This week’s message (Friday 10 September 2021)
Posted on 10 September 2021 by Mr Roundtree
The first week back at school brings with it a return to familiar routines and a rhythm for the week. Most children really benefit from this as well as the social and learning aspects of school, and we’ve noticed that: lots of happy and healthy, content and concentrating faces. This week, we also welcomed new faces to our Reception class, which is always a delight for us. Our new pupils have settled in well.
This message contains a few short pieces (none of which relate to Covid – hopefully a good omen for the year ahead.)
Most of the messages relate to what’s going on in Key Stages 1 and 2 – keep an eye our for news specific to Early Years in the Class News pages.
Homework for the year ahead is different. As you might have read over the summer in a school news article about the annual survey (Our annual survey – overview of the outcomes posted on 11 August), we’re dropping (for now at least) Creative and Practice Makes Perfect homework activities. Here’s what you can expect each Friday:
- a Talk Time prompt
- a reminder to read often at home – the key to successful learning in all subjects (every child will soon have a Reading Record book to show they’re reading regularly)
- a reminder to be practising number facts (and for children from Year 2 onwards, this includes times tables) – NumBots and Times Tables Rock Stars will help (your child has a subscription via school – don’t buy your own!)
- a list of spellings
We’ll provide a weekly paper copy that sets this out and you’ll find the details on our Homework page, too, although some of the details on the page need to be updated as we develop our new policy. We’ll also provide a home learning book; this doesn’t need to be brought to school each week – it should stay at home. Your child can use this to practise spellings or number facts and possibly to make notes during your Talk Time discussion at home.
Living and learning
‘Living and learning’ is the name we use for everything linked to personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE). Our 8Rs for Learning is coming up in the next two weeks – these eight characteristics can be really helpful in encouraging your child to be an effective learner. Find out more in our parent guide.
Last year’s attendance was 97.4% (based on the actual days school was open and excluding absences directly due to Covid). This is a really high figure so thank you for your support. With so many school days lost in the last two school years, it’s even more important than ever to make sure your child’s at school each day unless they’re not feeling well.
Consultation about Medical Conditions Policy
Schools are required to have a policy that outlines how we will support children with a long-term medical condition. This might be asthma, diabetes or a disability. We’ve recently renewed our policy. If you’d like to see the draft policy and let us know your views, please get in touch.
After just one week, we’ve already had comments from our neighbours about parking. If you do have to drive to drop off your child, please park away from school and in a way that respects our community – thank you.
On Wednesday, we sent news (by email and on the website) of a series of short Zoom sessions to support your child’s learning at home. The sessions start at 6pm and last around 30 minutes in total. The first one is this Monday and it’s about phonics – useful for parents of younger children. If you’re interested in attending some or all of the sessions, either send us a message on the School Gateway app or email the school office. We’ll then email to you the Zoom joining details. We’ll record the sessions, too.
If your child’s in Early Years, look out for a range of sessions specifically for you.
Next week’s message comes from Mr Wilks, based at Moortown Primary, who’s the senior leader responsible for Science and topic subjects. The message will relate to your child’s current Geography topic, Where in the world am I?
Support your child's learning - a series of workshops
Posted on 08 September 2021 by Mr Roundtree
Starting next week, we’ve a series of Zoom sessions to help you support your child’s learning at home.
Altogether, there are nine short Zoom sessions led by Sphere Federation leaders on a range of subject areas. Each session lasts for just 30 minutes and will provide a few top tips and guidance as to how to support your child at home. The invitation is open to all parents and carers across Sphere Federation, although we’ve indicated below if the session might be more appropriate for particular age ranges.
The sessions, all starting at 6pm, are as follows:
- Monday 13 September: Phonics (mainly for Key Stage 1)
- Monday 20 September: Reading (mainly for Key Stage 2)
- Monday 04 October: Number fact fluency (mainly for Key Stage 1)
- Monday 11 October: Number fact fluency (inc times tables) (mainly for Key Stage 2)
- Monday 08 November: Our curriculum topics (for Key Stage 1 and 2)
- Monday 15 November: Writing (for Key Stage 1 and 2)
- Monday 22 November: Staying safe online (mainly Key Stage 2)
- Thursday 13 January: Preparing for Y6 SATs (mainly for Y6 parents; parents are welcome too)
- Thursday 23 June: Moving from Reception to Year 1 (for Reception parents)
All the sessions start at 6pm. They last around 20-25 minutes, plus there will be a questions and answer session at the end of around 5-10 minutes.
If you’re interested in attending any of these Zoom workshops, please either send us a message on the School Gateway app or email the school office. We’ll then email the Zoom joining details out to all those who have expressed an interest.
If your child’s in Early Years, look out for a range of sessions specifically for you.
PE days - which day to I wear my PE uniform?
Posted on 03 September 2021 by Mrs Latham
We are going to continue with wearing PE kit on PE days – this cuts down on lost property and saves learning time, so we’re going to continue this for at least next year as a longer term trial. On the days your child has PE, they should come to school in their school uniform PE kit. (Track-suit bottoms instead of shorts would be good on colder days. Footwear : black/brown/grey/white flat shoes which are safe to run around in.)
Footwear on PE days could be children’s ‘school shoes’ which are often a plain ‘trainer’ style anyway, if you want to avoid having to buy 2 pairs of shoes.
Here is a link to our uniform policy.
Please find below the days each class has allocated PE times, which will be taught outdoors, except in extreme weather.
- F2 Sunshine (Miss Parling) – Monday and Friday
- F2 Rainbow (Mrs Allen-Kelly/Mrs Wilkins) – Monday and Friday
- 1A (Miss Lowry) – Thursday and Friday
- 1,2B (Mrs Latham) – Thursday and Friday
- 2C (Mr Gathercole) – Wednesday and Thursday
- 3,4A (Miss Harker) – Tuesday and Thursday
- 3,4B (Mr Catherall) – Monday and Tuesday
- 3,4C (Mrs McCormick/Mrs Wadsworth) – Tuesday and Wednesday
- 5,6A (Mr Freeman) – Monday and Wednesday
- 5,6B (Mrs Hogarth) – Tuesday and Wednesday
- 5,6C (Mr Lindsay) – Wednesday and Thursday
This week’s message (Friday 03 September 2021)
Posted on 03 September 2021 by Mr Roundtree
Hello and welcome to a new school year! We hope you all had as good a summer as you could hope for (or even better!) in the circumstances.
The new school year starts on Monday. Teachers (some familiar, some new!) have been in school for training days yesterday and today and we’re all ready to go, looking forward to welcoming your child back on Monday.
When your child returns, please remember a couple of things:
We’re going back to the normal school day times: 8.50am start and 3.30pm finish (and 2.30pm on Mondays).
We’ll continue to allow children to wear PE kit on PE days. We’re trialing this for another year – it saves time and reduces lost property. Please make sure your child’s PE kit follows the uniform policy.
For now at least, we’re going back to the same playtimes for classes. We know children enjoy happy and healthy playtimes with friends from different classes.
This is an example of one of the changes back to normal we’re making. Of course, all this is subject to change and if we see numbers of Covid rising, we’ll have to start taking some precautionary steps again.
Please help us:
- Keep your child off school is they’re feeling in any way not themselves; this could be the classic symptoms of Covid, but others like a sore throat or headache or unusual tiredness.
- Make sure people in your household test themselves often; staff in school are testing twice each week.
In the meantime, enjoy your last weekend and we’ll see you on Monday!
Our annual survey - overview of the outcomes
Posted on 11 August 2021 by Mr Roundtree
We hope you’re managing to enjoy some rest and recuperation this summer. This long message has no essential information – it’s for your awareness only.
Every year, we invite you to let us know how we’re doing via the annual survey of parents/carers. Thank you to the 72 parents/carers who responded. (Figures below may not total this because some people didn’t express an opinion to each question.)
We asked about some of the changes we’ve made due to Covid. Here’s what you said.
30 people said they’d like these to continue by Zoom and 14 said they’d prefer the meetings to return to being in person. 24 people said they’d like a mixture – this seems to be the best way for all in that it’s convenient to meet by Zoom, but we recognise the value in coming into school to properly meet the teacher and to have the chance to check out your child’s books. Based on this, we plan to host the October meeting in person (if our risk assessment allows) and the February meeting by Zoom.
We asked for your thoughts about our weekly messages – we had 66 responses to this question. Nine of these were critical, with most of these expressing a preference for paper copies (‘A paper copy encourages and reminds me to read this.’) or saying that the messages are too many or too long (‘Too much! That’s a lot of information and it needs condensing’). Six more responses were fairly mixed or indifferent (‘I like them but I do feel bombarded sometimes when more than one email is sent out a week’). However, 51 responses – that’s over three quarters of responses – felt entirely positive. Comments include ‘Excellent and very useful. Better to get information frequently, and enables responses to ever-changing external factors’ and ‘I like the weekly messages. They are always a good read.’ Quite a few comments referred to saving paper. Based on this, we’ll continue to publish weekly news on our website and by email. However, we’ll try to be more mindful to keep other communications to a minimum.
We also asked for your views about the learning workshops. These are to help you support your child at home. Traditionally, we’ve held these in school and, generally speaking, the attendance has been quite low. Last year, we held a series of short presentations by Zoom instead. People who attended told us at the time they much preferred these. The survey backs this up. If we don’t count the 13 people who said they wouldn’t attend any sort of session to support their child’s learning, that leaves us with 58% who said they’re more likely to attend by Zoom and 22% less likely, with the others unsure in some way. The Zoom sessions were an efficient way for us to support parents across all three Sphere schools, and your feedback confirms that for most of you, they’re a better option, too. We’ve planned in a series of Autumn Zoom workshops again this year – the first one (on phonics) starts on Monday 13 September at 6pm.
Our fourth question was perhaps the most important – homework. After the Spring lockdown, we suspended our Homework Policy that set out a Creative or a Practice Makes Perfect or a Talk Time homework each week. Instead, we’ve provided a Talk Time homework activity that should be accessible for all children in Years 1-6, and we’ve emphasised the importance of reading, learning spellings, and learning numbers facts and times tables (using NumBots and Times Tables Rock Stars, for example).
We asked you to consider a variety of statements about homework. Without exception, the statements that you agreed with the most are the same statements that support continuing with our current approach to homework:
- Reading at home is the most important way for my child to make good progress: 78% agreed
- Numbots / Times Table Rock Stars helps to improve my child’s recall of number facts: 65% agreed
- The current ‘slimmed down’ homework means my child has more time for other activities that help him/her to progress: 65%
- We use the Talk Time prompt at home for a discussion: 56% agreed
Homework is always a problematic area. Some parents have previously told us they want more and an equal number have told us they want less. Research indicates that homework has limited impact on learning. We know that for some, homework can actually create a tension at home that doesn’t help anyone. At school, reviewing homework takes time. We’re increasingly convinced that the current approach is the best way forward. We can easily monitor how much children are learning number facts and times tables (we can do ‘mini-tests’, but can also check the data on NumBots and Rock Stars). For younger children, we can keep an eye on their Reading Record book. We need to explore how we can ensure older children regularly engage with reading, perhaps through a different Reading Record-style book. Based on the feedback, we’re going to continue with the revised provision: a Talk Time prompt each week and an emphasis on regular reading and learning spellings and number facts.
Other aspects of life at Scholes (Elmet) Primary School
The second part of the survey asked about aspects that we often include in the annual survey – statements that Ofsted also use when they seek the views of parents and carers. We presented you with four statements and invited one of three responses: ‘agree’, ‘disagree’ and ‘don’t know’. If we don’t count the one or two individuals who might have indicated they don’t know to the statements below, the proportions are:
- My child is happy at Scholes (Elmet) Primary School: 100% agreed
- My child feels safe at this school: 100% agreed
- My child does well at this school: 100% agreed
- Scholes (Elmet) Primary has high expectations for my child: 97% agreed
- We also asked if we achieve our vision to be a happy and healthy place to learn: 100% agreed
Typically in any survey, there are more comments with suggestions or criticism than overall praise – think about the last time you filled in a survey for a hotel or product. However, about half of respondents left additional comments and almost all of these were completely positive: ‘The past year has been a very challenging one for everyone. Well done to all staff for making the return to school as smooth as possible’ and ‘I have nothing but praise for this school and their teachers’ were typical comments – thank you!
Of the remaining responses, nearly all contained positives mixed with a suggestion or two. We’ll review each suggestion carefully with a view to acting on as many as we realistically can. Two things that crop up at least a couple of times this year are:
- a suggestion to continue with staggered start and end times to the day – we realise the benefits of this, but from the point of view of children’s learning and social development, this isn’t ideal, we’re afraid
- a suggestion to continue with wearing PE kit on PE days – this cuts down on lost property and saves learning time, so we’re going to continue this for at least next year as a longer term trial
This survey helps us to gain a broad overview of how we’re doing. (By the way, we also ask pupils similar questions!) For more specific questions, comments and concerns, it’s always best to speak with your child’s class teacher or Miss Hague. Many thanks to those of you who completed the survey this year.
Gymnastics Holiday Club
Posted on 06 August 2021 by Mrs Latham
Letter to all school pupils
Posted on 02 August 2021 by Mr Roundtree
We hope you’re all enjoying the school holidays so far.
Here’s a letter to all school pupils from Councillor Jonathan Pryor (Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education) and Saleem Tariq (Director, Children and Families).
This week's message (23 July 2021)
Posted on 23 July 2021 by Mr Roundtree
And we’ve made it…
It’s been a tough year in lots of ways, but we’ve seen highlights along the way.
The vast majority of children have coped really well with the disruption and with home learning – we’ve seen some very encouraging outcomes in end-of-year assessments. For some, it’s been a bit more unsettling – you’ve worked with us in helping iron out problems along the way. We really appreciate your continued support.
A couple of tips for summer activities…
The next six weeks can be a long gap for children. It’ll really help if your child reads often – just a quarter of an hour or so every other day, for example. (Even watching a bit of telly will help if you turn on the subtitles!)
Of course, the holiday’s a great chance to get out and about. In eight parks across Leeds, plus the city centre waterfront, take part in an augmented reality (AR) Dinosaur Safari! Each safari features up to nine AR dinosaurs, offering routes of between 1-3 kilometres. Take a photograph of yourselves with a roaring T-rex or swooping pterodactyl as you chase around the park!
The Department for Education has asked us to promote this support, too…
The department has launched an information site for parents, to support children of all age ranges and abilities catch up on lost learning from the pandemic. The site features advice and support for parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), as well as programmes, resources and activities for children and young people this summer. Further information can be found on the education catch-up for your child homepage.
And a couple of other links…
- You can read governors’ annual governance statement – a review of the year from the perspective of the Governing Body.
- For parents of children in Year 6 moving to secondary school, some advice which you might find helpful.
Our thoughts are with any children self-isolating today – what an unfortunate, unsettling end to the school year. We’re really looking forward to seeing you again soon.
Very best wishes to our Year 6 children (and one or two others) who leave us as they continue their learning journey – we’ll miss you, and parents and carers, too.
Whether you’re staying at home, going on day-trips, or taking a few days away, we’d like to wish you all a happy and healthy summer. Thanks for all your support across a tricky year. See you again on Monday 06 September.
This week’s message (Friday 16 July 2021)
Posted on 16 July 2021 by Mr Roundtree
This week’s message is in two parts: next week (England moves to step 4 of restrictions easing on Monday), and next school year. We’ve tried to keep the messages simple, using a Q&A style…
Will you be completely back to normal?
No. With one more week left in school, the Leeds Health and Safety team has advised that we should continue with the Covid measures we’ve in place. This means we’ll continue with the staggered school day and bubbles.
If there’s a positive case, will you burst a bubble?
No. The advice we received yesterday sets out what happens. If a child tests positive, they (or parents) will be contacted directly by Test and Trace. This is so that you can tell the tracers who close contacts are. (Good luck with finding out from your child the names of people who were within two metres for a period of 15 minutes!)
What about a bubble that burst before Monday?
They must complete the full ten day isolation period.
What if someone has symptoms?
They should stay at home and book a PCR test. If your child has any symptoms – or just doesn’t seem their usual selves – please keep them at home until you have the results of a PCR test.
There’s lots of confusion about what’s happening next week, and aspects of ‘Freedom Day’ don’t seem to make sense for people. We’ve always followed Leeds and national advice, and we’ll continue to do that for the last week of term. Thank you for continuing to do so, too.
Will you have a return to the normal start and end times?
Yes. The normal times are 8.50am start and 3.30pm finish (except on Mondays, when it’s 2.30pm). Although the staggered school day has had benefits, there are lots of reasons we won’t continue this. These include:
- it’s very hard to coordinate for families with more than one child
- we want children to have the opportunity to play together with friends from other classes – having staggered times for the school day but fixed times for breaks would mean very long or very short sessions rather than the carefully planned school day we normally enjoy
- it’s hard to track if all pupils are arriving on time
One of the benefits has been a reduction in traffic congestion. We know this is a hassle, but – like other schools – our advice would always be to try to walk, cycle, scoot to school. If you have to drive, park further away and walk the last bit of the journey.
We’re hoping to get lots of after-school clubs back up and running, too.
Will you continue to allow children to wear PE kit on PE days?
Yes. We’re going to trial this for another year – it saves time and reduces lost property. You’ve told us you prefer it, too. Please make sure your child’s PE kit follows the uniform policy.
Yesterday was St Swithin’s Day. If we really are due to enjoy 40 rain-free days, then this weekend should be the first of a few good ones. Enjoy.