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.
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.