Latest news from around the school

Snow update

Posted on 08 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

Forecast is for some heavy snow showers, but we plan to stay open for children of key workers and vulnerable children.

Today’s message (Friday 05 February 2021)

Posted on 05 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

Mrs Weekes is the Safeguarding Lead across all three schools in Sphere Federation. Last Tuesday’s message was the first of three from her about helping to make sure your child is safe online. In her second message, she looks at how you can give your child independence but know that they are safe…

Are you confident that they are safe?
Whether it’s your home internet, mobile, consoles, apps or games, there are always settings to make them safer while being used by your child. The key ones are:
  • Can they chat to strangers?
  • Can they video chat or ‘go live’?
  • Are their posts public?
Internet Matters has hundreds of guides to parental controls for different things. Take a look – they’re easy to set up and will give you peace of mind.
You don’t need to know all about the latest app or game, but if your child shows you what they’re doing and with who, you’ll be able to see if it’s appropriate or not. Remember, games that are for 18 year olds are not just more advanced – they’re not appropriate and could be harmful. If your child doesn’t show you, show an interest yourself and ask to see what they’re doing.

For parent guides to apps, including recommendations for safe apps and video platforms, have a look on NSPCC NetAware. Why not download the BBC Own It app?

And this part of today’s message comes from the local authority…

Parenting can be a tough job at the best of times, but over the past few months, parents’ resilience has been tested in every way.  A blog has been created  by the Children and Families Public Health team to link parents up with support, offer ideas for managing stress and tips for taking care of their children’s mental and emotional wellbeing.  You may wish to share this with your pupils’ parents and carers.

Have a happy and healthy and safe weekend.

Today’s message (Thursday 04 February 2021)

Posted on 04 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

It seems everyone’s finding this lockdown so much harder, and for so many different reasons. Nevertheless, we’re aware of some great learning taking place at home…

Our teachers forward on some of the emails that you send, updating school about how the home learning is progressing – these are great to read. Especially important is to make sure your child’s class teacher is sent some of the writing that your child’s doing at home, because writing is a harder one to assess and give feedback on at home.

Last week, Mr Owen, who’s leading the Y5,6 home learning writing sessions, published some ‘Remarkable writing‘ – scroll through our news posts to Thursday 28 January to find this in case you missed it.

This week, Mr Catherall, leading the Y3,4 writing sessions, has published some ‘Newsworthy writing‘. That was on Tuesday 02 February. Another news story not to be missed.

Well done to all of the writers featured.

Make sure you send your child’s writing in to the class teacher. Look out for Mr Gathercole’s news story featuring Y1,2 writing next week!

Today’s message (Wednesday 03 February 2021)

Posted on 03 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

During one of the home learning sessions, has your child ever ‘got stuck’? If so, our new feature of home learning should help…

From tomorrow, there are now two ways that your child can Zoom in to school.

Our afternoon review Zooms remain. For most classes, they start at 2.00pm. The afternoon reviews are an opportunity for your child to review and reflect on their learning with their teacher and other children in their class. They’re also a chance for some social time – seeing friends from their class. One parent told us this week ‘the daily zooms are great…they are generally used for a wellbeing check and a review of work done that morning. This often motivates [my children] to get their work done which is helpful and supports any learning… We expect the girls to attend as we feel it is an important part of their day and allows them to remain connected’.

New from tomorrow are morning help Zooms. These are for individual pupils to contact a Sphere Federation teacher with a specific question or problem to do with their home learning.

They’re a bit like turning up at the doctors without an appointment…

  • drop in at any time between 9.30 and 11.30 in the morning
  • the teacher will be able to help with a learning problem that’s specific to the day’s learning (sorry – this isn’t the platform to talk about wider home learning issues like motivating your child or time management – email your child’s teacher for help with this)
  • in case someone else is waiting, the drop-ins are limited to about five minutes maximum
  • this is for individual pupils, not groups
  • generally speaking, the older the child, the less we’d expect a parent / carer to be need to be involved (but a parent should be present, as per policy)
  • your child will have to wait a while in the Zoom waiting room, just in case the teacher is with another child or is busy teaching the children in school
  • if the waiting list seems too long, then we’re sorry and you may need to leave the Zoom and try again later (or email your child’s teacher instead)
  • your child should visit the right phase for their year group – this means that they might be Zooming a teacher from one of the other Sphere Federation schools, but it’s about helping with a specific problem rather than staying in touch with your child’s own teacher

Read about the new morning help Zooms in our updated Home Learning guide.

Like any new initiative, there may be glitches so bear with us, but we hope you find this a helpful additional support.

Newsworthy writing

Posted on 02 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

From Mr Catherall, who is leading the Y3,4 home learning writing sessions…

Hi everyone

I hope you’re all happy, healthy and safe. I wanted to share with you – and celebrate – some of the awesome writing that’s been sent in by children across our federation. Home learning is tough. There are many challenges, for children and adults, but these superstars have been ready, resourceful and resilient learners. (Can you remember the other 8Rs for learning?)

In the Y3,4 phase, we spent last week building up to writing our own news report about a (made-up) volcanic eruption. This links to our geography and science learning.

Here are a small selection of the wonderful examples we’ve been sent in from all three schools. If you’d like to send yours in, I’d love to see it (send me an email –

From my class at Scholes (Elmet)… I love the varied sentence starts in this one (Late on Friday night, On Saturday, In the escape).

We’ve got a budding journalist at St James’ CE… I really like the news report structure here.

Back to Scholes (Elmet) for some another great piece… This time, I really like the main news section (the first paragraph in bold) because it’s exactly like you’d read in a newspaper or online.

Some amazing writing from Moortown… I love the expanded noun phrase (the orange, glowing liquid) and the vocabulary (predicted, nightfall, terrified) in this one.

Another super piece of writing from my class at Scholes (can you tell I’m proud?!)… There’s a lot to celebrate here – particularly the vocabulary (menacing, catastrophic, awoke, ear-splitting, historic)…

Back at Moortown for another great example of journalistic writing… I particularly enjoyed the use of questions to engage the reader and the way this writer has presented their news report in the style of a newspaper.

Another impressive report from Scholes… In this one, I love the vocabulary (citizens, fled on foot, vast amount).

Whatever writing you’ve managed to do at home, well done! After the last lockdown, writing was one of the few areas that we noticed children hadn’t progressed in. Try to help by completing at least one of the writing lessons each day (and always keep a focus on handwriting).

Today’s message (Tuesday 02 February 2021)

Posted on 02 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

The first part of today’s message comes from the Sphere Maths Leader…

We’re proud to have a Maths Mastery teacher in our team. As well as leading Maths across the three Sphere Federation schools, Paula Allaway works for West Yorkshire Maths Hub, working closely with the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics. Paula writes…

Is your child regularly accessing NumBots or Times Tables Rock Stars?

The quick recall of addition and subtraction facts, and multiplication and division facts (times tables) is really important for all children. The ability to recall these facts quickly (rather than taking too long working them out) helps children to answer questions in lots of areas of Maths much more easily.

If these facts are learnt and stored, rather than being calculated or counted, they require less activity from the brain. Essentially, memorisation frees up working memory space to allow children to focus on learning new mathematical ideas and applying mathematics to solve problems, and not the facts themselves.

Without times tables facts, many future Maths topics are more difficult to learn. Daily practice, in short bursts, really makes a difference. If you’re finding it hard to fit in all the lessons, some days, you may want to prioritise practising number facts over the daily White Rose lesson.

Check out Numbots and Times Tables Rock Stars. Ask your child’s teacher for login details if you’re not sure how to access.

It’s another snow day…

As we’ve said before, deciding whether to close or not is a tough decision to make. The Heads of School were all up extra early today to check with staff about whether they can safely travel to school. Admin leaders were also up early, ready to communicate as soon as the decision to close (or stay open) was made.

We made the decision based on two main factors: the current weather and the forecast. When the call was made, it was snowing heavily and the forecast was that it would continue to snow heavily until noon. We also checked with other local schools.

The situation is made harder right now because we can’t mix children or staff – they have to stay within their bubbles.

Thanks for your understanding.

We're closed to all pupils today

Posted on 02 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

We’re closed today because of the very snowy conditions and the forecast that this will continue throughout the morning.

Key staff in school (for example, enough for each bubble and including a first-aid trained staff member) would struggle to get into school safely.

Please check out our Home learning page.

Today’s message (Monday 01 February 2021)

Posted on 01 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

And we’ve reached February! We kick off the week in our usual way…

…with links to the school assemblies. Last week, the theme was respect, including self-respect. This week, we develop that by thinking about respect in the context of communities. This links with the Living and Learning message ‘I respect my communities and other communities’.

Your child can watch the assembly at any time during the week. It would be great if you follow it up with a conversation at home about respect and community:

  • What communities do you belong to?
  • How do you show respect within these communities?
  • What other communities are there?
  • How do you show respect towards these communities? Why is this important?

Last Monday, we featured a link to a newspaper article about the stresses of home schooling. Following his, we featured some top tips to try to help you with this, and we shared some more on Friday. This weekend, the same newspaper had more guidance that you might find useful: ‘Learn to say ‘I don’t know’: teachers’ tips for parents weary of lockdown 2 schooling’.

By the way, in case you hadn’t spotted it, we’ve added a link on the homepage of our website to take you straight to home learning – it’s in the blue banner just below the pics.

To help you a little more, look out for a new initiative to help with home learning coming later this week.

Today’s message (Friday 29 January 2021)

Posted on 29 January 2021 by Mr Roundtree

We’ve reached the end of another week and, indeed, the end of the month. Today’s message returns to what we talked about on Monday – ways to get through the home learning…

We presented eight ideas to support you during this period of home learning – using one of the timetables in our Home Learning Guide and a few replacements (or additions) to the seven daily sessions that we’re providing. Using Times Tables Rock Stars or NumBots instead of the Maths sessions is ok, too – in fact, we’d really like your child to come back knowing the numbers facts and times tables.

We encouraged you to tell us a few more top tips. How about creating a chart to tick off the sessions when they’ve been done. This one looks great!

In case you can’t see it clearly, each of the white bits of paper is labelled up with one of the daily sessions, and you can see that, when the pic was taken, five of the sessions had been marked off for Monday. This visual ‘checklist’ acts as a real celebration of achievement!

A couple of other ideas came in that might help:

  • when your child’s working, they could wear a sweatshirt, and when they’re finished for the day, they change – this can help to signal the shift from ‘home learning’ to ‘home life’
  • on a similar theme, moving rooms (if you can) can help with that transition, too: one room for home learning and another for relaxation – or even just positions (sitting at a table for learning, and on a couch for relaxing)

And finally, we presented a challenge to our grammar and punctuation superstars in Years 5 and 6. Did you spot the error in the email from the Department for Education, featured in yesterday’s message?

Well done to the people who made suggestions, many of which were arguably more a style choice (although I do agree with the idea of a comma needed after ‘February’ in paragraph 2). The actual error is in the last paragraph: there’s a missing apostrophe… ‘two weeks notice’ should read ‘two weeks’ notice’. If you’re ever in doubt, we like Grammar Monster!

Today’s message (Thursday 28 January 2021)

Posted on 28 January 2021 by Mr Roundtree

The news that schools won’t open until Monday 08 March is a disappointing and frustrating one…

Here’s an extract from the email from the Department for Education, sent daily to school leaders:

Today, the Prime Minister has announced that it will not be possible to resume face-to-face learning immediately after the February half-term and instead hopes it will be safe to commence the re-opening of schools and colleges from Monday 8 March. This is in response to the national public health data and pressure on NHS capacity.

If the Government achieves its target of vaccinating everyone in the four most vulnerable groups with their first dose by 15 February then those groups will have developed immunity from the virus around three weeks later, that is by 8 March. It is for this reason that we hope it will therefore be safe to commence the reopening of schools from Monday 8 March.

Education settings, as well as students, parents and carers will be given at least two weeks notice to prepare for a return to face-to-face education.

Over the last week or so, it became increasingly clear that this delay would likely be the case, but that doesn’t take away from the concerns we all share. Do contact your child’s teacher, or the Head of School, with any particular questions, comments or concerns. Teachers’ emails are in our Home Learning Guide.

Talking of which, we’ve updated the guide. There are a few small changes to who’s leading the home learning sessions, but the main change is on page 9, which is our temporary policy on emails between school and home. The new point is that teachers will respond when you email them, but for safeguarding reasons they won’t respond to children – your child should stay in touch with their teacher through the daily afternoon Zooms and when staff phone home.

Finally, a challenge for Year 5 and 6 children, so many of whom are experts on grammar and punctuation. In the Department for Education extract, above, there’s a little error – a tricky one to spot, and a common error, too. Can your child spot the error and explain it? If so, let me know (via an email from Mum or Dad, not the child, of course!).