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Latest news from around the school

This week’s message (Friday 26 November 2021)

Posted on 26 November 2021 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s message comes from Paula Allaway, who’s the Maths Leader across Sphere Federation…

Is your child engaging with the number fact fluency homework?

Number fact fluency – 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.

Addition and subtraction facts

For younger children, the crucial numbers facts are simple addition and subtraction facts. We want children to know facts like bonds of ten (eg 3+7 and 4+6) without having to count on or back using their fingers. How fluent are your child’s number facts? Regularly accessing NumBots will help with this.

Multiplication and division facts

For older children, number facts also includes times tables up to 12 x 12. By the end of Year 4, children should know their times tables without having to count through to reach the answer. Times Tables Rock Stars will help with this. In June 2022, Y4 children will take part in a statutory national assessment – the Multiplication Tables Check. They’ll be tested on 25 randomly selected facts.

Without secure knowledge of times tables facts, many future Maths topics are more difficult to learn. In Y5,6, for example, progress in column methods, fractions, area, ratio and proportion can all be hampered because they involve recall of facts.

Children who do well in our assessments are the children who are spending more time practising on NumBots and Rock Stars. Likewise, the children who need to learn these facts more aren’t using this resource at home.

We know that being fluent with number facts leads to high confidence in maths generally. To support this, we’ve slimmed back what we ask for homework to help make sure our children’s Maths (and also Reading) skills are strong. Your child should spend about 10 minutes practising number facts each day. Look out for the focus on the homework sheet we send home.

If you need help accessing these, please contact your child’s class teacher.

This week’s message (Friday 19 November 2021)

Posted on 19 November 2021 by Mr Roundtree

Hello! We’ve received lots of positive feedback about last week’s message, which was an overview of our curriculum and how you can support your child at home with the current school topic. Do check it out if you missed it. This week’s message has two parts: one about Covid (it’s been a while since we talked about it!) and one about the Monday Zoom sessions we’ve been offering.

Covid cautions

We’ve recently come across this useful website that gives you an update on cases locally. The first graph thankfully shows that cases in Leeds appear to be in decline. However, check out the second graphic which is a ‘heatmap’: the darker the colour, the more cases there are. This shows that cases amongst primary age children remain high. It’s for this reason that we’re having to remain really cautious – we’ve had to reluctantly cancel live Christmas nativity shows, for example (we’ll record them and send you a copy, though).

Please continue to be equally cautious. Keep your child at home if they have a Covid symptom so they’re not spreading the disease, and make sure they go for a PCR test (a test that is sent to a lab) to check if they have Covid as soon as possible.

Supporting your child at home

Thanks to everyone who’s attended one or some of the Monday evening Zoom sessions to help you support your child at home.

This week’s session is an important one for all – it’s about staying safe online. It’s the last one of a series of seven Zoom sessions to help you support your child. Starting at 6pm and lasting for just 30 minutes , the session will provide top tips and guidance.

Please come! Send us a message on the School Gateway app or email the school office. We’ll then email the Zoom joining details to all those who expressed an interest.

Watch the most recent two sessions here.

A session about Science and topic subjects…

And a session to support Writing…

Have a happy and healthy weekend.

Remembrance Parade

Posted on 15 November 2021 by Miss Beatson

Thank you to the Y5/6 pupils who represented our school in the Remembrance Parade in Wetherby. It was lovely to see some of our children representing other organisations such as the Scouts and Brownies too.

This week’s message (Friday 12 November 2021)

Posted on 12 November 2021 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s post comes from Mr Wilks, the Sphere Federation Leader for Science and foundation subjects…

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 and Technology). Each half-termly topic has a driving subject – the main focus for teaching pupils the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life. The driver changes with each topic to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum.

Although the learning in each topic will be 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 and will be developing our art knowledge and skills.

The learning this half-term has two aspects to it. The first is art history where children will learn about specific artists and their work. The other is the art process where children will practise and develop skills by creating art.

Each phase has age-related specific knowledge, skills and vocabulary that they’ll learn, use and apply across the topic.

Years 1 and 2

Children have two featured artists: Leonardo Da Vinci and Paul Klee. 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.

Ask your child what is the same and what is different about the Mona Lisa (da Vinci) and Senecio (Klee).

In practical art lessons, children will be honing their artistic skills and knowledge by sketching objects using pencil, learning about and mixing colour and then they’ll be learning how to print by creating relief prints inspired by the artwork they’ve studied. 

Years 3 and 4

Children will learn about the work of Wassily Kandinsky and Martha McDonald Napaltjarri. They’ll compare and contrast artworks by these artists and also learn about their lives and the places they lived. In particular, children will learn about abstract and figurative art (see the vocabulary for definitions of these words).

Ask your children what they can see in these images: Composition VIII (Kandinsky) and Warlukuritji (Napaltjarri).

In practical art sessions, children will develop observational drawing skills, and develop their understanding of colour by learning about warm, cold and complementary colours. They’ll then apply what they’ve learnt by creating some mixed media collages inspired by the artists they’ve studied.

Years 5 and 6

Children are learning about sculpture in their art lessons and will focus on three artists: Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore (both local artists) and Thomas J Price. The children have already been on their school trip to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park last week where they’ve seen and learned about sculptures by these artists.

Ask your child describe the art work of each artist and then do an internet search of their work to carry on the discussion.

In art history lessons, they learn about the lives of these artists and how their localities have influenced their art. They’ll learn about classical and modern art in relation to their featured artists and in art movements more generally. They’ll also learn when and why the modern art movement happened.

In practical art lessons, children will develop their observational skills and will creating maquettes (see the vocabulary list) inspired by the work of Barbara Hepworth.

How can you help?

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

Familiarise yourself with the artists and the art work that your child is learning about. 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 age-related expectations and the 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?
  • Is it life-like or not?
  • What colours can you see?

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!

Finally this week, two reminders…

Next week is Anti-Bullying Week. This year’s theme is ‘One Kind Word’ and we will be taking part in Odd Socks Day on Monday. Odd Socks Day is to raise awareness of our differences, individuality and personal choice. Your child (and you!) can come to school wearing odd socks to celebrate what makes them unique.

And next Friday is Children in Need day. This is a non-uniform day. Your child is invited to come to school in non-uniform and make a donation to the charity.

Have a good weekend!

This week's message (Friday 05 November 2021)

Posted on 05 November 2021 by Mr Roundtree

It’s been great to welcome you all back after the Autumn half-term.

Have you noticed the new pictures on our website? If not, do check them out – you might even spot your own child somewhere! We’ve a welcome video to watch, too – you’ll find it on the homepage.

The more your child attends school…

…the more they’ll learn! Our attendance for the first half-term of the year was 94.2%. That’s a decent figure, but let’s make it to 95% by Christmas!

There’s a few year groups already beating that target. Well done to…

  • Year 1 – 96.2%
  • Year 2 – 95.2%
  • Year 5 – 97.2%

Also important is getting to school on time. The moment your child gets into class, there’s learning going on. Getting into class on time helps your child to settle quickly, too. Please make sure your child arrives by 8.50am.

Non-uniform day coming up

We’ve a non-uniform day coming up in two weeks for Children in Need – Friday 19 November. We’re keeping it simple this year – there’s no particular theme for dressing up. If your child wants to join in, a £1 donation would be welcome.

Here’s an extract from out Uniform Policy about non-uniform days:

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), some 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.

(By the way, it’s absolutely fine for your child to come in school uniform – some children prefer the routine, and we respect that.)

This might feel like we’re nagging, but…

…how safe is your child online? We know we talk about staying safe online a lot, but since the start of the pandemic, the amount of self-generated child abuse imagery has increased massively.

In 2020, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) found there had been a rise of 77% of cases of images created by the victims themselves following some sort of online pressure.

In 80% of these cases, the victims were 11- to 13-year-old girls – that’s not much older than children in our school.

Check out the TALK advice.

Next week, we have a curriculum update about the new topic in Years 1-6. Until then – remember, remember, the fifth of November. However you spend it, enjoy Bonfire Night.

Our Christian value this half-term is…

Posted on 03 November 2021 by Nicky Russell

perseverance.

Perseverance is needed when standing firm in the face of any difficulty. It’s the special gift that we have when life is difficult or painful that helps us not to give up. Difficulties might include hardship, persecution or scorn, although we hope these difficulties do not arise in our school. We use it more in the context of ‘keeping going’ and ‘not giving up’.

 Why was this Christian value chosen?

‘Because Jesus always said to try our best.’

Home challenge

Talk about perseverance together…

  • How can we show perseverance in school?
  • How can we show perseverance in home, or in other situations?
  • Talk about a time when you showed perseverance.

‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’

(Galatians 6:9)

This week’s message (Thursday 21 October 2021)

Posted on 21 October 2021 by Mr Roundtree

This week, our teachers have enjoyed meeting you in the parent-teacher meetings – we hope you found them helpful. If you need a longer meeting, or if you missed the appointment, do contact us.

This week’s message comes a day early. Tomorrow is a training day – teachers will be having training on the art curriculum and an update on safeguarding. talking of safeguarding, our message this week has a safeguarding theme…

Be wise

The children’s mental health charity, Place2Be, has launched a new website aimed at helping parents with typical situations they can find themselves in with their children. Advice can be found on over forty topics including:

  • Understanding sibling rivalry
  • My child is lying: What does it mean? What should I do?
  • My child has trouble going to sleep
  • My child says ‘I hate you!’
  • Cultural identity: ‘Who am I?’

Be careful

Have you heard about Squid Game? Over the past week or so, there’s been  loads of news stories about it – a recent news article reported that one council has even written to parents and guardians of school children warning of the dangers of ‘replicating games from the Squid Game programme’.

The programme has a PEGI rating of 15 and over – that means across Europe, the recommendation is that it’s only suitable for people aged 15+ years. Check out this advice for parents and carers.

Be seen

On Saturday 30 / Sunday 31 October (the last week of the half-term holiday), we’ll all be setting the clocks back an hour. Read this guide for keeping children safe in the dark. You can read another one here, too.

This road safety guide for parents is worth a look, too, as is this one for children and families. If you or your child’s a cyclist, check this out.

So, with clocks going back an hour just before we return to school, we’ll see you all refreshed after an extra hour’s rest on Monday 01 November. Have a happy and healthy half-term holiday!

This week’s message (Friday 15 October 2021)

Posted on 15 October 2021 by Mr Roundtree

Our message this week comes from Mr Catherall, who used to teach at Moortown Primary and now at Scholes (Elmet) Primary. Mr Catherall is our Sphere Federation Writing Leader, and he’s chosen to write about spelling…

Is spelling important?

By now, you’ll be familiar with the new homework arrangements. Every week, as part of their homework, your child is given a set of spellings to learn. But why? They’ll probably just use auto-correct on their computer or tablet when they’re older, won’t they? You, like some others, might have found yourself asking these same questions. However…

Children who can spell more accurately feel more confident about their writing – we want all our children to feel proud and confident of their learning.

Also, research shows us that thinking about spellings takes up a large part of your working memory when writing (or typing). This means, if you’re able to have to think less about spelling, you’ve more brain power to think about other things: word choice, thinking creatively or pitching your written communication at the right level for your reader.

Help at home by helping your child learn their spellings. This doesn’t need to be for long and it doesn’t need to be boring. Here are some practical tips for effectively learning spellings at home:

  • ask your child to spell their words on the way to school, driving to the shops or walking the dog
  • use some ideas from our Super Spelling Strategies to make learning spellings more creative
  • place the words on Post-it notes around the house so your child is reading them regularly
  • practise them whilst doing something active (throwing a ball, kicking a football, playing tennis etc)

Most importantly of all, remember that little and often is much more effective than one big session. Practising for five minutes every day will lead to much better outcomes than one 30 minute session a week.

If you’d like any help or advice about how to support your child with their writing, please speak to their class teacher.

This week’s message (Friday 08 October 2021)

Posted on 08 October 2021 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s message has two new items and a reminder…

Nut allergies

If your child has a nut allergy (or any other significant allergy), do please let us know. We don’t have a simple policy about this, other than we will work with parents and carers to best accommodate the needs of children with medical conditions like this, so it’s important you let us know.

Have you been attending our Zoom sessions to support your child?

So far, we’ve had three short Zoom sessions – one on phonics (mainly for parents/carers of younger children), one on Reading (for parents/carers of older children), and a Maths one this week (for parents/carers of younger children). Watch the Maths one here:

 

Each session lasts for just 30 minutes and will provide a few top tips and guidance as to how to support your child at home. The invitation is open to all parents and carers across Sphere Federation, although we’ve indicated if the session might be more appropriate for particular age ranges.

The remaining sessions are as follows:

  1. Monday 11 October: Number fact fluency (inc times tables) (mainly for Key Stage 2)
  2. Monday 08 November: Our curriculum topics (for Key Stage 1 and 2)
  3. Monday 15 November: Writing (for Key Stage 1 and 2)
  4. Monday 22 November: Staying safe online (mainly Key Stage 2)

All six sessions start at 6pm. They last around 30 minutes.

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 a range of sessions specifically for you.

Finally, don’t forget to sign up for a parent-teacher Zoom slot – the meetings are in the week just before half-term.

Have a happy and healthy weekend.

This week’s message (Friday 01 October 2021)

Posted on 01 October 2021 by Mr Roundtree

A couple of weeks ago, the weekly message came from our Science and Foundation Subjects Leader. This week, the message comes from our Reading Leaders. Mrs Latham, a teacher at Scholes (Elmet) Primary, leads on Phonics and Early Reading across Sphere Federation. Miss Wilson, based at Moortown Primary, leads on other aspects.

Phonics and early reading

Becoming a reader is an essential life skill that shouldn’t be undervalued. Every child should be reading on a daily basis at home, even for just a few minutes. Reading aloud to your child is also crucial – it helps develop the emotional connection to reading, advances listening skills, and helps foster a love of reading.

In Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2), we read every day in our fluency sessions. It does what is says on the tin – develops fluency. We read the same text every day for a week. To become a fluent reader, you need to read regularly and read the same text/books more than once. This feels strange for adults sometimes but young children increase in confidence and feel satisfied when they can fluently read something after a few attempts.

Phonics underpins all our reading teaching in the Early Years and Key Stage 1. Phonics teaches children to read by matching sounds with letters or groups of letters. We teach a daily phonics lesson using a systematic approach.

Find out more about phonics.

Read more about how to help your child.

Reading at Key Stage 2

By now, your child will have received their brand new Reading Record. Each week, they’ll need to complete the activity as directed by their teacher. We’d like you to comment at least once every week, too – useful comments might be what they did well (such as their expression or how clear they were), how many pages they read or maybe what they need help with. Remember that your child should be reading every day for at least ten minutes and don’t forget the power of reading to your child as well!

Have a chat at home about the texts they’ve been reading in school. What’s their class novel? Do they like or dislike it? What’s just happened? What might happen next? Does it remind them of anything? Discussions like these really help children to understand and remember what they’ve been reading. (Share with your child what you’re reading, too!)

How often do you have your subtitles on when watching TV? It’s been proven to really help with learning to read so give it a go next time you’re watching The Chase! You might want to suggest they switch subtitles on when using video apps, too!

Check out Book Trust’s Book Finder service – a great way to introduce your child to new books.

Finally, we’ve been asked to communicate this message:

The Governing Body of Wetherby High School, working in partnership with Leeds City Council, are running a consultation on a proposal to lower the age range of the school from 11-18 years to 11-16 years. This proposal is part of the Council’s wider ambition to re-build the school. Read more information.

There’s another message from a curriculum leader in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, let’s hope the weekend is drier than the week we’ve had. Whatever the weather, enjoy!