Latest news from around the school

Home learning and other support (04 May 2020)

Posted on 04 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

It seems that the general mood in lockdown is one of ups and downs – we really hope there haven’t been too many downs for you and your family.

Today’s message is about additions or alternatives to the home learning tasks your teacher sets your child. We know some tasks might end up being a bit tricky for some people, so we’ve three alternatives here.

Living and learning during lockdown

Living and Learning is the name for all the teaching and learning we do around Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE). Each week in school, we have a Living and Learning statement. This week’s is I can describe and use ways to calm down. One of the Sphere Federation Health Leaders writes:

Listen to the new story Everybody worries by Jon Burgerman. The story focuses on the emotion of being anxious. Getting stressed, anxious or angry are important and useful emotions but sometimes these feelings can be overwhelming.

Different people use different ways to calm down. Talk at home about the ways people around you calm down. Your child might be aware of different relaxation or mindfulness techniques we’ve talked about at school.

Here are some techniques for your child (and you) to try. Let us know which are favourite techniques!

  1. Go to a ‘quiet spot’. Turn calming down into a positive by designating a place where we can go to calm down.
  2. Go outside for a walk or run
  3. Take some deep breaths. Slowing down our breathing can help our body calm down.
  4. Count to 10 (or 100). Try this in your head (not out loud).
  5. Listen to some soothing music.
  6. Think of something you’re grateful for.
  7. Look at a funny picture or video.
  8. Use guided meditations.
  9. Loosen up – Do some stretches or yoga.
  10. Sit quietly and have a drink


Another additional or alternative home learning task is for your child to get stuck into some writing. Many of you have told us that writing has been the trickiest home learning task, so teachers have reduced the number of writing tasks we’re setting. However, quite a few children are missing getting their creative juices flowing. Download this set of writing ideas – they might spark off an idea! Your child’s class teacher will still be happy to read the writing, and your child might like to share the piece with friends and family, too, of course.


One parent I spoke with last week substituted a geography home learning task with an alternative for her child: to do a jigsaw of a map of Europe with her child – good idea!

You can help your child at home by looking at online maps (like Google Maps) and finding different places (look at the lists below to judge what type of places), and then doing a quiz full of facts about them. Your child could match capitals and countries, for example. Make it harder by missing out the vowels in the words (so they have to consider the spellings a little, too: dnbrgh – Sctlnd).

Geography age-related expectations can be found in our Curriculum Statement in the Curriculum and expectations page of our website. Home-friendly ones to work on are the facts about locations:

By the end of Year 2, geography expectations include:

  • I know the four countries and capital cities of the UK.
  • I know the seas which surround the UK.
  • I know the world’s seven continents.
  • I know the world’s five oceans.

By the end of Year 4, the expectations include:

  • I know the main cities of the UK (the four capitals and at least four more).
  • I know some of the counties in the UK.
  • I know some of the main rivers and mountains in the UK (at least three of each).
  • I know some European countries and their capital cities (at least four, not including those in the UK).
  • I know some of the main rivers and mountains in Europe.
  • I know the position of the Equator, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere, the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, Arctic and Antarctic Circle.

And by the end of Year 6, they include all of the above, plus:

  • I know some of the main rivers, mountains and regions (eg the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District, the Highlands of Scotland) in the UK (at least three of each).
  • I know some European countries and their capital cities (at least six, not including those in the UK).
  • I know some world-wide countries and some of their major cities.

Have you watched our video yet?

Posted on 04 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Have you watched our video yet?

To help cheer us up, and hopefully cheer you up, too, we made a short video for you to watch – make sure you all follow the advice in our message!

Parent / carer survey

Posted on 01 May 2020 by Mrs Quirk

At St James’, we’re always keen to hear your views. We hope that you let us know of any questions, comments and concerns (as well as causes for celebration!) whenever these crop up, but we like to gather your views in our annual survey, too.

We know that in the current situation, it might feel a bit strange to be asking you questions about learning when it’s you who’s currently teaching your child. You might also feel you’ve no time to respond. Because of this, we’ve tried to keep the survey short and simple this year:

  • we’ve used only some of the questions that Ofsted asks
  • all you need to do is click on the relevant response for each question
  • there’s just one space for comments at the very end, only if you’d like to add anything or explain one of your answers

Please complete the survey

The survey should only take about five minutes, and you’ve plenty of time – the deadline is Friday 29 May 2020.

Although we can’t guarantee to meet the needs and wants of every parent / carer, we do assure you that if specific areas for improvement are highlighted by the responses from this survey, we aim to act on these.

We’re looking forward to receiving your responses.

Home learning and other support (01 May 2020)

Posted on 01 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

And we’ve all made it to May!

Monday’s message noted that we were only beginning the fourth week of home learning, so now that’s another week all done and dusted: by the end of today, you and your child will have completed 20 days of home learning – well done.

Talking of dates, it’s useful for those parents who are key workers to know that Moortown Primary and Scholes (Elmet) Primary are still open on the forthcoming bank holiday on Friday 08 May. (For the key worker parents at St James’, your child can attend either Moortown or Scholes, as arranged already.)

There’s a lot of speculation about when and how schools will re-open. We think it’s best just to step away from some of those headlines until we get some clear facts.

In the meantime, how’re you doing? I’m sure better than this Ofsted report!

Have you got a routine going with the home learning tasks? Even if you have, it might need a boost to help you keep on going. The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has produced a really simple, one page tick sheet for your child to use – we really like it!

You can find lots more from the EEF that will support you at home.

A happy and healthy message from all the staff at St James'

Posted on 30 April 2020 by Mr Roundtree

We’re missing you!

To help cheer us up, and hopefully cheer you up, too, we’ve made this little video for you to watch – make sure you all follow the advice in our message!

Here’s a short quiz for your child (and you?!) to have a go at, too:

  1. Which teacher starts off the video with the word ‘Hello’?
  2. Why do you think Mr Mills might be feeling proud in his first clip?
  3. How many glasses is Mr Roundtree wearing?
  4. Towards the end of the clip, who’s bouncing around?
  5. What safety message is Mr Mills demonstrating in his second clip?
  6. How many rainbows appear in the video clips?
  7. Who has a little helper to show their word?
  8. Where is Mr Atkins standing for his video?
  9. Why do you think the music track was chosen for this video?
  10. How do you think the teachers are feeling?

And one more thing: make sure your child understands the message – they could write out each word as hey see it and then read it through to make sure it makes sense, for example.

Home learning and other support (30 April 2020)

Posted on 30 April 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Today’s message features a few recommendations around safeguarding…

Own It

We mentioned this yesterday, but it’s worth another mention today.

We reckon any child with a mobile phone of other device should be regularly using the BBC’s Own It app or website. It’s a really good start to helping your child lead a happy and healthy life online.

Thinkuknow: Summary of support and home learning ideas

With so much guidance and resources to support you in safeguarding children online and offline during COVID-19, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. To help make life a little bit easier, Thinkuknow have signposted key guidance and organisations.

They’ve also created some home activity packs that you and your child could use – this could be in addition to the teacher’s three home learning activities, or instead of one of them.

Video chat during isolation: new for parents and carers

Many of you have mentioned to us that your child (mainly those in Y5 and Y6) is using video-chats as a way to work with classmates during the home learning:

  • maybe to share ideas at the start
  • to take a break and motivate themselves mid-way through the home learning
  • once done, to review their work (like checking answers, for example)

Of course, video-chats right now are a good way to stay in touch with friends and family, too (lots of teachers meet up online on Wednesdays for an online quiz!).

Two new Parent Info articles look at some of the things parents and carers should think about to make sure their child’s experience of video chat is safe and fun:

NSPCC resources

The NSPCC has created some resources to support you during this difficult time. Topics include:

  • talking to a child worried about coronavirus
  • parents working from home
  • children staying home alone
  • lockdown and separated parents
  • how to cope with tantrums and other difficult behaviour

What children are saying to Childline about coronavirus

You might be interested to read more about what children have shared with Childline during this pandemic.It might help you to consider what support your child might need at this time.

And finally today…

In our recent messages, we’ve included a lot of writing from our older children across Sphere Federation. Here’s just one of lots of examples of extreme reading that happened over Easter… This clip is of a younger pupil at Moortown doing some impressive reading and hula-hooping!

Home learning and other support (29 April 2020)

Posted on 29 April 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Apologies for the blurry image in yesterday’s message – a couple of pages from The Book of Hopes – ‘words and pictures to comfort, inspire and entertain children in lockdown’. The poem which was so hard to read was ‘Me’ by Swapna Haddow (page 291 of the book):

The book is free to access – go directly there to enjoy it and other poems and stories.

The other book we recommended yesterday was Coronavirus: A Book for Children with fabulous illustrations by Axel Scheffler (who illustrates so many of Julie Donaldson’s books). Did anyone spot the connection? In fact, both books feature Axel Scheffler’s work, because he created the cover image for The Book of Hopes:

Sticking with the book theme today, your child could well be reading more than they normally do. (Lots of adults are, too, apparently: ‘many of the 2,103 people surveyed cited reading as a form of release, escapism or distraction during these troubled times’.) Check out this website full of recommendations to help your child branch out if they’ve been hooked in by a particular series or author.

Another recommendation for your child is the BBC’s Own It. Own It helps children and young people who are new to social media manage their well-being, empowering them to make smart choices and to lead a happy and healthy life online. Its features help children to:

  • get advice whenever they type
  • track their feelings
  • win badges as they reflect
  • find help when they need it
  • taking quizzes to learn more about themselves

The app also includes a special keyboard to use which offers helpful tips and friendly advice to children when they need it.

Own It has been updated with support for your child linked to lockdown, such as advice on getting used to a new situation.

Finally, today, some more writing from one of our older pupils, this one from Sofia in Y5:

All schools across the U.K. have been closed due to the Coronavirus so that means children have to work at home.

There are some benefits about working at home, such as not being rushed; you can lay in bed longer. However, I think overall it is better to learn at school. But here are some of my Top Tips about how you can help a child learn at home.

The first thing you can do is stay out of their way and don’t talk to them. If they’re not doing their work tell them to and keep checking. If you don’t know an answer, which probably won’t happen, but if you don’t, try and work it out yourself. You could check our work for us to make sure nothing is wrong!

I hoped you liked my quick article about some Top Tips that can help you understand what will make us all better learners at home.

Home learning and other support (28 April 2020)

Posted on 28 April 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Our message to you yesterday featured a couple of prompts about Living and Learning in Lockdown and about free school meals. Today, we’ve a couple of reading recommendations…

  • Coronavirus: A Book for Children is excellent – and free to download. As well as being full of useful facts, it’s full of fabulous illustrations by Axel Scheffler (he of The Gruffalo fame). There’s a nice news article about the book, with some comments from the illustrator himself: ‘This was something I could do to help.’ We really do recommend.
  • The Book of Hopes describes itself as ‘words and pictures to comfort, inspire and entertain children in lockdown’. Here’s a poem from the book:

Finally, another message from a Y6 writer to you all – this one’s from Max…

Hello, parents and carers, I hope you are doing alright.

I wanted to write to you to share some ideas of things you can be doing at home with your child for home learning.

There are plenty of things to do while we’re in lockdown, so here are a few suggestions:

You could be getting creative such as making things out cardboard or any other recyclable materials you have around the house such as dens, masks, models, painting and plenty of over things.

If you are stuck on anything you can ask a parent or a sibling to help you.

Also, you can do daily exercise such as Joe Wicks live exercise workouts everyday or play a game of football outside with your siblings or just play on your own with your parents. You can also go out for walks with your family to break the day up.

Baking or cooking can be done with an adult at home to teach your child these skills. Other jobs around the house can also be done with your child or children. These can include helping with laundry, tidying the house, loading the dishwasher, helping to do the gardening and any other jobs around the house.

Finally, you can just help your parents [or carers] by just doing your work or doing jobs to help out or watching a movie or playing a game with each other.

Home learning and other support (27 April 2020)

Posted on 27 April 2020 by Mr Roundtree

I was surprised to reflect that, as we enter the fourth term-time week of school closures, this is only the 16th day of home learning.

In that time, our teachers have presented three home learning suggestions for each school day. We’ve also provided you with a menu of other ideas, which might be useful if you want to add to the learning activity or replace one that your child’s teacher has provided. During the school day, teachers are available to support by email , too.

More recently, we’ve responded to some of your suggestions:

  • we’ve reduced a little the amount of Writing tasks as some of you had said this was the hardest activity to support at home
  • we’ve changed the time we publish the home learning so you can you read through it and prepare in some way
  • we’ve begun to refer to some of the new daily lessons available online, including from Oak National Academy and BBC Bitesize
  • we’ve begun to explore posting more videos online as a way to engage and deliver the teaching

On this last point, we understand that some of you are having difficulty playing videos posted online. For some, when the link to a video is clicked, the video will not play. This is likely to be a wifi issue. A possible solution is to try downloading the video by pressing the download icon (shown by the arrow) in the top right corner of the screen; the downloaded version should then play normally.

Living and learning during lockdown

Living and Learning is the term we use to describe all the teaching and learning we do around Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE). Each week in school, we’d typically promote Living and Learning around a statement. This week’s is I recognise mental health is important. One of the Sphere Federation Health Leaders writes:

As a happy and healthy school, we encourage children to think about their mental health as well as their physical health. Here are some activities to support this theme at home – these could be used in addition to, or as an alternative to, to home learning tasks set by your child’s teacher.

Listen to the story Kindness by Todd Parr. The story ends with the message, ‘be kind to yourself’. Talk at home about different ways to be kind to yourself to support your mental health. Here are some daily suggestions for your child (and you!) to be kind to yourself:

  • Monday: go to bed earlier
  • Tuesday: have some screen-free time as a family or limit screen time
  • Wednesday: make the most of your daily allowed exercise to combine physical activity with being outdoors
  • Thursday: make contact with someone you’ve not spoken to recently
  • Friday: think of another way to be kind to yourself

Did you miss our prompt about free school meals?

In these tough times, more of you might now be eligible to claim for free school meals (FSM). Read more about the FSM eligibility criteria and how to claim.

Just now, children entitled to free school meals are receiving a weekly pack of food, including a loaf of bread, some small cheese portions, tins of tuna, a pack of biscuits, a large carton of apple juice, fruit, yoghurts, crisps and a couple of jacket potatoes. On a four week rotation, the packs will also contain a box of sanitary items, provided with support from Freedom4Girls. These items are usually available to women and girls for free through community hubs and One Stops for those who struggle to buy them due to financial pressures.

Home learning and other support (24 April 2020)

Posted on 24 April 2020 by Mr Roundtree

We’ve reached Friday – the end of the first week of the Summer Term. Well done for supporting your child with their learning for another week. Now it’s the weekend, hopefully you and your child will get out of the house to enjoy some nice weather – respecting social distancing, of course!

We’ll end the week with some links to sites with great deals on to make sure your child continues to read lots – the most important thing they should be doing in terms of home learning. There’s also a brief reference to safeguarding which Leeds City Council has asked us to publish for all our parents, and some more writing from our older children across Sphere Federation.


Oxford Owl are offering free e-books from their reading scheme. All you have to do is register and you can read them on phones, tablets and computers. It lets you filter by phonics stage or by age so easy to use! Email your child’s teacher if you’re not sure what phonics phase your child has reached.

Similarly, a lot of publishers have reduced the cost of their ebooks. For example, Usbourne are selling ebooks for 99p. (I like the look of The Girl who Speaks Bear!)


There’s been a lot of information sent out over the past few weeks about online safety. At a time when your child might be online more often than they would normally, it really has to be a priority. The content of this latest guidance has come from Leeds Safeguarding Team and it contains some useful contacts;  please use these contacts if you’re concerned about anything your child encounters online or if you have any other safeguarding concerns.

And some words from our older children

Here’s a good re-cap of our home-learning from Bo, writing as me. It’s very well written!

Due to Covid-19, we will not be in school for the time being. Your child should still be being educated though. Every day, we send out three pieces of home learning for your child to complete (this is on the school website). Whilst this learning is revision, we fully understand that some children may struggle with some of the tasks. We also understand that some parents may struggle to help their child so we have a solution. On the website, you can find your child’s teacher’s email address. If you need anything, we’re always here to help and will try to reply to your message as soon as possible. We hope this helps and enjoy your tasks.

And a nice summary of good advice from Ellis:

As the Covid-19 lockdown continues, I would like to offer advice and support to parents and our students. In the first few weeks, we have learned a lot and adapted quickly – thank you for the support from the staff, parents and children.

From the feedback received, I’d like to offer the following helpful hints and tips for the coming weeks:

  • Make every day a fun day
  • Ensure you have a good routine – include snacks and break times
  • If you have older children, ask them to help
  • Ask your friends from school (but not in person)

We hope this helps.

Ellis’s final point is a good idea – we’re hearing about lots of successful learning time sessions where older children meet up online to discuss the learning together. Just make sure these sessions are done in a space where you can keep an eye on things, too.