News

Latest news from around the school

Social media update

Posted on 29 July 2017 by Mr Roundtree

Occasionally, we receive an updated social media update from the West Yorkshire Police safeguarding team. This update includes a list of apps and sites that you should be aware of – a quick reference guide to help you monitor what your child is using online.

Check out the list.

Our parents/carers annual survey

Posted on 27 July 2017 by Mr Roundtree

Thanks to all those of you who took the time to complete our recent parent / carer survey. There were 71 responses in total – that’s around one in three of you. More Reception and Year 3 parents/carers responded; other than those classes, the response rate was reasonably evenly spread.

Below is a summary of what you’ve said.

Lots of you added some comments after each question; we’ve included here just one or two positive and negative comments that present typical responses. Please do contact us directly if you said something which might help us improve further. We can’t guarantee we can accommodate everyone’s wishes or opinions, but we do guarantee we consider each one.

Finally, don’t forget there’s a post box just inside the main entrance – you can use this to post any sort of feedback, as and when you like. And, of course, Mrs Weekes is around at the start and end of most school days if you’d like to pass on any questions, comments and concerns.

1. My child is happy at Moortown Primary School.

80% of you strongly agreed with this, and 18% agreed – this is great!

We are, however, concerned about the one other respondent who strongly disagreed – please do contact school to discuss the matter if you don’t think we are aware.

There were eight comments made for this statement. Six were entirely positive (such as ‘He bounces out of bed in the morning: there is always something to look forward to!’ and ‘Loves school. Finds it exciting, stimulating.’), and two expressed concerns about academic pressure or their child’s occasional worries.

2. My child feels safe at this school.

Everybody agreed with this statement, with over 75% agreeing strongly. We take safeguarding at Moortown Primary very seriously so we’re really happy about this – we’ve nearly always been rated 100% for this statement in the past.

Comments back this up:
‘He and his friends know that bad behaviour and bullying are not acceptable – and that teachers will deal with any problems swiftly and fairly.’
‘Yes. The school also approaches wider safety issues well e.g. through the staying safe themed week, discussing in an age-appropriate way worrying things in the news (such as the recent terrorist attacks), and regular news updates about safety (staying safe online of particular interest to me).’

3. My child makes good progress at this school.

63% of you strongly agreed with this, and 32% agreed. Nobody disagreed, but three respondents were unsure.

Of the nine comments, five were entirely positive (such as ‘It’s great that they are animated about their learning – the topics in particular seem to go down well’ and ‘I feel my daughter has thrived at Moortown’), one was neutral and three were somewhat critical, wanting to see more progress, especially greater challenge for higher attainers (‘I would like the high achieving children challenged more with their learning’).

This concern about challenge is not unique to Moortown Primary. Since the government moved away from assessing children according to levels, and placed an emphasis on ‘mastery’ and ‘deeper learning’, schools have faced the challenge of providing greater opportunities to develop this deeper learning and not automatically going to a level higher up. We are reassured that the proportion of children who have achieved ‘greater depth’ in the end of Key Stage 2 tests is significantly higher than national figures, suggesting that we do challenge the higher attaining children. However, we are not complacent and we do intend to continue exploring ways to provide challenge.

4. My child is well looked after.

All but one of you agreed here (96%), and again, the proportion who strongly agreed was substantial (63%). This leaves just one respondent, who indicated they were unsure.

Other than two which mentioned very specific instances (relating to an instance of vomiting and a lack of extra toilets), comments were positive:
‘I feel the teachers at Moortown are empathetic regarding the children. They understand a child’s needs and are always happy to comply to any special requests. For example when [my daughter] had a poorly knee, the teacher was happy for her to sit on a chair at carpet time.’
‘Very much so. Particular thanks to Mrs Small for ensuring daughter’s worries are listened to, and Mrs O’Malley for ensuring the children have been fine after various minor ‘falling overs’ in the playground.’

5. My child is taught well at Moortown Primary School.

100% of you said yes to this, with 70% agreeing strongly – that’s a great result, and teachers will be pleased and proud.

‘Every year his new teacher is viewed with initial suspicion (because he loved his old teacher) but quickly becomes his “favourite ever teacher”!’
‘Teaching is very strong, but it’s also good to see creative and more non-academic subjects aren’t ignored. I’m particularly pleased at the number of sporting opportunities that have been available to my children this year – netball and Tchoukball tournaments, triathalon event, cycling, to name a few.’
‘She has really progressed and is confident in her learning.’

6. Adults in school make sure pupils are well behaved.

66% strongly agreed with this, and 30% agreed. Just one person disagreed and two were unsure.

Four comments were made. Three are entirely positive, including: ‘There is a good ‘warnings’ system and rewards system in place. I always see well behaved children. They understand the boundaries which are enforced throughout the school’.

One of the four comments was less positive: ‘My child has learnt quite a lot of bad habits and words from other children which often can’t be helped but I do think manners should be promoted and children shouldn’t go to the toilet together as they learn disgusting habits’.

Regarding the first part of this comment, at Moortown Primary, for many years now, we have regular weeks in which we promote good manners – you can see when these are on the website (usually at the start and end of half-terms). For 2017-18, the weeks are ‘I greet someone politely’ (04.09.17); ‘I say please and thank you’ (11.12.17); ‘I don’t interrupt’ (02.01.18); and ‘I cover my mouth (when I yawn, cough, sneeze)’ (19.02.18). As well as this, we reward instances of good manners continually, and we ‘model’ good manners amongst staff.
Relating to the second part, we’re not entirely clear how and when children go to the toilet together – it’s not something we want to happen. We are keen to explore this more, so if you made this remark, please do contact us.

7. Moortown Primary deals effectively with bullying.

34% strongly agreed and 41% agreed with this statement (‘My son spent 7 years at the school and never mentioned any occasion of bullying.’). It’s quite typical that there is a large proportion of parents / carers who indicate they are unsure (this year, 24%) – respondents cite the reason for this being that their child hasn’t encountered bullying (‘Aware of the policy although no personal experience.’).

We’re not complacent. Sadly, in all schools, some bullying behaviour may arise. However, this comment is very reassuring: ‘First time this year we’ve had a brush with bullying. Daughter spoke to me about her concerns, and we talked about the school’s definition of bullying and what we could do about it. She decided as a starting point to put her concerns in the SEAL box. This was picked up very quickly by the school teacher and resolved immediately, before the situation could escalate. Daughter in particular was very happy with how it was sorted.’

This comment perfectly illustrates our message to our children. We define bullying as upsetting or harmful behaviour which is Several Times On Purpose, and we encourage children to Start Telling Other People before it becomes a problem. (Please help us reinforce this message at home, too.)

Of concern here is the one respondent who disagreed, and the one critical comment – perhaps from the same person. We can’t explore this issue here, but really would encourage parents / carers who have any concerns to follow similar advice to what we say to children: start telling us.

8. The school is well led and managed.

70% strongly agreed and 28% agreed (nobody disagreed and one person was unsure).

This is an especially important point this year as Moortown Primary has undergone quite a significant leadership change.

One comment was negative: ‘I believe it has dropped in standards since Mr Roundtree has left’. This is a tricky one: I left, but then Moortown joined a federation of which I’m the senior leader – so I’ve not actually left. Also, learning outcomes this year are as good as ever (and substantially so for our Year 6 cohort who have just left). Perhaps the respondent is referring to other standards – we’d be keen to discuss this more.

The three other comments were very positive, including: ‘Absolutely. Mrs Weekes is highly visible around school (e.g. often at the school gate) and very approachable. Joining Sphere and Mr Roundtree moving to Head of Federation has not affected the quality of the leadership and management at Moortown, and this continues to be very strong.’

9. The school responds well to any concerns I raise.

51% of respondents strongly agreed and 39% agreed: ‘The only concern I have ever had so far was regarding school dinners which was handle efficiently and sympathetically’.

Rather like the bullying statement above, it’s not surprising that there is a large proportion of parents / carers who indicate they are unsure (10%) – respondents cite the reason for this being that they’ve never raised concerns (‘Luckily I haven’t had to raise any concerns over the last 7 years’).

Well done to Mrs O’Malley and Mrs Russell: ‘Not needed to raise any major concerns, but am sure that these would be dealt with well. School office excellent first ‘go to’ place and fountain of knowledge for minor queries’.

…And to Mrs Valentine: ‘I was most impressed with Mrs Valentine’s willingness to give her time to discuss some concerns about [my daughter]’s spelling with me. She was receptive to learning more about specific spelling disorders/weaknesses and how this might be addressed. A valuable exchange of ideas.’

10. I receive useful information from the school about my child’s progress.

Just over half of the 61 respondents (51%) agreed strongly with this, and another 42% also agreed. Three respondents (4%) disagreed and two were unsure (3%).

Comments here (eight in total) were mixed. There was a good deal of praise (‘Learning updates at parents’ evening are provide a good overview. I know that if I have any concerns about their learning, their teacher will make themselves quickly available to talk to us. This is appreciated.’).

Some respondents would like more frequent learning updates, or more about subjects other than core subjects (reading, writing and maths). There’s obviously a balance to be struck here: providing more information can be time-consuming and the majority of parents don’t need or want it. Teachers are happy to speak to individual parents who would like a few more updates, as one respondent notes: ‘Regular parents’ evenings are held but also teachers are available to speak to before and after school’.

However, we’ll encourage teachers to refer to more subjects during parents’ evenings – we value all learning, and need to reflect this.
Incidentally, information about supporting your child’s progress comes in many ways: learning workshops and ‘Watch us while we work’ sessions are a regular feature in the Moortown academic year. Last year, teachers held duplicate learning workshops – one straight after school and one in the early evening – sadly, these were poorly attended.

Finally…

..we asked you to tell us about things you like and the things we could improve on. We’re delighted by all the praise here – with 47 comments out of the 61 responses in total, it far out-weighed suggestions of ways to improve.
Typical responses relate to how friendly the school is and the good behaviour of our children.
‘The general ‘village’ feel of the school: everyone at school knows and looks after all the children; the staff seem to communicate well at all levels; and the children leave primary school well rounded individuals. Oh – and the new website looks great!’
‘Moortown is an inclusive school and is a supportive, friendly environment. Both my children have felt supported and as a parent I feel that any issues that I may raise no matter how small are listened to and acted upon where necessary.’
‘Proud to be part of the Moortown family. I like the school because it is small and feels friendly, I also feel that it makes use of the limited space available. Always tales of innovative learning at home!’
‘I like the community feel and that both my children are happy to,come to school and are motivated to learn. I find the head of school and many other staff welcoming and very approachable.’
‘Positive management of behaviour and encouraging children to take responsibility for their own choices.’

The suggestions to improve are very varied.

Some comments which crop up more than once is our size, the traffic on the school run and limited play space – all of which are to an extent out of our immediate control, but things we do try to influence (…and let’s hope our new green space will happen soon).

Quite a few comments relate to school dinners, which we’ll consider. We are exploring ways to improve choosing the dinners, which will help.
There were other, more specific comments. These include a Class News page for the website (there used to be one, and there will be one soon for the new website); a third parents’ evening (instead of this, parents are encouraged to raise any questions, comments and concerns whenever they arise, and they are always invited to attend a drop-in session following their child’s annual report); and paying for trips and clubs electronically (something we’ve looked into, but are still reluctant to introduce due to additional costs).

Perhaps inevitably, there were contradictory suggestions, too (such as ‘More classroom based learning as well as more homework would help kids learn faster and also make them work harder, preparing them in a better way for the higher classes’ versus ‘There is a lot of pressure on children to achieve and progress. I struggle to get my child to do his homework as we spend a lot of time doing other things…’).

Finally, even amongst the suggestions to improve, there was a lot of praise! (Thank you for comments such as these: ‘Nothing Moortown could do to improve. They are simply fantastic’ and ‘I am happy with what the school offers my child’ – we do very much appreciate them.)

How writing progresses across year groups

Posted on 24 July 2017 by Mr Roundtree

Now that we’ve finished the school year, we thought you might be interested to see the progress in writing from year to year. Below is an example of writing from each year group. (We’ve chosen a good, typical example, not a flawless one. Also, it’s important to note that teachers should not assess a pupil’s writing skills on just one piece – it’s writing a selection of different pieces over time that matters.)

At the end of Reception, this child is using phonic knowledge: some words are spelt correctly whilst others are phonetically plausible (‘sum tee’ is a plausible attempt at spelling ‘some tea’). The sentence can be read because the spelling is good, but also letters are formed correctly and there are gaps between the words (we often refer to the gaps as ‘finger spaces’). Finally, the sentence as a whole has meaning – it makes sense. Next step here would be to include a full stop – something children might begin in Reception, but should definitely do in Year 1.

​Straight away you can see what progress is made in Year 1! Sentences ​are effectively demarcated with capital letters and full stops, although the last sentence would benefit from a full stop after ‘drum’ (to avoid what we call ‘squashed sentences’ or, more accurately, run-on sentences). The writer makes good use of phonics – many words are correctly spelled, and where they are not (‘dinasor’) the attempt is plausible. There is an awareness of story language (look at the writer’s use of the traditional start and end to a fairy tale), and the writer consistently uses the past tense.

It’s not an expectation for Year 2 children to write in paragraphs, but we find most children are able to do this, especially for non-narrative (non-story) writing such as this letter of complaint. The cohesion of the piece shown here is very good. The sentences make sense and are in the correct tense. Punctuation is accurate: full stops and capital letters are used correctly ​and there are also some exclamation marks and a question mark.
The writer’s vocabulary choice is also very good: he’s made the writing more interesting by using adjectives and has carefully selected other words to match the context and purpose of the text. Most impressive is ​the writer’s editing: although you can’t easily see it here, he’s corrected a range of mistakes using a purple pen. (Whilst that might mean the writing doesn’t initially appear impressive, the process of editing and improving writing is a very important one that we’ve been developing over the year.)

The teacher has used green text here to show aspects of this Year 3 writing that she particularly liked. Sentence openers that tell you how, where or when something happens (‘fronted adverbials’ including Just then, … and On the boat, …) are impressive and dotted throughout the piece. Descriptions using adjectives (to make ‘expanded noun phrases’) are also good – we can see One dark, damp night and a deafening bang, for example. There’s clear progression in punctuation, too: this writing shows increasingly sophisticated punctuation including inverted commas for speech, brackets and ellipsis.

This Year 4 writing might not appear to be the neatest piece in the series, but the focus here was to edit and improve – it’s hard to do that neatly without re-writing the whole piece. This writing is an example of a recount, a piece that re-tells what has happened (whether real or fictional). Unlike the Year 2 piece, the tone is informal; the writer has managed this well. Like the Year 3 piece, there are lots of effective fronted adverbials. There are examples of sophisticated punctuation (including hyphens used here); when writing longer pieces with more skills, it’s sometimes easy to slip up on a basic – capital letters for proper nouns (The Diary of a Wimpy Kid is the name of a book and film, so needs capitals). This is a common error, but you can support your child at home – get your child to practise their spellings by writing sentences that use the spelling and include proper nouns.

This is a great story – and a real one, too! Having heard and read about the story of two male penguins trying to hatch a stone, the task for this Year 5 writer was to re-write the story. The teacher has starred two ‘Ps’ for punctuation (a colon and a dash are used effectively and appropriately) and a ‘PV’ for using the passive voice (a common feature in formal, journalistic writing). Look at the complexity of the first sentence, too – more than one fronted adverbial used, and making a good use of commas. These fronted adverbials are used throughout and really give the writing cohesion.

The Year 6s all loved their residential to Robinwood and had no complaints whatsoever. However, to capture a child’s imagination, it can sometimes be good to turn everything upside down and write about the opposite. What we can see here is also the writer becoming someone else – very different to what a younger child would be able to do. The task to write as Mrs Weekes to make the complaint demanded a formal tone. And your task? Think about how else this piece shows progression across the years…

We hope...

Posted on 22 July 2017 by Mr Roundtree

…you have a happy and healthy summer holiday.

There’s a lot to get up to in and around Leeds. Breeze is a good place to start looking, and also check out What’s On in Leeds and Leeds List.

The summer holiday is a long one, so keep up with reading. Encourage your child to continue to read often – quarter of an hour, most days will be a great way to keep their reading skills strong and their love of reading alight.

It’s not just about books – reading a comic or magazine, a website, a recipe, First News newspaper are all good ways to keep your child reading. Why not take a trip to one of Leeds’ libraries – a local one, or why not try the Central Library in town for an afternoon trip out?

You might also want to keep your child’s number skills fresh, too. For younger ones, knowing their number bonds is a good start. For older children, knowing their times tables and corresponding division facts is so important.

Taking up these top tips for learning will be a great way for your child to return to school in September hitting the ground running as a confident learner.

Don’t forget our summer competition, too. Whether you go away or not, we want to see some maths done in an unusual place or using unusual things, or a pic that shows somewhere/something ordinary but which shows lots of maths.

Take a photo and send it to [email protected] or print it out and bring to school in the first week back in September – entries must be in by 08.09.17. There will be prizes for great examples of the Extreme Maths. We’re looking forward to seeing your entries!

Whatever you get up to, have a great holiday. See you on Tuesday 05 September.

Some holiday reading...

Posted on 20 July 2017 by Mr Roundtree

Teach Primary is a great quarterly magazine for teachers. Recently, it included an article all about some great books for children, with lessons and ideas for classroom learning.

We thought we’d show you this article now, as we approach the summer. You might want to browse through this with your child to choose some summer reading – there are some good ideas for some holiday projects, too.

Amongst the books featured are some of our favourites of ours: we love The Tear Thief (Carol Duffy) and Cloud Busting (Malorie Blackman), for example.
(By the way, don’t be put off by the idea of your older child reading a picture book like Weslandia – there’s a growing number of thought-provoking, mature picture books for older children.)

School Games Mark

Posted on 19 July 2017 by Mrs Taylor

At the end of each year, schools are invited to apply for their School Games Mark. The School Games Mark rewards schools for their commitment to and development of competition, school sport and physical education.

We are very proud to announce that our application has been verified and we have been awarded Gold award for the third year running.

In an attempt to engage as many children as possible in physical activity, we track children’s participation over the year.

68 children in KS2 and 52 children in KS1 and Reception have taken part in at least one after-school club since September. This is 57% of the total number of pupils.

81 children (68%) in KS2 have represented the school in a competition or participation event.

Children tell us they enjoy taking part in a variety of activitie:

  • ‘In scooter club, I had fun on my scooter.’
  • ‘I enjoyed Wake Up Shake Up club because I got to spend time with my friends and DANCE!’
  • ‘I liked basketball.  We learnt how to play the game, basketball skills and working as a team.’
  • ‘I enjoyed cricket because it helped me with my skills of bowling and batting.’
  • ‘I enjoyed the aqua festival.  Everyone took part and nobody was left out.  Everybody tried their best.’
  • ‘The Brownlee Triathlon was fun and got people involved who don’t especially like sport but they did it. It wasn’t competitive.’
  • ‘I enjoyed the Sportshall athletics competition because there were lots of events to choose from and do.’

Thank you to staff who have accompanied children to these events or run after-school clubs this year. Thank you also to Mrs Russell who provides excellent administration of our clubs and sporting events and competitions.

Thank you as well to all parents/carers who have helped with transport and supported at our events this year. Finally, thank you to all pupils who have tried out a new physical activity either at an after-school club or as part of a competition or participation event and to those children who have represented our school so well this year.

Parent governor elections

Posted on 19 July 2017 by Mr Roundtree

Following the resignation of a parent governor, we have had a vacancy for a new parent governor. We recently wrote to all parents and carers seeking nominations. There were seven nominations – it’s great we have parents/carers with strong skills and interests in the school community.

Since the number of nominations received exceeded the number of vacancies, it was necessary to hold a ballot. This ballot was open from 11 to 18 July.

We had a high number of people who voted, reflecting how engaged and committed our parents / carers are in the schools and their effectiveness.

The successful candidate is Jude Rawlings. Her election statement reads (extracts only):

I am standing for election because I want to represent… the parents of the three Sphere schools, as we aim to give our children the best start in life.

I know that the governors have an important role to play in scrutinising strategic direction and educational and financial performance… I work as a commercial litigation solicitor for one of the world’s largest law firms, so am used to reading lengthy reports, interpreting data and asking challenging questions. I believe that experience will be of assistance to the governing body.

My husband and close friends are primary school teachers, so I understand the challenges schools face with budgetary constraints, the curriculum and pressure to meet targets. I believe there is a balance between meeting those targets and ensuring that our children are happy and develop their own talents.

If elected as governor I am keen to work for greater integration between the three Sphere schools whilst allowing each school to maintain its own individuality.

Governors and school leaders thank all seven candidates for putting themselves forward. Our Governing Body is increasingly strong and effective, and will benefit from people who can provide the appropriate level of challenge, support and expertise.

Leeds Birthday Weekend

Posted on 17 July 2017 by Mr Roundtree

From the Leeds Children and Families team:

To celebrate five years since HRH The Queen visited Leeds and helped launch Leeds City Council’s bold ambition to be a truly child friendly city – Child Friendly Leeds – the council and partner organisations are hosting a ‘Big Birthday Bonanza’ and the whole city is invited.

Child Friendly Leeds is hosting two days of free events for families in the city centre on 22 and 23 July 2017 from 12 – 4pm. Please note, an early opening on Millennium Square (11am – 12 noon) on 23 July is for children with additional and complex needs.

There will be many free activities on Millennium Square, Briggate, Cookridge Street, Albion Street and in the shopping centres. Families are invited to bring a picnic and enjoy free screenings on the Big Screen in Millennium Square. CBBC is also joining in the celebration as are Breeze, Active Sports and city centre ambassadors, who will be putting on lots of different activities to encourage families to explore the city centre. These will include a climbing wall, go-karts, sports activities, a flash mob dance and arts and crafts. Find out more.

All event visitors will be given a map of activities and encouraged to take up the free offers.

There may be nominal charges for some events and for refreshments, but the majority of activities are free.

We want as many children and parents to come along to the event as possible, so that we can help to create special childhood memories for families in Leeds. This birthday celebration is a fantastic opportunity to say thank you to all of the businesses, organisations and individuals who have supported Child Friendly Leeds over the past five years.

Great leaders at Moortown

Posted on 12 July 2017 by Mrs Weekes

Leaders in Education

In the last month or so, we’re proud that four of our school leaders have gained national accreditation.

David Roundtree, our Head of Federation, is now designated as a National Leader of Education (NLE) and our school as a National Support School (NSS):

National leaders of education (NLEs) are strong school leaders, who have experience of effectively supporting schools in challenging circumstances. NLEs work… to provide high quality support to those who need it most.

In addition, we have three Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs) amongst our staff. SLEs are:

experienced middle or senior leader who [provide support to] middle and senior leaders in other schools…

The roles of NLE and SLE involve working to support individuals or schools which need support. Moortown Primary has a long, successful history of providing such support to other schools, whilst ensuring our own children are all happy and healthy, successful learners.

We’re proud that everyone at Moortown Primary are effective, enthusiastic and skilled practitioners. The status of NLE for David Roundtree goes hand in hand with the school being a national support school (NSS). This is to recognise the fact that our staff are likely to work alongside the NLE in any support we may provide.

Yellow Yorkshire

Posted on 12 July 2017 by Mrs Taylor

Thank you for supporting our Yellow Yorkshire day to raise money for one of school charities, Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Our final total raised was £202.31 so thank you for all your donations.

We also had a visit from a representative from Yorkshire Air Ambulance to hear how the money we raise is spent by the charity.