News

Latest news from around the school

PE days

Posted on 05 September 2021 by Miss Beatson

We are going to continue 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. On the days your child has PE, they should come to school in their school uniform PE kit. (Track-suit bottoms instead of shorts would be good on colder days. Footwear : black/brown/grey/white flat shoes which are safe to run around in.)

Footwear on PE days could be children’s ‘school shoes’ which are often a plain ‘trainer’ style anyway, if you want to avoid having to buy 2 pairs of shoes.

Here is a link to our uniform policy.

Please find below the days each class has allocated PE times, which will be taught outdoors, except in extreme weather.

Reception: Wednesdays

Y1/2: Tuesdays and Fridays

Y3/4: Tuesdays and Fridays

Y5/6: Tuesdays and Fridays

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 3.15pm finish.

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:

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 16 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.

Parent-teacher meetings

Only 2 people said they’d like these to continue by Zoom and 7 said they’d prefer the meetings to return to being in person. 6 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.

Weekly news

We asked for your thoughts about our weekly messages. 75% felt positive about these and 25% didn’t have a strong opinion (nobody expressed any negative views). Comments include ‘We find them very informative’ and ‘They are really good. Keeps us informed and are nice and light hearted.’ Based on this, we’ll continue to publish weekly news.

Learning workshops

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 St James’ survey of parents and carers was fairly inconclusive – about the same number of people said they were more likely to attend a Zoom session than those who said they were less likely. For us, the Zoom sessions were an efficient way to support parents across all three Sphere schools. 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.

Homework

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:

  • We use the Talk Time prompt at home for a discussion: 75% agreed
  • Reading at home is the most important way for my child to make good progress: 67% agreed
  • Numbots / Times Table Rock Stars helps to improve my child’s recall of number facts: 67% agreed
  • The current ‘slimmed down’ homework means my child has more time for other activities that help him/her to progress: 67%

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 St James’ CE 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:

  • St James’ CE Primary has high expectations for my child: 86%
  • St James’ CE Primary promotes its Christian ethos effectively: 100%
  • My child has been bullied and the school dealt with the bullying quickly and effectively: thankfully, the vast majority of respondents indicated their child had not been bullied; of those remaining, just one indicated no to this – the parent left their name so we’ll follow this up (incidentally, the parent goes on to praise the school)
  • When I have raised concerns with the school they have been dealt with properly: 89%
  • We also asked if we achieve our vision to be a happy and healthy place to achieve and believe: 100%

Additional comments

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 two thirds of respondents left additional comments and well over half of these were completely positive: ‘I still feel many years down the line that St James’ is a happy, productive school that tries to encourage every child in it’ and ‘I have been so impressed with the school since [my children] started in 2020. The staff are all welcoming, caring and really have my children’s best interests and progression at heart’ were typical comments – thank you!

We’ll review each suggestion carefully with a view to acting on as many as we realistically can.

 

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 Beatson. Many thanks to those of you who completed the survey this year.

Gymnastics Holiday Club

Posted on 06 August 2021 by Mrs Latham

North Leeds Gymnastics Leaflet and Booking Form

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.

Finally…

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.

Animal Day

Posted on 20 July 2021 by Miss Beatson

We’ve had lots of fun dressing up as different animals and animal prints today, all for a good cause. We’ve raised just under £70 for our school charity RSPCA. Thank you to everybody who contributed and to the JLT for organising.

 

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…

Next week

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.

Next year

Will you have a return to the normal start and end times?

Yes. The normal times are 8.50am start and 3.15pm finish. 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.

What about Bagel Bar?

Sadly, we won’t be able to continue with Bagel Bar next year. This is due to a lack of funding.

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.

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. This year, we’re inviting one adult per child to the event to restrict the spread of the virus. Your child will take part in competitive events, but within bubbles, so each class will be competing at different times throughout the day:

  • Y3/4: 9.15-10.15am
  • Foundation: 10.30-11.30am
  • Y1/2: 1.15-2.15pm
  • Y5/6: 2.15-3.15pm

Over the last few months, some classes have been taking part in the Skipping into Summer project to develop and improve skipping skills. We’ll be having a celebration day at the end of 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…

We hope your child enjoys and achieves in our Being Healthy themed week.

This week’s message (Friday 02 July 2021)

Posted on 02 July 2021 by Mr Roundtree

Salve!

This week’s message begins with the Latin word for ‘hello’, because we’ve some news about a change to our curriculum next year…

From September, children in Key Stage 2 (Years 3-6) will learn Latin as the Foreign Language part of the National Curriculum. This might come as a bit of a surprise to some of you, with many wondering why switch to an ancient language. Here, we present three reasons, but there are plenty of others.

Learning some Latin will support learning other languages in the future. About 80% of words in Romance languages such as French, Spanish and Italian come from Latin. The Latin for ‘bread‘ is ‘panem‘. Learning this means your child should more easily recognise and remember the word for bread in French (pain), Spanish (pan) or Italian (pane).

Linked to this is what your child will learn when they move to secondary school. In Year 7, your child might learn French, or Spanish, or German… in most cases, there won’t be much choice, and different secondary schools offer different languages for Year 7 students. Latin provides a really useful basis to learn other languages. (And most secondary schools start from scratch anyway, so Latin will be a good grounding.)

A third reason is that learning some Latin will help to enhance your child’s understanding in English, too. About two thirds of English words are derived from Latin, so your child will be more confident when they come across a new word in English if they can recognise parts of it. Here’s an example. The Latin word for ‘father’ is ‘pater‘, which gives us lots of English words, such as paternal, patronise and patriarchy. ‘Mother’ is ‘mater‘ – what words derive from ‘mater‘?

We’ve spoken to a few parents about this already, and the reaction has been really positive. If you’d like to find out more, we’re hosting a live Zoom discussion next week: 6pm on Thursday 08 July (we’ve deliberately avoided Wednesday in anticipation of some important event that night – it’s coming home…!). If you’d like to attend, please contact stjamesoffice@spherefederation.org

Finally this week, a big thank you to all of you who completed this year’s annual survey. We’ll spend some time over the next few weeks looking at the results, and we’ll update you later in the year.

Quia nunc vale!