Latest news from around the school

Home learning and other support (13 May 2020)

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s messages have been around the announcement from the government about re-opening schools. We’re working through the (sometimes contradictory) content of these, and exploring how we might be able to open our schools to more people. This is taking time, so please forgive us if we’re not able to respond quickly or comprehensively to your questions, comments or concerns right now.

Today, let’s have a shift of content back to supporting you and your child. First, an idea for your child…

Have you used lockdown to have a clear out? Maybe you’ve noticed a room that’s needing a lick of paint? It can be reassuring to know you’re not the only one – even local sporting heroes experience the same thoughts. Triumphant triathlete Alistair Brownlee has had to clear out his garage to make way for his endless pool (he still needs to exercise, after all), but he’s finding the garage environment isn’t helping to inspire of motive him. This is where your child can help! Alistair wants your child to have a go at creating an interesting or inspiring picture that could be painted on the walls of his garage. Check out the details of this exciting competition. What an honour it would be to be able to say, next time Alistair wins a major competition, that you helped to motive him during these tough times!

And now, something for you to take on board…

Have you worried about how much work your child is doing during lockdown? In a recent survey, 53% of respondents felt that their children lacked motivation. Some of you have contacted us to discuss this and it’s natural to be a bit concerned. It’s a really tough situation: you might be working from home or you might be keeping your household in order. And on top of everything else, you’re also in charge of your child’s education. But should you be worried? Take a look at what the experts say.

Home learning and other support (12 May 2020)

Posted on 12 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Today’s message presents all the links to further reading that came from the Department for Education (DfE) last night.

Yesterday, we reflected on the government’s announcement about its aim to re-open schools for some pupils. The Prime Minister’s speech aimed to provide a ‘shape of a plan’. Last night, school leaders received an update on what the government is calling its ‘coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery strategy’. The message said:

The government has published its roadmap for how and when the UK will adjust its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

If you’d like, you can read the ‘roadmap’. For parents and for school leaders, this in itself doesn’t provide much detail – just three paragraphs on page 26 of its 60 pages in total.

Yesterday’s update to schools included four more links with more information.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions on what you can and can’t do during the coronavirus outbreak have also been published.

In section 6, you can read the three frequently asked questions about schools (we’ve been frequently asked quite a few more than that!).

Guidance for parents and carers as schools and other education settings in England open to more children and young people

We have published guidance for parents and carers on the opening of schools and other education settings to more children. This guidance provides information on when and how we will open education settings to more children.

You can read the guidance. It does contain some updates, although some of the content is quite old now (and be warned: there are no indications of what the updates are).

Actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June

From 1 June we expect to be able to ask primary schools to welcome back children in nursery, Reception, year 1 and year 6. We will also ask secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges to offer some face-to-face support before the summer holidays to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 students who are due to take key exams next year. Nurseries and other early years providers, including childminders, will also be asked to begin welcoming back children from 1 June. Existing arrangements for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers in all settings will continue, and we encourage all eligible children in these priority groups to attend.

It’s this guidance for schools that we’ll be studying in order to prepare for wider opening from 01 June. The DfE says: ‘In this document we set out the overarching aims and principles of this next phase. We will work with the sector to produce further guidance ahead of 1 June.’ We’re looking forward to getting this further guidance.

In the meantime, we’re fortunate enough to work in a federation so we can share ideas and thinking in order to draw up the best plans possible. We also have a local authority which still has strong support for schools – councillors, advisors and school leaders have a meeting planned tomorrow.

Implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings

We have published guidance on the implementation of protective measures in education and childcare settings. There are important actions that can be taken to open settings to more children in the safest way possible, focusing on protective measures that can be put in place to limit the risk of the virus spreading.

Just as with the previous information, we’ll need to study this guidance carefully.

The Heads of School and I will continue to review and reflect and plan for the best possible provision for our children. We’ll always act in the best interests of our pupils and our staff.

Moortown Primary and Scholes (Elmet) Primary remain open for children whose parents are key workers (including those who attend St James’) and for those who might be considered vulnerable in some way.

Home learning and other support (11 May 2020) - message 2

Posted on 11 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Our previous message today was specifically stemmed from the speech made by the Prime Minister last night. We thought it best to publish this separately to the home learning support for today – just a short one, but hopefully a more useful one!

Living and learning during lockdown

Living and Learning is the name for all the teaching and learning we do around Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE). Each week in school, we’ve a Living and Learning statement. I recognise the importance of money… is our statement this week. One of the Sphere Federation Health Leaders writes:

This Living and Learning statement helps to introduce the importance of money. You might want to find out what your child already knows about money by discussing the following questions:

  • Where does our money come from?
  • How does money make us feel?
  • What can we use our money for?
  • How does our money help people?
  • How can we look after our money?
  • Are there any problems linked to money?

Needs and wants are a key part of understanding the importance of money. While we’re at home at the moment, there may be things (needs) that children don’t even realise cost money: water, electricity etc. Can your child think of ways you could be spending less such as turning lights off when you aren’t in the room? We’d love to hear their best money saving ideas.

If you’d like to cover this subject further in your child’s home learning, Young Money have designed a parent toolkit to support you with this. Remember, this could be an addition or alternative to a home learning task that your child’s teacher sets for them each day.

Home learning and other support (11 May 2020) - message 1

Posted on 11 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

You’ll all know that last night the Prime Minister made a speech setting out what he described as:

  • ‘the shape of a plan’
  • ‘the first sketch of a road map’
  • ‘a sense of the way ahead’

He used all of those phrases in just one small part of his speech and I’ve bulleted them here in order to emphasise that at the moment, schools don’t have any greater detail:

  • we don’t know the shape of the plan
  • the map is just a sketch and sketches can be easily rubbed out or worked over
  • the way ahead is just a sense – and it may not yet be a common sense shared by all

Later in his speech, there’s similar content:

  • ‘at the earliest by June 1’
  • ‘we believe we may be in a position to begin…’
  • ‘to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with reception, year 1 and year 6.’

Again, I’ve bulleted these three points to highlight the uncertainties we – you as parents and carers, and we as teachers -face.

  • ‘at the earliest’ does not guarantee the date
  • ‘we believe’ and ‘we may be’ don’t guarantee anything
  • ‘in stages’ raises so many questions, such as whether this is for all pupils, all at once, or just smaller groups of Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils.

There are so many questions (What if…?) that we can tag on to the points made last night.

A lot can change in just a short time at the moment: we’ve gone from front page headlines such as ‘Happy Monday!’ (The Sun) and ‘Hurrah! Lockdown freedom beckons’ (Daily Mail) to quite a different mood: ‘Ready, Steady, Slow’ and ‘Boris keeps handbrake on’ – headlines from the same two papers, respectively, and only five days apart.

We’ve 21 more days before 01 June.

This week, school leaders will examine closely the detail that we hope will be included in the document due to be published today. For the rest of the month, we’ll continue to review and reflect and plan for the best possible provision in these uncertain times. Please be assured that we’ll always act in the best interests of our pupils and our staff.

Moortown Primary and Scholes (Elmet) Primary remain open for children whose parents are key workers (including those who attend St James’) and for those who might be considered vulnerable in some way.

We'll meet again - HipHop style

Posted on 08 May 2020 by Mrs Latham

Check out this from our friends at Hello HipHop.

Using the turntables we’ve manage to switch up the wartime song, ‘We’ll meet again’ to help engage the children.

We’ll meet again

Nursery places for September

Posted on 08 May 2020 by Mrs Quirk

Letters have now been emailed out to everyone who has their child’s name on the waiting list for a Nursery place in September, including those who already have a place and will be returning. Replies need to be emailed to us by 15 May 2020.

If you haven’t received a letter, please check your email junk folder or contact


Home learning and other support (08 May 2020)

Posted on 08 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

In the past week or so, there has been a lot of confusing messages about easing the lockdown, some hopeful but many others cautionary. Some of you have asked us about how and when schools might re-open, but we’ve had absolutely no information about this.

However, a Department for Education blog, published just yesterday, made this clear statement:

Schools are closed to all but the children of critical workers and vulnerable children. The Secretary of State has been clear that this will remain the case until the scientific advice says it is safe to do otherwise.

Any headlines in newspapers and the wider media are either wild speculation or unhelpful government leaks.

Schools do continue to receive daily emails from the Department for Education. As far as we can see, there’s one very clear message in every email that comes through:

It is essential that everyone washes their hands more often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Hand washing with soap employs mechanical action that loosens bacteria and viruses from the skin, rinsing them into the drain. Drying hands afterwards makes the skin less hospitable to the virus. Hand sanitiser can be effective if soap is not available or the situation makes using soap less feasible (i.e. when outside) but using hand sanitiser provides none of the virus-destroying friction that rubbing your hands together and rinsing with water provides.

Remind yourself of guidance on hand washing can be found at:

The e-Bug project is led by Public Health England and has a dedicated webpage for learning resources on hand washing and respiratory hygiene.

Whatever the national message, Sphere Federation staff hope you all have a happy and healthy weekend.

Home learning and other support (07 May 2020)

Posted on 07 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Tomorrow is a bank holiday to commemorate VE Day. We’ll continue with home learning tasks, but remember that on such a day, we completely understand if you want to step back and enjoy – as much as you can – the bank holiday. (The same goes for next Friday, too – this was scheduled to be a training day at school.)

We’ve had a few parents tell us their child has reached the end of the exercise books we sent home just before schools closed. If this is the case, you can call in at Scholes (Elmet) Primary to collect a new book – please avoid drop-off and collection times when it will be harder to maintain social distancing. For parents at St James’ CE Primary, you can call in to school on Monday morning when Miss Beatson will be there.

Fancy getting creative?

Monday’s message was about additions or alternatives to the home learning tasks your teacher sets your child. We know some tasks might end up being a bit tricky for some people, so it’s a good idea to have different things for them to get stuck into…

Your child could create a National Book Token design and win a £10 National Book Token for themselves and each of their classmates. The National Book Token people will select one child’s design to put on a gift card every week for seven weeks. When schools open up again, the young designer and their classmates will each receive a £10 National Book Token displaying the winning artwork.

Talking of which, there are plenty of competitions during the lockdown period. The list comes from Child Friendly Leeds, which has lots of guidance, activities and creative ideas for families, too.

ArtForms in Leeds has different weekly home learning ideas for you and your child to check out. In the current week (Week 7), we love the idea for older children to create their own city using nets.

…And finally, don’t forget your child could get creative alongside you in the kitchen or in the garden if you have one.

Home learning and other support (06 May 2020)

Posted on 06 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Sorry – this message didn’t get published yesterday (although we did send it out by email).

We’re keeping today’s message a happy and healthy one…

All the teachers are missing their children each day (and seeing you, the parents and carers, too). They’re busy working away on your home learning tasks, and enjoying all the emails coming in, but teachers from each school have found time over the last couple of weeks to create three very different videos, all of which were intended to put a happy and healthy smile on your faces!

By now, you’ve probably seen your child’s own school teachers, but we thought it might be nice to bring the three together for today’s message.

The Head of School at Moortown, Mrs Weekes, got her creative juices flowing and wrote a reflective poem. The teachers in the clip start off with the Reception teacher (sporting a fetching lockdown haircut) and working up to the Year 6 teacher and then Miss Rushbrooke and finally Mrs Weekes herself.

Almost all the St James’ CE Primary staff feature in this one – and even pupils at Moortown and Scholes might recognise one or two familiar faces (although I’m sure nobody knows who that strange person wearing five pairs of glasses is). Can you spot another lockdown haircut?


Miss Hague kicks off this video in a very nonchalant mood. She, and plenty of others, get to show off some secret talents in the Scholes (Elmet) video. Now, maybe I’m too cynical, but there’s one clip on here that looks just too good to be true…

We hope you like them.

Home learning and other support (05 May 2020)

Posted on 05 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Yesterday’s message was mainly about additions and alternatives to the home learning tasks. Today, we’re suggesting four different ways to support you

First… Public Health England has updated their guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. The guidance is for households with grandparents, parents and children living together where someone is at risk or has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

Second… Here is the digital link for our first Families Leeds & West Yorkshire ‘lockdown’ issue.


The issue gathers together, in one place, fantastic resources and advice to help parents manage the next few weeks. (And there are also £100 Amazon vouchers to be won!)

Third… You can access online support for parents and carers during the current situation – use the code ‘north‘ when prompted. This is a service from Northpoint and Silvercloud Health.

The service has been designed by clinical experts with the aim of empowering you to think and feel better. The website includes programmes that are tailored to your needs. It contains easy to use content and interactive tools. The online space is secure and anonymous. No identifying details are required apart from a contact e-mail address.

And finally, fourth… We’re just a little into May, so this one’s not too late… Well-being charity Action for Happiness has published its Meaningful May calendar which has ideas and top tips to help us respond to the global crisis with a sense of purpose and meaning. To help have a great meeting, the charity has published new guidance for people hosting online groups, with some really good ideas.