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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 teachers are Mrs Dutton & Mrs de Brouwer (3D/dB), Miss Hayden (3RH), Mrs Holden (3SH) and Miss Wall (3AW). We have several Teaching Assistants who work with Y3 children at different times through the week: Miss Mahon, Mr Bartholomew, Mrs Dawes and Miss Kania.

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. 

The Y4 team consists of the following teachers: Mrs Purdom in Y4JP, Mrs Smith and Mrs Smith (yes, that's right) in Y4SS, Mrs Wymer in Y4CW and Mrs Drury in Y4JD. The children are also supported by our teaching assistants: Mrs Proctor, Mrs Cooper, Mrs Mulqueen, Mrs Allen, Mrs Hill and Mr Gartrell. We have help from Ms Reasbeck, Miss Lee and Mrs Grimsley too. What a team!

We know that the question children are mostly asked when they arrive home is 'What did you do today?' The response is often 'nothing'! Well, here is where you can find out what 'nothing' looks like. In our weekly blogs your children will share with you what they have been getting up to and show some of the wonderful work they have been doing. Check in each weekend for our latest news.


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Introduction

Welcome to the Year 5 Blog page.

The Year 5 teaching team consists of: Mrs Loosley (5NL), Miss Cunningham (5EC),  Mrs Ridsdale and Mrs Webb (5W/R) and Mr Bradshaw (5BB).  The children are also supported by our teaching assistants: Mr Swain, Mr Jenkinson, Mrs Hornsey and Mrs Allen. We have help from Mr Jones, Miss Lee, Ms Grimsley and Ms Reasbeck too. What a fantastic team!

Our PE days are Tuesday (indoor) and Wednesday (outdoor): the children need to wear their PE kits for school on those days. 

Spellings are sent home every Monday, to learn ready for a spelling dictation each Friday. 

Homework books (maths and SPaG) will be sent home once a week - the days will be decided by the class teachers who will let their classes know. They will have a whole week to complete the homework tasks. 

In our weekly blogs, the children will share some of the things they have been doing at school. Check in each weekend for the latest Y5 news!


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 Shaw and Mrs Watkinson (Y6S/W); Mrs Rougvie and Mrs Jones (Y6R/J); Mrs Phillips (Y6CP); and Miss Norris (Y6HN). Also teaching in Year 6 are: Miss Lee (Thursday in Y6R/J); Mrs Farrell (Thursday  in Y6HN); Mrs Grimsley (Thursday in Y6CP); and Mr Jones (Thursday inY6S/W).We are also very lucky to be helped by Mrs Hill, Mrs Mulqueen and Mr Gartrell. 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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20 Sep 2020

It's all going very well

In this blog I want to thank the school community for making our full return to school go smoothly so far. There have been changes to get used to, but everyone seems to have adjusted really well. Where we have had relatively small issues these are being addressed with practice adapted calmly and quietly.

Year 3 parents have totally supported our use of the alternative entrance from Tapton field. This massively (25%) reduced the number of people at the top gate and has meant we are not worried about excessive mixing or ‘close contacts.

Our plan for arriving at school for all pupils over a relaxed 25 minute period, rather than trying to manage staggered starts and finishes (and potentially causing huge clashes within school and with other schools), is working very well. After a couple of days right at the start of term where there was a bit of consternation about the size of the first thing rush things have smoothed out. We can see how pupils are now arriving over the longer period rather than all at once – parents and pupils are self-regulating the situation so they arrive at a time when they feel comfortable.

Hand washing expectations were not easy for a few children, but as we have continued our insistence they have come on board and all children now readily accept the expectation and wash their hands with soap and running water every time they are asked to (and some do it a few times more).

All schools are trying to minimise onsite visits; some are trying to eliminate them but we have not quite tried to go that far. Parents are being really supportive of this policy, and happily allow staff at the gates to take messages or forgotten lunch boxes, and they are using telephone calls and emails more than previously. This is keeping contacts as low as possible and reducing risk all round.

Dinner organisation has been a challenge, but we have been determined, along with our very supportive contractor – Taylor Shaw – to offer a proper, full, school meal service while still protecting ‘bubbles’. It has meant a different timing and rolling structure from usual but the children are adapting to it very well. After one or two questions about whether the children were getting long enough to eat we are now seeing children themselves recognise that they do have time (if they do less chat while eating). In fact the children get 1 full 15 minutes in the hall, far longer than they would have taken previously. Staff are working flat out to secure this provision and ensure a positive lunch and play time.

With the changing rooms out of action (no fresh air flow and so we have decided in the risk Assessment that the rooms are not ‘Covid-safe’) changing for PE was going to be a problem. We asked parents to send children to school on the right days already in PE kit, and they are. It is saving lots of time, lots of contact points from occurring, and keeping cloakrooms clear so storage, and hand washing, is clearer.

When we asked that children also come kitted out ready for Clubs and out of hours activities, parents and children supported this too. We have had a conversation or two about football team tops and we have seen great support and understanding on that one – parents, staff and pupils together doing it right.

Every school in the country is probably experiencing higher rates of absence than usual for September – ours is up to 12% when it would normally be as low as 3%. Parents are being wonderfully understanding and supportive when we send a child home after they have been coughing all morning, perhaps, or they are keeping children at home, isolating, with similar symptoms. Parents are accessing tests as soon as possible, and then showing commitment to education by returning their child to school as soon as a negative result comes back and their child feels well enough. I cannot thank them enough for doing this – it is the first of the four most important steps we must take and it is reassuring that parents take it so seriously.

We will be asking understanding for more change over the rest of the term; SEND meetings and Parent Evenings will be online or by telephone as we minimise face to face meetings; swimming lessons, about to start in Year 4, will need children to be ‘beach ready’ as they come to school; the amount we ask as voluntary parental contributions for trips may go up as we have to make travel arrangements that protect ‘bubbles’; and so on.

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13 Sep 2020

Giraffes are Tall Story Readers

This framed poster is going up in the school library this week.

I saw it online and thought it would look great at school.

I have had it framed and hopefully Mr Sharrock, our Caretaker, will have time to hang it this week.

I was chatting with a friend who saw the bibliophile giraffe waiting at home, and we wondered what the giraffe’s name could possibly be.

I have two questions for you;

              The giraffe's name?

              What thirteen books is she / he reading?

I think a competition at school is coming up!

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23 Aug 2020

Back to School Shopping

Is it me, or is there distinctly less in the shops about 'Back to School'?
Normally the new year's shoes and jumpers, kit bags and lunch boxes, pencil cases and black pumps would have been on display from the last week of July, but Big Sainsbury's and Morrison's seems to have none.
I'm going shopping myself for the traditional two pairs of new shoes and a couple of new (blue) shirts (and maybe a tie or two, for the 'season') next week, all in preparation for welcoming back all our pupils.
I'm sure there will be many a reminder issued this week to parents about the big reopening of schools for all pupils. We really do hope to see everyone back, fit and healthy.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-53875410

Sheffield City Council has launched a campaign to persuade parents about the safe return to school:
http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/BackToSchoolSafely

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15 Aug 2020

School funding plan 'benefits wealthier pupils most'

[Change of direction in purpose of writing this particular blog post]

I was going to write about plans for the next stage of implementing the National Funding Formula by describing some of the reaction, as covered on the bbc website:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53683767

We are at least a full year away from the direct funding system that still seems to be in favour – where central (national) government chooses the funding level for all schools and simply sends each that much per pupil (the bigger the school the bigger the income (plus pupil premium)). What is coming in next is an increase in overall funding per pupil, but still streamed through the local authorities. There are strict areas where the LAs can vary a local formula to then allocate to schools, but with very little freedom in fact.

There seems to be some concern following a report from the Education Policy Institute https://epi.org.uk/publications-and-research/school-funding-allocations-2021-22/

that shows the next version of the NFF will benefit schools in more advantaged areas than those in more disadvantaged areas. Subsequent coverage is, slightly, suggesting that well-off pupils are getting more, but this disguises the massive gap already in place; schools in disadvantaged areas get MASSIVELY more money those in advantage.

An example – Funding per pupil at Lydgate Junior School in 2017 was £3,707, the Sheffield Primary School mean was £4,474, and the non-London Primary School mean was £4,763. To bring LJS to the LA mean we would need an extra £770 per pupil, or about £350,000 per year (equal to one sixth of our overall budget).

A comparison then, with a local school but one in a disadvantaged context, of similar size and key stage: as above LJS = £3,707 per pupil, while Marlcliffe Primary (in Middlewood) = £4,177 per pupil, and Sharrow N, I & J (in Sharrow) = £5,373.

Sharrow School gets (and likely needs) £1,666 more than our school per pupil, per year (or £800,000 in total, some 43% of our budget).

Schools that have a higher level of disadvantaged pupils get funded more.

But the national picture is not as simple or plain – the implementation of the formula is also to get rid of countrywide disparity that has a school in Manchester funded more than a school in Barnsley despite them being seemingly identical in every way. Sheffield is, historically and horribly, funded less than most major (core) cities and so its schools receive their share of less, each getting less regardless of the level of disadvantage.

I wasn’t going to focus on the process – I wanted to focus on ignorance. The bbc website had a HYS (have Your Say) on this topic, and this is where misunderstanding and misinterpretation shows through. This was one post:

75. Posted by PresidentWPM

On 8 Aug 2020 12:43

I think that the Government funds schools in affluent area more than schools in poorer areas is because performance in affluent schools is greater than in poorer schools

The less money you invest in poorer schools, the poorer their performance. The only way to solve this conundrum is to actively solve it not just throw money at it or, in this case, spend less on underperforming schools.

This is what gets me – people have opinions on topics based on completely false impressions and understandings. They will campaign and vote based on these totally false assumptions, assumptions that are diametrically opposite to the truth! I cannot say I am whelmed by the lack of basic understanding being shown by those joining the discussion.

Lydgate Junior School, a school in an affluent area (and one that does very well, thank you) gets funded far, far, far less than any in a ‘poorer’ area. It would appear we cannot reasonably expect the public to understand – this is perhaps why we should leave decisions to experts, scientists and professionals?

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31 Jul 2020

Pay rises (for teachers)

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.

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