Latest news from around the school

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:

  • Foundation: Wednesday
  • 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
  • jacket
  • 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.

School uniform

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…

Covid-19 tests

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).

Find out how to order tests for you and your family.

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).

Extra layers

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 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
  • fractions
  • geometry


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.

(And don’t forget that Times Tables Rock Stars and NumBots are a great way to top-up the home learning.)

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.

Today’s message (Thursday 25 February 2021)

Posted on 25 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

Our message today is a short one, with a ‘need-to-know’ and a ‘nice-to-know’…

The need-to-know information is confirmation that the previous staggered start and end times will continue when we open to all pupils again, from Monday 08 March onwards.

For St James’ CE Primary, this is:

  • 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

The nice to know information comes from a parent who’s recommended a Mini Maestro Writing Course with David Walliams. Check it out!

Today’s message (Wednesday 24 February 2021)

Posted on 24 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

In recent daily messages, we’ve featured messages from various teachers from across Sphere Federation. Yesterday, it was the turn of Mr Wain. Today’s message features the last message from a teacher – Miss Marsden, who teaches Foundation Stage here at St James’ CE Primary…

Hello, everyone!

I hope you’re keeping happy and healthy at home. After speaking to lots of parents, it’s clear that you’re all doing your best to keep learning at home – a big well done to all. This lockdown has definitely been the toughest. However, we’re all in this together and when this ‘rainstorm’ ends we’ll all be back in school, doing what we do best – learning!

The weekly Zoom calls have been a big hit in Early Years. Many parents have commented on how excited their child is to see their class teacher and peers. Even though it’s not the same as seeing them in real-life, the Zooms are hopefully bringing some sort of normality for you at home. I’ve particularly enjoyed the Scavenger Hunt Zoom call. It was lovely to see how eager the children were at finding different objects. Which one has been your favourite so far?

I’ve seen many amazing home learning moments. Some of you are taking it a step further and learning to be more independent. For example, a child in my class has been learning to make his own lunch! In Foundation, we encourage our children to be independent learners, so I was very impressed when I received this email.

As lockdown continues, some of you have been having bad days and
finding it hard to stay motivated. Many of you have learned to be resilient
and jump over these hurdles. Here’s a list of ways you’ve emailed which
have helped you gain interest again:

  • going on a daily walk to break up the day
  • being a ‘morning learner’ – some of you have been doing all your home learning in the morning and relaxing in the afternoon
  • making timetables
  • doing something you enjoy e.g. colouring, building and baking

Finally, don’t forget… All rainstorms must end, and this rainstorm will, too. That’s a quote from a children’s book called The World Made a Rainbow by Michelle Robinson. I look forward to seeing you all again very soon.

Today’s message (Tuesday 23 February 2021)

Posted on 23 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

Today’s message is a bit late – sorry!

Just before half-term (Wednesday 10 February), we featured messages from three of the Sphere teachers who are providing some of the daily home learning sessions. Today, we feature one more message from a Sphere teacher: Mr Wain, who’s been teaching Writing skills to Y3 and Y4 children. Mr Wain provides us with some motivational words to get us through the rest of lockdown…

Since the start of the year, each new day brings us an average of two minutes more daylight. As a result, today is over an hour and a half lighter than it was when we started our home learning journey back at the start of January.

I’ve found great comfort in this as I feel it resembles light at the end of the tunnel for us all. Even with the news of the Prime Minister’s ‘roadmap’, times are still very tricky for a variety of reasons. Here are some things I’ve enjoyed and that have helped me cope during the current lockdown and
they will hopefully offer some support for you, too.

  • Plan for the future: Having something nice to look forward has really helped me. Plan something with friends and family and put a date in the diary so you have something to set your sights on.
  • Exercise: A little bit of exercise each day has really helped me not only physically, but mentally as well. This could be yoga, running, practising a martial art, watching Joe Wicks… Don’t be afraid to try something new – what’ve you got to lose!
  • Reading challenges: I’ve been giving myself trickier books to read – ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ is next on my list after I finish ‘The Decay of Lying’. These have been trickier to read but I’ve learnt lots of new things by just giving them a go!
  • Communicating: At the start of this current lockdown I admit I was slightly reluctant to partake in Zoom quizzes with my friends as I didn’t want to accept that we were in another lockdown. However, keeping communication with friends and family and subsequently planning things with them for when it is possible has really helped instil some normality in my life.

There are lots of things I’m missing in both my social life and my job. I’m missing going to the Peak District and racing friends on my mountain bike. I’m missing having a joke and a laugh with all thirty children in the class and seeing everyone in school gather in the hall on a Friday afternoon for certificate assembly. It’s OK to miss things but it’s also OK to try new things, too. Despite this third lockdown being arguably the toughest of them all, there are aspects I’ve honestly enjoyed. I hope you can reflect and find some enjoyable moments, too.