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/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.
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
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....
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.
Friday was a sunny day, and so break duty was never going to be a chore. But it became a joy as soon as I sat at a picnic table with some Year 4 pupils. About ten gathered round.
They told me they had been playing, ‘Would You Rather’ in class, so we had a go, too.
Turns out that they’d rather wash their hair in custard than wash their feet in baked beans.
And they’d rather have fingers on their feet than have toes on their hands.
And if forced to choose, it would be no hair rather than no clothes.
Fifteen minutes passed by so quickly, in laughter and chatter.
I love being a teacher.
Last Sunday, the last before we all start getting excited in school about Christmas, the Sunday before Advent, is known as ‘Stir-up Sunday’.
Its secular tradition is that it is the day that the Christmas Pudding should be mixed and stirred, and have it first steaming. The pudding gets reheated on the big day. The Anglican Church, however, uses words from the book of common prayer, "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people," in services that day. The people of the Church are asking to be whipped up, to be filled with energy, to be turned up in the fervour of their faith. They are asking for faith that gives them the confidence to proclaim their beliefs, encourage each other and seek a better world for all. ‘Ah, go on, go on, go on,’ as Mrs. Doyle would say.
In School Assembly this week I brought back out a poem I have used before, and used to have on display. It begins, ‘Be warmly angry. Be hotly angry, but do not boil away’. And it concludes with, ‘Keep on making a difference until things are different’. I was stressing to the children how we should not be deterred from a passionate belief just because others might disagree, discourage or misunderstand. I explored this sort of anger, and how it is not a violent emotion. It is a passion that drives action, and a determination that campaigns until just change is brought about. I suggested that, in such circumstances, we should keep on either until we are convinced or we have convinced. (As Vic and Bob would say, we shouldn’t let it lie.)
And then on Tuesday afternoon (in lesson time, because we invest properly in it, giving time for sixteen children and two members of staff to attend) we had our first School Council of the year. These wonderful, energetic, junior campaigners have ideas, and a list was made that will become the agenda for future meetings:
Notes about playtimes:
- Playtime rota - is it fair? Some say that they have only had 2 go's on something, when others have had more.
- Cover for the slide so that they can use it when it rains.
- Not being allowed to run on the boat.
- Have whole year groups on bottom yard so that you can play with your friends.
- A way of controlling the slide so that people don't push or go down the slide too soon.
- More play equipment.
- An inside space to go when its cold outside.
- Y5 quiet area near the hall/music room stair doors.
- Resurfacing around the boat.
- Playtime and lunchtime buddies. Inspired by Harry Banks' 'Fun Patrol'
Notes about lunches:
- Have a pasta pot option, where you have plain pasta then add a sauce (3 options) and add a topping (2 options).
- Somewhere to queue for lunches because it gets cold standing in the winter.
- Outdoor shelter for eating packed lunches.
- Many, many food suggestions (and complaints) – to talk to the man from Taylor Shaw who has been in to talk to Governors.
Sir Humphrey might suggest that, allowing the School Council to choose its own agenda, and to invite adults to attend to be quizzed, is, ‘very courageous, Head Master’. I think it is enabling the conversation to match the manifestos of the candidates.
I hope that they will be stirred-up with passion, and be warmly angry on the issues that matter to them. Here comes the next generation and their issues, for, eventually, the youth will inherit the Earth and they might as well have a voice that is heard as soon as they can put words to their thoughts.
Elections are won by those that turn up. Issues heard are only those that are raised. The best learning is active and engaging. Those who do not vote do not get to complain about the outcome. This last week, across school, included electioneering, manifesto production, hustings, advertising and polling in our School Council elections. We boosted it a little this year by having one week across school, culminating in children using real polling booths and ballot boxes (borrowed from Election Services in the City Council).
I was a sceptic about School Councils for a long time, not because of process or passion but due to the lack of power invested in them. I had worked in many contexts were all but the important things could be delegated, but once the topic needed a proper budget or would impact on the adults in the system then senior management claimed the discussion and decision making. School Councils became a Junior Parliament, playing at debate and decision, delegated an insignificant budget of a couple of hundred pounds, and staffed by dedicated but non-empowered colleagues.
It is inevitably true that children in school cannot possibly know the complex context and background to how school is structured and directed. There are too many extraordinary and subtle pressures at work for them to grasp or imagine. (Typically, younger children struggle to infer as they cannot imagine motives or outcomes beyond their concrete experiences.) This does not mean that they, the consumer, do not have valid opinions on what is presented for and to them daily. Maybe school should think more their way – and try to cut through the bindings of red tape, inertia and vested interest to produce rapid, simple, positive change.
All the candidates promoted their personal qualities to appeal to the voters. About half the candidates (self-nominated) had policy stances that they put on their literature. It is at this point that we have to shape School Council so that those interests and concerns (their manifesto pledges) are discussed and given serious consideration. With teachers running the meetings it would be simplicity itself for the adults to select the agenda for the whole year – back to hackneyed favourites such as healthy snacks and food waste, perhaps.
Those manifestos promised exploring longer playtimes, revised or removed playtime rotas, school meal choices, toilets and toilet access, respecting all members of school, lunchtime clubs, learning outdoors and more. These have to be the agendas for the first meetings (and possibly the next set, too). If we (school leaders) are really to listen actively we have to make sure we do not dismiss questions without serious consideration and balancing possible gains against real costs. And we have to attend – nothing says we think an activity is important as much as actually attending.
Well done each victorious candidate (to be announced next week) and equally well done to each defeated candidate. Thank you for taking part in the process and offering your involvement.
Children have that right to be heard. We have a duty to listen. We have to give them the chance to talk on the issues that matter to them and to the people with power. A micro-budget is a little condescending, I think, but having our ear is not if we actually listen and consider..
(The Y6 blog has a little more on how they ran the process.)
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: