Our weekly message (23 October 2020)
Posted on 23 October 2020 by Mr Roundtree
Our teachers are all in school (or Zooming in) for the final day of the half-term. We wish you all a happy and healthy half-term.
Most importantly this week, we want to say a big thank you for working with us to keep our schools safe places. We’ve had to make lots of changes to routines, and we keep having to review and tweak what we do. Throughout the half-term, we’ve appreciated your support. It seems to have paid off in that – despite some near misses – all three schools have yet to close a bubble. That may only be a matter of time; we’ll continue to be as rigorous and relentless about staying safe as we have been.
Children in Key Stage 2 have had some tests in Reading and Maths recently. Having left it a few weeks for children to settle down and feel comfortable at school again, we decided to carry out these assessments in order to further explore the impact of lockdown on children’s attainment. It’s early days and we’ve not analysed the results in a lot of detail, but we’ve been pleased with the results so far. This is a credit to your child, and also to you as you supported your child’s learning during lockdown.
Happy and healthy
A recent Talk Time homework for children in Key Stage 1 and 2 was to complete an online survey about health. Thanks to all the children for completing and returning the survey, and to you for supporting your child to do this. The results are really useful for us to think about priorities for the future, and they’re also encouraging in how positive they are.
Probably the most important question we asked was ‘Do you feel safe at school?’ and we’re pleased that across Sphere Federation schools, over 97% of pupils indicated a very positive response. 97% is good, but we want all children to feel safe all the time. In parent-teacher meetings this week, we followed up the very few responses that indicated only ‘some of the time’ with parents or carers. Quite often, the cause of concern lay with coronavirus (for example, one teacher reports ‘this was due to coronavirus in general. Nothing about school or being here makes [the pupil] feel unsafe… Dad has reassured me that [the pupil] is happy and comfortable in school’). Other reasons for the few who said they only sometimes feel safe included choosing the wrong response by accident, falling over and seeing a wasp!
Has your child got a mobile phone?
There are lots of benefits to having a phone, but drawbacks, too. We strongly encourage you to make sure your child has the BBC Own It app installed. It can help to guide your child if they’re exposed to things that upset them, and it can even question the user if it seems like they’re about to send unkind or hurtful messages.
And some Covid catch-ups…
Check out his website for a useful summary of where you can go for a Covid-19 test in Leeds.
In last week’s message, we set out a definition of ‘close contact‘. We were a bit ahead of the game on that one – just a couple of hours later, we were asked to communicate the definition by Leeds Schools Health, Safety & Wellbeing Team. The definition is pretty much what we said last week:
A person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 any time from two days before the person was symptomatic (or two days before a test if no symptoms) up to ten days from the onset of symptoms (this is when they are infectious to others). For schools’ purposes, a close contact can be:
A person who has had face-to-face contact (within one metre), with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, including being coughed on; having a face-to-face conversation within one metre; having skin-to-skin physical contact; or contact within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact.
A person who has been within two metres of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 for more than 15 minutes.
A person who has travelled in a small vehicle with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 or in a large vehicle or plane near someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.
It’s important we’re clear about what a close contact is to avoid Test and Trace telling people to self-isolate when they don’t actually need to.
Once again, have a happy and healthy half-term holiday. Stay safe (and sane).
Our weekly message (16 October 2020)
Posted on 16 October 2020 by Mr Roundtree
This week’s message includes reference to the Health and Safety Executive and to coronavirus contacts. (There’s no connection whatsoever between these articles and the last feature, which is about ghastly ghouls and beastly bugs!) Most importantly, though, we start the message with a reminder about an important Sphere Federation survey…
Relationships and Sex Education
A chance to tell us your views about an important policy update…
From September 2020, Relationships Education and Health Education are now statutory and form part of the National Curriculum. As a result of the changes, we’ve updated our Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) policy and we’re now consulting with parents, staff and governors. Your views are important to us. We welcome your feedback on the policy via this short survey. The survey will be open until Friday 23 October.
To help you understand the requirements further, we’ve emailed you with additional information, including the draft policy itself. Contact us if you haven’t received this. In addition, you might like to look at the following websites:
- DfE statutory guidance on Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education
- Guide for parents on Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education
- List of FAQs for parents on the new RSE/Relationships Education requirements
Looking after our children, looking after our staff
We’re confident in our Sphere schools that we’ve done everything we reasonably can to make sure they’re happy, healthy and safe places to learn…
Since schools opened in September for the new school year, representatives from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have been contacting schools to check on procedures in place to make sure schools have taken enough precautions to safeguard children and staff in the context of coronavirus. None of the Sphere Federation schools were contacted. However, from a wider perspective, it’s reassuring to note that it’s been reported that the HSE has been highly impressed with the work schools have done.
People have told us that Track and Trace staff have sometimes been sending out mixed messages, and sometimes the messages don’t match the advice schools have been given. When in doubt, we’ve been able to contact a Department for Education helpline. The advice we’ve been given on the helpline has been helpful. They advise we follow closely our own risk assessments.
Employers must protect people from harm. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect staff, pupils and others from coronavirus (COVID-19) within the education setting.
We want our schools to be happy, healthy and safe places to work, too…
We’re doing our best to look after our staff, too. All staff had the opportunity to have flu jab recently, and they’ve all got access to the Employee Assistance Programme, a service that provides a variety of support for education staff. These aren’t new things we’re doing because of the pandemic – we’ve provided them for a few years now.
What’s counts as a contact?
Someone from Public Health England has communicated with us recently, and we thought some of the information about contacts which they sent to us might be useful for you to know about…
A ‘contact’ is a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 any time from two days before the person was symptomatic up to ten days from the onset of symptoms. This period is when they are infectious to others. For example, a contact can be:
- people who spend significant time in the same household as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19
- sexual partners
- a person who has had face-to-face contact (within one metre), with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, including being coughed on; having a face-to-face conversation within one metre; having skin-to-skin physical contact; or contact within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact
- a person who has been within 2 metres of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes
- a person who has travelled in a small vehicle with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or in a large vehicle or plane near someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
Beastly bugs and ghastly ghouls
Any plans for half-term? Perhaps a trip to Temple Newsam House is in order…
Beastly bugs have discovered 5 star accommodation at Temple Newsam House. They’ve booked their staycation for Halloween week when the ghastly ghouls from years gone by pay their annual visit. Meet past residents and hear ghostly tales as you explore this 500 year old building. Follow the bug trail around the house, spot the miniature bug rooms and pick up your own Beastly Bug Craft pack to take home.
Visit between 11am to 4pm from Saturday 24 October to Friday 30 October (and be aware the house is closed on Monday 26 October). Pre-book your tickets to avoid disappointment.
Following lockdown, Temple Newsam House has been open to the public for a few weeks now. They’ve had great feedback on the Covid precautions that they’ve put in place.
Our weekly message (09 October 2020)
Posted on 09 October 2020 by Mr Roundtree
Some statistics to start this week’s message…
It sadly seems that the country is facing more restrictions due to coronavirus. Despite the challenges facing Leeds, it was encouraging to note earlier in the week that:
- no school in Leeds is completely closed
- in fact, 191 schools are fully open
- a further 84 schools are operating despite a bubble closure
- so, all 275 schools in Leeds are open to 114,814 pupils and 13,539 staff
Whilst the rate per 100,000 in Leeds has risen significantly (it’s around the 300 mark), there’s not been a significant increase in the number of pupils and staff testing positive. The numbers are currently relatively stable.
In our three Sphere Federation schools, although individual children have stayed away from school to self-isolate or to wait for a test result, we’ve not yet had to close a bubble. Thank you for your support with this. You’ve been sticking to the drop-off and collection times and it’s great that so many of you continue to wear face masks – we appreciate how responsive you’ve been.
Think carefully before seeking a Covid-19 test because colds are common at this time of year. When we showed his chart a couple of weeks ago, it proved popular. Read the full article.
If your child is absent from school due to coronavirus, make sure you check out our home learning page. Every Monday morning, you’ll find some learning for the week:
- five Maths lessons (usually from White Rose Maths, which is what’s used in school) (suggested time: about 30 minutes each day)
- Times Tables practice using Time Tables Rock Stars (suggested time: about 15 minutes each day)
- Spellings practice using the spellings list that’s published each week (suggested time: about 15 minutes each day)
- some Reading fluency using the same text that’s used in school (suggested time: about 15 minutes each day)
- five Reading sessions, including using the ‘RIC’ text used in school (suggested time: about 30 minutes each day)
- two Writing sessions (suggested time: about 30 minutes each)
- a Topic lesson which will link closely with the learning happening in school (suggested time: about 30 minutes)
- a Science lesson which will link closely with the learning happening in school (suggested time: about 30 minutes)
If you’re entitled to free school meals, you’re also able to arrange for a light lunch for your child each day, too – contact the school office.
We’re doing things a bit differently this year… The parent-teacher meetings coming up in the last week of the half-term will be via Zoom. Look out for the email that’s been sent earlier today – it allows you to sign up for an appointment online.
This is the first time we’ve run a parents’ evening online so please be patient with us. We’ll work hard to stick to timings and keep our fingers crossed for good WiFi!
If you don’t have access to Zoom, let us know – we can arrange for the discussion to be a phone call instead.
And something completely unrelated to coronavirus…
We’ve added an extra feature to our website. If you go to the Safeguarding page, you’ll see on the right hand side some new content from Parent Info. Parent Info is a collaboration between Parent Zone and NCA-CEOP. It provides support and guidance for parents from leading experts and organisations. The content is updated regularly, and it covers six broad areas, such as technology, relationships and parenting, all linked to keeping your child happy, healthy and safe.
Posted on 09 October 2020 by Miss Beatson
Our bagel bar has been open for a few weeks now and the children have really enjoyed eating breakfast with their friends and it’s been a positive start to their day. The doors open at 8.30am each morning and all children from Reception to Year 6 are welcome.
Our weekly message (02 October 2020)
Posted on 02 October 2020 by Mr Roundtree
This week, we’ll kick off with two thank you messages…
Thank you to so many of you who responded to Monday’s message encouraging you to wear a face mask when dropping off and collecting your child from school – it was really good to see the positive response to this so quickly. We’ve tried as best we can to manage the movement of people in and out of school – we’ve got staggered start and end times, for example. Even so, there are still times when there are lots of adults nearby. Wearing a mask can help protect the wearer, and others around. We encourage you to wear a mask when you drop your child off at school and when you collect them at the end of the school day.
Thank you for helping to keep our attendance so high. For the month of September, our attendance rate was 96.8%. The figures don’t include children absent due to the virus (the Department for Education doesn’t require this); nevertheless, this figure is still really encouraging – please keep it up.
Talking of attendance… There’s so much information (and misinformation!) all the time about whether your child should be attending school. The government has produced this letter about when you should book a test for your child.
In addition, here’s a guide from Leeds which might help to support you when deciding if your child should be at school or not:
And linked to attendance… This BBC article about self-isolation is worth a read. It helps to explain self-isolation. The last section is especially useful – it explains the rules for schools:
If someone in a school tests positive, they must be sent home to self-isolate for 14 days. The school will then contact their local public health protection team, who will advise on who else should be sent home. Anyone who has been in close contact with the person testing positive, will be advised to self-isolate for 14 days from their last date of contact.
Posted on 28 September 2020 by Mr Roundtree
This morning was the first of the autumn/winter season when I had some frost on my car windscreen. It was also the first morning standing at the gate that I noticed water vapour from my breath (read this article with your child about ‘seeing’ your breath on a cold morning).
It’s that second observation that made me think even more about the importance of wearing a mask, even when outside if there are other people nearby.
The water vapour from my breath seemed to spread quite a distance. If that’s the case, the virus might also spread quite a distance as we breathe.
I’m not making any scientific conclusions about coronavirus here. What I am doing is encouraging you to consider wearing a mask as you drop off and collect your child.
At school, we’ve tried as best we can to create some one-way systems. Even so, there are still times when there are lots of adults nearby. Wearing a mask can help protect the wearer, and others around.
Our weekly message (25 September 2020)
Posted on 25 September 2020 by Mr Roundtree
When the Government planned their guidance for the full return for schools in September, it was on the basis that Covid-19 would be contained effectively, with their Test, Track and Trace system up and running effectively. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Schools across the country are having to close bubbles far earlier than had been anticipated. This week, the BBC news site reported that ‘The number of schools in England sending home groups of pupils because of Covid-19 incidents has quadrupled in a week’. We’ve been fortunate enough not to have to do this yet, but I suspect it may only be a matter of time before we do. (In fact, the National Schools Commissioner predicted yesterday that partial closures ‘will continue until we have a vaccine’.)
Just as important are the numbers of individual children who are staying at home to self-isolate. If the testing service was working better, this wouldn’t be too much of a problem, but sadly we’re seeing children absent for four or more days while they wait for test results – all negative so far, thankfully, but the wait is just too long. That means we’re having to rush ahead with home learning provision.
Our new home learning page sets out learning for the week ahead. New content will be published by 08.30 on Mondays. The teacher isn’t available to prepare recorded lessons because they have a class to teach in school, so we’re using a mix of learning activities that are linked to what’s happening in class:
- online lessons such as those from White Rose Maths (which we often use in class, so the teaching and learning should be very familiar), Oak National Academy, and BBC Bitesize
- activities and ideas that link to some direct activities in class
- some more general activities that will be familiar to your child, such as ‘RIC’ (retrieve, interpret, choice), reading fluency and Time Tables Rock Stars
Like you, we’re learning about the process as we go along. Things aren’t perfect but we’re trying hard to get things right as quickly as we can.
A free school meal while self-isolating
Your child is entitled to free school meals for two circumstances:
- for financial reasons, or
- your child is in Reception, Year 1 or Year 2 and are therefore entitled to universal infant free school meals
In either situation, your child can have a free ‘grab bag’ lunch provided whilst they’re isolating at home – you just need to make sure you can collect the lunch from school. Please let us know if you want to do this.
More guidance about Covid-19
Public Health England has produced a letter for parents which explains when a person requires a coronavirus test and what the symptoms of coronavirus are. The intention of the letter is to help prevent children being taken out of school unnecessarily and answer some of the questions parents may have around testing.
Last week, we provided you with this information already: this guide sets out nine different scenarios if your child, or someone in the household, has symptoms of Covid-19. The guide tells you what you need to do and when your child should come back to school.
Posted on 25 September 2020 by Miss Beatson
On Monday, our bagel bar will be opening at 8.30am. You can bring your child to school for a breakfast bagel free of charge. This will be available Monday to Friday until March 2021.
This is part of a Covid response under the National School Breakfast Programme.
Our school has signed up to receive free healthy breakfast food as part of the Covid response offer, under the National School Breakfast Programme (NSBP), which is being delivered by the charities Family Action and Magic Breakfast.
Reception, Years 1 and 2 will enter through the main door at the office. Years 3-6 will enter school through the playground gate as normal. Please remember to follow social distancing guidelines when dropping off your child.
We look forward to welcoming lots of children to our bagel bar next week!
Covid-19: What to do if...
Posted on 19 September 2020 by Mr Roundtree
There’s such a lot of information about Covid-19 that it’s sometimes easy to get confused.
To help, we’ve produced this guide which sets out nine different scenarios if your child, or someone in the household, had symptoms of Covid-19. The guide tells you what you need to do and when your child should come back to school.
(We’ve also included the guide in our Autumn for All booklet – it’s on page 15.)
Our weekly message (18 September 2020)
Posted on 18 September 2020 by Mr Roundtree
Well, we’ve made it to the end of Week 2 without having to temporarily close down a class or even the whole school. Sadly, quite a few local schools haven’t been so fortunate. Whilst the government is determined that primary schools remain open in any form of lockdown (and we absolutely share this determination), please do continue to be really careful:
- hands – wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
- face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
- space – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors), and stick to the rule of six, too
Letter from Leeds City Council
This letter from Councillor Saleem Tariq, OBE (Director, Children and Families) and Jonathan Pryor (Executive Member for Learning and Skills) is for you. Please read it. It includes three important ways to support you, your child and us to stay safe.
Your child might have to self-isolate. This might be because someone in the family is displaying symptoms or if they’ve had a test and it’s positive (which means the person has Covid-19). It might be because someone in their bubble at school has a confirmed case.
We’ve been working hard to set up a way to support your child at home. If your child has to self-isolate, our teachers are starting to provide an overview of the teaching and learning for the week ahead. It’s still early days, but check out the new Home Learning page in our Learn More section.
Covid-19 tests and symptoms
Getting a Covid-19 test has proved a challenge for many this week. We’ve heard that a batch of available slots become available at different points during the day, so keep trying throughout the day (we’re told trying for slots after 8pm might be more successful, so don’t give up towards the end of the day).
Earlier in the week (14.09.20), we reminded you of the Covid-19 symptoms and made the distinction between a common cold and Covid-19. This BBC article really helps to explain the difference well. We especially like this table…
Very many of you have told us how much you appreciate the communication from school in the last few months – thank you.
In these busy times, we’re going to trial not sending home half-termly newsletters. There are quite a few drawbacks with paper copies of the newsletters, including:
- it uses a lot of paper – not good for the environment
- it costs a lot – the costs for printing are high and continue to increase
- it takes up a lot of time – especially for people in the school office (who are currently busier than ever with tasks related to Covid-19) and for teachers who are working on home learning for children self-isolating
Instead, teachers will continue to post lots of class news and school leaders will continue to send messages such as this one.
This is a trial for the next few half-terms. During the trial, please do send us your comments and concerns – speak to the Head of School or drop us an email: [email protected]
…this week, here’s the latest edition of the Leeds and West Yorkshire Families magazine. This was a popular addition to our daily messages before summer. In this edition, we especially like the 18 recommended new books and the face-to-face/virtual classes and clubs…
Keep talking to us if you’ve any questions, comments or concerns. Have a really good weekend, staying as happy and healthy and safe as you all can be.