News

Latest news from around the school

Today’s message (Wednesday 24 February 2021)

Posted on 24 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

In recent daily messages, we’ve featured messages from various teachers from across Sphere Federation. Yesterday, it was the turn of Mr Wain. Today’s message features the last message from a teacher – Miss Marsden, who teaches Foundation Stage at St James’ CE Primary

Hello, everyone!

I hope you’re keeping happy and healthy at home. After speaking to lots of parents, it’s clear that you’re all doing your best to keep learning at home – a big well done to all. This lockdown has definitely been the toughest. However, we’re all in this together and when this ‘rainstorm’ ends we’ll all be back in school, doing what we do best – learning!

The weekly Zoom calls have been a big hit in Early Years. Many parents have commented on how excited their child is to see their class teacher and peers. Even though it’s not the same as seeing them in real-life, the Zooms are hopefully bringing some sort of normality for you at home. I’ve particularly enjoyed the Scavenger Hunt Zoom call. It was lovely to see how eager the children were at finding different objects. Which one has been your favourite so far?

I’ve seen many amazing home learning moments. Some of you are taking it a step further and learning to be more independent. For example, a child in my class has been learning to make his own lunch! In Foundation, we encourage our children to be independent learners, so I was very impressed when I received this email.

As lockdown continues, some of you have been having bad days and
finding it hard to stay motivated. Many of you have learned to be resilient
and jump over these hurdles. Here’s a list of ways you’ve emailed which
have helped you gain interest again:

  • going on a daily walk to break up the day
  • being a ‘morning learner’ – some of you have been doing all your home learning in the morning and relaxing in the afternoon
  • making timetables
  • doing something you enjoy e.g. colouring, building and baking

Finally, don’t forget… All rainstorms must end, and this rainstorm will, too. That’s a quote from a children’s book called The World Made a Rainbow by Michelle Robinson. I look forward to seeing you all again very soon.

Today’s message (Tuesday 23 February 2021)

Posted on 23 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

Today’s message is a bit late – sorry!

Just before half-term (Wednesday 10 February), we featured messages from three of the Sphere teachers who are providing some of the daily home learning sessions. Today, we feature one more message from a Sphere teacher: Mr Wain, who’s been teaching Writing skills to Y3 and Y4 children. Mr Wain provides us with some motivational words to get us through the rest of lockdown…

Since the start of the year, each new day brings us an average of two minutes more daylight. As a result, today is over an hour and a half lighter than it was when we started our home learning journey back at the start of January.

I’ve found great comfort in this as I feel it resembles light at the end of the tunnel for us all. Even with the news of the Prime Minister’s ‘roadmap’, times are still very tricky for a variety of reasons. Here are some things I’ve enjoyed and that have helped me cope during the current lockdown and
they will hopefully offer some support for you, too.

  • Plan for the future: Having something nice to look forward has really helped me. Plan something with friends and family and put a date in the diary so you have something to set your sights on.
  • Exercise: A little bit of exercise each day has really helped me not only physically, but mentally as well. This could be yoga, running, practising a martial art, watching Joe Wicks… Don’t be afraid to try something new – what’ve you got to lose!
  • Reading challenges: I’ve been giving myself trickier books to read – ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ is next on my list after I finish ‘The Decay of Lying’. These have been trickier to read but I’ve learnt lots of new things by just giving them a go!
  • Communicating: At the start of this current lockdown I admit I was slightly reluctant to partake in Zoom quizzes with my friends as I didn’t want to accept that we were in another lockdown. However, keeping communication with friends and family and subsequently planning things with them for when it is possible has really helped instil some normality in my life.

There are lots of things I’m missing in both my social life and my job. I’m missing going to the Peak District and racing friends on my mountain bike. I’m missing having a joke and a laugh with all thirty children in the class and seeing everyone in school gather in the hall on a Friday afternoon for certificate assembly. It’s OK to miss things but it’s also OK to try new things, too. Despite this third lockdown being arguably the toughest of them all, there are aspects I’ve honestly enjoyed. I hope you can reflect and find some enjoyable moments, too.

Today’s message (Monday 22 February 2021)

Posted on 22 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

How was your half-term? Possibly the best answer we might hope for just now is something along the lines of ‘It was good, all things considered.’ For me, the improved weather definitely helped!

It seems we start the Spring 2 half-term with good news: ‘From 8 March – All schools will open’.

The Vaccines Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, confirmed this on BBC Breakfast this morning, but it’s important to be a little bit careful until we get the full confirmation from the government over the course of the day.

Before today, school leaders have been advised not to make too many plans because so much was still up in the air. We have, however, made some provisional preparations and over the next fortnight, we’ll be working hard to set out a schedule of learning that supports your child.

The changes we’ve made include, for example, swapping around some topics. Your child was due to begin a Computing topic in Key Stage 1 and 2. This would have been hard to teach as part of the recorded home learning sessions over the next two weeks (and longer if schools didn’t open up to everyone). Because of this, we’ve swapped the Computing topic for a History one.

In the meantime, it’s Monday and so we kick off the week with our assemblies.

Finally, thanks for your patience with the website maintenance work we’ve been doing over the last few days. There may be some missing pictures in the news section. If you spot any other glitches, please do let us know.

Today’s message (Friday 12 February 2021)

Posted on 12 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

We’ve reached the end of the half-term. To our families with Chinese heritage and to all those who celebrate, Happy New Year! Our final message for the half-term starts with a reminder from something we said earlier in the week…

If your child has been attending school this week, we need you to tell us if they’ve had a positive Covid test result in the period Saturday 13 February to Thursday 18 February 2021. So you can give us all the information we need, please use this form or scan this QR code.

This means we’ll have the information to take the necessary actions, laid down by the Department for Education. If we have to advise that your child self-isolates, we’ll do this by email.

We’d prefer you to use the online form, but if the technology fails you, please contact school: scholesheadofschool@spherefederation.org

If your child receives a positive test result after Thursday 18 February, you can tell us on the first day of the new term (Monday 22 February).

Second today, we’ve an important message about our websites…

Over half-term, some behind-the-scenes maintenance will take place for the Sphere schools’ websites. You shouldn’t notice any differences at your end, but please bear with us if there are one or two glitches.

Just in case, we’ll email you all the home learning links for the first week back, as well as publish them later on today.

And finally today…

On 26 January, Mr Owen, who’s leading the Y5,6 home learning writing sessions, published some Remarkable writing. On 02 February, Mr Catherall, leading the Y3,4 writing sessions, published some Newsworthy writing.

This week, it’s the turn of the Y1,2 writers to show off their skills – did you see the Wonderful writing on Wednesday? Scroll through to find it in case you missed it – the neat handwriting alone is worth a look. Well done to all of the writers featured.

Have a good half-term, staying as happy, healthy and safe as you possibly can.

Today’s message (Thursday 11 February 2021)

Posted on 11 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

There are three parts to today’s message. It starts with an important reminder…

This week in one of our Sphere schools, we had a positive case of Covid-19 reported and we had to burst a bubble.

Please do keep vigilant to the three main symptoms:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

If your child is coming to school just now, please don’t send them to school with any hint of the symptoms listed here.

Tuesday was Safer internet Day 2021. Of course, we need to be supporting our children to stay safe online all the time, not just one day in the year. Over the past couple of weeks, Mrs Weekes, our Safeguarding Lead, has presented short guides to online safety. Her third message looks at how you can give your child independence but know that they are safe…

At the minute, it’s really important to be open about coronavirus; if you don’t talk about it, your child might try and find out themselves and read inappropriate pages, believe scare stories, or simply catastrophize in their own heads. Watch Newsround together and talk about how you feel. There’s a lot of guidance from Childline that may help with this.

There are too many key principles to list but remember human behaviour is the same online as it is offline.  Remind your child to:

  • be a good friend
  • ask for help if they’re worried or if someone is mean
  • not to get undressed on camera
  • always ask for help or tell someone

As adults, we’re often expected to have all the answers but in reality we don’t. If you’re unsure about anything or concerned, please contact school – we’ll be able to help or direct you to someone who can help.

Let your child be independent but make sure you’re in control so that you know they’re safe, happy and healthy.

Recently, governors and school leaders have reviewed Our Positive Relationships Policy and the Governors’ Statement of Behavioural Principles, making only minor changes to both.

Our Positive Relationships Policy (other schools might have a Behaviour Management Policy) describes our rules; the positive and negative consequences we use; and the roles, rights and responsibilities for all parties (including pupils and parents / carers). The policy also includes our Anti-Bullying Policy and the actions we take in the rare event there’s a serious incident, including exclusion.

The Governors’ Statement of Behavioural Principles is a document required by the Department for Education. It sets out what governors expect to see included in the Positive Relationships Policy.

Do let us know your views.

Wonderful writing

Posted on 10 February 2021 by Mr Gathercole

From Mr Gathercole, who leads the Y1,2 home learning writing sessions…

Hello writers,

I’ve been absolutely blown away by the amazing writing that’s been sent in to us recently. Teachers always enjoy reading your work so keep sending those emails.

Whether it be writing about fairytales or poetry about aliens, you’ve produced great writing. We’re so proud of everyone for all of their hard work. You should be very proud, too!

First up, we see some brilliant re-telling of a classic fairy tale. Can you pick out words from each that you really like and are going to use in your writing?

Our first piece comes from Moortown. What great editing and improvements to what was already a great piece of writing! Now it’s even better.

This next entry comes from a writer at St James’ CE. Lots of great adjectives have been used. This wolf sounds a bit mischievous to me.

Back to Moortown for another great tale. When you read this, how do you know it is probably a fairy tale?

 

Next, we’ve some poetry based on the poem, Aliens Stole My Underpants by Brian Moses. It turns out that the aliens stole more than just underpants! Here’s what a couple of Scholes writers had to say on the matter.

 

Olivia wrote this great letter after our prime minister got in touch with us. Here’s a link to that message in case you missed it.

 

It sounds like this super learner at St James’ CE does a lot to keep positive during lockdown. It sounds like you’re doing a lot to have a healthy body and mind.

This writer at Scholes is spending lots time outside. There is so much detail that we can easily picture what you do to stay happy and healthy.

 

We may not be at school but these learners have all remembered to take pride in their presentation. To everyone at Scholes, Moortown and St James’ CE, keep being amazing.

Today’s message (Wednesday 10 February 2021)

Posted on 10 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

For our mid-week message this week, we thought we’d hand over to some of the teachers.

Miss Wilson currently teaches Reading skills to Y5,6 home learners across our three schools. She writes…

A big hello to everyone! I hope you’re doing well and I’m sending a virtual (socially distanced) high five for making it so far!

Thank you for the kind messages we’ve received about our home learning videos. As you can imagine, it was quite alien to begin with and although it still is somewhat strange, it’s really spurred me on knowing there’s been lots of engagement, a growth in confidence, and some brilliant learning happening. I miss having a full, noisy classroom with my lovely, energetic class. though.

I’m really enjoying my daily Zooms. Whether it’s with me our another teacher, thank you if you’ve logged on, even just once, shared your learning, asked a question or joined in with our games and reflections. Seeing and chatting to my class has really kept me going, along with having that consistent time of day to keep me in my routine. Keeping a bit of structure has helped me keep sane!

Something I’m missing dearly is playing hockey: my teammates, the game day feeling, the competition… What’s really helped me during lockdown is having my colleagues become my ‘teammates’ and having them support me (from “Help! How on Earth do I edit this video?” to “Help! I’ve finished The Serpent – what next?”) and getting the chance to work with people I don’t normally collaborate with. As a social creature, it’s been a great opportunity.

Not only has a routine kept me sane, but exercise has, too. It’s good to get my legs moving and heart pumping – plus it’s great for a brain declutter. I’ve been running (admittedly not very far or very quickly but that doesn’t matter one bit) whilst listening to the Hamilton soundtrack!

One of Mr Lindsay‘s many jobs is to collect up all the Key Stage 2 sessions and make sure they’re posted to the websites on time. You’ll also find him teaching a Living and Learning session each week to Y5,6 children in the Science and Topic strand…

Wow, what a start to 2021! We’re either snowed in or snowed under, juggling work and home schooling. Hopefully, Sphere Federation’s attempt to make the learning more accessible through recorded lessons and daily Zoom sessions has eased some of the unexpected stress of the last year.
At first, the thought of recording lessons seemed like a daunting challenge. How could you recreate the magic of a classroom in a 15 minute video? However, digging deep and unearthing my inner stand up comic / Blue Peter presenter has been more fun than you would imagine. The feedback from parents and children has been lovely to hear. Thank you.

With the cold weather, the current restrictions have felt even harder than those in the Summer. I’ve certainly missed celebrating Christmas and a few birthdays with loved ones. There is light at the end of the tunnel though, so I’m still optimistic for the future and for a better end to what has started off as a challenging year.

Our third teacher is Mr Parker, who’s been teaching Phonics to Y1 and Y2 children… 

First of all, I’d like to thank those children who are regularly turning up to the Zoom sessions with your teachers. It’s really great to see your faces as we miss seeing them on a daily basis in school.  Not having the normality of school every day is very tough for children, parents and staff.

I think normality is what I miss the most: being able to see my family when I want; being able to go out for a meal with friends; and being able to do the job I love in the way that I’m used to. If you’re missing the normality of school, it’s a good idea to keep in contact with your teachers via the Zoom sessions. Also, email your teachers with learning and they’ll be able to give you feedback just like they would in school.

My wife and I are expecting our first born baby in a matter of weeks. This is a very exciting time but it’s going to be very strange bringing our little boy into a world that isn’t ‘normal’ at the moment. Luckily, I know that I have close family, friends and a school community who are at the end of a phone to help.

Stay safe and have a well-deserved half-term break.

After half-term, we’ll invite two more teachers to contribute.

Today’s message (Tuesday 09 February 2021)

Posted on 09 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

Today’s message has a safety theme, but with three quite different messages. The first part comes from Mrs Taylor, one of our Living and Learning leaders. Mrs Taylor writes:

Today is Safer Internet Day. What can you do at home to make sure your child is safe online?

image.png

Here are some free resources for you to use to start the conversation with your child about online safety including these top tips.

Other key websites providing support for parents/carers on staying safe online include:

  • Internet matters – helping parents/carers keep their children safe online
  • Net Aware – providing guides to apps, games and social media sites
  • Thinkuknow – providing support for keeping children safe
  • Own It app – for older children this new, free app is designed to support, help and advise children when they explore the online world
  • National Online Safety – here you can find free weekly online safety guides and details of their new National Online Safety App
  • E-safety Office – have a look at their twelve guides for parents, covering a range of topics including app safety, YouTube, cyberbullying and selfies.

Finally, take a look at our Online Safety page for our top online safety tips and guidance.

Next week is half-term , but we still need to know if your child tests positive for Covid…

If your child has been attending school this week, we need you to tell us if they’ve had a positive Covid test result in the period Saturday 13 February to Thursday 18 February 2021. So you can give us all the information we need, please use this form or scan this QR code.

This means we’ll have the information to take the necessary actions, laid down by the Department for Education. If we have to advise that your child self-isolates, we’ll do this by email.

Finally, for your interest only…

You might be aware that more and more workplaces are being encouraged by the government to offer Covid self-testing kits. For a couple of weeks now, our staff have been self-testing themselves for Covid-19 – thankfully all getting negative results so far. Here, Miss Wilson, who’s been teaching the online Reading Skills sessions for the Y5,6 home learners, picks up her first kit.

Snow update (Tuesday)

Posted on 09 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

Forecast is for some light snow, but we plan to stay open for children attending nursery, children of key workers, and children who may be vulnerable in some way.

Today’s message (Monday 08 February 2021)

Posted on 08 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

A friend texts me regular messages of positivity. Her most recent one was ‘Days getting longer and flowers coming up.’ We can’t control much of what’s going on at the moment, but we can look out for signs of good news and hope.

As normal on Monday, we start the week with a new Living and Learning statement: I make safe choices, including online. This links with Safer Internet Day 2021. Tomorrow, we’ll have a message from Mrs Taylor, one of our Living and Learning leaders; and, later in the week, we’ll have the third message from Mrs Weekes, our safeguarding leader. First though, we have our assemblies for the week…

Visit our Online Safety page for more support.

Talking of Living and Learning…

The last two weeks of Living and Learning and assemblies has had respect as a theme – respecting yourself and respecting communities. Visit the Living and Learning virtual library for links to great books on a related themes. Amongst others, there’s a shelf dedicated to similarities and differences, black history, and being proud of who you are.

And something completely different…

The BBC recently launched Blue Peter on YouTube. They’re uploading videos to it that are suitable for 5-11 year olds. The Blue Peter team writes: ‘We have world record breaking challenges, arts and crafts, environmental videos, cooking and baking how tos, inspirational films, gaming, celebrity appearances, dance routines and music performances. We also feature ways of getting a Blue Peter badge, behind the scenes footage and extra content about our incredible presenters Adam, Lindsey, Mwaksy, Richie and Henry the Blue Peter dog… and don’t forget to watch the live programme on CBBC at 5.00pm every week, or on BBC iPlayer.’

It prompted a conversation amongst staff about their all-time favourite Blue Peter presenter… Both Miss Hague and I opted for Sarah Greene; Caron Keating was the choice of Mrs Latham; Mr Lindsay liked Katy Hill (I wonder if he had a crush on her?), and Mr Gathercole’s favourite was Radzi Chinyanganya (reflecting a different generation!). Who was your favourite?

Finally, don’t forget that we’re now offering Morning Help Zooms from 9.30-11.30 each school day. Read more about this on page 4 of our Home Learning Guide – and contact us for the Zoom details.