News

Latest news from around the school

This week’s message (Friday 09 December 2022)

Posted on 09 December 2022 by Mr Roundtree

Our message this week is has just three points, all of which are important…

Bank holidays and training days

On Friday 25 November, we told you about the additional bank holiday marking King Charles III’s coronation. This will be on Monday 8 May 2023.

This has had a knock-on effect:

  1. It means all the Key Stage 2 tests (the Year 6 SATs) will take place one day later than originally planned
  2. …and this means the training day on Friday 12 May is now on Monday 15 May instead.

We know this may cause some inconvenience – as you can see, the situation is beyond our control. Please contact us with any questions or concerns.

The dates of the Key Stage 2 tests are now:

  • Tuesday 9 May: Grammar, punctuation and spelling
  • Wednesday 10 May: Reading paper
  • Thursday 11 May: Maths
  • Friday 12 May: Maths

Non-uniform day

Next Friday is a non-uniform day. We love a non-uniform day as a welcome change of routine, but (just like dress-down days at work) we do still have  expectations, as set out in our Uniform Policy:

Pupils should dress appropriately and respectfully for school, even on non-uniform days. Clothes are inappropriate if they, for example, glorify violence, feature bad language, are very short (eg crop tops), or relate to age-inappropriate topics (eg computer games). When consulted (18.03.21), junior leaders described this as ‘setting appropriate’ clothing and clothing that is ‘well-judged’. Make-up (other than face paints as part of a specific costume) is not allowed. Flip-flops or high-heeled shoes are not allowed, even on non-uniform days, because they’re dangerous when running.

Infections

Yesterday, we emailed you with a letter and some information about scarlet fever and invasive Group A Strep (iGAS). It’s important that you read the information so that you’re:

  • aware of the signs and symptoms of these infections
  • aware of how you can help to stop the spread of the infections
  • reassured that scarlet fever is a common illness and it is usually very mild
  • reassured that invasive Group A Strep (iGAS) remains very rare, despite recent headlines

And finally a recommendation… If you’ve time, over the holiday, you might want to see a panto or a show. As well as ones at a theatre, The Storymaker’s Apprentice at Leeds Central Library looks a good one.

It’s a freezing Friday – stay as warm as you can over the weekend. Have a happy and healthy one.

Topic review

Posted on 05 December 2022 by Miss Beatson

Thank you to the adults who were able to attend our topic review on Friday. It was an opportunity to see the classes recapping on knowledge they’ve learned in our recent history and art topics. Here are some of the comments made by those who visited:

“What a lovely classroom and teacher. The children all seemed so happy and engaged which was so lovely to see.”

“The children listened well and it was interesting to watch.”

“I enjoyed watching all the children working in teams and sharing their knowledge. It gave a good insight into what happens in class.”

The next opportunity to see learning in action will be on Thursday 26 January at 9am.

This week’s message (Friday 02 December 2022)

Posted on 02 December 2022 by Mr Roundtree

On Monday, there was an online safety parent workshop – thank you to those who were able to attend. This week’s message reinforces the guidance that was shared. It comes from Mrs Weekes, the Safeguarding Leader across our three Sphere Federation schools…

You may think that we talk too much about Online Safety but the issues and challenges that our children may face change every day. It’s really important to keep online safety high on your radar so that, together, we can keep our young people safe.

Research shows that 44% of six year olds go online in their bedroom. If your child is accessing the internet on their own devices, it’s really hard to know what they’re seeing or what they’re doing. While it’s important that children have time to themselves and have some independence, it’s also crucial that we make sure they’re keeping safe. There are many ways you can do this but here are some top tips:

  • Make sure that parental controls are enabled on devices and the household internet; there are many parent guides to help you do this if you’re not sure.
  • If your child is using a device, make sure they’re in the same room as you or other responsible members of the family – they shouldn’t be alone in their bedroom.
  • Show an interest in what they’re doing online – every now and again, ask them what they’re watching or doing.
  • Don’t assume that sites you use are ok – many children are seeing inappropriate content on YouTube so make sure you know what they’re watching.
  • Check their devices on a daily basis to see which websites they’ve accessed.

Here’s some further guidance for some particular issues…

Inappropriate content

Despite the controls you put in place, your child might still view something that’s inappropriate. It’s important that you’re able to deal with this situation if it arises.

  • Have an age appropriate conversation and explain that there are some things online that are for adults only and if they see something that upsets them online, they should always come and tell you.
  • It may be a good time to help your child think critically about the images they see online and offline.
  • Try to give them coping strategies to help them deal with any online content that they’re uncomfortable with.
  • Reassure them that they can always come to you and that they aren’t at fault.
  • Be prepared that they may have questions about sex and relationships or other issues.
  • Discuss the problem with other parents to share experiences and solutions.
  • Block any inappropriate content.

Social media

Many of our children are accessing social media platforms on a daily basis. If your child has social media accounts, it’s important that you know some facts about these apps.

  • Check age limits – the majority of social media have a minimum age of 13 years (WhatsApp has a minimum age of 16 years and TikTok has just introduced a minimum age of 18 years for any live posts).
  • Make sure privacy settings are on and that location services are turned off
  • Help your child to be a good role model online – think before they post.
  • Make sure they know no to share personal information – maybe even create an alias so they’re not using their real name.
  • Use a strong password and different passwords for different accounts.
  • Don’t accept or send friend requests to anyone they don’t know.

Screen time

There are benefits and challenges with screen time. Make sure the rules in your house are clear, balanced and work for your family. Here are some suggestions:

  • Create screen time rules together.
  • Take an active role in their digital life.
  • Use tools to manage their screen time and access to media – even as simple as setting a time limit and an alarm.
  • Encourage them to be selective in how they spend their time online and offline.

And finally…

Always ask:

  • What’s your child seeing or doing online?
  • Who might your child be chatting to online?
  • How might their online experiences affect them?
  • Check out this guide to social media and how it links with mental health – it links nicely with our current Living and Learning theme (mental health), too.

If you’ve any specific concerns, do ask us. Let’s work together to keep our children happy and healthy in every way.

Christmas events

Posted on 02 December 2022 by Miss Beatson

It’s a busy time of year with so many things happening. Here is a reminder of the Christmas events taking place over the next two weeks:

Wednesday 7th December, 2pm: Christingle Service at St James’ Church

Thursday 8th December, 2.15pm: Early Years and KS1 Christmas play

Friday 9th December, 9.30am: Early Years and KS1 Christmas play

Tuesday 13th December: Christmas dinner

Wednesday 14th December: Early Years and KS1 parties (non-uniform)

Thursday 15th December: Ks2 parties (non-uniform)

During our productions, we will be raising money for our new school charity voted for by the Junior Leadership Team. This year we will be supporting Cancer Research UK. 

 

This week’s message (Friday 25 November 2022)

Posted on 25 November 2022 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s message is in five parts: an important announcement, a celebration, a reminder, a question and an article to support your child at home.

May’s extra bank holiday and training day

This morning, we’ve received an important email that affects the training day we had planned for Friday 12 May and the Key Stage 2 SAT tests:

An additional bank holiday in honour of the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III will take place on Monday 8 May 2023. As this date had previously been announced as the first day of the 2023 key stage 2 (KS2) test week in England, a change to the KS2 test schedule next year will be necessary.

Ministers have considered the situation carefully and have decided that KS2 tests will take place in the same week with tests following the usual order but each taking place one day later than originally planned.

This means that the tests will now run from Tuesday to Friday, and this has a knock-on effect on Friday’s training day which needs to be re-arranged. We know this may cause some inconvenience – as you can see, the situation is beyond our control.

We’re exploring ways to overcome this problem (such as to move the training day one day later, too, so it would be on Monday 15 May). We’ll confirm details as soon as we can.

Times tables

In last week’s message, we talked about the Year 4 multiplication tables check.

Yesterday, the government released data about the 2022 check – the one that our current Year 5 pupils took in June.

Nationally, 27% of pupils scored 25 out of 25. At St James’ CE Primary, the figure was 31%.

Better still was the average score in the check. Nationally, the average score was 19.8 out of 25. The average at St James’ was 21.1.

Well done to the Year 5 pupils for such a great achievement, and thank you to adults at home for helping your child to practise their times tables. (Next step is to continue to practise – a little and often – to maintain that rapid recall!)

Top topic

Next Friday from 2.30pm, teachers and children will welcome you to the class to share the great learning they’ve been doing during Topic Time.

This is a drop-in session – come and have a look at your child’s topic learning from 2.30pm.

(Parents of children in Reception should look out for other ways they can join in with their child’s learning journey.)

A question of behaviour…

All schools in England are required to have a Behaviour Policy. We’re currently reviewing our Positive Relationships Policy (that’s the name we use for our Behaviour Policy).

We usually ask about behaviour in our annual survey of parents – this year, 100% of of you who expressed an opinion said you were happy with how we make sure our pupils are well-behaved.

During our review, it’d be great to hear from you. If you’ve any particular views or suggestions, please let us know: stjamesoffice@spherefederation.org

Finally this week, a message from Mr Catherall, one of our English leaders, about effective speaking and listening…

Support your child’s oracy

In Sphere Federation schools, we place a high emphasis on oracy: the ability to communicate and express yourself effectively. It’s about having the vocabulary to be able to say what you want to say and the grammatical awareness to structure your thoughts in a logical way.

Oracy is a crucial life skill:

  • it increases engagement in learning
  • it improves academic outcomes
  • it fosters wellbeing and confidence
  • it supports transitions and enhances employability
  • it equips students to thrive in later life
  • if all children develop good oracy skills, it promotes equality in society

How can you help at home?

  • Be an oracy role model: model good speaking and listening skills to your
    child, and when they’re in ear-shot.
  • Don’t ‘dumb down’ your language: try not to avoid using more complex
    vocabulary. Instead, use complicated language but then succinctly explain
    what it means.
  • Complete the Talk Time homework we provide each week: these are a great opportunity to have a conversation and model good oracy skills.

Have a go this weekend!

Children in Need

Posted on 18 November 2022 by Miss Beatson

Thank you for all your donations today- we raised £103 for Children in Need. 

This week’s message (Friday 11 November 2022)

Posted on 18 November 2022 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s message has just four items, two of which are football-related…

Zoom sessions to support your child at home

This term, we’ve been hosting a series of Zoom presentations to help you support your child’s learning at home. So far, we’ve had sessions on  phonics and early reading; number; topic; and an introduction to Early Years. If you attended a session, or caught up afterwards by watching the recording: thank you.

There’s a few more coming up, all at 6pm on Mondays:

  • Online safety: 28 November 2022
  • Key Stage 2 SATs: 09 January 2023 (this one is mainly for parents of Y6 children)
  • Key Stage 1 SATs: 27 February 2023 (this one is mainly for parents of Y2 children)
  • Reception to Year 1 transition: 19 June 2023 (this one is for parents of Reception children)

If you’re interested in attending, please either send us a message on the School Gateway app or email the school office. We’ll then email the Zoom joining details out to all those who have expressed an interest.

If your child’s in Early Years, look out for the range of sessions specifically for you.

Time to learn times tables?

By the end of Year 4, children are expected to have a rapid recall of their times tables and corresponding tables facts. There’s a national assessment at the end of Year 4 – read more about the multiplication tables check.

Please keep making sure your child practises their times tables – focus on the one that’s being learnt in class. (Check the homework sheet to find this out.) Even if your child’s in Year 5 or Year 6 – after the national multiplication tables check – they should keep practising. We recommend little and enough (and this might include time on Times Tables Rock Stars).

Top tips! Encourage your child with a ‘buy one, get one free’ offer: knowing 4 x 7 = 28 means they also know 7 x 4 = 28, for example. And many people find 7 x 8 = 56 one of the toughest facts to learn, but if you think of it as 56 = 7 x 8, then the four digits in order might help (5, 6, 7, 8).

World Cup

Whatever your feelings about this year’s World Cup, the Youth Sport Trust has launched a social media competition which aims to inspire you and your child to play together via a series of football-based challenges – they can even be done in your living room. Check out the Half Time Challenge.

Is your child in a football club?

Every week millions of children play football, many of them in organised clubs and organisations. As part of its safeguarding response, the Football Association has created a safeguarding course for parents.

The course is designed to help parents make informed choices about the football settings where they enrol their children. (It might help raise awareness of safeguarding in other sporting clubs, too.) The course can help you to recognise best practice and see where there may be concerns, so that you can report them quickly and effectively. Check out the free course.

What a wet week we’ve had! Let’s hope for a drier weekend. Whatever the weather, have a happy and healthy one.

Remembrance Day 2022

Posted on 13 November 2022 by Mrs Valentine

Today, children from Year 5 and 6 took part in the remembrance parade in Wetherby. It was great to see children from St James’ being so thoughtful and respectful as well as so many other children from our school representing their community with Brownies, Scouts and Wetherby Gymnastics Club.

A big thank you to Louie, Will, Willow, Eliza and Caleb. 

This week’s message (Friday 11 November 2022)

Posted on 11 November 2022 by Mr Roundtree

As we always do, the message this week – second week of the half-term – is all about the new topic. The message comes from Mr Wilks, who leads Science and foundation subjects across Sphere Federation. The message ends with some important guidance to help tackle online bullying…

What do we mean by topics?

Topics are the vehicle for delivering much of the learning in the foundation subjects (eg History, Art, Geography, Design Technology). Each half-termly topic has a driving subject – the main focus for teaching pupils the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. 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, we’re artists. We’ll develop our art knowledge and skills.

The learning this half-term has two aspects to it:

  • art history: your child will learn about some specific artists and their work
  • art process: your child will practise and develop skills by creating art

Each phase has age-related knowledge, skills and vocabulary that they’ll learn, use and apply across the topic. Please see pages 11 and 12 of the Curriculum Statement document. 

Children in Years 1 and 2 have two featured artists who they’ll study across the half-term: Georges Seurat and Bridget Riley. They’ll compare their art, talking about similarities and differences. They’ll discuss what they like and dislike about the art and how it makes them feel. They’ll also learn about the artists’ lives and where in the world they lived.

In practical art lessons, children will hone their artistic skills and knowledge by sketching objects using pencil and creating sculptures inspired by Bridget Riley’s art.

Children in Years 3 and 4 will learn about the work of two architects: Christopher Wren and Zaha Hadid.

They’ll compare and contrasting the buildings that these architects designed. They’ll look at the influence of classical Greek architecture on the two architects and look for examples of this in buildings locally. In practical art sessions, children will develop observational drawing skills, before focussing on digital art by manipulating images of buildings using technology and creating pieces of art using these images alongside digital art software.

Children in Years 5 and 6 are learning about and studying the work of two designers: William Morris and Orla Kiely.

They’ll look at examples of products that use their designs and then focus on the designs, analysing them using technical vocabulary. They’ll also compare the designs, spotting similarities and differences.

In practical art lessons, children will sketch their own designs inspired by Kiely or Morris. They’ll then create relief prints of their own designs which they’ll turn into a wallpaper design using a design website.

How can you help?

Talk to your child about what they’ve been learning. The Class News page of our website is a good place to go to find out more about what your child is doing.

Familiarise yourself with the artists and the artwork that your child will be learning about in class. Look in books or on the internet for pieces by the artists and talk about them. Find art by other artists that you like and compare it to the featured artists. If you feel confident, you can go into more depth using the topic-specific vocabulary. However, if not, leave that to the teachers and just enjoy looking at the pieces and asking general questions:

  • What do you like or dislike about the art?
  • How does the art make you feel?
  • What colours can you see?
  • Can you spot influence of Greek architecture in buildings (eg columns or pediments)?

The Tate Gallery has a good children’s website with games and activities which children can explore.

If you’re in Leeds, the Leeds Art Gallery and Henry Moore Institute are both free to enter and if your child has already visited during a trip, they can be the tour guide and show you around!

Moving on… Did you know next week is Anti-Bullying Week?

STOP

In our school, STOP stands for both the problem and the solution for bullying:

  • Several Times On Purpose is the definition of bullying
  • Start Telling Other People is the solution – encourage your child to tell any trusted adult if there’s a problem

We’ll mark the week with our Anti-Bullying Day on Monday, which happens also to be Odd Socks Day.

STOP online

According to Ofcom’s 2022 Media Use and Attitudes report, children are now more likely to be bullied via technology than they are to experience it in person. 84% of 8 to 17-year-olds who reported being targeted said it had taken place via messaging, social media, online gaming and so on, as opposed to 61% who had been intimidated face-to-face.

Just like its offline counterpart, online-bullying creates feelings of isolation and anxiety in its victims along with a loss of self-esteem.

Read about how to support your child and tackle this problem.

Community week

Posted on 04 November 2022 by Miss Beatson

This week, we’ve had lots of visitors into school because it’s been our community themed week. The week got off to a great start when the Mayor of Wetherby visited us and spoke to us about his responsibilities within the local community and how he became Mayor through a democratic vote.

Throughout the rest of the week, we had our local community police officer visit us to talk to us about staying safe in our community; Wetherby in Bloom came into school to talk to us about how they support our local community and our younger children potted some plants with the help of some of their volunteers; Boston Spa, Wetherby and Villages Community Group came into talk to us about how we can help the environment; and Wise Charity spoke to the children about supporting the elderly within the local community with the help of their mascot owl!

Children in Years 4- 6 Zoomed some children at Moortown Primary School to compare our school communities and found out some similarities and differences. A group of children also had the opportunity to speak on the local radio station, Tempo FM. It’s been a busy week!

Thank you to all our visitors for making our week so enjoyable.