Latest news from around the school

Penny trail

Posted on 13 November 2023 by Miss Beatson

As part of Me and My Money themed week, we created a penny trail in our playground. Thank you to everyone who brought in some spare pennies to make the trail extremely long. We raised £45 just from one pence coins! The money raised will go to Cancer Research UK.

This week’s message (Friday 10 November 2023)

Posted on 10 November 2023 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s been a busy one – the first of our two themed weeks in the year. This one’s been Me and My Money. Ask your child what they’ve been learning about. Our Living and Learning Curriculum Guide lists the learning that we’ve been focusing on in school – see page 17.

Sticking to Living and Learning…

Bullying, Odd Socks and STOP

Next Monday, 13 November, is Anti-Bullying Day. This year’s theme is ‘Make noise about bullying’ and we will be taking part in Odd Socks Day on this day.

Odd Socks Day raises awareness of our differences, individuality and personal choice. Your child can come to school wearing odd socks (with their uniform) to celebrate what makes them unique.

Check out this parent and carer pack about bullying.

Remember our two STOP acronyms about bullying:

  • the definition: Several Times On Purpose
  • the solution: Start Telling Other People

Attendance matters

The whole-school attendance figure for Autumn 1 half-term was 95.2%. The national figure from 11 September to 13 October 2023 was 93.7% – we’re higher than national! Thank you for making sure your child attends school as much as possible.

Here’s a breakdown for each class…

  • Reception – 95.7%
  • Year 1 – 95.3%
  • Year 2 – 97.9% – brilliant!
  • Year 3 – 97.3% – amazing attendance!
  • Year 4 – 96.6%
  • Year 5 – 88.4%
  • Year 6 – 90.6%

Remember to check this new NHS website if you’re not sure whether your child is ill enough to miss out on school.

Rocking Rockstars

If your child’s in Year 3, 4, 5 or 6, they should be practising their times tables regularly at home – a little every day is best for most children. Children in Year 4 are expected to know their times tables with quick recall, and the matching division facts – check out this guide.

A good way to practise is to use Times Tables Rock Stars. The Times Tables Rock Stars website has just been updated, including:

  • intro video
  • parent guide
  • the importance of times tables
  • FAQs
  • free downloadables

Have a happy and healthy weekend.

Our Christian value this half-term is...

Posted on 06 November 2023 by Mr Roundtree


At St James’ CE Primary School, we learn about Christian values that help us to become well-rounded citizens in society. Each half-term, we have a new Christian value that will be embedded into our collective worship and our reflection areas.

‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’ Ephesians 4:32

The definition of compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is hurting, in pain, or has misfortune and is accompanied by a strong desire to help the suffering. Christians believe that Jesus is the greatest example of someone with true compassion. Not only did Jesus have compassion and heal people from physical suffering, he also showed the greatest compassion when he died on the cross for our sins.

A Junior Leadership Team member thinks this value is important because, ‘It helps you understand what they’re feeling and how to help them and then makes the school a happier place’.

It’s not always easy to show compassion, especially when we feel like the person deserves their misfortune, but we try to show compassion to all who need it whether they are the same as us or different.

Help at home!

Talk to your child about compassion.

  • How can they show sympathy for a friend?
  • Is there anyone in school who is very compassionate?
  • Talk about a time when you were compassionate or someone was compassionate towards you.

This week’s message (Friday 27 October 2023)

Posted on 27 October 2023 by Mr Roundtree

It’s our last Friday’s message of Autumn 1 half-term.

Today’s a training day in school. All the teachers across Sphere Federation have gathered together to learn more about Maths, PE and Art. They’re learning about it in a carousel of phases – Early Years and Y1,2 in one, Y3,4 in another, and Y5,6 in the third.

In last week’s message, we announced our new Junior Leadership Team. This week, we thought you might like to read some of their favourite aspects of St James’ CE Primary…

  • Eliza, Y6: ‘The teachers create a nice learning environment in the classroom and create good bonds with us.’
  • Amira, Y6: ‘I like writing because I like using lots of adventurous vocabulary. I also like Maths because we get to do loads of fun maths like quizzes.’
  • Lilly, Y5: ‘Reading is good because it’s calming. I like the class novel (Survivors: Extraordinary Tales from the Wild and Beyond) because it’s got lots of adventure stories.’
  • Lily, Y4: ‘Miss Beatson is a really, really nice teacher. She’s good at teaching Maths.’
  • Freddie, Y4: ‘My favourite subject is writing and maths. I like them because the teachers make it fun.’
  • Isla, Y3: ‘Wake Up Shake Up is great because it helps people to have a break and then learn again.’
  • Harper, Y3: ‘All the teachers help us learn. They’re nice and kind.’
  • Sophie, Y2: ‘I enjoy reading because it’s nice and relaxing.’
  • Lily, Y2: ‘The clubs are good because you can make things and take them home. I like Mr Roundtree because he’s so kind and he takes care of us all.’
  • Arthur, Y1: ‘I like writing because I like doing sentences.’
  • Olly, Y1: ‘Maths is good because I like numbers.’

These comments now feature at the foot of the homepage of our website, too.

Leeds City Council Admissions Policy – consultation

Leeds City Council is running a public consultation on the 2025/2026 admission policy for Leeds community and voluntary controlled schools. You can share your views until 4 December. Share your views.

It’s been an extra long Autumn 1 half-term – eight weeks. Lots of children are tired – a break will be welcome to relax and recuperate. We hope you’re able to enjoy a longer weekend and a great half-term break.

Bake Sale

Posted on 24 October 2023 by Miss Beatson

Thank you to everyone who baked or donated cakes for our Autumn book and bake sale last week. We raised £267.90!

Thank you to all the parents/carers who helped and the PTA for organising the event.

This week’s message (Friday 20 October 2023)

Posted on 20 October 2023 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s message comes from Miss Beatson…

This week our Living and Learning statement is ‘I take part in democratic decisions’. This is because the children took part in an important event in the life of St James’ CE Primary: Junior Leadership (JLT) elections.

The children listened to speeches from people in their class who wanted to be on the JLT and then decided on the person they believe would be a good representative this year.

The results were announced in Collective Worship today and badges were handed out.

The new JLT are:

  • Year 1: Ollie and Arthur
  • Year 2: Lily and Sophie
  • Year 3: Isla and Harper
  • Year 4: Freddie and Lily
  • Year 5: Lilly and James
  • Year 6: Amira and Eliza

    Congratulations to these children and to everybody who had a go.

    The previous JLT were fantastic at sharing their views and ideas throughout the year and being the voice for all children in their class. They had the final decision on the school charity and shared their views and opinions on our new school rules. They met with the PTA to provide ideas on how money raised can be spent in school- one idea being new lunchtime trolleys for each class.

    We’re confident that our new Junior Leadership Team will be just as helpful and enthusiastic as the last.

And one last message this week… Need any ideas for half-term?

Carnegie Great Outdoors have an activity camp happening this coming October half term at Leeds Beckett University. There are options to sign up for three days or just a single day.

Have a great weekend.

This week’s message (Friday 13 October 2023)

Posted on 13 October 2023 by Mr Roundtree

Our Living and Learning message this week has been about respecting yourself. Have a conversation at home about this. What can your child feel especially proud of at home? And at school? Share examples of you feeling proud, too. How can feeling proud and believing in ourselves help us?

Junior Leadership Team

We’ve recently launched this year’s Junior Leadership Team election process. Our Junior Leadership Team (JLT) is one of the ways that children are encouraged to take an active part in pupil voice.

The election process allows children to develop an understanding of one of the British Valuesdemocracy, with two representatives from each year group chosen democratically by their peers.

Here are some of the qualities our current Junior Leaders think are needed to be an effective JLT member:

  • use the 8Rs for learning
  • be respectful and polite
  • help others
  • be a good speaker and listener (to members of your class and in the meetings)
  • share and be confident with your ideas
  • let others speak
  • accept the views of others even if you don’t agree
  • be friendly and approachable
  • follow our school rules and make good choices in class and around school

This week’s whole school homework is all about the election and democracy, ready for the elections next Thursday 19 October.

Talking of pupil voice…

The Big Ambition

The Children’s Commissioner for England has recently launched ‘The Big Ambition’ to hear directly from children, young people, and parents across the country.

This is an opportunity to hear from all children, in every part of the country and in every setting. The survey will be used to encourage policymakers to think about children and young people’s needs, to ensure children’s voices are reflected in the decisions that will affect them in years to come.

Encourage your child to take part in The Big Ambition survey


Measles cases are rising across the country.

  • 9 out of 10 unvaccinated children can catch measles if someone in their class has it.
  • 102,000 children starting school in England are at risk of catching measles.

Check your child is up to date with their MMR vaccinations.

Measles is highly infectious and if left unvaccinated nine out of ten children in a classroom can catch the disease if just one child is infectious.


Have a happy and healthy weekend.

This week’s message (Friday 06 October 2023)

Posted on 06 October 2023 by Mr Roundtree

Thank you if you voted in the recent governor elections to find a new parent governors, and a particular thank you to the five parents who put themselves forward. In total, there were 139 votes – a good spread across the three Sphere Federation schools. The candidate with the most votes was Candidate B on the voting form: Steven Trangmar, who’s a senior lecturer at Leeds Beckett University.

The main parts of this week’s message come from two of the Sphere Federation leaders. Mrs Latham, the Early Reading and Phonics Leaders, has written the first section. Miss Wilson, the Reading Leader. has written the second.

For children at the early stages of reading…

We’re off to a flying start with our reading! Our Reception children started phonics lessons in Week 2 and are rapidly acquiring the skills to become readers. We use the government validated systematic synthetic phonics scheme Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised.

Children in Year 1 and Year 2 have also got back into phonics lessons quickly. The lessons happen every day and last half an hour (Reception build up to this over time). In these lessons, children are taught how a letter or letters (‘graphemes’) match to sounds (‘phonemes’).

We also have reading practice groups for children to use and apply their phonics skills four times a week. These are small group sessions, led by an adult, where children read a book that is matched to the phonics they know. The focus is very much on practising reading.

Your child can then share their phonics reading success at home by accessing the same text as an e-book. Please make sure you do this every week. We monitor if and when children are accessing the e-books.

Year 1 or 2 children who have secure phonic knowledge will begin to access a wider variety of books in school and to take home.

Children also take a sharing book home. These books are to enjoy together and read for pleasure. The focus is very much on enjoyment – developing a love of reading. Enjoy stories, predict what might happen and use different voices for the characters. Information books (non-fiction) can also be so much fun to share – finding out facts and discussing new information. Above all: make it enjoyable!

For more experienced readers…

We’ve made a fantastic start to reading this year and have already read a variety of texts – we’ve learned about scientists, read poetry and really got stuck into our class novels.

  • Ask your child what they’re reading this week.
  • What do they like or dislike about it?
  • Who’s the author?
  • Can they give you a ten second summary? What about a ten word summary?Children in Key Stage 2 (Years 3 to 6) are engaging well with their weekly Reading Record activities (as directed on their homework sheet). Make sure your child reads at home every day for at least 10-15 minutes and, depending on their age and confidence, read and discuss the book together wherever possible.When you’re reading at home and discussing the book, try the following:
  • Give your child plenty of time to find the answer to your question.
  • Decide on the best places to pause to convey shock, concern or, sometimes, just to tease. Pausing builds anticipation.
  • Tell your child the definitions of words if they don’t know. There’s no point in guessing.
  • Use asides to show your reactions to particular events. For example, ‘Oh, no! This isn’t looking like things will turn out well for him!’
  • Colour your voice to give words meaning: whooped, wondered, wailed. Or perform an action as you read: sprouted, quivered, squirmed.

Enjoy a weekend of reading!

This week’s message (Friday 29 September 2023)

Posted on 29 September 2023 by Mr Roundtree

We’re approaching the end of the first month back at school. The new school year continues to go really well – children are happy, healthy learners with great behaviour. Our Reception children have settled in really well, too.

Thank you to the parents who responded with interest in becoming a parent governor. Because there was more than one person interested, it means there are elections. We’ve sent you a link so you can vote online after reading their expressions of interest. Look out for the reminder message about this. The deadline for votes is noon on Wednesday next week.

Is your child well enough to be in school?

Post-lockdowns, there’s growing concern about the low attendance rate for pupils. This letter to school leaders illustrates the point.

There is wide agreement among health professionals and educational professionals that school attendance is vital to the life chances of children and young people. Being in school improves health, wellbeing and socialisation

The letter makes two things clear:

  • ‘It is usually appropriate for parents and carers to send their children to school with mild respiratory illnesses. This would include general cold symptoms: a minor cough, runny nose or sore throat.’
  • ‘Worry and mild or moderate anxiety, whilst sometimes difficult emotions, can be a normal part of growing up for many children and young people. Being in school can often help alleviate the underlying issues. A prolonged period of absence is likely to heighten a child’s anxiety about attending in the future, rather than reduce it.’

We’ve shared the link already, but do check out this NHS website to help you decide if your child is well enough to attend school.

Also worth checking out is this parent’s guide to keeping kids healthy this school year.

Finally, Leeds has produced this short document intended for parents and carers of primary school aged children.

Last year’s school attendance here at St James’ CE Primary was lower than the national figures – please, let’s improve that in 2023-24 for the sake of all our children.

This week’s message (Friday 22 September 2023)

Posted on 22 September 2023 by Mr Roundtree

Thanks to all of you who took part in our Summer Competition this year. Check out the pics on this News page – we love them!

Remember we’ve a vacancy for parent governor on the governing board of Sphere Federation. If you’ve got some time to commit to the role, please consider helping to contribute to the strategic leadership of St James’ CE Primary and Sphere Federation as a whole. Read more about the role. If you’re interested, please submit an expression of interest by  22 September 2023. Please use this form.

The rest of this week’s message comes from Mr Wilks, who oversees all the topics in school…

What do we mean by topics?

Topics are the vehicle for delivering much of the learning in foundation subjects (history, art, geography, for example). Each half-termly topic has a driving subject – the main focus for teaching your child the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life. The driver changes with each topic.

Although there’s a focus on one subject in each topic, there are opportunities for enrichment through other subjects. For example, learning in a history driven subject may be enriched by observational drawing of an artefact. In this example, the enricher is art.

For more information about the intent, implementation and impact of our topics, click here.

What is this half-term’s topic?

This half-term we’re geographers. The topic is called Where in the world am I?

We’re focusing on the geography of the United Kingdom and helping to develop children’s sense of where they live through the use of fieldwork. As you read about the learning planned in each phase, you’ll see how the learning progresses across the primary age range.

Children in Years 1 and 2 will learn about the different countries that make up the United Kingdom and their capital cities. They’ll learn about the difference between physical and human geography and identify examples of both in the local area. They’ll also learn about the four compass points and use geographical vocabulary to describe what is north, south, east or west of them. A big chunk of the learning will have a focus on fieldwork. They’ll think of questions about the locality. For example, what types of trees are growing in the school grounds? They’ll then collect and present data to answer the question.

Children in Years 3 and 4 will develop their locational knowledge by using maps and atlases to locate some of the other cities in the United Kingdom. They’ll learn about counties and use the eight compass points to describe locations. The big focus for this phase is on maps. They’ll learn how to use Ordnance Survey maps and their keys. They’ll learn about four figure grid references and use these to locate features. They’ll then apply this learning more locally by mapping a route in the locality.

Children in Year 5 and 6 will learn about national parks, using maps to locate them. They’ll then learn about urban green spaces and their importance before learning about how Leeds has expanded over time. Importantly, children will get an understanding of how a geographer works by completing fieldwork in the locality. They’ll gather data about the amount of carbon stored in trees and present that data.

How can you help?

To kick off with, check out the links for each phase to explore more about the United Kingdom, Ordnance Survey and national parks.

Regardless of the year group your child is in, Google Earth is a brilliant tool to help develop children’s understanding of their sense of place in the world. Zoom right in on your home and then zoom out to reveal the area of Leeds that you live in. Zoom further out to see what city you live. Zoom further for the county. A little further and you might start to spot some national parks. Further still and you can see the country that we live in. Keep zooming and you’ll see the continent we live in (though this isn’t labelled). Before you know it, you’re floating in space and circling the Earth!

Google Maps is another great tool for investigating where you live. Try the street view option and you can walk along your street. You can even toggle between different data points to see what your house or garden looked like in previous years. (My lack of gardening skills were laid bare in a staff meeting when we compared my unkempt garden in 2019 to the lush, wildlife haven the previous owners had lovingly created in 2008!)

Have a quiz with your child about some locational knowledge to help them remember important information. I’ve listed some examples below. Use the age-related expectations on page 16 to find the right pitch for your child.

  • What country do we live in?
  • Which county do we live in?
  • Which city do we live in?
  • Which part of Leeds do we live in?
  • Which four countries make up the United Kingdom?
  • Which national parks are located in Yorkshire?

If you can, go to the library and get some geography related books, especially an atlas. You could compare maps of the same place to see what type of information they show. For example, you find lots of maps of the United Kingdom. One might show the countries and capital cities. Another might show the mountains, rivers and national parks. Another might give information about the climate.

Children could draw a plan/map of their bedroom with a key. Older children could try to do this for each room of their house. Children could also create a map of a mythical location with an accompanying key.

For children in Key Stage 2 (Years 3-6), there are lots of different games and activities on Ordnance Survey Mapzone. I especially like the jigsaws in the Map Puzzles section of the Games.

Also for KS2 children, there’s a lot of information and some tasks and quizzes on BBC Bitesize.