Latest news from around the school

Keeping your child safe online

Posted on 16 May 2017 by Mr Roundtree

Have you checked out these useful resources yet?

Think U Know is a great website for children and young people – there are pages that cover children aged 5-8, aged 8-10, aged 11-13 and aged 14+. There are also really useful pages for parents/carers.

The NSPCC also has great guidance to the social networks your child might be using.

Finally (for now!), Vodafone has been particularly supportive of parents with their Digital Parenting magazine. They’ve produced this for five years now. The magazine is available as a downloadable pdf.

Key Stage 2 SATs

Posted on 11 May 2017 by Mr Roundtree

Many of you will be aware that this week, our Year 6 pupils have been sitting SATs tests. On Monday, they had an hour-long Reading test; on Tuesday, they had a Grammar and Punctuation test and a separate Spelling test; yesterday, they had two Maths tests (one on arithmetic, which focussed on calculations, and one on reasoning, which is about using and applying their mathematical skills in problem-solving). Today, there is one more Maths test (another reasoning one). We wish all our Year 6 children lots of success.

The SATs tests can be a stressful time, but our children have performed well. Thank you for your support at home in making sure your child is in school, feeling as relaxed as they can be, and bright and alert having had enough sleep the night before.

The Department for Education places a great deal of importance on these tests as one way to measure a school’s performance. To this end, representatives from the local authority make unannounced spot-checks on schools to check that the administration of the tests is all done correctly – checking, for example, that the papers have been stored securely beforehand and that they are not opened privately before the tests are due to begin. The Department for Education also encourage schools to arrange a monitoring visit from someone who is able to check proceedings from a more independent standpoint; they suggest a governor or someone from a local secondary school.

It’s hard to arrange a visit from the latter – lots of primary schools would want a teacher to visit in the same week, so secondary schools struggle to provide this. However, we did arrange visits from governors who checked what was going on. One governor report describes checks on ‘Where test scripts are securely kept, who has access / keys. Observed securely sealed scripts, removal, opening and distribution of scripts.’ (Her report continues to describe the secure proceedings over the course of a morning.) Thank you to those governors who carried out this extra check to ensure there is no maladministration.

Thank you also to the staff who have provided help and reassurances to our children, and again to you, for your support. Most of all, thank you to the Year 6 children for putting in lots of extra effort in this tough week.

Wonderful writing

Posted on 09 May 2017 by Mr Roundtree

Children in Y3,4 have been ‘reading’ a book called Journey by Aaron Becker. (It’s not quite ‘reading’, as the book is a wordless book, where the story is told through its illustrations. You can enjoy the story, too, though the background music is a bit distracting – turn the sound down to fully immerse yourself in the story!)

Look at these wonderful pieces of writing from two Year 4 pupils, who have described one part of the story where the main character is in some sort of imaginary world, flying on a magic carpet:

The girl glided into the white, fluffy clouds after her accomplished mission of escaping the old metal cage. The girl had to dodge all the time because the gold, rusty turrets were in her way. She wondered if the violet and light purple bird would hopefully lead her to her destiny. Suddenly, the bird stopped. She flew next to the bird to see if something was ahead but there was nothing to be seen, so she took the opportunity to admire the view below her before she returned to her old town. She wished that she had a camera to take photos so she could treasure the wonderful, exquisite land in her dark home. Firstly, she looked at the garden domes gleaming far below her in the reflection of the beautiful sunset. Next, she looked at everything else. She was now heading to her gloomy town. Thankfully, when she came back she made lots of friends.

Well done, Rodi. We love your ambitious vocabulary and very descriptive sentences.

The solitary girl flew high above the old, majestic castle on her ruby red carpet. She wondered where the thrilling purple bird would take her. As she soared around, she scrutinised the stunning, gold towers with circular-shaped turrets pointing up to the sunset sky. She had this tingling sense that she couldn’t describe… She gazed at the micro-sized people far below. She wondered if they could see her. The town was phenomenal compared to her lonely, dull town but, unfortunately, she could not stay forever. She wanted to explore the breath-taking castle more than anything, but if she took one more step into the castle a whole army of large, hostile guards would bolt after her.

Another well done, this time to Rhianna, for the same reasons: ambitious vocabulary and very descriptive sentences.


Posted on 08 May 2017 by Mr Roundtree

From time to time, we like to alert you to any new trends in online activity that we think you should know about. There’s a new website called Here’s how the site describes what to do:

1. Create your personal feedback web address
2. Spread the link through Twitter, Facebook, Skype, etc.
3. Read what people think about you
4. Publish your favourite feedback

‘Your favourite feedback’ might sound positive. However, inevitably there will be young people who see an anonymous feedback tool and spot an opportunity to be abusive and offensive.

There is growing evidence of the harm that this site has already created. Safeguarding leaders are reporting a growing number of incidents of damaging cyberbullying as a result of it.

Please make sure you keep an eye on what apps and websites your child is using, and how they’re using them.

Attendance update

Posted on 06 May 2017 by Mr Roundtree

The more time your pupil is in school, the more good learning they can do. In Leeds overall, primary attendance is at 95.9% and secondary at 93.9% for the 2016-17 academic year to date. The city has made great improvements in school attendance, with more children and young people in school and learning.

At St James’, attendance is just a little below this: 95.6%. Let’s do our best to at least match the city’s attendance by the end of the year!

You might also like to see how each year group is doing. Figures in green are higher than the Leeds average (95.9%).

  • Reception: 95.7%
  • Year 1: 95.6%
  • Year 2: 95.1%
  • Year 3: 96.2% – a great figure – well done!
  • Year 4: 94.5%
  • Year 5: 97.2% – another great figure – fantastic!
  • Year 6: 95.1%

You can get an update on your child’s individual attendance whenever you like – ask at the school office.

Top tips for a good (and safe!) read

Posted on 03 May 2017 by Mr Roundtree

Books about safeguarding-related issues

We all love a good story. Stories can make us laugh, cry, shudder and think. Reading stories out loud with your child is a valuable opportunity to build up the relationship with your child. It’s good to spend some relaxing time together, and stories can help us both learn and think about the lives of others.

We all have our favourite books. However, the following book lists might help you to identify some new stories you might not know.

Books focusing on identity, belonging, conflict, migrant and refugee experiences

Books about kindness, compassion and empathy

Books about bullying for 8-12s

Books about depression

Books about grief and loss

Books about eating disorders

Testing times...?

Posted on 02 May 2017 by Mr Roundtree

End of Key Stage 2 SAT tests take place next week:

  • Monday 08 May: reading
  • Tuesday 09 May: grammar, punctuation and spelling
  • Wednesday 10 May: maths (arithmetic and reasoning)
  • Thursday 11 May: maths (reasoning)

The Standards and Testing Agency has produced a leaflet and videos aimed at parents with children in year 2 and year 6. They provide information on the purpose and format of tests, how parents can support their children and how results will be reported.


Posted on 27 April 2017 by Mr Roundtree

We have a new website here at St James’.

You told us you wanted to know more about the school, and – even more importantly – ways to support your child at home. This website will help with that, especially the Learn More pages.

You also wanted to be better informed of forthcoming events. The calendar will help here. At the moment, it shows forthcoming holidays, but over time it will also show events such as parents’ evenings, performances and other things happening in school that we think you’ll want to know about.

Spend some time getting to know what’s around on each of the pages. The site is new and there may be a few teething problems or errors – please do let us know.


National pupil absence data 2016/17

Posted on 14 April 2017 by Mr Roundtree

Latest national pupil absence data shows that the overall absence rate across state funded primary, secondary and special schools has remained at the same rate of 4.6% in 2015/16 as in the previous year. The overall absence rate has remained broadly stable since 2013/14. Illness remains the most common reason for absence, accounting for 57.3% of all absences.

In 2015/16, persistent absentees accounted for 36.6% of all absence compared to 37.4% in 2014/15. Longer term, there has been a decrease in the proportion of absence that persistent absentees account for – down from 43.3% in 2011/12.

Family holidays (authorised and unauthorised) accounted for 8.2% of all absences in 2015/16 compared to 7.5% in 2014/15.

Among ethnic groups, the lowest overall absence rates were seen for pupils of Chinese and Black African heritage, at 2.4% and 3.0% respectively, a substantially lower rate than the national average of 4.6%.

Read more about national absence rates here.

Talking to children about terrorism

Posted on 14 April 2017 by Mr Roundtree

The horrific attack in Westminster recently is a shocking reminder to all of us how dangerous the world can be. It’s hard to avoid the blanket global media coverage of the event or the social media saturation – and hard to protect your child from becoming aware and anxious.

As sad as situations like this can be for adults, it can be especially difficult to know that our children are aware of such hateful attacks and it is natural to fear a loss of innocence when such events unfold before their eyes.

Here’s some advice for talking to children about terrorism (taken from Social Work Tutor).

Try to focus on the positives

When wrapping up these difficult conversations where you’ll be talking to children about terrorism, try to focus on the positives you can find. Whether it’s the fact that people all pull together to help overcome such awful attacks, or how many people from all over the world show compassion for their fellow humans, always look for the light at the end of the tunnel. The Social Work Tutor article ends with a good summary of this point:  ‘When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’

Be honest and answer the questions that children pose to you

Children are quick to pick up on lies and can identify when adults are trying to hush them up or change the subject. If your child asks you a question, answer it directly and in a manner that acknowledges their curiosity, as well as praises them for seeking out information.

Reassure your child and let them know that they are safe

Given that terrorist attacks can occur in places that seem so familiar to children- places where Mummy or Daddy work, public transport systems and places of celebration- seeing such attacks unfurl on television can make children feel unsafe in their daily surroundings. Try to frame the perspective of what has happened and then point out how emergency services and Governments work hard to keep us all safe.

Frame your answers to their questions based on the child’s prior knowledge

If your child has come to you having seen information elsewhere, try to respond in a manner that is proportionate to what they already know. When talking to children about terrorism, we may inadvertently cause greater anxiety by over-sharing. This may cause them to feel as if we were intentionally hiding bad things from them and raise natural fears about what other unknown threats might scare them.

Accept their feelings and explain that anxiety and worry are normal emotions                         

As well as praising children for wanting to find out more about tragic events, we should also let them know that sad feelings about the loss of innocent lives are normal. It is important that children understand worrying about others is a sign of empathy and is a natural human emotion in caring people.

Consider monitoring the media your children are exposed to

Modern technology means that any child with a mobile phone or tablet connected to the internet is exposed to the whole world. Combined with rolling 24/7 news stations, it can be very hard to protect our children from all the evil of the world. However, trying to reduce this exposure is a good way to limit the loss of innocence children will experience should they become over-exposed to tragic events.

Be a positive role model and show them proportional responses

As well as talking to your children about terrorism, you can model positive responses to tragic events by keeping calm and demonstrating realistic responses of your own. Although such events occur far too frequently and naturally shake us up, the chances of being caught up in such an attack are still slim.

Sensitively challenge any discriminatory views your child may have picked up

In a society that feels increasingly divided, children may pick up discriminatory views that are shared in response to acts of terrorism. If your child starts to share oppressive views that they’ve heard, try and challenge these in an age-appropriate manner and explain why it’s wrong to feel that way about other people.