This week’s message (Friday 01 April 2022)
Posted on 01 April 2022 by Mr Roundtree
I don’t know about you, but it’s been a busy week for us…
…because we’ve been recruiting new teachers across our three schools this week. We had an incredibly high number of applications: 184 in total. We want to recruit the very best teachers so our recruitment process involves inviting lots of people in so we can watch them teach – we observed 43 teachers across Monday (Moortown), Tuesday (Scholes) and Wednesday (St James’) mornings. Following this, we invited some people back in the afternoon – we interviewed 15 candidates across the three days. Somewhat exhausted, we’re also delighted by the high calibre of people we met. We’ll update you more about staffing next term.
(A funny aside to this: on one of the mornings, one Year 4 pupil approached the head of school unprompted, and without knowing the reason for the visitors in school, to offer her views and grades for the three teachers who had visited the class!)
It’s April Fool’s Day!
But this year, I promise there are no jokes in the weekly message. Last year, I announced the departure of Miss Hague. Despite including the words ‘April’, ‘fools’ and ‘day’ in the news item, and then warning readers to be wary of April Fool jokes, it did seem to trick quite a few people! I’m on my best behaviour this year.
Well, not quite yet. Unlike other local authorities around us, Leeds has fixed Easter holidays – the first two weeks in April, even if Easter doesn’t fall in the holiday. This year, it does – just! We’ll be open again on Tuesday 19 April.
This Easter, schools from across the city are taking up the Love Exploring Leeds Inter-School Challenge. Help us join the challenge by using the free Love Exploring app to play augmented reality games with your child – like the new Mega Mini-Beast game, developed in consultation with bug experts at Leeds Museum.
The app uses the magic of augmented reality to bring to life magical sights on a smartphone – like the giant butterflies and ladybirds created for the Mega Mini-Beast game. There’s a Dinosaur Safari to play, too.
Love Exploring is available at 15 Leeds parks. By getting active as a family and answering questions on the interactive quiz, you’ll score points which link to our school. There are points for every question answered and for every 100m you walk. All participating schools win a prize. The family with the most points wins an iPad.
The challenge runs from today to 6 June. Look out for special activities in libraries and parks in May.
From all of us, have an egg-cellent Easter.
This week’s message (Friday 25 March 2022)
Posted on 25 March 2022 by Mr Roundtree
This week’s message comes from Miss Hague, our Head of School…
At last, Spring is here. This last week of sunshine has made my time at the gate a much warmer experience – I’m very grateful for that. I hope the weather stays fine as we head towards our Easter holidays – even better if it lasts during the holiday!
Our children are also really enjoying the fine weather. At the end of playtime, we often have lots of coats and jumpers left around as children have discarded them as they get hot. I know that names often get washed out over time but if items are named they almost always find their owner!
Next week, we’re inviting our first group of parents back into school – we’re really excited. At this time of year, our Year 3 and 4 children usually put on a Spring production of some sort. We’ve decided not to go ahead this year and not just because of Covid. Any production takes hours of planning, preparation and rehearsing – time we don’t have after such a large amount of lost learning time. Instead, we’re inviting parents in to share the learning that our children have been doing. As we progress through the year, we’re hoping that we can invite more of you back into school safely.
Covid continues to be an issue in school. During this last half term, we’ve been hit the hardest with staff being unwell – you may have noticed some missing faces! I’d like to express a huge thanks to the staff at Scholes who have covered extra duties, missed PPA time, missed some lunch breaks and generally kept the ‘ship afloat’ when it’s got quite stormy. We came very close to some remote learning but made it through!
Looking forward, we’ve started thinking about our Jubilee celebrations for the end of May – we’ll send you details as they become firmer. Early thoughts are for a whole school picnic on the field, dressing in red, white and blue, and learning Wake Up, Shake Up songs from each of the decades that the Queen has been on the throne. It’s a moment in time that we want the children to remember.
I’ve been alerted to a few ‘canisters’ left on the ground around our school – you might want to read more about what’s causing this. In our Wise Up Wednesday assembly we talked about caring for our community and being aware of litter. We gave children a clear instruction not to pick up anything they were unsure of. You might want to reinforce this message at home.
Don’t forget the clocks go forwards this weekend. One less hour in bed hardly seems fair on Mother’s Day! Wishing all our lovely mums and grandmas a very happy Mother’s Day.
Posted on 18 March 2022 by Mrs Hogarth
Well, you’ve amazed us again! Our fundraising today (non- uniform day) has raised an amazing £432 – this is unbelievable. This was organised by the Junior Leadership Team. You’re generosity over our last couple of fundraising events has really gone beyond our expectations. The money raised will go towards the Ukraine Disaster Fund and Comic Relief. We can’t thank you enough!
Thank you from the JLT.
This week’s message (Friday 18 March 2022)
Posted on 18 March 2022 by Mr Roundtree
Almost exactly two years ago, schools were closing for the start of the first lockdown. Numbers of Covid-positive cases are rising again, and we’re really noticing that in our Sphere Federation schools – we’ve had close to ten staff members absent each day this week.
On a much more positive note, with daffodils springing up and the weather looking brighter, it’s really starting to feel like Spring.
This week, amongst the various messages, we’ve one related to Covid. We’ll start with an important one about reading…
The benefits of reading at home
A recent news article caught our eye. The article talks about a research study about trips to museums and art articles, which suggests that such activities don’t improve exam results. (The article also points out other research indicates cultural trips like these have lots of other benefits, even that they ‘could actually lead to a longer life’.)
What we thought was more significant was the findings about reading – findings that come as no surprise:
…researchers did find that reading activities by both parents and their children played a role in exam grades. They measured activities such as reading for pleasure, visiting a library and discussing books at home. Such activities boosted GCSE scores by a significant amount.
Parents often ask how they can support their child more. Our advice would always be to make sure your child’s reading and talking about what they’re reading.
Brighten someone’s day
The theme of this year’s Comic Relief fundraiser is ‘You’ – inspiring people to do something, however modest, to brighten someone’s day. A lot of those uplifting actions, we’d venture, can easily be accomplished online. Check out this poster highlighting ways that we can all spread some much-needed happiness through the digital world. What about each person in your household agreeing to do one thing each week?
Dealing with worrying content online
In contrast, this poster addresses the timely and delicate issue of speaking with children about worrying content they’ve seen online. Your child, by now, could well be very aware of the situation in Ukraine, even if they’re not quite old enough to comprehend it fully. Many will have watched or read potentially upsetting news items online covering the invasion – and, in all likelihood, will need extra reassurance from trusted adults during these unsettling days. Check out the practical advice on raising the subject with young ones, allowing them to express their concerns, and helping them to avoid feeling overwhelmed by their fears.
Covid vaccination for at-risk 5 to 11 year olds
The Department for Education has asked us to share the following information with parents and carers of at-risk 5 to 11 year olds…
Children aged 5 to 11 years who are in a clinical risk group or who live with someone who is immunosuppressed can get the COVID-19 vaccine, in line with advice set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). Eligible children include those with diabetes, immunosuppression, learning disabilities, and other conditions as outlined by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in the Green Book.
Vaccinations help to increase protection against COVID-19, which is particularly important for those with underlying health conditions.
Further information is available in the guide for parents of children aged 5 to 11 years published by UKHSA. We have published some frequently asked questions on the vaccination programme including information on eligibility, accessibility and advice for parents of children at high risk from COVID-19. Following advice from the JCVI, healthy 5 to 11 year old children will also be offered two 10 microgram doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The NHS will prepare to extend this non-urgent offer to all children during April.
As we said at the start of the message, it’s really starting to feel like Spring’s in the air. Enjoy that feeling this weekend!
This week’s message (Friday 11 March 2022)
Posted on 11 March 2022 by Mr Roundtree
This week’s message comes from Mr Wilks, who leads on Science and Foundation subjects. Each half-term, Mr Wilks talks about the current whole-school topic – this time, it’s about Computing…
What do we mean by topics?
Topics are the vehicle for delivering much of the learning in the foundation subjects (eg history, art, geography, DT). Each half-termly topic has a ‘driving’ subject – the main focus for teaching pupils the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life. The driver changes with each topic to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum.
Although the learning in each topic is provided by the driving subject, there are opportunities for enrichment through other subjects. For example, learning in an art topic may be enriched by geography learning about where an artist was born and lived.
Read more about the intent, implementation and impact of our topics.
What is this half-term’s topic?
This half-term, it’s Computing. Your child will develop their knowledge of computers and computer programming.
Computer programming is super. Creating games, animations and solving real world problems is fun, encourages creativity and is challenging! Importantly, the skills children will use and develop are transferable to other subjects and areas of life. For example, the concept of decomposition in programming is concerned with breaking down a large task into smaller chunks. This concept could be used when writing a story, solving a maths problem or tidying a particularly messy bedroom! Debugging is the skill of identifying and fixing an error in a program. It requires systematic, objective thinking and plenty of resilience.
Each phase has age-related specific knowledge, skills and vocabulary that they’ll learn, use and apply across the topic. See pages 15-18 of the curriculum statement document.
Years 1 and 2
Children are learning about how technology is used beyond school in our homes and all around us. They’re considering what a computer is and isn’t.
In programming lessons, they’re being introduced to algorithms and will learn about how they need to be written in the correct sequence.
They’re creating their own algorithms in ‘unplugged computing’ lessons and will debug errors in their own and others’ algorithms. Next, they’ll plan and create their own unplugged game where they have to create an algorithm to move a character from one place to another using positional language.
They’ll then use the same concepts using Beebots – simple robots which can be programmed to move and turn. Finally, it’ll be time to create their own game using Beebots.
Years 3 and 4
Children will reason about what exactly makes a computer a computer. Is a games console a computer? Is a TV a computer? Is a bedside lamp a computer? Next, they’ll learn about inputs and outputs and identify different examples of them in everyday technology.
It’s then time for programming. Like Key Stage 1, they begin with some ‘unplugged computing’. They’ll create and debug unplugged programs which use sequence and repetition before they then create their own unplugged game which will require some decomposition. Next, it’s time to program on a platform called Scratch Jr. It’s a free app available on most devices and will allow children to develop and refine their understanding and use of concepts like repetition and sequence. Finally, they’ll create their own game on Scratch Jr using all of the skills they’ve learned over the topic. They’ll to be creative to plan and design their own game, whether it’s a maze game or a simple platform game.
Years 5 and 6
As in Year 3 and 4, children begin the topic by reasoning about what makes a computer a computer. They’ll then learn about what a computer network is and that the Internet is an enormous computer network. In programming lessons, they’ll use Scratch to gain a deeper understanding of concepts like sequence and repetition before learning about selection and variables. Some of this vocabulary may sound alien to you. However, before the end of the topic, your child will be able to tell you what they mean and give examples of how they’ve used them in their projects. Some of the projects your child might make are:
- a Spirograph style drawing animation with some potentially psychedelic visual effects!
- a chatbot program which will ask you questions and decide if your responses are correct or not.
- a times table quiz program that will test you on randomly selected times table questions within a set time limit.
How can you help?
Talk to your child about what they’ve been learning in class. The class news page of the school website is a good place to go to find out more about what children are doing.
The school library and local libraries have lots of books about coding and computer games – your child will be able to borrow the books to develop both their reading skills and computing knowledge.
Finally, try programming with your child. There are loads of programming apps and software available to download, often for free…
Key Stage 1
- Daisy the Dinosaur (Apple only)
- Tynker Junior
Key Stage 2
- Scratch Jr
A huge thank you!
Posted on 06 March 2022 by Mrs Hogarth
Last half term, we set the children a maths challenge in which they had to learn some number facts or some multiplication tables. We asked the children to collect sponsors and see how much money we could raise for our school charity (Leeds Autism Services) and our school. You have absolutely gone above and beyond what we anticipated. The total so far that we’ve raised is £2318.15! This is just amazing and we can’t thank you enough – you are a very generous school community. This huge total will be split between the charity and school. Keep an eye out for more fundraising this half term, but again, thank you so much.
Posted on 04 March 2022 by Mrs Latham
We have two super swimmers in school, competing at city and regional level. They recently won gold medals in the 200m Freestyle and 200m Individual Medley at the Yorkshire Swimming Championships. Keep a look out for them in the future. A massive well done from everyone at school!
This week’s message (Friday 04 March 2022)
Posted on 04 March 2022 by Mr Roundtree
We’re now over half-way through the school year. If you managed one, we hope you had a good break over the half-term period. This week’s message contains an attendance update and a reminder about two things that were communicated earlier in the week.
The overall whole-school attendance figure up to the end of Spring 1 is 95.3%. That’s a small drop since the end of the Autumn term – in most cases, that’s because of Covid. However, well done to the three Y5,6 classes where attendance has gone up since December.
- Sunshine class: 93.7%
- Rainbow class: 95.4%
- Class 1A: 95.9%
- Class 1,2B: 95.1%
- Class 2C: 95.6%
- Class 3,4A: 95.7%
- Class 3,4B: 96.9% – the highest in school – well done, 3,4B!
- Class 3,4C: 93.2% – it’s great to see this figure rise after being hit by a high number of Covid cases in the Autumn
- Class 5,6A: 95.3%
- Class 5,6B: 96.0%
- Class 5,6C: 94.4%
On Monday evening, we sent an email to let you know we’d be speaking with children about the current crisis. Children in Key Stage 2 had an assembly about this. Children in Key Stage 1 had a shorter discussion in class. We had no plans to speak with children in Foundation Stage unless a child raised it, in which case we’d respond in a very ‘light’ way.
Children coped well. They seemed to appreciate being told some basic facts and being provided with some reassurance. In case you missed it, we provided some website links so that you can support your child more:
- Supporting your child if they see upsetting content online about what is happening in Ukraine (Childnet)
- How to talk to children about what’s happening in Ukraine and World War Three anxiety (Metro)
- How and when to talk to children about war, according to a parenting expert (Independent)
- How to cope with traumatic news – an illustrated guide (ABC News, Australia)
- Talking with Children About War and Violence in the World (Family Education, US)
- Tips for parents and caregivers on media coverage of traumatic events (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, US)
Covid caution continues
You’ll know that the government issued new advice about self-isolation and testing. This letter from Leeds Children and Families Team sets out what the new guidance is. If you’ve not already done so, do take a minute or so to read it.
Next week’s message comes from Mr Wilks, who leads on Science and Topic subjects – it’s about our current Computing topic.
Covid caution continues
Posted on 02 March 2022 by Mrs Quirk
You‘ll know that the government issued new advice sound self-isolation and testing. This letter from Leeds Children and Families Team sets out what the new guidance is. The main message is included here, too:
Government advice is still that your child should stay at home and avoid contact with other people if they have tested positive for COVID-19 or have COVID-19 symptoms. If your child is symptomatic, they should get a PCR test as soon as possible.
Your child can return to school after 10 full days isolation. They may be able to return earlier if they test negative for two days in a row from day 5 of self-isolation and do not have a temperature. If they continue to test positive during the 10-day isolation they can return after completing 10 full days isolation.
Your child will still receive work to do at home if they need to self-isolate, as well as free school meal support if they are eligible for this.