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Latest news from around the school

This week’s message (Friday 03 February 2023)

Posted on 03 February 2023 by Mr Roundtree

At a recent meeting of headteachers, we did a quick straw poll: which year group has been most impacted by Covid lockdowns? Well over half of the headteachers said Year 3, and to a large extent we’re finding that, too. No matter what year group, the best way to keep supporting your child is to make sure they’re reading every day and practising number facts. This week’s message comes from our Reading Leaders…

Early reading and phonics

We’ve already done nearly half a year’s worth of phonics in Reception and Year 1 – plus two assessments. We’re very pleased with progress and hope you can see how fluent children are when they’re reading to you at home. Year 2 children have been reviewing their phonic knowledge with an increasing focus on writing and spelling.

It’s all about repeated practice when learning how to read. If children are not reading words with fluency and automaticity (automatically), they probably just haven’t had enough practice. Re-reading to increase fluency, add prosody (rhythm, intonation, expression) and develop comprehension is why we read the same book or text in school all week. Extra reading of the same text at home is a brilliant way to celebrate children’s success and for them to continue to refine all these elements.

You really can help at home by ensuring you give your child the opportunity to read their school reading book or eBook. We’re the ‘expert readers’ so reading to them (at bedtime, for example) is just as important.

Reading in Key Stage 2

This half-term, your child is ‘solo reading’. They’ll be bringing home a book to read that they’ve chosen – usually from our school library. It’s really important that your child is reading this book regularly alongside an adult and that they bring their signed Reading Record into school every week.

Whilst regular reading is the most crucial aspect in a child’s development, there are other things you can do to help at home, too:

  • talk about reading
  • be a reading role model
  • visit a local library / book shop
  • ask your child what they’ve read at school
  • regularly practise spellings (spelling and reading use the same skills – recognising patterns between letters and sounds)

Industrial action

This week saw the first of four days of industrial action by the National Education Union. Our school was unaffected. There are three more planned days coming up:

  • Tuesday, 28 February (Northern, North West, Yorkshire and Humber regions)
  • Wednesday, 15 March (England and Wales)
  • Thursday, 16 March (England and Wales)

Workers don’t have to advise their employer if they plan to strike or not. Our advice remains the same: it might be wise to arrange childcare on these days in case your child’s class needs to close. We’ll keep you updated as much as we can.

We’re looking forward to seeing you in person for next week’s parent-teacher meetings. In the meantime, enjoy your weekend.

Attendance competition

Posted on 30 January 2023 by Miss Beatson

Last week’s attendance winners were Year 2 with 96.8%. Well done to all the children in the Year 2 class.

This week’s message (Friday 27 January 2023)

Posted on 27 January 2023 by Mr Roundtree

I can’t believe we’re almost into February already! Safer Internet Day is coming up on Tuesday o7 February. What’re you doing at home to help your child stay safe?

Is your child a gamer?

Check out this guide to keep safe whilst using online software and games. from SWGfL. With advice on reporting and blocking, online socialisation and the considerations on online gaming, the pamphlet can be a useful basis for a conversation about staying safe online when gaming.

Is your child a fan of Fortnite?

Since its release 2017, Fortnite has had a mass appeal for children. This means children are exposed to multi-player chatting with strangers, and financial exploitation via the game’s spend-to-gain-advantage operating style – this allows children to use real world money to gain perks and costumes.

Fortnite has the potential to lead to criminal blackmailing and coercion of nude exchanges by online ‘friends’ posing as children. Internet Matters has published a guide to understanding the game and its terms.

Is your child connected to virtual reality?

Research has shown that two thirds of the UK public lack confidence that child safety is a priority in the metaverse, with 71% of adults expressing doubt in tech companies prioritising children’s safety. However, the study also revealed over a fifth of adults would buy their child a VR (virtual reality) headset if they could, despite these concerns.

To help you understand this new, fast changing issue, the NSPCC has published a guide to both the Metaverse and VR headsets.

Is your child happy and healthy online?

It’s become more and more common for people – including children – to talk to strangers online. A small amount of these relationships turn out malicious – we need to be aware of the dangers if they do.

Children and young people may find it difficult to understand when an online relationship turns out to be a bad one. The Information Commissioners Office, the UK’s information rights agency, has published guidance on what to look for when online relationships turn sour.

And finally, remember some advice from last week, too:

  • check devices regularly alongside your child – doing this means that your child can moderate their own behaviour and have regular opportunities to talk about things that might be concerning them
  • keep the devices downstairs – the more ‘public’ space means that children make the same good choices they would do in ‘in real life’ and have plenty of opportunities to talk about what they’re doing and seeing

Attendance competition

Posted on 22 January 2023 by Miss Beatson

Each week, we’re having an attendance competition. The class with the highest attendance percentage wins a class reward. Since the start of Spring term, Reception, Year 1 and Year 5/6 have all won the competition. Let’s see if Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4 can win next week!

 

 

This week’s message (Friday 20 January 2023)

Posted on 20 January 2023 by Mr Roundtree

Today’s message is a long one. Hopefully, the sub-headings later on will help you to read the parts that matter most to you. We do encourage you all to read this next bit…

Did your child get an electronic device for their Christmas?

Recently, Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman has said she is ‘not comfortable’ with primary school aged children having unlimited internet access. She said there was a ‘great deal’ that could be done to really limit the content to which young children are exposed: ‘The first thing you can do is not give a child a smartphone when they’re too young,’ she said. ‘I’m very surprised when primary aged children have smartphones, for example, and even in early secondary school. It’s really hard to manage that.’

Whether you agree with her or not, the reality is that we’re having to increasingly address problems that children encounter online at home, especially bullying comments on WhatsApp (despite a minimum age of 16).

I had a chat with a parent this week about this. It was great to hear that she had rules in place at home for her children and online devices:

  • sitting alongside the children, Mum or Dad check the devices regularly – knowing this means that children moderate their own behaviour and have set opportunities to talk about things that might be concerning them
  • the devices are kept downstairs – the more ‘public’ space means that children make the same good choices they would do in the playground and other spaces and have plenty of opportunity to talk about what they’re doing and seeing

These two simple rules mean that online behaviour is open – nothing is secret.

If you’ve not already done so, please draw up a few ground rules to stay safe online.

Watch us while we work

Next Thursday (26 January), we’ve another session where we invite you into school to check out the teaching and learning. Come and join us in the classroom to watch us. It’s an opportunity to see some Maths and Reading being taught – it might help to support your child at home.

Safer Internet Day

On Tuesday 07 February, we’ll join schools across the UK in marking Safer Internet Day 2023. Safer Internet Day is a global campaign to promote the safe and responsible use of technology, which calls on children and young people, parents, carers, teachers, social workers, law enforcement, companies, policymakers and more, to help to create a better internet.

Using the internet safely and positively is a key message that we promote in school. Safer Internet Day is an opportunity for us to re-emphasise the online safety messages we deliver throughout the year.

Please continue the conversation at home – use these activities and information to help you. Whether you have five minutes to start a conversation or hours to spare, there are top tips, quizzes and films which you can use at home with your child.

If you have any concerns or questions about keeping your child safe online, please do get in touch with your child’s class teacher or Mrs Weekes.

Speak out, Stay safe

Teaching children how to talk about their worries to stay safe is so important. Next week, as part of our Living and Learning lessons, all classes will be completing the NSPCC Speak out Stay Safe assemblies to ensure our pupils know what to do and who they can speak to.

The NSPCC has also developed an adapted version of their assembly for parents/carers to use at home with their children.

To complement the assembly, there are some resources that can be used to enable further discussion whilst doing activities with your children.

You’ll also find online safety information for families of children with additional needs and disabilities.

Childline also have a website with age-appropriate advice for primary school children on topics such as bullying. It also has games and other interactive tools.

Governor elections

Well done to Scholes (Elmet) parent, Liam Ffrench, who has been elected as Sphere Federation’s new parent governor. Thank you to all three candidates, and thank you to you if you voted.

Industrial action

Earlier this week, we sent a message about the forthcoming strikes:

Yesterday, the National Education Union (NEU), one of the trade unions representing the teaching profession, announced its intention to strike.

For schools in our region, the dates of the planned strikes are:

  • Wednesday, 01 February
  • Tuesday, 28 February
  • Wednesday, 15 March
  • Thursday, 16 March

In some schools there may be little or no impact from strike action but in others it may mean that changes are made to the way they operate – this includes partial or full closure.

At the moment, we are not in a position to indicate whether St James’ CE Primary will be affected.

We will keep you informed. In the meantime, it would be advisable to prepare for some disruption on the days listed here.

Miss Beatson and I have assessed the situation and the likely impact on our school. Under the current legal framework, workers have the right to change their mind about taking industrial action so we can’t be 100% certain; however, at the moment, we’re confident that we can remain open on the strike days.

With our very best wishes for a happy and healthy – and warmer – weekend.

A message from Mr Freeman: Sport for Champions

Posted on 19 January 2023 by Miss Beatson

Sport For Champions
What a fantastic afternoon for everyone in our sponsored Sport For Champions event! Thank you to everyone who managed to bring in sponsors – we raised a whopping total of £1200.35! 
We are extremely proud of all our children that took part and really put their fitness to the test. It was great for our whole school to come together, creating a motivating, happy and healthy atmosphere, with the help of our professional athlete, Bex Rayner.

This week’s message (Friday 13 January 2023)

Posted on 13 January 2023 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s message is from Mr Wilks, our leader for Science and Foundation Subjects…

We’ve just started a Geography topic in school.Before we dive right in, here’s a reminder about topics and what they look like.

What do we mean by topics?

Topics are the vehicle for delivering much of the learning in the foundation subjects (eg History, Art, Geography). 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 a history-driven subject may be enriched by observational drawing of an artefact. In this example, the enricher is art.

For more information about the intent, implementation and impact of our topics, click here.

What is this half-term’s topic?

This half-term, your child is a geographer. The topic focusses on either environmental issues or natural disasters. Children in Years 1 and 2 will investigate their locality; Years 3 and 4 children will learn about volcanoes; and Y5,6 children are investigating climate change.

Across the year groups, children will develop their understanding of some key geographical concepts:

  • location is a position (eg a country, a city), often described in a clear, precise way (ie using a latitude and longitude).
  • place = location + meaning. It is constantly changing. A sense of place is also defined by how an individual perceives it (eg one person’s perception of Leeds or Wetherby as a place will be very different to another’s).
  • scale is the relative sizes of different places. This could be differences in area, population, distance or the amount of natural resources. Scale is also defined by our view of the world. We may consider an aspect of geography on a local, national or international scale eg climate change.
  • interdependence is the idea that the world is connected. No country or individual acts in isolation. Our actions here affect people in different countries around the world. This can be related to where we get our food and energy, where we go on holiday, or the effects of climate change across the world.

Check out our Curriculum Statement for more information about key concepts (page 17) and age-related expectations and vocabulary (page 22 and 23).

Years 1 and 2

Children begin the topic by learning about the four countries and capital cities that make up the United Kingdom. They then go on to learn about the difference between human and physical geography features. They’ll then investigate human and physical features in their locality. The key part of this topic is to investigate their locality and identify what they like about it and why. They will also investigate something that could be improved and how it could be improved. For example, they may notice that litter is an issue and raise awareness of this issue with their peers in school, local residents and even a local councillor.

Years 3 and 4

Children will be learning about volcanoes. They’ll begin by learning about what lies beneath the Earth’s surface. They’ll investigate plate tectonics and how these move and the different types of volcanoes formed by this movement. They’ll learn about how mountains are formed and name and locate the tallest peaks in the UK – did you know that these peaks are the remains of ancient volcanoes? Next, they’ll move onto some specific case studies: Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland and Mount Vesuvius in Italy. They’ll investigate how volcanoes can be dangerous but also bring benefits to the people who live in their shadows.

Years 5 and 6

Children are learning about climate change. They’ll begin by learning about latitude and the link to world climate. They’ll then learn about what climate change is and what is causing it. They’ll then look at three case studies to learn more about the consequences of climate change across the world: melting sea ice in Greenland, rising sea levels in the Solomon Islands and coastal erosion in East Yorkshire. Finally, they’ll consider how climate change can be slowed and whose responsibility it is.

How can you help?

Regardless of the year group your child is in, Google Earth is a brilliant tool to help develop children’s understanding of space, place, scale and interdependence. Zoom right in on your home and then zoom out to reveal the area of Wetherby that you live in. Zoom further out to see what city you live. Zoom further for the county. A little further and you might start to spot some national parks. Further still and you can see the country that we live in. Keep zooming and you’ll see the continent we live in (though this isn’t labelled). Before you know it, you’re floating in space and circling the Earth!

Google Maps is another great tool for comparing places.

  • Year 1,2: Can you find your school? Your classroom? Your house? Your local park?
  • Year 3,4: Can you locate the two volcanoes you’ll be studying? Can you zoom into the craters? What similarities and differences can you see?
  • Year 5,6: Use this mapping tool to investigate how a place has changed over time. We’ll be focusing on coastal erosion but you could find where you live and compare today’s map with one from fifty or a hundred years ago. What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Quizzing your children about some locational knowledge will help them to remember important information. I’ve listed some examples below. Use the age-related expectations to find the right pitch for your child.

  • Which continent do we live in?
  • Which country do we live in?
  • In which hemisphere is our country located?
  • Which county do we live in?
  • Which city do we live in?
  • Which part of Leeds do we live in?
  • Which four countries make up the United Kingdom?

Go to the library and get some geography-related books, especially an atlas. You could compare maps of the same place to see what type of information they show. For example, you find lots of maps of the United Kingdom. One might show the countries and capital cities. Another might show the mountains, rivers and National Parks. Another might give information about the climate.

For KS2 children, there are lots of different games and activities on the Ordnance Survey Mapzone website. I especially like the jigsaws in the Map Puzzles section of the Games. Click here for the website.

Also for KS2 children, there is lots of information and some tasks and quizzes on the BBC Bitesize website.

This week’s message (Friday 06 January 2023)

Posted on 06 January 2023 by Mr Roundtree

Happy new year to you all – I hope the Christmas break was a happy and healthy one for you. Now that we’ve had one full term in school, this week’s message is a look at attendance for the full Autumn term and information about a parent governor vacancy…

Attendance matters

Up to 09 December across England, the attendance rate was 92.7% for all schools and 94.0% for primary schools (this is based on data for schools reporting their attendance figures to the Department for Education).

Up to 16 December, our whole school attendance figure is 91.7% – this is quite a lot below the national figures.

Here’s the attendance figure for each year group…

  • Reception class: 91.5%
  • Year 1: 93.3% – well done!
  • Year 2: 92.4%
  • Year 3: 92.6%
  • Year 4: 87.9%
  • Year 5: 91.0%
  • Year 6: 92.7%

The more your child is at school, the more they learn and play – please make sure your child is attending school as much as possible. Check out this NHS advice about when your child should and should not attend school.

Governor election

We recently wrote to all parents and carers regarding a parent governor vacancy, and to seek nominations. As the number of nominations received exceeded the number of parent governor vacancies, it’s now necessary to hold a ballot.

​We sent an email out this morning giving details about the voting process. Every parent of a registered pupil at school is eligible to vote.​

To vote, use the following link: https://forms.gle/KnUTi8DXRFjxitX66

​The ballot closes at 12 noon on 13 January 2023. The result of the election will be confirmed on the school websites.

Have a good weekend.

Our Christian value this half-term is...

Posted on 03 January 2023 by Mr Roundtree

honesty.

At St James’ CE Primary School, we learn about Christian values that help us to become well-rounded citizens in society. Each half-term, we have a new Christian value that will be embedded into our collective worship and our reflection areas.

What is honesty? Honesty is being trustworthy and truthful in our friendships, our relationships, our school and our community. We understand that we need to be honest and truthful with others when working together as a team. There are challenges for us:

  • How can we be honest in our daily lives?
  • How can we encourage people to be honest?
  • What can we do to fix it if we forget to be honest?

‘Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.’ (1 John 13:18)

In the Bible, we hear about Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), the tax collector, who was dishonest and stole money from others. Jesus went to visit him and he realised he had made a mistake. He saw the error of his ways. He had a total change of heart and got rid of his dishonest ways to follow Jesus.

Help at home!

Talk with your family about the consequences of not being honest or write a story or draw a picture to show what happens when people are dishonest. Bring it in to add to your class reflection areas.

This year’s last message (Friday 16 December 2022)

Posted on 16 December 2022 by Mr Roundtree

Our last weekly message of the year comes from Miss Beatson.

It’s been a busy few weeks leading up to the end of term. It’s been lovely to see so many parents and carers attend our Christingle service at church and our Early Years and Key Stage 1 performances – thank you for your support.

This week, we’ve enjoyed a Christmas lunch together and celebrated the end of term with a Christmas party – we’ve had lots of fun.

This half term, we’ve seen lots of illness and our overall attendance has fallen. I hope everyone can shake off the coughs and colds over the holiday period and start next term happy and healthy.

I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everybody that our gates open at 8.45am ready for an 8.50am start. Any child who arrives after this time is recorded as late or absent in the register. Children miss the start of the day which does impact on them settling in and being ready to learn. Please try and get your child to school on time.

This term has seen a massive effort from our Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) to recruit new members, involve more people and to get things back on track after Covid. This week, they’ve given every child in school a present for Christmas – it was lovely to see lots of smiley faces as the children received their gift. Thank you to everyone who bought raffle tickets for the Christmas hampers- this raised over £300 for school. A letter was sent out this week informing you of how much money has been raised this year and the plan for how the PTA intend to spend some of the funds. Thank you to everyone in the PTA.

Finally, I’d like to say a big thank you to all the staff who have worked extremely hard this term to ensure that our school community is happy and healthy.

I hope everyone enjoys the festive break and I look forward to seeing everyone back on Tuesday 03 January 2023!

I’d like to thank you for your continued support throughout 2022, and wish you happy times over the Christmas holiday period. All the best, David Roundtree.