This week's message (Friday 19 March 2021)
Posted on 19 March 2021 by Mr Roundtree
This week, we’ve had to close Year 5,6 bubbles in two of the three Sphere schools. This is such a shame, but really does highlight that Covid-19 is still out there.
Testing for Covid-19 at home
In one of the situations, the bubble closing stemmed from a pupil who had tested positive at home with a home testing kit (a lateral flow device test, or LFD test). The family then went to get tested again, this time using the central test sites where the tests are processed in labs (a polymerase chain reaction test, or PCR test) and the test result was positive.
This shows the value of doing the home-testing. It helps spot cases when someone has Covid with no symptoms, but can still spread the virus. (These are called asymptomatic cases.)
If a pupil has symptoms of Covid they should get a PCR test. A home LFD test isn’t enough – a negative LFD test for a person with symptoms isn’t sufficient evidence that they are negative. If your child has symptoms of Covid, or just doesn’t seem right in any way, please don’t send them to school.
In the situation described above, we’re grateful to the family for spotting a positive case, keeping children away from school, and therefore helping to stop the spread of Covid.
And a couple of non-Covid news items…
Does your child use Omegle?
You may have read some worrying reports recently about a chatroom website called Omegle. The website has as its tag line ‘Talk to Strangers’ – as you can imagine it’s for 18s and over.
We’ve had some worrying reports that younger children have been accessing this website and may have seen some inappropriate things.
Please check your child’s device regularly.
We’re a happy and healthy place to work!
St James’ CE Primary is a happy and healthy place to achieve and believe, but we’re proud to be a happy and healthy place to work, too.
Every year in the Summer Term, we ask you to complete an annual survey – it’s always good to hear your views. Every two years, we also ask staff to complete a survey – the most recent was in February.
We’re delighted that across all three schools in Sphere Federation, 100% of staff agreed that pupils’ behaviour is good and that pupils are safe. You might think staff would say this, but the survey is an opportunity to ‘tell it how it is’ in an anonymous way, so these outcomes are great.
Other questions related to staff wellbeing and workload; leadership; the curriculum; and assessments. The outcomes in these areas were also really high – typically over 95%.
St James’ CE Primary is a church school so we also asked about this: 100% of staff agreed that the Christian ethos is promoted in a good way.
Typical comments from staff at St James’ CE Primary are:
- ‘I feel that we are all working really well as a team. We came a long way in the last inspection and I feel like we are getting stronger and stronger.’
- ‘Everyone in school follows the behaviour policy and behaviour management is very consistent.’
- ‘I feel I am very well supported in school. I know I can go and speak with Natalie [Miss Beatson, Head of School] in confidence if I have a problem and she will always support me.’
- ‘Being part of a federation has afforded me flexibility… Plus, the sharing of resources, knowledge and expertise has benefitted my practice greatly.’
Finally today, I’d like to say a big hello and a happy Mothers Day to all mums out there!
Let's rock for Red Nose Day!
Posted on 15 March 2021 by Mr Roundtree
Hello to all of you Times Tables Rock Stars
This Friday is Red Nose Day and the people at TTRS have come up with a great challenge to raise some extra money for Comic Relief.
Prices for a new nose start at 50,000 coins so we’d best get saving.
We’ve got until Friday – Red Nose Day. Let’s do our bit to help the nation reach that £5,000 target.
This week's message (Friday 12 March 2021)
Posted on 12 March 2021 by Mr Roundtree
It’s the end of the first week back. Children have settled very quickly and teachers report they’re really keen to learn, which is great news. We hope the change to your week has been welcome!
Teachers also say the children, especially younger ones, have been tired, which is understandable – you can help with this by making sure they’re getting a good night’s sleep (the NHS recommend 9-12 hours for a 6-12 year old).
A word from Miss Beatson
What a fantastic first week back we’ve had!
Thank you to everyone for making the staggered start and end times of the school day a success and for your continued support to keep the school community as safe as possible by wearing masks and socially distancing in the playground.
Are you claiming income support?
The virus has been tough for us all. Some of you might be claiming income support to tide you over. If you are, please register your child for free school meals, even if…
- they don’t actually have a school dinner
- they’re in Foundation 2, Year 1 or Year 2 and so they get a free meal already
This is because for every child registered, we get an extra £1320 this year. Make a claim here.
We can use this extra amount to help pay for all sorts of resources that can benefit your child and their class.
Just before February half-term, we’d normally have parent-teacher meetings and provide you with a Learning Update. We’re still planning to have parent-teacher meetings, but these will be in the last week of this term (week beginning 29 March – check the school calendar for the dates) and will be via Zoom, the same as last time. We’ll email you more details shortly.
Red Nose Day
…is next Friday. To mark the occasion, we’re having a non-uniform day and inviting children to wear some red. There’ll be a bucket to collect donations as you enter school. (Even though it’s a non-uniform day, pupils should dress appropriately, so no revealing clothes, high-heeled shoes or make-up – this is in line with our uniform policy.)
In emails from the Department for Education this week, one message is very clear: ‘England is still in a national lockdown. You must stay at home, leaving only where permitted by law, and follow the rules in the national lockdown: stay at home guidance.’
Please do keep following lockdown rules – we all so desperately want this lockdown to be the last!
Enjoy your weekend (including Mothers Day!).
Today’s message (Monday 08 March 2021)
Posted on 08 March 2021 by Mr Roundtree
It’s finally come – all the children are able to be back at school, where they belong.
There were lots of happy faces this morning as children returned to school. Some children might be feeling a bit nervous but within a few moments, they’ve settled quickly. (Some teachers were feeling nervous, too – they’ve also settled well!)
Well done for the great support you’ve provided in terms of home learning and making sure your child has been happy and healthy. This lockdown’s been tough so we’re sure things can’t have been easy. And thank you for the great support you’ve provided to us, too – your encouraging and appreciative messages have been really welcome.
Has your child got a cough? A high temperature? A loss of taste or smell? Or not feeling quite right in some other way? Please keep your child at home if they’re not feeling ok, even if they’ve done a lateral flow test at home with a negative result.
This is because these tests quite often show ‘false negatives’ – this is when a person who has Covid-19 has a negative result.
So why use a lateral flow test? Where the tests do show a positive result, there’s a strong chance the person has Covid-19, so they’re useful to identify people who aren’t showing any symptoms.
This is the last of the daily messages. From now, we’ll send occasional messages in the week and we’ll continue the weekly message each Friday.
By the way, have you noticed the messages appear on Facebook and Twitter now, too? That’s one of the outcomes from the behind-the-scenes work on our website which took place over the half-term.
Today’s message (Friday 05 March 2021)
Posted on 05 March 2021 by Mr Roundtree
And we made it! After nine weeks, we’re sooooo looking forward to seeing you all again next week.
Just like the Spring-Summer closure, we know things have been tough for you – in many ways, tougher. We’re sure you’ve done a really good job in supporting your child’s home learning journey.
We’ve been overwhelmed with the positive comments you’ve sent us – these have really helped get us through this period.
This week, we’ve been communicating some key information about Monday 08 March and onwards. The information is all in this guide – do check it out. It’s quite long, but we’ve tried to make it easy to use – the first two sections are the most important.
Some children have told us in Zooms or phone calls that they’re worried they might’ve missed some of the learning. If your child has raised this concern, please reassure them. We’ve re-organised our curriculum to help with this (Section 3 of the guide provides an overview of this).
This letter comes from Leeds City Council: ‘we are asking you to do everything you can to keep rates of transmission down both within our communities and within schools’. (Sections 2 and 5 of the guide provides guidance about how you and your family can do exactly that.)
We mentioned yesterday that children should come wearing their PE kit on PE days, as in Autumn. Here’s a reminder of those days:
Y1,2: Thursday and Friday
- Y3,4 and Y5,6: Tuesday and Friday
Enjoy the weekend with the light at the end of the tunnel shining on you and your family.
Today’s message (Thursday 04 March 2021)
Posted on 04 March 2021 by Mr Roundtree
Today’s message features more information to prepare you for your child returning to school from Monday 08 March onwards. All this information is contained in the Parents’ Guide.
Things to bring to school
We’re continuing to limit the number of things that children bring in to school. Your child should bring only:
- a small school bag
- a filled water bottle, big enough to last the day
- lunch box (if they’re not having a school dinner)
- fruit, as a mid-morning snack
- hand cream (optional, but this could be really useful)
- sun hat when appropriate
Reading books will be sent home. When they come back to school, we’ll place them in isolation for a fixed length of time.
Your child’s Homework book will be sent home at the start of the term and should stay at home for the first few weeks at least.
As in the Autumn term, your child should wear their usual school uniform. Please make sure your child is wearing enough layers to stay warm indoors because windows and doors will be open more than they normally would.
Clean top layers can help stop the spread of the virus (an alternative is to rotate the top layers every three days).
On the days your child has PE, they should come to school in their PE kit. (Track-suit bottoms instead of shorts would be good on colder days.)
Lunch and refreshments
If your child has a school dinner, there’ll be two options. Both of these will be served as a takeaway-style meal. We’ll keep reviewing this: we’ll offer a regular menu as soon as we can. If your child has milk, this will still be provided.
Your child must bring water in their own water bottle, taken home each day. Your child might want to bring some fruit for a mid-morning snack.
Out of school club and other provision after school
The before and after school club will start on Monday 08 March. Before-school club starts at 7.30am and after-school club finishes at the usual time of 6.00pm. If you’d like your child to attend, please inform the school office.
We’re hoping to get some outdoor after-school clubs up-and-running in the Summer Term.
If you use external providers for childcare, or your child attends clubs after school, government guidance is that it might help to stop the spread of the coronavirus if you limit these in a reasonable way:
‘parents and carers… should be limiting their use of multiple out-of-school settings, and should as far as possible only be sending their children to one out-of-school setting, in addition to school, in order to minimise mixing.’
Please do check the Parents’ Guide. As always, please let us know if you’ve any questions, comments or concerns.
We’re all really looking forward to seeing you and your child next week.
Today’s message (Wednesday 03 March 2021)
Posted on 03 March 2021 by Mr Roundtree
We’re continuing our updates to help you prepare for your child returning to school next week. All the information you need (and more!) is in our March Onwards Parents’ Guide.
It’s still important to reduce ‘people traffic’ around school at the start and end of the school day by staggering the start and end times. The times remain as before:
- Foundation 1: 9.00am start and 3.00pm end
- Foundation 2: 8.45am start and 3.00pm end
- Year 1,2: 8.50am start and 3.00pm end
- Year 3,4: 9.00am start and 3.15pm end
- Year 5,6: 9.00am start and 3.15pm end
Where you have children in different classes, please bring all children at the earliest time and pick up at the earliest time. For example, a family with a child in Y1 and Y4 would bring all children at 08.50 and pick all children up at 15.00. Siblings will be in the playground with an adult ready to be collected.
Lunchtimes are shorter by 10 minutes, so learning time isn’t affected.
Other things you can do to help
- Please be punctual. This will help us to keep our community safe by reducing congestion.
- If you’re waiting in the playground, please ensure your child stands with you and doesn’t mix with other children who may be in a different bubble. Children mixing across bubbles undermines our risk assessment.
- Where possible, just one adult should come into the playground – this reduces the number of adults on site.
- Please leave the school site immediately after dropping off or picking up.
- Avoid congregating in the playground and always keep at least 2 metres from other families.
- Avoid coming into the school building where necessary; if you need to visit the office, only enter if there’s nobody waiting.
- Please wear a mask when you’re at school unless there’s a health reason for you not to do so.
Please do all you can to support us so we keep our school community happy and healthy and safe. As always, we really appreciate your co-operation and support.
Today’s message (Tuesday 02 March 2021)
Posted on 02 March 2021 by Mr Roundtree
All this week, we’re letting you know things about next week and beyond, when we welcome all our children back at school…
There’s been a lot of talk in the media about secondary schools testing students, but did you know that all households with children of school age can get two rapid Covid-19 tests per person per week?
The tests aren’t 100% reliable. They sometimes don’t detect a positive case, (giving a ‘false negative’) so we can’t rely on the tests – we all still need to follow hands-face-space precautions. However, the more people who use the tests, the more we can all do to detect positive cases (and if the tests do indicate positive, it’s really likely to be accurate – ‘false positives’ are rare).
Our staff have been testing themselves for a few weeks now. At first, they’re a bit of a hassle, but you soon get used to do them – and it can help to give you that extra peace of mind (even though we still make sure we’re following all the other safety precautions).
Medicines in school
When we reopen to all pupils on Monday 08 March, it’s really important that we have the most up to date medical information for your child. If anything has changed that you think we don’t already know about, please let us know as soon as possible.
On a similar note, please remember to check we have enough medicine (including inhalers) in school, and that it’s still within its use by date – after a period of time away, it’s easy to forget about this. It’s your responsibility to ensure that medication in school is sufficient and has not expired. This is particularly important for inhalers and adrenaline auto-injectors (such as EpiPens).
We mentioned the hands-face-space message earlier, but ventilation is increasingly believed to be an effective way to help stop the spread of the virus. This means windows and doors in school will be open more than they normally would. Please make sure your child is wearing enough layers to stay warm indoors.
Look out for more information about school from Monday 08 March onwards tomorrow.
Today’s message (Monday 01 March 2021)
Posted on 01 March 2021 by Mr Roundtree
To those of you with any Welsh heritage (and to all Davids out there): happy St David’s Day. To all of you: we hope the weekend’s sunshine has cast some rays of happiness your way.
We begin the week with our assemblies, which fit with our Living and Learning theme of assessing risks:
- the Moortown Primary assembly comes from Mrs Weekes
- Miss Hague leads the Scholes (Elmet) Primary assembly
- the St James’ CE Primary collective worship is led by Mrs Rowley
The rest of today’s message is some information about teaching and learning from Monday 08 March onwards, when all our children are back at school. This information is for your interest, to help you to continue to support your child’s learning journey.
While maintaining a broad and balanced curriculum, we’re focusing on making sure all children are secure in some essential knowledge and skills in Reading, Writing and Maths that they need to support future learning. Every individual has had a different experience of learning at home and so teachers are taking care to understand any gaps that classes or individuals have, and adapt their teaching to address these.
We’ll focus on three main reading skills to help your child to be a great reader:
- phonics – we’re supporting children’s understanding through additional phonics sessions for younger children
- fluency – all children in Y1-Y4 have time dedicated to developing reading fluency; children in Y5 and Y6 are also developing reading fluency by reading with adults and as a whole class
- information retrieval, interpreting meaning and understanding language choices – these three vital reading skills, which are already embedded within our curriculum, have had a greater focus since September.
We’re making sure we recap on prior learning to make sure it’s secure before moving on, concentrating on teaching children the key essentials of grammar and punctuation. We’re focusing on sentences and short pieces of writing to build up the secure understanding, stamina and resilience needed for longer and more independent pieces in the Summer term.
Department for Education guidance for teaching mathematics at Key Stage 1 and 2 identifies the most important knowledge and understanding that pupils need as they progress from Year 1 to Year 6. From 08 March onwards, we’ll make sure we cover all six of these important concepts so your child is secure and ready to progress further:
- number and place value
- number facts
- addition and subtraction
- multiplication and division
Our Spring 2 topic is different to what’s in the long-term plan featured on our website. This is so that we can catch up on Science learning blocks missed in the 2020 lockdown.
Our long-term plan originally featured Computing in Spring 2 – we swapped this to History to make the home learning easier.
Keep checking our messages across the week to make sure you and your child are prepared for Monday 08 March onwards.
Today’s message (Friday 26 February 2021)
Posted on 26 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree
After today, we’ve just five days of home learning before children are back at school.
Don’t forget there’s no need for your child (and you, maybe!) to be stuck on any of the learning that’s going on in the last week of this lockdown – they can contact a Sphere teacher for some help at any time between 9.30am and 11.30am. Use the Zoom details we’ve emailed out to you.
Recent research from the University of Bath has a powerful message about the power of reading: ‘Storytelling – the oldest form of teaching – is the most effective way of teaching primary school children about evolution’. Ok… two points: we’re certainly not encouraging you to read this academic article (although you’re welcome to), and we’re not stressing the importance of teaching your child about evolution (although it is in the National Curriculum for Science).
We’re just stressing the power of reading. We’ve mentioned lots of benefits of reading in the past, but this article highlights a new one: it can be a really effective way to learn in other subjects.
We know you’re so busy right now, so why not have your child enjoy a book read to them… Check out this lovely virtual library.
Next week’s daily messages will contain lots of information about coming back to school from Monday 08 March onwards. In the meantime, have a good weekend.