Key dates 2021/2022
Posted on 20 September 2021 by Mrs Quirk
As you’ve found it helpful in previous years, we’ve produced a list of key dates for this academic year and attach a copy here for your reference.
Please be aware that some of the dates are inevitably subject to change. This is for two main reasons. The first is that we’re planning right across the year, and the second is due to Covid.
Any dates that are changed or added throughout the year will be communicated to you. The full calendar can also be found on the website in the ‘Find Out’ section.
This week’s message (Friday 17 September 2021)
Posted on 17 September 2021 by Mr Roundtree
This week’s message come from our Science and Foundation Subjects Leader, Mr Wilks, who’s based at Moortown Primary. The message is about the current topic that children in Years 1-6 are learning about this half-term: Geography. It’s a long message – you could skip to the last section on helping your child at home if you need to. (There are links to the recent Zoom sessions on phonics and Early Years at the end, too.)
What do we mean by topics?
Topics are the vehicle for delivering much of the learning in the foundation subjects (eg history, art, geography, DT). Each half-termly topic has a driving subject – the main focus for teaching pupils the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life. The driver changes with each topic to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum.
Although the learning in each topic will be provided by the driving subject, 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.
Read more about the intent, implementation and impact of our topics.
What is this half-term’s topic?
This half-term, the topic is called Where in the world am I? and your child’s a geographer.
In this geography-driven topic, we’re focusing on the geography of the United Kingdom and helping to develop the children’s sense of where they live through the use of fieldwork. Each phase has age-related specific knowledge, skills and vocabulary that they’ll learn, use and apply across the topic.
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 be learning about the four compass points and using geographical vocabulary to describe what is north, south, east or west of them. Fieldwork in the local area may include taking photographs of features in the local area and then locating them on a map. It could also involve conducting a survey about what they like and dislike about their local area. They may even survey parents or members of the local community.
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 their 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 to school.
Children in Years 5 and 6 will learn about National Parks, using maps to locate them. Like Y3,4 they’ll also use Ordnance Survey maps but this time they’ll be tasked with using six figure grid references to locate places. Importantly, they’ll get an understanding of how a geographer works by completing fieldwork on urban green spaces.
How can you help?
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 2020 to the lush, wildlife haven the previous owners had lovingly created in 2008!)
Quizzing your children about some locational knowledge will help them to remember important information. I’ve listed some examples below. Use the age-related expectations 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. You could also create a map of a mythical location with an accompanying key.
For children in 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 older children, there are lots of information and some tasks and quizzes on BBC Bitesize.
Thanks to Mr Wilks for this guided tour of our Where in the World am I? topic. As always with learning at home, keep it simple and make it fun.
Thank you to everyone who has attended our recent Zoom sessions to help you support your child at home. Watch the phonics session and the Early Years introduction. (And apologies for the distracting cursor in the latter – maybe that’s a nervous habit of mine!)
Enjoy your weekend.
This week’s message (Friday 10 September 2021)
Posted on 10 September 2021 by Mr Roundtree
The first week back at school brings with it a return to familiar routines and a rhythm for the week. Most children really benefit from this as well as the social and learning aspects of school, and we’ve noticed that: lots of happy and healthy, content and concentrating faces. This week, we also welcomed new faces to our Reception class, which is always a delight for us. Our new pupils have settled in well.
This message contains a few short pieces (none of which relate to Covid – hopefully a good omen for the year ahead.)
Most of the messages relate to what’s going on in Key Stages 1 and 2 – keep an eye our for news specific to Early Years in the Class News pages.
Homework for the year ahead is different. As you might have read over the summer in a school news article about the annual survey (Our annual survey – overview of the outcomes posted on 11 August), we’re dropping (for now at least) Creative and Practice Makes Perfect homework activities. Here’s what you can expect each Friday:
- a Talk Time prompt
- a reminder to read often at home – the key to successful learning in all subjects (every child will soon have a Reading Record book to show they’re reading regularly)
- a reminder to be practising number facts (and for children from Year 2 onwards, this includes times tables) – NumBots and Times Tables Rock Stars will help (your child has a subscription via school – don’t buy your own!)
- a list of spellings
We’ll provide a weekly paper copy that sets this out and you’ll find the details on our Homework page, too, although some of the details on the page need to be updated as we develop our new policy. We’ll also provide a home learning book; this doesn’t need to be brought to school each week – it should stay at home. Your child can use this to practise spellings or number facts and possibly to make notes during your Talk Time discussion at home.
Living and learning
‘Living and learning’ is the name we use for everything linked to personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE). Our 8Rs for Learning is coming up in the next two weeks – these eight characteristics can be really helpful in encouraging your child to be an effective learner. Find out more in our parent guide.
Last year’s attendance was 96.0% (based on the actual days school was open and excluding absences directly due to Covid). This is a high figure so thank you for your support. With so many school days lost in the last two school years, it’s even more important than ever to make sure your child’s at school each day unless they’re not feeling well.
Gym and playground equipment
Consultation about Medical Conditions Policy
Schools are required to have a policy that outlines how we will support children with a long-term medical condition. This might be asthma, diabetes or a disability. We’ve recently renewed our policy. If you’d like to see the draft policy and let us know your views, please get in touch.
After just one week, we’ve already had comments from our neighbours about parking. If you do have to drive to drop off your child, please park away from school and in a way that respects our community – thank you.
On Wednesday, we sent news (by email and on the website) of a series of short Zoom sessions to support your child’s learning at home. The sessions start at 6pm and last around 30 minutes in total. The first one is this Monday and it’s about phonics – useful for parents of younger children. If you’re interested in attending some or all of the sessions, either send us a message on the School Gateway app or email the school office. We’ll then email to you the Zoom joining details. We’ll record the sessions, too.
If your child’s in Early Years, look out for a range of sessions specifically for you.
Next week’s message comes from Mr Wilks, based at Moortown Primary, who’s the senior leader responsible for Science and topic subjects. The message will relate to your child’s current Geography topic, Where in the world am I?
Our first Christian value theme of the year is…
Posted on 08 September 2021 by Nicky Russell
True friendship enables each person to grow and ensures that the unique individuality of each person is recognised. Friendship is the special relationship we have with certain people – a friend loves and cares for you at all times.
Christians believe that God’s friendship towards us will last forever. Friendship is a partnership of shared experiences, talents, interests and enthusiasms.
Why was this Christian value chosen?
‘Because Jesus is our friend and he is everyone’s friend even when we’re naughty.’
We can learn a lot about friendships from the books we read. Find a book that models a good friendship. Write its title on a post-it note and stick it in your reflection area.
‘A friend loves at all times.’
Support your child's learning - a series of workshops
Posted on 08 September 2021 by Mr Roundtree
Starting next week, we’ve a series of Zoom sessions to help you support your child’s learning at home.
Altogether, there are nine short Zoom sessions led by Sphere Federation leaders on a range of subject areas. Each session lasts for just 30 minutes and will provide a few top tips and guidance as to how to support your child at home. The invitation is open to all parents and carers across Sphere Federation, although we’ve indicated below if the session might be more appropriate for particular age ranges.
The sessions, all starting at 6pm, are as follows:
- Monday 13 September: Phonics (mainly for Key Stage 1)
- Monday 20 September: Reading (mainly for Key Stage 2)
- Monday 04 October: Number fact fluency (mainly for Key Stage 1)
- Monday 11 October: Number fact fluency (inc times tables) (mainly for Key Stage 2)
- Monday 08 November: Our curriculum topics (for Key Stage 1 and 2)
- Monday 15 November: Writing (for Key Stage 1 and 2)
- Monday 22 November: Staying safe online (mainly Key Stage 2)
- Thursday 13 January: Preparing for Y6 SATs (mainly for Y6 parents; parents are welcome too)
- Thursday 23 June: Moving from Reception to Year 1 (for Reception parents)
All the sessions start at 6pm. They last around 20-25 minutes, plus there will be a questions and answer session at the end of around 5-10 minutes.
If you’re interested in attending any of these Zoom workshops, please either send us a message on the School Gateway app or email the school office. We’ll then email the Zoom joining details out to all those who have expressed an interest.
If your child’s in Early Years, look out for a range of sessions specifically for you.
Posted on 05 September 2021 by Miss Beatson
We are going to continue wearing PE kit on PE days – this cuts down on lost property and saves learning time, so we’re going to continue this for at least next year as a longer term trial. On the days your child has PE, they should come to school in their school uniform PE kit. (Track-suit bottoms instead of shorts would be good on colder days. Footwear : black/brown/grey/white flat shoes which are safe to run around in.)
Footwear on PE days could be children’s ‘school shoes’ which are often a plain ‘trainer’ style anyway, if you want to avoid having to buy 2 pairs of shoes.
Here is a link to our uniform policy.
Please find below the days each class has allocated PE times, which will be taught outdoors, except in extreme weather.
Y1/2: Tuesdays and Fridays
Y3/4: Tuesdays and Fridays
Y5/6: Tuesdays and Fridays
This week’s message (Friday 03 September 2021)
Posted on 03 September 2021 by Mr Roundtree
Hello and welcome to a new school year! We hope you all had as good a summer as you could hope for (or even better!) in the circumstances.
The new school year starts on Monday. Teachers (some familiar, some new!) have been in school for training days yesterday and today and we’re all ready to go, looking forward to welcoming your child back on Monday.
When your child returns, please remember a couple of things:
We’re going back to the normal school day times: 8.50am start and 3.15pm finish.
We’ll continue to allow children to wear PE kit on PE days. We’re trialing this for another year – it saves time and reduces lost property. Please make sure your child’s PE kit follows the uniform policy.
For now at least, we’re going back to the same playtimes for classes. We know children enjoy happy and healthy playtimes with friends from different classes.
This is an example of one of the changes back to normal we’re making. Of course, all this is subject to change and if we see numbers of Covid rising, we’ll have to start taking some precautionary steps again.
Please help us:
- Keep your child off school is they’re feeling in any way not themselves; this could be the classic symptoms of Covid, but others like a sore throat or headache or unusual tiredness.
- Make sure people in your household test themselves often; staff in school are testing twice each week.
In the meantime, enjoy your last weekend and we’ll see you on Monday!
Our annual survey - overview of the outcomes
Posted on 11 August 2021 by Mr Roundtree
We hope you’re managing to enjoy some rest and recuperation this summer. This long message has no essential information – it’s for your awareness only.
Every year, we invite you to let us know how we’re doing via the annual survey of parents/carers. Thank you to the 16 parents/carers who responded. (Figures below may not total this because some people didn’t express an opinion to each question.)
We asked about some of the changes we’ve made due to Covid. Here’s what you said.
Only 2 people said they’d like these to continue by Zoom and 7 said they’d prefer the meetings to return to being in person. 6 people said they’d like a mixture – this seems to be the best way for all in that it’s convenient to meet by Zoom, but we recognise the value in coming into school to properly meet the teacher and to have the chance to check out your child’s books. Based on this, we plan to host the October meeting in person (if our risk assessment allows) and the February meeting by Zoom.
We asked for your thoughts about our weekly messages. 75% felt positive about these and 25% didn’t have a strong opinion (nobody expressed any negative views). Comments include ‘We find them very informative’ and ‘They are really good. Keeps us informed and are nice and light hearted.’ Based on this, we’ll continue to publish weekly news.
We also asked for your views about the learning workshops. These are to help you support your child at home. Traditionally, we’ve held these in school and, generally speaking, the attendance has been quite low. Last year, we held a series of short presentations by Zoom instead. People who attended told us at the time they much preferred these. The St James’ survey of parents and carers was fairly inconclusive – about the same number of people said they were more likely to attend a Zoom session than those who said they were less likely. For us, the Zoom sessions were an efficient way to support parents across all three Sphere schools. We’ve planned in a series of Autumn Zoom workshops again this year – the first one (on phonics) starts on Monday 13 September at 6pm.
Our fourth question was perhaps the most important – homework. After the Spring lockdown, we suspended our Homework Policy that set out a Creative or a Practice Makes Perfect or a Talk Time homework each week. Instead, we’ve provided a Talk Time homework activity that should be accessible for all children in Years 1-6, and we’ve emphasised the importance of reading, learning spellings, and learning numbers facts and times tables (using NumBots and Times Tables Rock Stars, for example).
We asked you to consider a variety of statements about homework. Without exception, the statements that you agreed with the most are the same statements that support continuing with our current approach to homework:
- We use the Talk Time prompt at home for a discussion: 75% agreed
- Reading at home is the most important way for my child to make good progress: 67% agreed
- Numbots / Times Table Rock Stars helps to improve my child’s recall of number facts: 67% agreed
- The current ‘slimmed down’ homework means my child has more time for other activities that help him/her to progress: 67%
Homework is always a problematic area. Some parents have previously told us they want more and an equal number have told us they want less. Research indicates that homework has limited impact on learning. We know that for some, homework can actually create a tension at home that doesn’t help anyone. At school, reviewing homework takes time. We’re increasingly convinced that the current approach is the best way forward. We can easily monitor how much children are learning number facts and times tables (we can do ‘mini-tests’, but can also check the data on NumBots and Rock Stars). For younger children, we can keep an eye on their Reading Record book. We need to explore how we can ensure older children regularly engage with reading, perhaps through a different Reading Record-style book. Based on the feedback, we’re going to continue with the revised provision: a Talk Time prompt each week and an emphasis on regular reading and learning spellings and number facts.
Other aspects of life at St James’ CE Primary School
The second part of the survey asked about aspects that we often include in the annual survey – statements that Ofsted also use when they seek the views of parents and carers. We presented you with four statements and invited one of three responses: ‘agree’, ‘disagree’ and ‘don’t know’. If we don’t count the one or two individuals who might have indicated they don’t know to the statements below, the proportions are:
- St James’ CE Primary has high expectations for my child: 86%
- St James’ CE Primary promotes its Christian ethos effectively: 100%
- My child has been bullied and the school dealt with the bullying quickly and effectively: thankfully, the vast majority of respondents indicated their child had not been bullied; of those remaining, just one indicated no to this – the parent left their name so we’ll follow this up (incidentally, the parent goes on to praise the school)
- When I have raised concerns with the school they have been dealt with properly: 89%
- We also asked if we achieve our vision to be a happy and healthy place to achieve and believe: 100%
Typically in any survey, there are more comments with suggestions or criticism than overall praise – think about the last time you filled in a survey for a hotel or product. However, about two thirds of respondents left additional comments and well over half of these were completely positive: ‘I still feel many years down the line that St James’ is a happy, productive school that tries to encourage every child in it’ and ‘I have been so impressed with the school since [my children] started in 2020. The staff are all welcoming, caring and really have my children’s best interests and progression at heart’ were typical comments – thank you!
We’ll review each suggestion carefully with a view to acting on as many as we realistically can.
This survey helps us to gain a broad overview of how we’re doing. (By the way, we also ask pupils similar questions!) For more specific questions, comments and concerns, it’s always best to speak with your child’s class teacher or Miss Beatson. Many thanks to those of you who completed the survey this year.
Gymnastics Holiday Club
Posted on 06 August 2021 by Mrs Latham
Letter to all school pupils
Posted on 02 August 2021 by Mr Roundtree
We hope you’re all enjoying the school holidays so far.
Here’s a letter to all school pupils from Councillor Jonathan Pryor (Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education) and Saleem Tariq (Director, Children and Families).