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.

Yours sincerely,
Stuart Jones

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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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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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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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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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29 Nov 2016

Writing a new Behaviour Policy

The School Behaviour Policy actually isn’t that at all – it is actually my Behaviour Policy; it belongs to the Headteacher as that person has to apply it.

But I wanted to ‘touch base’ with the many interested parties, and so I have consulted at length with teachers and the staff, children and Governors of every representative group, including parents.

This process has taken an age it seems, as a democratic process can. There have been disagreements and opposing views on process and expectation, but the discussions have been vital in securing consistency and a shared understanding.

One group of contributors would like to see a hard and fast set of rules and expectations laid out plainly so all know what they are facing should their behaviour fail to meet our expectations. A fixed sanction is applied in every case, without exception, if a particular offence occurs. There could then be a range of sanctions for a range of offences. In America they call them ‘Mandatory Minimums’ or ‘Tariffs’ in this country’s legal system. The BBC was discussing the idea this week, with some ‘leading experts’ promoting the idea of mandatory, immediate, detention over any other sanction.

Last week, at our full Governing Body meeting, I set up a conversation on the topic. I presented a fictitious list of broken rules and misbehaviours. I asked what the sanction should be.

It was a very short discussion because every one of the Governors in the room agreed that without any consideration of context the process would be grossly unfair.

And our / my Behaviour Policy, when it is finalised and polished and published, will be strong on understanding context, strong on improving behaviour, strong on rewarding great behaviour and will not have a list of hierarchical sanctions that we will work through one after the other.

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10 Oct 2016

The 24 Hour Society; and ‘Do we put on Parent Consultations at the right time of day?’

Here’s the link to another simple, one question, Survey Monkey survey:

I’d like to know when you would actually prefer to have your Parent Consultation appointment. Through the online survey, tell me which one-hour slot (from very early in the morning until very late at night) would really be best for you and your circumstances. It will be open until Monday 17th October only.

As with many things managers do, I have had to balance out conflicting pressures, demands and needs in realigning the timings of this week’s Parent Consultations.

For two reasons we are starting this set earlier:

  • Parental demand for early slots, and
  • Workload management for staff

It is always true that we get far more requests for 3:30 to 4:00 than for any other time. Not surprising, as it fits better with pick up from school, with evening activities, child care and bedtime than any other slot in the evening (that we offer). We looked at how we could address this demand, but had to reject the idea of holding a week of consultations, each from 3:30 to 4:45, as this would prevent too much of the ‘normal’, daily and weekly work of the school. It also takes away any opportunity for later appointments for those parents who need or prefer that option.

I want, you would want, teachers to be back in the classroom the next morning teaching great lessons, fresh and energetic in their response to the daily task of teaching their class. As a full week of lessons has to be taught, work marked, meetings held, actions implemented, visits undertaken, reviews completed, observations and monitoring undergone, planning done, behaviour managed, needs accommodated and met, playground duties fulfilled, communications received and sent, diaries planned, and other urgent, if minor, conversations held, the normal workload continues. I have to consider how the school can manage conflicting demands on staff. The national picture of teacher shortage and high drop-out rate for new teachers will have something to do with workload. Staff absence clearly does relate to this.

Though I could simply tell teachers that Parent Consultations are in the job description and can count as ‘such additional hours as may be necessary to fulfil the professional responsibilities of the post’, paying no attention to the number of hours that might be worked in one week would be poor staff welfare management. Two mid-week evenings of work until 10 p.m. might provide some parents with slots that suit them, but runs the risk of seriously tired teachers. And so the idea of moving the entire Parent Consultations to much later in the evening has to be carefully thought through. With no (free) way to compensate or cover it would simply ask more hours of staff.

The difficulty facing schools is not lacking of willingness or lack of awareness. It is not intransigence or conservativism. It is not self-centred or self-serving. The problem is simply capacity: how, with finite resource, already fully utilised and fully spent, could we offer more hours and extended hours? There is no time off in lieu for working late, the children do not, conveniently, come in at 10 a.m. the next day for a nice, slow, comfortable start. We do not have a bank of cover staff who can fill-in to cover. School does not put supply cover money to fund this.

And so we have to reach ‘reasonable’ – but what this is is changing in our increasingly 24 hour society. Supermarkets may open all day, pubs are open long hours, clubs don’t shut until the late early hours, online services never close, call centres are there when you aren’t at work (unless you work in a call centre), more people are in work and working more part-time jobs in the evenings, transport networks allow long-distance commuting (and some work away all week), Skype and Face-time means we can talk with people in different time zones at any time, and the internet has many companies in Britain working the hours of their Head Offices wherever they may be in the world.

All this is true and accepted. But in the real core job of the teacher, the children come to school from 8:30 to 3:30. This is the core of the teacher’s working day. Extending hours for activities such as Parent Consultations can only be ‘reasonable’ if we continue to recognise this.

A well-known fast food restaurant chain got into employment practice problems when it wanted its staff to ‘clock-off’ when the outlet was not busy, wait in the staffroom, and then ‘clock-on’ again when custom increased. This vicious form of zero-hours contract, where employees had to be on-site and available to work at a moment’s notice, was quickly stopped after protest and legal intervention by Trade Unions. If we were to organise Parent Consultations with just an hour between the end of teaching and the first appointment, how different would that be? We might well be able to offer a 7:20 p.m. appointment, but teachers would have already done an eleven hour day.

However, we are trying to be optimistic and to see the review as an opportunity rather than as a difficulty. If there is unmet, significant, demand then we will look again at ways in which we might be able to meet the demand while keeping workload under control.

Please, click on the web-link and give me your honest choice – when, given no barriers, would you rather have a Parent Consultation?

(I haven’t given Saturday, Sunday, holidays or 23:00 to 06:00 as options, even though I have had conversations with parents in the check-in queue at an airport, in the Supermarket, out on a run, at a pub quiz and round at a friend’s house on Bonfire Night.)

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04 Mar 2016

A kind and thoughtful gesture

Do you know the story of the widow’s mite?

Two young pupils handed me an envelope this morning. They told me they wanted to make a donation to help the school. I could buy some things with the money, they said, for lunchtimes or whatever. The envelope held 76p.

The size of the contribution is immaterial, really – it comes from the heart and from their money-boxes. And it is probably an amount that has some significance for two young boys.

The cash will be added to our Private Fund and will, therefore, support some hugely enjoyable activity that we provide later in the year.

Thank you, boys; sincerely, thank you.

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19 Dec 2015

Merry Christmas, Everyone

Call it what you will, but the spirit of charity, of love, of Christmas was certainly clearly with us this week. We held our second collection for the local Food Bank, which is based at St. Thomas’s in Crookes. The scale of the giving and collection became powerful, showing an outpouring of generosity, love and compassion.

This was giving, quietly done, avoiding the clamour of drums, bells or cymbals. Children and adults alike came, gave and left without seeking any reward. And the collection grew, and grew throughout the week. It filled the trugs we put out, then the baskets, then the bins and tabletops and worktop.

There was no ‘British Value’ on show here, as charity and neighbourliness knows no state boundary. Nor was this an act limited to the Christmas Christian festival. Yes, children of Christian backgrounds and faith gave, honouring Jesus’ teaching that we should love our neighbour as we love ourselves. But Jewish families supported the campaign also, in the same quiet way, teaching us about ‘Tzedakah’: to give donations anonymously to unknown recipients. Muslim children demonstrated by their actions one of the ‘five pillars’ – Zakat: paying alms or charity to benefit the poor. Sikhs also believe that a place in God’s court can only be attained if we do service to others in this world, as they were taught by the Guru Granth Sahib. Similarly Hindus are taught that they must help the poor as a way of building up good karma for themselves. Buddhists believe that by helping others they cease to be selfish and to move on the way towards enlightenment. Members of the British Humanist Society give money and/or time generously and regularly to an average of 6 charities each.  Humanists tend to plan their giving rationally and selectively, but most also respond generously to emergency appeals and street collections. The most popular causes are those connected with social welfare. And those of no faith gave too, also demonstrating the spirit of sharing, community and love for others.

On Friday, at our Christmas Big Sing, we sang the Carol, ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’, based on a poem by Christina Rossetti. The final verse goes like this:

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man
I would do my part;
Yet what I can, I give Him -
Give my heart.’

I believe that, by the giving to the Food Bank we have witnessed this week, we have also witnessed people giving their hearts to others, and to God.

Thank you for your support, and be sure that you have done good work this week.

A very happy Christmas to you all.
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09 Jun 2015

'Free' - does it mean the same as 'Worthless'?

In my Scout Group we always charged for activities and events, even if the Group could afford to cover the whole cost. The parents of Beavers, Cubs and Scouts already paid a termly subscription, so why would we charge again?

Our simple theory, borne out by experience, was that when we did not charge we saw more children not turning up than when we levied a charge, no matter how small the charge passed to parents. Hence the idea that some see 'free' as being 'worthless' and so feel able to dismiss it easily, or not value it, with no guilt.

We've been running a new organisation of activities and games on our bottom playground for the past seven weeks and two days. Tuesdays are dance and gymnastics, with music, streamers, pom-poms, beat sticks, bells and rainbow ribbons. At the start of lunchtime today I added in six brand-new juggling balls, two sets of three (so two blue, two pink and two black and orange). Disappointingly, only four of them came back in at the end of afternoon playtime. I scanned the playground and behind all the containers. I checked the top of the stable wall, and behind the fence / wall at one end. I found a beat-stick, two sticks with rainbow ribbons, a squashy 'frog' and six tennis balls. Not one of these losses had been reported to any member of staff on duty down there (and there were three of us, so plenty of opportunities).


Image result for rainbow wand

I stopped children from helping themselves to a small set of catchtail balls (like a rounders ball with a streamer for a tail - they fly beautifully and are surprisingly easy to catch) from the box on the playground. Not one asked if they could first, before diving into the contents and scattering them about in search of the item they wanted. That selfishness troubled me.

Image for Catch Tail Ball - Soft rounders size ball with multi colour tail

We do see something the same each time we bring out skipping ropes or hula hoops or other equipment. It is used and abandoned or used and abused, with children throwing things as high and as far as they can with little thought about trees, banks of brambles, roofs or boundary fences. Last week saw a skipping rope on the roof - now that takes some doing and cannot be from sensible use! It's okay to test yourself, but with some sense and reason, surely?

So, two balls are either deep in the wood or another area of long, nettled grass, or in someone's pocket. I ask myself if it is worth it - going round the four classes that were using the lower playground today and moaning about selfishness, when it is not, of course, every child in every class.

If we charged a deposit, I think there is more chance that items would be brought back or reported lost. As we discourage children from bringing money to school, I need to search for a usable, relevant, efficient currency to use as a deposit. What could that be?

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