News

Latest news from around the school

This week’s message (Friday 07 July 2023)

Posted on 07 July 2023 by Mr Roundtree

Happy Friday!

Big brains

A recent news article caught our eye – front page of The Times (28.06.23):

Here’s an extract from the article:

Young children who love reading grow up to be cleverer teenagers with better mental health, a study has found.

Research by Cambridge and Warwick universities found that reading a lot between the ages of two and nine was linked to better academic performance at secondary school, greater happiness and a reduced likelihood of depression, anxiety or behavioural problems.

Bookish children spent less time on their phones or watching TV. Scans revealed that they had bigger brains.

The research authors stressed the value of parents and carers ‘doing their best to awaken the joy of reading in their children at an early age’. The reaserch suggests that the ideal would be for children to read about 12 hours each week.

Talking of reading…

Extreme reading

Here at St James’ CE Primary, we love reading. Over the Summer holidays, we’ve a challenge for your child… Show us how reading-obsessed they are by sending us a pic of them reading in an extreme place or position.

Here’s someone who’s already getting stuck into some extreme reading. (can’t think who it could be!)…

To enter, email your pics to stjamesoffice@spherefederation.org by Friday 08 September. Enter ‘Summer competition’ as the subject.

All entries will be displayed in school, and there are prizes for our favourites.

Running to raise money

Our school charity this year is Cancer Research. Lots of our staff are doing The Race For Life in Harrogate on Sunday. If you feel like donating, we’d be very grateful!

Governance

Each year, the Sphere Federation governors produce a document that outlines their work over the year. Read the 2022-23 Annual Governance Statement.

Have a happy and healthy weekend.

This week’s message (Friday 30 June 2023)

Posted on 30 June 2023 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s message comes from our Junior Leaders. Before this, just a wee reminder: the last few weeks of the school year are busy (annual reports, productions, sports day…) so it’s a good idea to check out our school calendar.

It’s been a pleasure to be part of the Junior Leadership Team this year.

In the Autumn term, our classes elected us to represent them at the JLT meetings and we hope we’ve done this by sharing their ideas and discussing them at JLT meetings.

At the start of the year we took on the role of reviewing the anti-bullying policy. We read through the policy and discussed some small changes. Then, we made sure that this was shared with the rest of the school and that everyone was clear on what bullying is and what we can do about it.

This was followed by the JLT deciding on a charity that school would support this year. Class nominations were brought to a meeting and we took a democratic vote. As a result, Cancer Research became our charity this year.

Another fundraising event we supported was Sports for Champions. This was an exciting day when a professional female footballer came into school. We helped Mr Freeman organise the sponsored event by helping set up activities, promote the event around school and reward children on the day.

Part of the role of a JLT, when you’re in Years 5 and 6, is to become a collective worship leader. This year, we’ve supported adults who lead worship as well as planning and leading our own worships about Eid and Holi. We really enjoyed working together as a team to present information to the rest of the school about different festivals.

Recently, we met as a JLT to share our views about changing the school rules. We discussed this at length and we all decided that our new school rules (we’re respectful, we’re ready, we’re safe) are really good because they are simple and clear to understand.

As we come to the end of term, we are hoping to raise thel ast bit of money for Cancer Research by shaking buckets at the KS2 production in a few weeks.

Junior Leadership Team

This week’s message (Friday 23 June 2023)

Posted on 23 June 2023 by Mr Roundtree

We kick off this week’s message with early news of our annual Summer competition…

Extreme reading

Here at St James’ CE Primary, we love reading. Over the coming weeks, we’ve a challenge for your child… Show us how reading-obsessed they are by sending us a pic of them reading in an extreme place or position.

For last year’s competition, we gave you a few ideas for your happy and healthy smiley faces spotted in unusual places. This year, we’re not giving you any ideas (yet!), but you’ve plenty of advance warning, so get your thinking caps on!

To enter, email your pics to stjamesoffice@spherefederation.org by Friday 08 September. Enter ‘Summer competition’ as the subject.

All entries will be displayed in school, and there are prizes for our favourites.

Our current topic…

…is a Design and Technology one – it’s a great topic to finish the year! The focus for all classes this year is construction (next year, it’s textiles) so children are busy designing and making products.

A key aspect of the Design and Technology curriculum is the understanding that products don’t just get made. Instead, they go through a design process that includes three key elements: evaluate, design and make. Think of this process as a cycle. For example, Sphere Motors want to create a new family car. Before the car is made, they need to evaluate existing products and talk to customers so that they’re clear about what the new car needs to have. They will then design the car and evaluate those designs. They may make a prototype of the car to help them evaluate the designs. Next, they’ll decide on a final design that will go into production and get made. This finished product will be evaluated and the whole process starts again.

Years 1 and 2

Children have been exploring what makes structures stable and strong. Next, they’ll get their design brief: to design and make a new chair for Baby Bear (clumsy Goldilocks has broken it again). Children will design and make their product, using what they’ve learned about strength and stability to help them. Finally, they’ll evaluate the product by testing it and reflect on what they would change about their design to improve it.

Years 3 and 4

Children will use a construction kit called Techcard to design and make a prototype of a go-kart which must satisfy a number of design criteria. They’ll explore how to make strong structures and mechanisms using Techcard before designing and making their prototype. Finally, children will evaluate their finished product by comparing it to their design and testing whether they have achieved the design criteria.

Years 5 and 6

Children have begun the topic by learning about pioneering female designers and engineers.

They then move on to designing and making a moving vehicle which most protect Eggy the Egg in a crash. They’ll need to research and learn about the different safety features that cars use to prevent crashes and protect passengers. They’ll then establish the design criteria and design and make their vehicles. They’ll be using a range of tools and materials to make their vehicles. Finally, children will test their vehicles against each design criteria to see how successful it is. They’ll then evaluate the vehicle based on the results of the tests to suggest improvements.

How can you help?

Talk to your child about what they’ve been learning in class. You could even talk through the three key elements of the design process: evaluate, design and make (check out Sphere Motors, above).

The class news page of the school website is a good place to go to find out more about what the children are doing.

The school library and local libraries will have some books about Design and Technology which your child will be able to borrow and develop both their reading skills and design knowledge.

Finally, there’s a lot of programmes on CBBC and CBeebies with a Design and Technology focus:

  • Bitz and Bob
  • Grace’s Amazing Machines
  • Junk Rescue
  • Maddie’s Do You Know?
  • The Dengineers

Uniform update

Each year, we review our Uniform Policy. This year, there’s only a tiny tweak about footwear to make things clearer for you: ‘choose shoes that are safe to run around for healthy, active playtimes’.

Talking of uniform, please remember a couple more points:

  • ‘Regarding jewellery, only plain stud earrings (no more than 4mm wide)…are allowed.’ We’ve started to notice more earrings that are bigger and brighter – please save those for weekends and holidays!
  • ‘Advisors recommend no earrings are worn for PE; therefore, we will ask your child to remove earrings before the lesson and put them back in after the lesson. This will be carried out by the child. If they are unable to remove or put their earrings back in by themselves, they must not wear them on the day they have PE.’ – so the start of the Summer holidays is a good time for ears to be pierced.

Thanks for your cooperation.

That’s all from us this week – enjoy a happy and healthy weekend (maybe the whole family will get up to some extreme reading!).

This week’s message (Friday 16 June 2023)

Posted on 16 June 2023 by Mr Roundtree

Hot, hot, hot! Despite the weather, there’s still loads of learning happening at St James’ CE Primary!

We start this week’s message with with an important change…

Our school day

Some time ago, the Government published a White Paper setting out various proposals which included the strong expectation that schools are open for 32.5 hours each week. Following the consultation, the White Paper was cancelled. We assumed the ‘strong expectation’ would also be no more.

Frustratingly, the expectation remains in DfE and Ofsted publications – this wasn’t clear earlier in the year.

This means we need to add five minutes to the school day. We’re going with the overall preference from the parent/carer consultation earlier in the year, which is to add the five minutes to the start of the day. This means our school day from September will be 08.45 – 3.15, every day.

I’m sorry for the confusion and change.

As always, if you’ve questions, comments or concerns, please do let me know.

Testing times

The end of the school year brings with it many assessments, some we have to do and others are to help us keep track of all our pupils’ learning.

The DfE has updated its collection of information for parents. This now includes links to all National Curriculum assessment leaflets for parents, including leaflets for the:

  • KS1 and KS2 national curriculum tests (Year 2 and Year 6 pupils)
  • reception baseline assessment (RBA)
  • phonics screening check (Year 1 pupils, and some Year 2 pupils)
  • multiplication tables check (Year 4 pupils)

In school, we really try to make sure all the assessments are as positive as possible.

Our annual survey

Thank you to everyone who completed the annual survey this year. The survey closed at noon today. We’ve had quite a small number of responses, but all were extremely positive (100% of respondents report their child is happy and feels safe at school, for example).

We’ll spend some time reviewing the responses. Just like in previous years, we’ll get in touch with any individual parent / carer in advance if they’ve raised any specific issue (as long as they’ve provided their name), and we’ll look at some of your suggestions for improvements.

Staying safe in the water

Next week is Drowning Prevention Week. Here’s a few facts to think about:

  • around 44% of accidental drownings happen between May and August
  • 62.4% of accidental drownings happen in inland water
  • accidental drownings takes an average of 402 UK & Irish Citizens every year          
  • lack of confidence and competence in water affects survival rates 
  • more than 46% never intended to be in the water

Spend some time with your child talking about staying safe in and near water.

Have a happy and healthy – and safe – weekend.

This week’s message (Friday 09 June 2023)

Posted on 09 June 2023 by Mr Roundtree

How was your half-term holiday? Hopefully a good one, helped by the nice weather. Now that we’re properly into Summer, remember to make sure your child is protected from the sun (sun cream, hat, plenty of water).

We need to start this week’s message with a correction and end with a reminder.

Sorry!

In the last Friday message just before the holiday, we stated the wrong month for one of a training day. It should read that there’s a training day on Friday 24 May (not June):

We’ve had an increase in requests for some term-time absences. Many of these are linked to the Summer half-term. We don’t authorise term-time absences (see our Attendance Policy). To help next year, we’ve changed the training day to Friday 24 May – this means that you’ve an extra day to use to plan for any holidays.

Thanks to the super-organised parent who spotted the error.

Talking of attendance…

Up to the end of Summer 1 half-term, our whole-school attendance figure is 92.8%*.

Our figure matches the national data: 92.6% (12 September 2022 to 19 May 2023). However, it does fall a short of the national figure for primary schools: 94.1%.

Here’s how each year group shape up:

  • Reception: 91.5%
  • Year 1: 93.7%
  • Year 2: 93.6%
  • Year 3: 95.7% – the highest in school, and higher than national – well done!
  • Year 4: 89.8%
  • Year 5: 91.5%
  • Year 6: 93.7%

Thank you for making sure your child is at school as much as they possibly can.

*This figure is adjusted to take account of a small number of pupils who have moved away, but are still on our school roll until we have confirmation they have started at a new school.

Please help us

This summer, National Book Tokens is offering schools the chance to receive £1,000 in National Book Tokens. Please nominate our school.

If we’re one of the five winning entries, you’ll also win a £100 National Book Token to spend in your favourite bookshop!

The more entries received for St James’ CE Primary, the higher the chance we’ll win – so spread the word.

Thanks to the parent who alerted us to this.

Have you completed our annual survey yet?

If not, there’s still time: you’ve got until Friday 16 June to let us know your views. Thanks to those people who’ve already completed it – it really helps to shape what we do.

Have a happy and healthy weekend!

This week’s message (Friday 26 May 2023)

Posted on 26 May 2023 by Mr Roundtree

We’ve reached the end of the Summer 1 term…

It’s felt a strange one because of all the short weeks in May. The first three Mondays in May have seen school closed – two for bank holidays and one for a training day. Thank you to everyone for working with us – we know disrupted school weeks like this can be tricky for you.

We’ve had an increase in requests for some term-time absences. Many of these are linked to the Summer half-term. We don’t authorise term-time absences (see our Attendance Policy). To help next year, we’ve changed the training day to Friday 24 June – this means that you’ve an extra day to use to plan for any holidays.

We’ve all appreciated the warmer, sunnier weather this week. Please remember to make sure your child is summer-ready next half-term. Make sure they’re wearing suncream, have a sun hat, and a water bottle to stay hydrated.

A big well done to all our Year 6 pupils for coping so well with the end of Key Stage 2 SATs tests – they all did so admirably, despite how difficult they might have been this year. Our Year 6 pupils have got a residential to look forward to, as well as lots of end-of-primary activities as they prepare to move on. This year, the residential (07 – 09 June) will be with all three Sphere Federation schools. (This will help us to make sure we can release enough staff to supervise on the trip.)

Next half term is a busy one, not just for our Year 6 pupils. Teachers are starting to write their end-of-year reports. Amongst other things, pupils have transition morning (05 July) and Sports Day (13 July) to look forward to.

Finally, a quick reminder to complete our annual survey. You’ve got until Friday 16 June to let us know your views. Thanks to those people who’ve already completed it.

Have a great half-term!

This week’s message (Friday 19 May 2023)

Posted on 19 May 2023 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s message is a repeat of an email that we sent earlier in the week…

Coming up in the weeks commencing 05 June, 12 June and 19 June, children from Year 1 to Year 6 will take part in Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) lessons, part of our Personal, Social and Health Education curriculum (PSHE, or ‘Living and Learning’, as we call it).

We want you to feel assured that RSE is delivered at a level appropriate to both the age and development of pupils, and to feel safe to voice opinions and concerns relating to the provision.

The lessons are led by children’s class teacher. They take place in a safe learning environment and are underpinned by our school ethos and values.

Nationally, all primary schools are required by law to teach Relationships Education and Health Education. In Sphere Federation schools, we’ve provided RSE lessons successfully as part of Living and Learning for many years.

Check out our RSE Policy.

  • Section 9 provides a list of the vocabulary that will be used (pages 7 and 8)
  • Section 11 includes an overview of the topics that will be covered (page 11 includes a table to show the learning across each year group)

We know that you may have some issues / concerns. If you’d like to find out more, discuss any concerns, or speak to someone in more detail about the teaching and learning planned for this important aspect of your child’s education, please contact Miss Beatson.

Similarly, you’ve the right to request that your child be withdrawn from some or all of the lessons that can be regarded as ‘sex education’. For our school, this comprises lessons in Year 6 on what human reproduction is and how babies grow. Please see the government’s factual guide to RSE for parents: Understanding Relationships and Health Education in your child’s primary school: a guide for parents. If you’d like to withdraw your Year 6 child from RSE, please contact Miss Beatson to discuss the matter. See page 6 of the RSE policy for more information about your right to withdraw your child.

We’re committed to working in partnership with parents. Recent parental feedback has indicated that the overwhelming majority of parents are highly supportive of our Relationships and Sex Education programme.

This week’s message (Friday 12 May 2023)

Posted on 12 May 2023 by Mr Roundtree

A short message from us this week…

Well done to all our Year 6 pupils this week – they’ve been doing their SATs, the end of Key Stage 2 assessments. They’ve coped really well, despite some of the papers being reported as challenging.

A particular well done to one pupil in the federation who’s shown great determination and resilience by doing the tests whilst in hospital – impressive determination, we’re sure you’ll agree.

Our annual survey

Every year, we invite you to complete a short survey. Your views matter. They help to shape what we do in the forthcoming year(s).

Like last year, this year’s survey features a series of questions closely related to what Ofsted might ask parents during an inspection.

Complete the St James’ CE Primary survey here. We’ll send a few reminders before the closing date, which is Friday 16 June.

It’s worth bearing in mind that if you raise in the survey something very specific that needs to be addressed, we can’t easily act on this without your child’s name. In fact, the survey isn’t the best place to raise individual, specific concerns – hopefully, you’re comfortable to speak with Miss Beatson or a class teacher about these instead.

Finally, a quick reminder that Monday is a training day so school is closed. See you all on Tuesday.

A visit from the Mayor of Wetherby

Posted on 05 May 2023 by Miss Beatson

Today, we welcomed the Mayor of Wetherby, Councillor Neil O’Byrne, to St James’ . The Junior Leadership Team joined the Mayor as he officially opened our new woodland area. The Mayor has donated £100 towards our wonderful forest school which has paid for resources such as hammocks, gloves, rakes and much more. It has been our second week of forest school and the children are having a fantastic time learning outdoors.

Thank you to the PTA for their continued support with this great initiative and thank you to the Mayor of Wetherby for his support and kind donation.

This week’s message (Friday 05 May 2023)

Posted on 05 May 2023 by Mr Roundtree

May’s always a busy time in school with statutory assessments beginning. Today, we’ve also had activities linked to the coronation.

Our message today has three short pieces of news…

Stress-free SATs

Next week, Year 6 pupils have their end-of-key stage assessments – their SATs. Check out these seven top tips to support your child doing the SATs. (They’re useful for lots of children, lots of the time, too!)

Dates

Because of the coronation, all the Year 6 tests are one day later than normal. This means that our original training day, originally scheduled for Friday 12 May, is now Monday 15 May. We’re closed on this day.

Neurodiversity

‘Neurodiversity’ describes the different ways that people’s brains develop. Everyone’s brain is unique but the majority of us have similar brains to others. Our brains affect how we experience the world around us and how we react to it. Neurodiversity includes neurotypical and neurodivergent people. Neurodivergence describes people whose brains have developed differently, including autistic people and those with ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, developmental language disorder and Tourette syndrome. The list of neurodivergent brain types is ever changing as we learn more.

NHS MindMate has recently launched a great website with loads of really helpful information, tips and advice – check it out.

Whatever you get up to this weekend, enjoy a happy and healthy – and longer – weekend!