Latest news from around the school

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.

Today’s message (Monday 22 February 2021)

Posted on 22 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

How was your half-term? Possibly the best answer we might hope for just now is something along the lines of ‘It was good, all things considered.’ For me, the improved weather definitely helped!

It seems we start the Spring 2 half-term with good news: ‘From 8 March – All schools will open’.

The Vaccines Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, confirmed this on BBC Breakfast this morning, but it’s important to be a little bit careful until we get the full confirmation from the government over the course of the day.

Before today, school leaders have been advised not to make too many plans because so much was still up in the air. We have, however, made some provisional preparations and over the next fortnight, we’ll be working hard to set out a schedule of learning that supports your child.

The changes we’ve made include, for example, swapping around some topics. Your child was due to begin a Computing topic in Key Stage 1 and 2. This would have been hard to teach as part of the recorded home learning sessions over the next two weeks (and longer if schools didn’t open up to everyone). Because of this, we’ve swapped the Computing topic for a History one.

In the meantime, it’s Monday and so we kick off the week with our assemblies.

Finally, thanks for your patience with the website maintenance work we’ve been doing over the last few days. There may be some missing pictures in the news section. If you spot any other glitches, please do let us know.

Today’s message (Friday 12 February 2021)

Posted on 12 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

We’ve reached the end of the half-term. Our final message for the half-term starts with a reminder from something we said earlier in the week…

If your child has been attending school this week, we need you to tell us if they’ve had a positive Covid test result in the period Saturday 13 February to Thursday 18 February 2021. So you can give us all the information we need, please use this form or scan this QR code.

This means we’ll have the information to take the necessary actions, laid down by the Department for Education. If we have to advise that your child self-isolates, we’ll do this by email.

We’d prefer you to use the online form, but if the technology fails you, please contact school:

If your child receives a positive test result after Thursday 18 February, you can tell us on the first day of the new term (Monday 22 February).

Second today, we’ve an important message about our websites…

Over half-term, some behind-the-scenes maintenance will take place for the Sphere schools’ websites. You shouldn’t notice any differences at your end, but please bear with us if there are one or two glitches.

Just in case, we’ll email you all the home learning links for the first week back, as well as publish them later on today.

And finally today…

On 26 January, Mr Owen, who’s leading the Y5,6 home learning writing sessions, published some Remarkable writing. On 02 February, Mr Catherall, leading the Y3,4 writing sessions, published some Newsworthy writing.

This week, it’s the turn of the Y1,2 writers to show off their skills – did you see the Wonderful writing on Wednesday? Scroll through to find it in case you missed it – the neat handwriting alone is worth a look. Well done to all of the writers featured.

Have a good half-term, staying as happy, healthy and safe as you possibly can.

Today’s message (Thursday 11 February 2021)

Posted on 11 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

There are three parts to today’s message. It starts with an important reminder…

This week in one of our Sphere schools, we had a positive case of Covid-19 reported and we had to burst a bubble.

Please do keep vigilant to the three main symptoms:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

If your child is coming to school just now, please don’t send them to school with any hint of the symptoms listed here.

Tuesday was Safer internet Day 2021. Of course, we need to be supporting our children to stay safe online all the time, not just one day in the year. Over the past couple of weeks, Mrs Weekes, our Safeguarding Lead, has presented short guides to online safety. Her third message looks at how you can give your child independence but know that they are safe…

At the minute, it’s really important to be open about coronavirus; if you don’t talk about it, your child might try and find out themselves and read inappropriate pages, believe scare stories, or simply catastrophize in their own heads. Watch Newsround together and talk about how you feel. There’s a lot of guidance from Childline that may help with this.

There are too many key principles to list but remember human behaviour is the same online as it is offline.  Remind your child to:

  • be a good friend
  • ask for help if they’re worried or if someone is mean
  • not to get undressed on camera
  • always ask for help or tell someone

As adults, we’re often expected to have all the answers but in reality we don’t. If you’re unsure about anything or concerned, please contact school – we’ll be able to help or direct you to someone who can help.

Let your child be independent but make sure you’re in control so that you know they’re safe, happy and healthy.

Recently, governors and school leaders have reviewed Our Positive Relationships Policy and the Governors’ Statement of Behavioural Principles, making only minor changes to both.

Our Positive Relationships Policy (other schools might have a Behaviour Management Policy) describes our rules; the positive and negative consequences we use; and the roles, rights and responsibilities for all parties (including pupils and parents / carers). The policy also includes our Anti-Bullying Policy and the actions we take in the rare event there’s a serious incident, including exclusion.

The Governors’ Statement of Behavioural Principles is a document required by the Department for Education. It sets out what governors expect to see included in the Positive Relationships Policy.

Do let us know your views.

Wonderful writing!

Posted on 10 February 2021 by Mr Roundtree

From Mr Gathercole, who leads the Y1,2 home learning writing sessions…

Hello writers,

I’ve been absolutely blown away by the amazing writing that’s been sent in to us recently. Teachers always enjoy reading your work so keep sending those emails.

Whether it be writing about fairytales or poetry about aliens, you’ve produced great writing. We’re so proud of everyone for all of their hard work. You should be very proud, too!

First up, we see some brilliant re-telling of a classic fairy tale. Can you pick out words from each that you really like and are going to use in your writing?

Our first piece comes from Moortown. What great editing and improvements to what was already a great piece of writing! Now it’s even better.

This next entry comes from a writer at St James’ CE. Lots of great adjectives have been used. This wolf sounds a bit mischievous to me.

Back to Moortown for another great tale. When you read this, how do you know it is probably a fairy tale?


Next, we’ve some poetry based on the poem, Aliens Stole My Underpants by Brian Moses. It turns out that the aliens stole more than just underpants! Here’s what a couple of Scholes writers had to say on the matter.


Olivia wrote this great letter after our prime minister got in touch with us. Here’s a link to that message in case you missed it.


It sounds like this super learner at St James’ CE does a lot to keep positive during lockdown. It sounds like you’re doing a lot to have a healthy body and mind.

This writer at Scholes is spending lots time outside. There is so much detail that we can easily picture what you do to stay happy and healthy.


We may not be at school but these learners have all remembered to take pride in their presentation. To everyone at Scholes, Moortown and St James’ CE, keep being amazing.