a 5.5% pay rise, and the rest may get 2.75% as the top of each pay range is going up by that much.
I won’t say ‘no’, obviously, and I will happily accept any rise agreed and awarded.
The slightly galling part, and slightly concealed, is that there is no ‘new money’ to cover the cost to schools – the ‘historic’ rise in school funding that seeks to ‘level up’ funding in poorer-funded areas will have to meet the cost of this pay award, recognised and agreed in full by the Secretary of State and the Chancellor on the back of the profession’s heroic efforts during response to the Coivid-19 pandemic.
As usual it has been announced in the summer holidays (it is simply the annual timetable of things, I have never thought it convenient that teachers cannot gather to protest or have admin staff crunch the numbers to see the impact until schools return, and then the steam has gone out of the situation). We will know how it impacts on our school budget (that was looking good enough for us to have engaged an extra Teaching Assistant, an extra day a week of teacher time, a shed-load of learning resources and a couple of thousand pounds worth of new chairs (for classroom use by Year 6 children). These were good decisions at the time – and hindsight would only be of use if you could utilise it before events.
This story, too, is not new – all I have described happened last year as well, and the year before, and so on, back to the years when there was no pay rise. So again, it isn’t really ‘new’ new news.
School may have closed for pupils a week ago (Friday 17th July), but we actually still had to days of school term left.
On Monday staff accompanied six 'bubbles' of Year 6 pupils on visits to their chosen and allocated Secondary School, Tapton School, so that they could familiarise themselves with the buildings and floors ahead of their formal start this coming September. It was a strange business to be honest, with many of the children not having been at school physically since the end of March, but it was great to see hem, and to build a picture of their resilience and strength of character and purpose.
Though only three teachers (two class worth) are moving year group for September, another couple are moving classroom and a new member of the team will be joining us. All of them have been in this week, for discussions and removals and planning and setting up and putting up displays and so on; the sort of thing they simply could not do with the children in school the week before and the sort of thing that has to be ready for when the first child arrives on Tuesday 1st September. (I say that date because we are hosting a transition visit, like Tapton did for us, for our own 'new starters' before anyone else is here - our new Y3s are invited for a couple of hours that day.)
Then there were teachers in resetting their classrooms ready for full attendance on the first day with children in the new term. We have had 'only' 15 children in each 'bubble' during the last half term, and we are to reset to 30 plus. Furniture we'd moved out has to come back, tables need rearranging (spread, but all facing forward), all the chairs using, resources sorting once again, trays labeling and locating to minimise movement, and so on. (In some real ways it cuts against what we usually look to promote in terms of independence, as we will be trying to reduce movement in the classroom by providing everything ourselves.)
Just two classrooms have not been in use for their normal purpose this term - they have held all that furniture. So those rooms needed resetting, too, and those staff were in.
Orders were arriving multiple times daily and staff were in to receive and distribute thousands of pounds worth of new, quality reading books for example.
We always have a skip hire at this time of year, and there is always someone extra in school who looks to clear-out about now; bags of accumulated non-vitals get binned to de-clutter ahead of the next start. More staff in school.
Premises staff have worked all week; they have tried to clean thoroughly (working around other staff on-site) and delivering some of the improvements we asked for - sinks installed outside the building, ugly, old, inefficient storage removed, chairs replaced in two classrooms and old ones recycled, roofers at work trying (and hopefully succeeding) to prevent leaks into the Workroom upstairs that have gone on for three years, electricians installing gate security (so visitors will have to buzz to be let into the site from September).
I've been in as well - dealing with backlogs in some areas of lesser priority, and one or two new items of high priority, as well as supporting staff in their jobs. I also helped take down and re-display the tributes that were attached to the school fence at the Manchester Road gate - they were too good to take down and not show them respect.
Various other staff members have been remote working this week - year groups are still receiving emails from parents, and trying to respond; admin task requests are being made; safeguarding files are readied for transfer; early planning is being brought together; volunteers' offers are being vetted and taken up where appropriate.
We think that the school holiday will start next week, but we know we will be back before the end of August. I'll let you know when I see the first shoots!
Just below you will find a link to the Zoom recording of our final assembly of the year, distributed, accessed and recorded via Zoom, and compressed via Google Drive. The mucks ups are entirely me; the assembly starts after about 30 minutes and the final conversation is unscripted, shall we say – someone came to tell me how it went and find out what went wrong in the middle! I've left in all the delays, all the waiting, all the 'mis-speaking', all the moments where I forgot to 'share screen' and when the telephone rang on my desk!
I’ve a lot to learn in order to become more effective and efficient at this. We need to be more organisationally resilient by the time we start back in September, so that we can be both ‘COVID-19 Safe’ and operating fully (and ready in case of further interruptions).
I need to learn how to confidently swap and share screens, how to control sound levels (and my own voice), how to edit recordings, compress and distribute them, how to select and change backgrounds, how to increase active viewer engagement, how to enable every class to see and be seen, how to make explicit the start and end, and transitions from ‘collective worship’ to ‘assembly’.
I’m no ‘Silver Surfer’, but neither am I a ‘techno-phobe’; my IT skills are probably somewhere in the middle. I earned a ‘Teachers Diploma in Information Technology: Skills and Management’ with Nottingham University way back in the very late 90s but we all know that the rate of change is exponential and what was cutting-edge then is in a museum now (see the National Videogame Museum in Sheffield for evidence of this!).
It has not been the normal end to the year, and perhaps we all have to learn to accept that it is what it is. The children have once again proved themselves to be immense. Staff have carried themselves wonderfully well during every test and trial and stress. Parents have been supportive even when questioning. Our Year 6 pupils are as ready as they possibly could be for Secondary School. It is a job well done, and we look forward to progressing next term.
We hope to see you all then, if not before.
Assuming nothing changes in the meantime, our outline plan for September and full opening looks like this:
The school day will remain as it is now, with ‘relaxed’ arrival between 08:35 and 09:00 and ‘relaxed’ leaving between 15:10 and 15:25
No matter what ‘stagger' we put in place it will clash for some parents of children at other schools who also have their variation of ‘staggered starts’, so we are just going to continue being accommodating. (It also nicely deals with internal sibling links)
We will further separate the children as they arrive by using the side gate from Tapton field for one year group, Year 3
We know that that is the new starters, but it is also the year group whose cloakrooms are nearest to the gate
We won’t have Year 4 use Shore Lane, even though they are now, as 120 children (plus parents) going that way would be very different to the current 44 children only
For the first week we will ask Y3 parents to drop and collect from our top playground: it is what we always do, because it works, making spotting your child easier
We will have outdoor sinks and handwashing installed in three places round the site, to enhance facilities, and we will keep on insisting on good hygiene control
Our working ‘bubbles’ will be based around double-class sized groups of 60 or 61 children: there are two classes in each open-plan base, and two classes in each double mobile, all sharing cloakrooms and toilets and sinks and entrances and support staff
Staffing is located within each ‘bubble’ for the most part, with only PPA for teachers covered by colleagues working across ’bubbles’
These groups can share spaces and resources, retaining them for a week or while a unit of study is completed
If we deliver face to face assemblies or have visitors they can work with these ‘bubbles’ as one
These ‘bubbles’ can have playtime and lunchtime together, meaning, basically, that we can have playtime and lunchtime outside
Children will still have two playtimes each day, morning and afternoon, with each staged so that two year groups at a tie are outdoors –one year group on each playground (with the playgrounds divided into two parts, one for each double-class ‘bubble’)
School meals will include the same hot meal option we have been operating this term; packed lunch, jacket potato and fillings, school meal from the rotating menu, vegetarian alternative, and a range of desserts
Timings will have to change to separate the year groups and ‘bubbles’ within, but will allow a good time to eat in the hall and a half hour play outside;
- Y5 eat at 11:45, play from 12:00 to 12:30
- Y3 eat at 12:00, play from 12:15 to 12:45
- Y4 eat at 12:15, play from 12:30 to 13:00
- Y6 eat at 12:30, play from 12:45 to 13:15
The children will sit in their classes – to reduce, as possible, the time in contact and mixing with other ‘bubbles’. There will be no mixing in or between year groups at any table
The eagle-eyed will spot that this makes lunchtime shorter, for pupils and teaching staff, by 10 minutes (but longer overall for school by 15 minutes). We will compensate by increasing the length of playtimes, with Y3&5 having longer in the afternoon and Y4&6 having longer in the morning
Lunchtime staff will stay with a specific ‘bubble’ right through the break, and teaching staff will supervise their ‘bubble’ or year group as far as possible at playtimes
Curriculum and timetable reorganisation will allow most aspects of our established broad, rich and ambitious teaching and learning offer to continue – we may need to block topics into week-long sections rather than spread them over a half term, but we will teach music and art and PE and DT and geography and science and computing and …
All aspects English and maths will be taught, though we are investing heavily in resources so they are not shared beyond the double-class ‘bubble’ without appropriate measures
We are also investing funds (music fund and PE & Sports Premium) in equipment for these areas so they can fully continue for every class
Music lessons will actually be enhanced – orchestra, choir and wind band will be suspended but staff will deliver specialist music lessons to classes and ‘bubbles’
Subject specific equipment will be used carefully – for example, PE equipment will be distributed to classes so they have a set to use all week / fortnight so it does not need cleaning between lessons of different classes
School uniform will be expected, but as our changing rooms are closed we will ask children to come dressed for PE on the appropriate days – this will save on cloakroom space, avoidable room use, time, and potential contacts / mixing that could be avoided
Each ‘bubble’ will have basket or trug of playground equipment for their exclusive use, to take back and forth from classroom to playground
Visits can and will take place, with necessary changes to travel arrangements (possibly with increased cost), and precautions we are all familiar with in place as well
Swimming lessons are booked and will be paid for and will start as soon as the pool is open and staffed
Pastoral support, from teachers and support staff, will be enhanced for at least the first term
Alternative provision will open, we hope, in September, and we will access this for appropriate children
All children in all classes will be spread out as far as the room allows, though they will sit two to a table. It’ll all be forward-facing, side by side – sitting in rows, effectively
Windows will be open for fresh air circulation
The same requirement for all children to wash their hands frequently will be in place, with more soap, paper towels and hand sanitiser available and more supervision in place
Before and after school clubs and activities will start as soon as possible – safely, and with access controlled so that ‘bubbles’ remain intact, possibly with reduced numbers. We will financially support where we can and where needed to ensure children can be physically active and the child care element is in place
Some will be offered to single year groups only
Some will run for lower numbers
Some, outdoors, will be able to continue almost unchanged
Some might not be financially viable, or be practical given restrictions, and unable to restart just yet
Our new Year 3 pupils, our ‘new starters’, will be invited to visit on 1st September to meet the teacher, have a lesson and bring a packed lunch to try out the hall / playground
The first Parents Evening will be brought forward – but will be ‘socially distanced’ or virtual / by telephone
Teaching staff will use ‘formative assessment’ (questions and answers in many forms, but in an on-going way rather than tests at the end of a unit of teaching) to find out what children have ‘lost’, and then we will reteach it
Teachers will cover what was not taught this term to each year group
We will use the DfE guidance on core curriculum to help us focus on the key progressions in maths and English
Home learning provision will stop except in two circumstances – if a child cannot attend due to an extreme clinical vulnerability, or if part or all of the school is closed due to a localised ‘break out’ of the coronavirus
We will encourage all pupils who can to walk, cycle or scooter to school (and do the same for staff – two have bought new bikes recently on the Bike 2 Work scheme)
We will deliver ‘gatherings’ virtually – assemblies and other events will be via digital media only until we can all physically come together
FOLA (the Friends of Lydgate Association – the pta) are looking at ideas for distanced but fun activities to continue their activity and fund raising
Teaching and support staff placements have been reorganised so that classes have fewer contacts with adults each week, and likewise for staff- fewer will work across multiple classes
Interventions will be running, but with groups drawn from those same double-class ‘bubbles’ if at all possible (and appropriate to need)
Behaviour expectations about respecting the right to safety and good health will remain in placeAll the other established, almost taken for granted, custom and practice, things will continue – cashless payments, virtual meetings, social distancing at the school gate and beyond, limiting visitor access to the site, staying away from school if symptomatic, using good personal hygiene, enhancing cleaning and minimising contacts and mixing (while enjoying life and learning)
When the Government announced this week that it expects all schools to be fully open on the return for the autumn term, so all children attend in all year groups full time, we simply agreed with the intention; it is what we have wanted.
Guidance on how schools might individually achieve this came out the same day. This is where the broad statement of intention stops and the planning and preparation starts.
We will have just under 200 pupils in school next week, a little over 40% of the number on roll. We have to move safely and with resilience to 100% effectively overnight – from the day we close for summer to the next day we are open at the start of the new term.
Senior staff have read the guidance and will be meeting this week to discuss how we implement it, and on what scale (do our ‘bubbles’ become class-sized and shaped with all activity built around that, or do they stretch to whole year groups – as they are likely to be in secondary schools – with activity differently set?). The Governing Board have COVID-19 response as an agenda item for their meeting this week; they will want assurances about preparations and plans for safe opening.
I will explain and expand on possible implications for one area of our school’s broad and ambitious curriculum, music. From this you may see how organisation of paramount health well-being importance to minimise the risk from excess contacts will impact in unexpected ways and in unexpected places.
We teach music to every child in every year group and in every term – all classes have timetabled lessons in our dedicated music room. We also enable continuous, frequent and numerous peripatetic instrument lessons (over 200 children were having lessons this academic year). On top of all that, we offer at least four extra-curricular opportunities for musical development and engagement; choir, wind band, orchestra and hand bell group.
Music lessons take place in the music room (obviously) – it is a central place where instruments are kept, where we can close a door, and where other paraphernalia of the classroom are removed. If more than one ‘bubble’ is to use the space or the equipment in a period of 72 hours it must all be thoroughly cleaned in between. We either have to massively increase resources so each child has personal music equipment, have children wiping every beater and instrument they have touched, employ cleaners specifically for this task throughout the school day, increase the size of the ‘bubble’ to include all classes in the space in the time period or reschedule how we deliver music. If we consider each year group as a ‘bubble’ then we could divide up the term into quarters and each ‘bubble’ could have music in the music room for one quarter. (This could be, say, a week, a fortnight or a month or a half term at a time.) The other three year groups would have to change their curriculum plan for the period. So instead of a weekly lesson we may have to aggregate or reduce this to lessons for only part of the year. If each class is a ‘bubble’ then they might have a condensed unit of study of many lessons but in just one week. If a year group forms a ‘bubble’ then a unit might stretch over a half term. Each model means all other ‘bubbles’ waiting their turn.
It is not as easy as just delivering music lessons in the classroom, not when we have open-plan teaching areas for half of the school.
Peripatetic instrument teachers work with children from more than one year group each day they are in school. So as not to be a contact in more than one ‘bubble’ they will have to maintain the social distancing expectation and teach from more than 2 metres away – difficult to show or assist a hand position bridging on a cello fret, or on the valves of a trumpet, from that far away. We may have to restrict access, timing, instrument choices and so on.
Orchestra takes place during the school day – we release staff to lead this activity. Children are drawn from across three year groups. We may (just ‘may’) be able to continue in the medium term if children from different ‘bubbles’ can be kept separate (at least 2 metres) within the hall, where orchestra meets. It’s not how an orchestra assembles, and may be so problematic it makes the activity impossible or not beneficial. Otherwise it will mean only running it with children from one ‘bubble’ – be that a class or year group. Obviously that instantly reduces the number of children involved, and again will change the very nature of that activity.
Hand bell group tends to come just from one year group, Year 5, and so may be okay – as long as anything touched is cleaned well before and after each use.
Choir runs after school, with up to 70 children involved, four or so members of staff and an additional adult volunteer or two. After-school activities will be able to restart but must follow the same protection steps as in place in the school day. As singing is not currently allowed at weddings (and pubs are being advised to turn the volume down on piped music so as to lower patrons’ voices) we will have to look hard at how this can be safely organised. All face the front of course – but that means 70 children singing straight at the adults at the front. So a minimum 2 metres between staff and children, and possibly 3 metres for safety. And the children will have to be kept in the same ‘bubbles’ as during the day – so unless the attendees are all from the same ‘bubble’ they will have to be separated as well. (Like my dad used to say, ‘spread out and keep in a bunch’.) Not quite the image of community singing if eight groups sit and stand apart but within the same hall.
Wind band might not be so affected; it has lower numbers attending as it is a little more specialist, and it uses the one hall we have. Children use their own instruments (except the drummer / percussionist who might be using the school’s drum kit). They do, however, use school’s music stands so these would need a clean when set out and when put away. A slice of the activity time will go on set up and pack away, but for the crucial reasons of public health and well-being.
This just how we might have to re-organise music provision. Then there’s Computing (shared computers, iPads and suite); practical equipment in all subjects that are normally shared across the whole school (thermometers in science, stop watches in PE, globes and atlases in geography, brushes in art, artefacts in history, clocks and scales in maths...); outdoor play equipment; PE spaces and equipment; play times; lunch queues, rotas and seating; staggered starts or separate entrances; PPA for staff so staff contacts are minimised; trips and visits when no ‘bubbles’ share a coach; inter-school sport; cooking; intervention groups across year groups; after school clubs; administering medication; use of the library and other shared areas; indoor lunchtime games club; pupil monitor roles; classroom organisation; parent evenings and new-starter meetings; celebrations and sharing; protecting visitors, pedagogical change, pupil's demonstrations at the interactive whiteboard…
There are quite a few things to discuss and agree before we get anywhere near September. Our aim is the same – to have all our pupils here full time in September – but the detail and impact of how we implement that aim safely has to be worked out yet.
If you would like to read the guidance from DfE for parents and carers, you can find it here.