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.
Our school charity
Posted on 14 July 2021 by Mr Roundtree
Each year, our school community chooses a charity they’d like to support. This year The National Autistic Society was chosen. If you want to find out a little more about Autism, this is a helpful website.
After some recent news reports about some of the support given to young autistic adults, we decided to reflect on our charity choice. The Junior Leadership Team (JLT) were very sure that they wanted to continue to support a charity linked with autism, as were the leaders within school.
After doing some research, and considering something more local, the JLT have agreed to make Leeds Autism Services our new chosen charity. Leeds Autism Services have been around for about 30 years and have as their mission statement: To create a more autism friendly society by promoting understanding and acceptance of autistic people.
We hope you agree that this is a worthy cause.
This week’s message (Friday 09 July 2021)
Posted on 09 July 2021 by Mr Roundtree
Next week is our Being Healthy themed week. It’s all about being healthy, both physically and emotionally. This week’s message is all about the themed week…
Due to the current restrictions, we’re limited to the events and visitors we can host but we’ve still got many activities planned for our children to enjoy. The learning forms part of our Living and Learning curriculum to ensure our pupils are happy and healthy.
Pupils are invited to come in PE kit (in line with our uniform policy) every day of the themed week. Please make sure the PE kit is in line with our Uniform Policy. (By the way, do check out the link: you’ll notice we’re going to continue to allow children to wear their kit on PE days for 2021-22 as a long-term trial – this decision is based on your feedback.)
Sports day events will take place during the themed week. Sadly, this year we’re not in a position to invite parents in. To restrict the spread of the virus, your child will still take part in competitive events, but within bubbles, so distanced from other classes. We know for many of you this is a highlight of the Summer term. We’re sorry to disappoint, but we’re sure you’ll agree it’s better to take this cautious approach.
Over the last few months, all classes have been taking part in the Skipping into Summer project to develop and improve skipping skills. We’ll be having a celebration day throughout the themed week for our children to share these skills.
This themed week is a good opportunity to continue to think about healthy, active ways to travel to school. We’ll be encouraging children to use a sustainable method of transport, maybe parking further away from school, scooting, biking or walking to school.
We’d love to hear about your child’s physical activity achievements outside of school so please ask your child to share these with us so we can celebrate their achievements and efforts.
We always like to hear the children’s views about being healthy so this week’s homework is to complete the online annual health questionnaire.
Getting enough sleep helps us all to feel happy and healthy. Welcome to Sweet Dreams is an audio play which follows the interstellar adventures of Ivy and her toy rabbit, Bun Bun. Check out the podcasts for families and for children, too – they’re presented by ex-Blue Peter presenter, Zoe Salmon, who introduces leading sleep experts and guests all talking about how to get a great night’s sleep. There’s also an interactive game.
Finally, to support this learning at home, you might want to take a look at the following health resources…
- Change4life – for easy ways to eat well and move more
- Eat Well for Less – tips for healthy meals
- Anna Freud Centre for Children and Families, MindMate and Every Mind Matters – mental health support (including ideas for self-care)
- Healthy Sleep Tips for Children, The Sleep Council and Childline Tips for Better Sleep
We hope your child enjoys and achieves in our Being Healthy themed week.
Posted on 07 July 2021 by Mr Roundtree
At Scholes (Elmet) Primary, we’ve been working hard to juggle two key priorities this year:
- keep making sure we’re as Covid-secure as we possibly can be (despite a few bubbles bursting, we’ve been successful at this compared to other Leeds schools)
- keep making sure we find ways to continually improve teaching and learning (that’s why we ask your views each year in our survey, with specific questions this year about homework, for example, and that’s why we’re making the change to teaching Latin as the statutory foreign language taught in our school)
Linked to the latter, we were keen to invite an advisor in to school recently (all done in a way which followed our risk assessment to make sure we were as Covid-secure as we could be). The advisor – an independent consultant and also a trained Ofsted inspector – carried out an evaluation of how we teach Maths at Scholes (Elmet) Primary.
Here’s some of the feedback:
The teaching of maths is strong overall.
Pupils demonstrate very positive attitudes to their learning and good behaviours. In all lessons visited, pupils were engaged, responding readily to their class teacher’s questions. When working independently they concentrated well.
Pupils make progress through the maths curriculum at both the whole school level and in individual lessons.
Pupils spoke of their enjoyment of maths and the support they received from their class teacher.
There is clear evidence of whole school strategies and approaches in the classrooms to enhance pupils understanding and progress through the maths curriculum. Overall, there is a high level of consistency of practice.
Class teachers are able to lucidly articulate the intent of their lesson, where the lesson fits in a sequence of lessons, including how future lessons will build on learning. Similarly, they are able to explain their thinking behind the chosen pedagogy.
Maths is well-led at Scholes (Elmet) Primary School. The Lead Teacher [Mrs Allaway] has considerable subject and subject pedagogical knowledge. Her passionate commitment to all aspects of the teaching of primary mathematics ensures that the subject is appropriately prioritised and effectively regularly reviewed.
The curriculum is ambitious for all pupils, including pupils with SEND.
Posted on 04 July 2021 by Mrs Latham
We will be making some scarecrows in school. If anyone lives in the village, you can join in individually and display them outside your house. If not, and you want to make your own, bring your scarecrow to school on Friday 16 July and we will display it outside school over the weekend.
This week’s message (Friday 02 July 2021)
Posted on 02 July 2021 by Mr Roundtree
This week’s message begins with the Latin word for ‘hello’, because we’ve some news about a change to our curriculum next year…
From September, children in Key Stage 2 (Years 3-6) will learn Latin as the Foreign Language part of the National Curriculum. This might come as a bit of a surprise to some of you, with many wondering why switch to an ancient language. Here, we present three reasons, but there are plenty of others.
Learning some Latin will support learning other languages in the future. About 80% of words in Romance languages such as French, Spanish and Italian come from Latin. The Latin for ‘bread‘ is ‘panem‘. Learning this means your child should more easily recognise and remember the word for bread in French (pain), Spanish (pan) or Italian (pane).
Linked to this is what your child will learn when they move to secondary school. In Year 7, your child might learn French, or Spanish, or German… in most cases, there won’t be much choice, and different secondary schools offer different languages for Year 7 students. Latin provides a really useful basis to learn other languages. (And most secondary schools start from scratch anyway, so Latin will be a good grounding.)
A third reason is that learning some Latin will help to enhance your child’s understanding in English, too. About two thirds of English words are derived from Latin, so your child will be more confident when they come across a new word in English if they can recognise parts of it. Here’s an example. The Latin word for ‘father’ is ‘pater‘, which gives us lots of English words, such as paternal, patronise and patriarchy. ‘Mother’ is ‘mater‘ – what words derive from ‘mater‘?
We’ve spoken to a few parents about this already, and the reaction has been really positive. If you’d like to find out more, we’re hosting a live Zoom discussion next week: 6pm on Thursday 08 July (we’ve deliberately avoided Wednesday in anticipation of some important event that night – it’s coming home…!). If you’d like to attend, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally this week, a big thank you to all of you who completed this year’s annual survey. We’ll spend some time over the next few weeks looking at the results, and we’ll update you later in the year.
Quia nunc vale!
This week’s message (Friday 25 June 2021)
Posted on 25 June 2021 by Mr Roundtree
This week’s message has three new messages and two reminders, one with an important update…
The 2021-22 school year has been officially shortened by one day to take into account the extra bank holiday for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
The 2021-22 school year is 194 days. Leeds has decided that schools will break up for summer on Tuesday 26 July 2022 instead of Wednesday 27 July. This ensures that pupils and staff all benefit from the extra public holiday, even though it falls during the May half term break.
We had a training day booked on this day that we’ve moved. The holidays and training days for next year are all in our school calendar.
…to spend just a few minutes completing this year’s annual survey. The survey’s open until Wednesday 30 June so you’ve still got a few days. Thank you to all the parents / carers who have responded so far.
Staying safe online: FIFA 21
The European Football Championships are well underway. Your child might be reaching for the online game FIFA 21 to virtually recreate the sort of shots, passes and saves they’ve watched their real-life heroes pull off on TV. In the popularity league table, FIFA is the Real Madrid of football games – some seasons are better than others, but it’s never away from the summit for long.
FIFA doesn’t include inappropriate content or violence (apart from the odd reckless sliding tackle!). However, do be aware of risks such as in-game purchases, over-competitiveness and the possibility of becoming addicted. Read more about FIFA 21.
Finally, two short messages that we emailed earlier in the week…
The number of pupils absent because of a potential contact with Covid-19 in school has quadrupled in just one week. In our own schools, and in lots of schools around us, there’s been a notable rise in Covid cases – more now than ever before.
Please keep your child at home if:
- they’ve any of the recognised Covid symptoms
- they just don’t feel quite right (a headache, feeling sick, particularly tired…)
And an update to this, following an email to schools from Leeds City Council…
As you are no doubt aware, the Delta variant of Covid-19 is now the most prevalent form of the virus in Leeds. The Zoe Covid Symptom Study, the largest ongoing global study of Covid-19, has highlighted that a headache, sore throat and runny nose are now the most common symptoms of the Delta variant, instead of a cough and loss of smell, although fever is still common.
With bubbles bursting in Sphere schools and other local schools, we’ve taken the difficult decision to go ahead with Sports Day events, but sadly not to invite parents and carers this year.
To restrict the spread of the virus, your child will still take part in competitive events, but within bubbles, so distanced from other classes.
We know for many of you, this is a highlight of the Summer term. We’re sorry to disappoint, but we’re sure you’ll agree it’s better to take this cautious approach.
Enjoy your weekend, whatever you and those around you get up to.
This week’s message (Friday 18 June 2021)
Posted on 18 June 2021 by Mr Roundtree
So, unsurprisingly, lockdown restrictions won’t be lifted on 21 June. This week’s message is mainly about the current topic learning in Years 1 to 6 – Design and Technology is the main driver. We start with a Covid-related point and end with a quick reminder about something else!
Monday’s announcement from the Prime Minister
The Prime Minister announced on Monday that current restrictions remain in place. Schools have been advised by the Department for Education to keep current protective measures in place until there is a further announcement on Step 4 of the roadmap. These measures in education settings will remain in place to help reduce transmission of the virus. Subsequent guidance does allow a little bit of flexibility. We’re waiting for more guidance from Leeds Health and Safety advisors to see if any end-of-year events such as Sports Day can happen in some way, although in their typical form that won’t happen.
The rest of this message comes from Mr Wilks, who works at Moortown Primary but is our curriculum leader across all three Sphere Federation schools for Science and Foundation subjects…
Our current topic is all about Design and Technology
Design and Technology is the driving subject for this half-term and it’s a great topic to finish the year! The focus for all classes this year is construction (next year, it’s textiles) so children will be busy designing and making structures, prototypes and products.
A key aspect of the Design and Technology curriculum is the understanding that products don’t just get made. Instead, they go through a design process that includes three key elements: evaluate, design and make. Think of this process as a cycle. For example, Sphere Motors want to create a new family car. Before the car is made, they need to evaluate existing products and talk to customers so that they’re clear about what the new car needs to have. They will then design the car and evaluate those designs. They may make a prototype of the car to help them evaluate the designs. Next, they’ll decide on a final design that will go into production and get made. This finished product will be evaluated and the whole process starts again.
Years 1 and 2 children will be designing, making and evaluating different structures and in doing so, learning about how structures can be strengthened and made more stable. They’ll evaluate real life structures like bridges and towers which will inform their designs.
Years 3,4 children will be creating a prototype of a go-kart using a construction system called TechCard. They’ll evaluate existing products before designing, building, testing and evaluating their own. We will even try to incorporate electric circuits into our designs to power the go-karts.
Years 5,6 children have been set a tricky task of creating a vehicle that can transport an egg (specific tests will be determined by the children) without it breaking. They’ll be using a range of tools (including saws, hammers, drills) to make their product.
In addition to this, children will learn a little about key inventions and designers through history.
Read our Curriculum Statement. On page 17, you’ll find the age-related expectations for the topic. The vocabulary that your child will learn is here:
Years 1 and 2
- design: a plan or drawing showing what something will look like before it is made
- design criteria: the things a product must have to be successful
- design brief: a description of what a new product should do
- base: the bottom part of an object; the part on which something rests
- to evaluate: to decide, after careful consideration, how good or bad something is
- structure: a combination of materials and/or parts to create a 3d shape
- stable: something that is unlikely to fall down or collapse
- freestanding: something that stands up by itself
- to plan: to think about and decide how you’re going to do something
Years 3 and 4
- product: something that is designed and made to be sold
- function: the purpose of something
- design process: the series of steps that need to happen for a product to go from an idea to a finished product
- design criteria: the precise features a product must have in order to be successful
- prototype: an early sample or model of a product used to evaluate a design
- component: a part that combines with other parts to make something eg a machine or a piece of equipment
- annotated sketch: a detailed sketch labelled with notes (eg dimensions, materials)
- exploded diagram: a drawing that shows the individual components or parts of a product and how they fit together
- mechanism: a number of parts or components working together, usually as part of a machine
Years 5 and 6
- design process: the series of steps that need to happen for a product to go from an idea to a finished product
- design criteria: the precise features a product must have in order to be successful
- cross-sectional diagram: a drawing which ‘slices through’ an object to see some of the features inside
- computer-aided design (CAD): a way of drawing on a computer to visualise designs and simulating them to see how they work
- innovative: an adjective to describe a new or original idea about how something can be done
- sustainable material: obtained from renewable sources and do not damage the environment when produced
- dimensions: measurement of something in a particular direction, eg height, length, width
- aesthetic: something about the appearance
- to reinforce: to strengthen or support
Don’t forget to spend just a few minutes completing this year’s annual survey. We’re always keen to hear your views. Although we can’t guarantee that we can act on every point raised, we do closely consider all the survey results.
The survey’s open until Wednesday 30 June.
Last week’s message ended with talk of ice-cream and sunny weather over the weekend. This weekend looks like being a bit different to that – have a good one, all the same.