News

Latest news from around the school

Supporting your child through a bereavement

Posted on 06 July 2017 by Mr Roundtree

Talking about bereavement with children can be hard. There’s a series of books that might help children learn about a number of sensitive issues. One book in the series is Frog and the Birdsong by Max Velthuijs, Andersen Press.

The book concerns Frog, who one autumn day discovers a blackbird lying motionless in the grass. Worried, he asks his friends what can be the matter. Very gently and simply, the animals begin to understand the meaning of death and the beauty of life in this moving story.

Apps update

Posted on 01 July 2017 by Mr Roundtree

A few days ago, we told you about a new SnapChat feature…

SnapMap lets users track other people’s location in real time – it shows exactly where people are in as much detail as the actual house. This might sound like a great idea, but just think about how vulnerable this could make a child using SnapChat. Within the feature, there is ‘Ghost Mode’ which enables you to hide your location. There are two ways which this can be turned on:

  1. Pinch the screen when you’re in selfie mode to bring up the SnapMap. Then, click the ‘Settings’ icon in the top right hand corner and set the phone to ‘Ghost Mode’.
  2. Click on ‘Snap Maps’ – ‘Settings’ – ‘Ghost Mode’.

Whilst we’re talking about apps, be aware of these ones, too…

Musical.ly and Live.ly are two other apps to be aware of. Musical.ly is a popular app where users can sing along to popular songs and upload them to the site. Live.ly is made by the same company and is a live streaming app where you can broadcast and communicate with others. This is a platform where comments and requests can be left for the users about their videos but, sadly, this has opened up inappropriate communication where young users are being asked to remove clothing and are being exposed to sexually explicit comments. Musical.ly also has some privacy controls which can be accessed via the settings option.

Roblox is a user-generated massive multiplayer online social gaming platform. Roblox’s chat facility has caused some concerns with parents reporting inappropriate comments to children.

Guidance for children using Roblox safely can be found via their safety/help page:

Check out the security information. Read the parents’ information.

It’s important that you talk to your child about using these apps. Most importantly, if they get a question or request that makes them feel uncomfortable, they should speak to a responsible adult immediately.

Please make sure that you know what your child is using – remember SnapChat and other similar apps are not recommended for children under the age of 13.

Election of a parent governor

Posted on 27 June 2017 by Mr Roundtree

A parent governor is required to fill a vacancy on the governing body of Sphere Federation.

If you wish to offer yourself as a candidate to become a parent governor, please read the following, which describes the role and outlines some key characteristics desired for a new governor and the process of becoming a governor. Nominations should be emailed to governingbody@spherefederation.org by Friday 07 July 2017. Alternatively, you can submit a paper copy to any of the school offices.

Background

The governing body’s three core functions are:

  • Ensuring clear vision, ethos and strategic direction;
  • Holding the Head of Federation to account for the educational performance of each school and its pupils;
  • Overseeing the financial performance of each school, ensuring money is well spent.

The schools in the federation are Scholes (Elmet) Primary School, St James’ CoE VC Primary School, and Moortown Primary School.

Requirements

The governing body would benefit more from new governors with expertise in one of three areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND);
  • Experience in HR and performance management;
  • Competency in educational data analysis.

Governors will also need to be able to understand their role is strategic and not operational; build relationships with a range of people; work as part of a team; question and challenge; make connections between different types of information; and represent the three schools and their community.

Expectations of governors is high. Governors need not be experts in the field of education but they do need an interest in the welfare of our children across all three of the federation schools, and the time and willingness to get involved in strategic oversight. Our parent governors are appointed for a term of four years, and are expected to attend termly evening meetings of the full governing body; sit on one sub-committee and attend termly meetings; regularly visit each Sphere Federation school formally for monitoring purposes; visit each school informally at least once a year; read and digest papers and governance information regularly; and commit to attend training and development courses relevant to the assigned governance role. All governor appointments are subject to a valid enhanced DBS check and disqualification criteria.

Training and support will be available to help you develop into this role. This will include compulsory external induction training and in-house mentoring and support.

To find out more about the role, please see the governance section of the school website or read the DfE’s Governance Handbook and Competency Framework.

For further details, please contact Mr Roundtree at headoffederation@spherefederation.org or Rachel Greenhalgh, Chair of Governors, at rachelgreenhalgh@spherefederation.org.uk

Nomination form

If there are more applications than vacancies, we will hold an election and parents will be sent a voting paper in due course. The information you supply as part of your nomination will be circulated to parents to help them decide who to vote for. Your personal details will not be distributed.

Nominations should be emailed to governingbody@spherefederation.org by Friday 07 July 2017. You can submit a nomination by hand or by email. The information we need, and sample wording, is as follows:

To the Head of Sphere Federation:

I wish to nominate myself as a candidate to be a parent governor of Sphere Federation.

I am the parent of … at … school.

I do / do not include a personal statement.

Please print name and address. (Please note the address details will not go out with the ballot forms.)

Personal statement (in no more than 200 words)

Write a few lines about yourself: what you do and what your interests are will help other parents decide who to vote for. Here are a few suggestions of areas you may like to give information on:

  • Experience you have which may be useful, particularly in relation to the skills the governing body is looking for
  • Family e.g. number of children, ages, which school in the federation they attend
  • Interests e.g. voluntary work, hobbies
  • Why you would like to be a governor
  • Anything else you would like to say

Please note that this statement will be typed for you.

Staying safe in the summer

Posted on 26 June 2017 by Mr Roundtree

Summer time, and particularly the summer holidays, can be full of hazards and risks to manage. Here’s a round-up of some resources to help you keep your child safe this summer time.

Water Safety
RNLI
RoSPA
CanalRiverTrust

Beach Safety
Shore Thing (RNLI)

Sun Safety
Teenage Cancer Trust
Cancer Research

Railway Safety
Network Rail – Primary school resources

Keeping safe away from home (NSPCC)
Keeping safe away from home (NSPCC)

Protection from sexual abuse
Whilst it’s an uncomfortable thought, parents need to ask questions of any childcare provider, play scheme or holiday centre children’s services, about how they prevent their workers harming a child. The NSPCC has a useful video about the prevention of sexual abuse in particular and what adults can do to ask organisations about how they keep children safe.

Does your child use SnapChat?

Posted on 26 June 2017 by Mr Roundtree

SnapChat has a stated minimum age restriction of 13 years old. Despite this, we know some primary children do use it.

Last week, SnapChat launched a new feature. SnapMaps allows users to see the location of their contacts. This feature allows others to accurately pinpoint where you are. There are three possible privacy settings:

  • Ghost mode, where only you can see your position;
  • My Friends mode, where any contact can see your location; and
  • Select Friends mode, just those who you choose can see you

ChildNet have posted a thorough explanation of SnapMaps and how to ensure users stay safe – this is well worth a read if you know your child uses the app.

For more general advice, Family Share have produced 10 things parents and kids should know about the SnapChat app.

Class structure for 2017 / 2018

Posted on 22 June 2017 by Mrs Craggs

As the end of term fast approaches, preparations are underway in school to get ready for September.

We are pleased to let you know that we have secured replacements for Mr Mills and Miss Walker. We are holding interviews next week for the Early Years position that is currently being advertised, and so will hopefully be in a position to confirm details by the end of the month.

The class structure for 2017/2018 will be as follows:

  • Nursery: Mrs Long and one new teacher
  • Foundation 2 / Reception: Miss Eckersley and Mrs Flynn
  • Year 1: Miss Parling
  • Year 1/2: Mrs Latham (phase leader)
  • Year 2: Miss Lowry and Mrs Wilkins
  • Year 3/4: Mrs Allaway (phase leader)
  • Year 3/4: Mrs McCormick
  • Year 3/4: Mr Gathercole
  • Year 5/6: Miss Barrott
  • Year 5/6: Miss Bainbridge (phase leader)
  • Year 5/6: Mr Lindsay

You may notice that Mrs Beesley (Head of Early Years across the federation) is not included in our structure above. Don’t worry though, she is not leaving us! We’ve arranged a swap with St James’ CE Primary School and Mrs Beesley will teach there alongside Mrs Ellison, her current class-share partner at Scholes. Coming over from St James’ we have Mrs Flynn who will work alongside Miss Eckersley in Reception. Mrs Flynn has been at St James’ for the past three years and is an outstanding Early Years specialist. She is keen to develop her experience in a larger setting, and we are delighted that she is joining us at Scholes.

We are also pleased to welcome Mr Gathercole to our school. Mr Gathercole is an enthusiastic newly qualified teacher and is looking forward to working with the children at Scholes. You may see him around over the next couple of weeks as he is joining us for a few days to meet the children and staff before September.

Class lists are currently being looked at. We will let you know whose class your child will be in once the final arrangements have been worked out. If you have any questions in the meantime, catch me at the gate before or after school.

Kind regards

Karen Hague, Acting Head of School

Homework is changing...

Posted on 19 June 2017 by Mr Roundtree

From September, we’re changing how our homework routines, for three main reasons:

  • to raise standards in key areas like learning times tables and spelling
  • to follow research about how to get the best from homework (more about that later)
  • following feedback from parents, who want more ways to support their child at home on current learning, plus specific tables and spelling to focus on

Weekly homework tasks

Each week, there will be one of three possible types of homework (not all three in one week). Homework is handed out on Friday and returned on Thursday. It should take a minimum of around 30-40 minutes, possibly carried out over a few days.

Talk Time: The purpose of Talk Time is to encourage a conversation around children’s current learning. We want our children to be expert talkers, using a variety of sentences and expressions, and able to back up their points or disagree with others in a polite way. Simply: it’s hard to be a good writer if you’re not a good speaker, so Talk Times using ambitious words, useful phrases, interesting sentences is the best way to support your child. Children shouldn’t spend a lot of time on the presentation of the Talk Time homework. Instead, children should make notes which will act as a prompt when it is discussed in class the following week.
Creative: Creative homework is an opportunity for your child to choose whatever they want to demonstrate some learning. For example, I can show what I know about food chains …your child could present all their learning in so many different ways, from a diagram with notes to a story or comic strip. Parents’ and carers’ role is to support, encourage, help but (obviously) never to take over and do the homework!
Practice Makes Perfect: This is useful homework when something has been taught in school but needs consolidation. The work should be fairly straightforward for the child as there should be no need for new learning, so just some encouragement from you is needed. However, it would be a great time to get your child to ‘teach’ you – they should be able to explain the key points or processes!

 

Research backs this up.

All of this corresponds to recommendations following research, which says:

Effective homework is associated with greater parental involvement and support.

Creative homework is just that: your child can be as creative as they want, and this can involve as much of your involvement and support as you want in order to get the most out of the experience.

Talk Time homework completely matches this, too, with not a lot of effort or time involved by you. It’s all about involving your child in thoughtful, open discussion, and in developing language use. We’re sure you’re going this already, but the Talk Time homework will present a focus for your family discussions that meet the next recommendation…

Short focused tasks or activities which relate directly to what is being taught, and which are built upon in school, are likely to be more effective.

Homework tasks will always link to some learning in school, whether that is in English, Maths, topic or something else, and the homework will always be followed up the next week with some sort of review:

  • Talk Time homework will be followed up by a class discussion or debate.
  • Creative homework will be followed up by sharing and celebrating the different homeworks, during which the teacher (and peers) will provide feedback.
  • Practice Makes Perfect homework will be marked.

Daily expectations

We hope our children do lots of other learning, too. Specifically, children should be reading each day, plus practising spellings and (from Year 2) times tables.

Reading: We can’t stress enough the value of reading. At the very least, it helps your child access lots of learning across all subjects. Research also shows other benefits, too, such as improved social and emotional skills. Reading could be fiction, non-fiction, magazines, websites – anything!  Reading to your child is really valuable, too, so even a bedtime story counts!
Spellings (about ten minutes every day): From Year 1, children will be given a list of spellings to learn for a Friday test or some sort of spelling challenge – this could be a spelling investigation (research shows that active learning like this promotes better learning).
Times tables (about ten minutes every day): Starting in Year 2, children will also have a times table to learn for a Friday test – the aim is that by the end of Year 4 children have a rapid recall of all multiplication and division facts up to 12×12.

Thank you to those parents/carers who came along to one of our recent forums to review homework. They were supportive of the changes, and their views were helpful to hear, too.

Business as usual!

Posted on 05 June 2017 by Mr Roundtree

As you know, today we had to close school for the day following the extensive flooding.

After heavy rain on Saturday 27 May, the first weekend in the half-term break, our site superintendent discovered on Tuesday morning a very wet school. Since then, she, plus other staff, and some parents, too, have worked tremendously hard: mopping, cleaning, heavy lifting, ripping up carpets…

Thank you to all the parents and carers who helped. Staff have talked lots today about how wonderful you all were, and how grateful we all are. There are too many to name, but we very much appreciate your hard work and great enthusiasm.

Thank you also to the staff who have helped today, and particularly those who were able to come in during the holidays. A big thank you especially to Miss Grainge, Miss Hague, Mrs Craggs, plus Mrs Myers and Mrs Drake.

Thank you for your co-operation and understanding today. We look forward to seeing you and your child back in school tomorrow.

Have a happy and healthy half-term

Posted on 27 May 2017 by Mr Roundtree

It’s the half-term holidays!

There are lots of things going on in and around Leeds. To find out more, check out Breeze for what’s coming up right across the city for children and young people. Visit Leeds lists lots of events listed, including their Top 5 suggestions. Leeds City Council‘s own website is certainly worth a look, too.

Whatever you get up to, have a happy and healthy half-term holiday.

See you all again on Monday 05 June.

How do we respond to children's concerns after events such as the Manchester attack?

Posted on 23 May 2017 by Mr Roundtree

This morning, we woke up to the dreadful news of the terror attack that took place in Manchester last night. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of all those that lost their lives and the many people that were injured as a result of the atrocity.

Your child may be upset or worried about news events such as this one. The following may be helpful websites may be useful:

Childline presents a general overview of worries of the world, and this includes attacks, extremism and bullying.

BBC Newsround advice is more specific to the Manchester attack, offering simple information and advice for a child or young person who is upset.

Child Bereavement UK supports families and educates professionals when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, or when a child is facing bereavement. There’s a link on their homepage to this leaflet on supporting a child after a frightening event.

Winston’s Wish is another charity that supports bereaved children. They’re offering specific advice on how to respond to children and young people affected by the media coverage of the incident in Manchester.