News

Latest news from around the school

Lovely lunches

Posted on 04 December 2020 by Mrs Weekes

As you know, we have tried a new menu this week. It has been really positive and children seem to have really enjoyed it. In fact, one child who has packed lunch told me that they were going to ask if they could now have school lunches.

Obviously, it still isn’t as good as our full menu but we feel that the children are getting more variety and enjoying some hot food – there has been much less waste which is great.

Thanks for your ongoing support and understanding during this time.

Our weekly message (04 December 2020)

Posted on 04 December 2020 by Mr Roundtree

I’m writing this week’s message after being on morning gate duty and it’s just started snowing – hopefully, my fingers will thaw out soon so I can press the right keys. If you do spot some typos, you’ll know why…

For some children and families, this time of year will be very difficult, especially for those who have experienced trauma or bereavement. Young Minds has created another Wellbeing Advent Calendar. It’s intended for use in schools, but it might help support you and your family throughout December. Each day, try a different 5 minute activity to help boost wellbeing and look after your child’s mental health. Today’s is a nice conversation starter: share something that has really cheered you up when you were feeling down.

Talking of conversation starters, this resource for parents and carers might help. Starting a conversation can be difficult, especially if you’re worried that your child is having a hard time. It doesn’t matter what topic the conversation starts with – it’s about the opportunity it gives you both to talk about feelings and to provide comfort.

Next, a message from Leeds City Council…

Sal Tariq, the Director of Children and Families, and Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Executive Member for Learning, Skills and Employment, have written a joint letter for parents and carers. (It came too late to include in last week’s message.) Read the full letter here, but these two paragraphs stand out as matching our own thoughts:

The overwhelming majority of parents have been extremely understanding of the challenges that schools have encountered and have co-operated fully with the school’s range of measures put in place to provide a covid-safe environment for the children, staff and parents.

We are grateful to parents, for example, for wearing face coverings when requested to by the school and for not sending their child to school when they, or a member of the family, have been requested to self-isolate.

Finally, today, just a quick repeat of a message we sent earlier in the week…

It’s common for children to catch colds and have coughs around this time. Normally, we’d still encourage children to come to school with a mild cough or cold, but not this year. If your child starts coughing, we really need you to keep your child at home and get a test for Covid. The results will quite likely be negative, meaning your child can quickly return to school. However, there’s always that slim chance your child might test positive. That would mean the whole class having to self-isolate for 14 days – that’s just not worth the risk. Please keep your child home if they’ve got any any hint of the three main symptoms of Covid.

 

Have a happy and healthy and warm weekend!

School menu change and Christmas meal

Posted on 29 November 2020 by Mrs Taylor

We really appreciate your patience regarding school dinners and the choices we have been able to provide.  We’ve been very conscious that changes needed to be made and a hot dinner offered wherever possible.  Over the next few weeks, we’re going to trial a menu on a two week rota and if this is successful, then it will be carried on after the school holiday and reviewed again.
There are two options each day, a vegetarian and a meat option but there is one day a week which is ‘meat free’.
We’re not in a position to resume ‘normal dinners’ but this is a step in the right direction. Click here to see the new menu and we encourage you to discuss and share the options with your children.
We are also able to offer a Christmas dinner option on Thursday 10th December. Please inform the office if your child would like a school meal on this day.

Our weekly message (27 November 2020)

Posted on 27 November 2020 by Mr Roundtree

It’s a bit of a letdown to be coming out of the national lockdown restriction only to enter Tier 3 restrictions. The government plans to review the tiers every two weeks – hopefully we can move to Tier 2 soon. Now, let’s think about Christmas for a moment…

As we approach Christmas, we’re asking you to be ultra-cautious. Any bubble burst from 12 December onwards would generate a need to self-isolate over the festive period – none of us wants this.

Asymptomatic transmission is something we can do little about, but we can reduce the chances of this happening by ensuring you keep your child at home if anyone in your household is waiting for the results of a Covid test.

Also, please keep your child at home if anyone in your household has the classic symptoms:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

We’re doing all we can at school to keep everyone safe. You’ll be pleased to know the rest of this week’s message contains no more covid-gloom…

We love reading!

Reading is always a top priority in our school. Our library is well-stocked and we’ve a good bank of class novels and other reading resources. However, following the period of school closures, we’ve been wanting to maximise reading opportunities for our children in Key Stage 2 (Years 3-6). One way to do this to to have a good stock of  books that are easy to ‘dip into’ – non-fiction ‘lists and facts’ books and poetry books. We’ve made a large investment in this – about £200 for each class. The books arrived this week and our children have loved them so far:

  • ‘I like the new books because they’re interesting. I’ve enjoyed looking at the book about numbers, computers and coding because it has lots of fun facts.’ (Year 5 pupil at St James’)
  • ‘The books are engrossing, fascinating and we’re learning quite a lot from them.’ (three Year 6 pupils at Scholes)
  • ‘When I have 5 or 10 minutes, I’ll be able to find out so many things. I know lots about dinosaurs but now I can learn more things about them.’ (Year 4 pupil at Moortown)
  • ‘The children are fighting over them!’ (Y5,6 teacher, who assures us this isn’t literally!)

Our parent workshops

This week, we’ve hosted two more workshops to help you support your child at home: one for Reading (mainly for parents/carers of older children) and one for Phonics (aimed at those of you with children in Foundation 2/Reception and Year 1 mainly). Both were well-attended, the phonics one especially so. Here are a few comments from people who’ve attended the workshops so far…

  • ‘Thank you for these sessions – really appreciate the support with home learning.’
  • ‘Thank you very much, very informative and useful!
’
  • ‘
Thank you very much for this! I will definitely refer back to this slide show to help at home!
’
Talking of the slide show – here it is. We do plan to record a version with a teacher talking through the slides – coming soon.

Have you a child starting school in September? Or perhaps you know someone who has?

If so, it’s important for you to know the school application process is open until 15 January 2021. You need to apply, even if you’ve a child at school already (and make sure you include sibling information on your application).

Read more information about schools, previous years’ allocation data, catchment maps and links to school admissions.

If you’ve any questions about the admissions process, please contact the Admissions Team at Leeds City Council on 0113 222 4414 or by email: [email protected]

Twenty’s plenty

This blog from the Safer Roads Leeds team is an interesting one. The speed limit outside both Moortown Primary and St James’ CE Primary is 20mph – Scholes (Elmet) Primary still has a limit of 30mph, sadly. Here’s a few reasons why twenty’s plenty:

  • It’s safer. If you do hit someone with your car, you’re less likely to kill them or inflict life-changing injuries and trauma.
  • You can be the most experienced, careful, focused driver in the world but unexpected things happen. At 30mph, if you have to do an emergency stop, you will still travel around six car lengths before you come to a halt. At 20mph, that stopping distance is halved; if you do hit someone, they’re more likely to live.
  • Vehicles travelling at lower speeds change the whole feel of a neighbourhood. Research shows people are far more willing to walk and to let their children walk and cycle.
  • At speeds of more than about 20mph, research shows that children trying to cross a road can’t accurately judge how fast a car is coming; they can’t tell that a distant car might be approaching far too fast for them to cross.
  • 20mph zones have almost no impact on overall journey times, so it’s a win-win.

Virtual after-school sport club

Posted on 25 November 2020 by Mrs Taylor

We know you are missing attending after-school clubs at the moment, whether it is in school or out of school, so here is some information about a virtual after-school club that can be done at home.
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The Youth Sport Trust have taken the step to deliver a free virtual after school club as part of a national response to the second lockdown. The 30-minute club will take place at 5pm each weekday and be led by a different member of the YST’s athlete mentor network. These will run until 18 December.

 

Aimed mainly at primary-aged children, a different theme has been assigned for each day of the club – Adventure Monday, Tuesday Play, Wild Wednesday, Thinking Thursday and Fun Friday. 

Click here to find out more.

 

Have you a child due to start school in September 2021?

Posted on 23 November 2020 by Mr Roundtree

The application process is open until 15 January 2021.

Apply by visiting www.leeds.gov.uk/applyeven if you’ve a child at school already. (Make sure you include sibling information on your application.)

Find information about schools, previous years’ allocation data, catchment maps and links to school admissions.

Leeds City Council can’t hold face to face drop-in sessions this year and so they’re holding Facebook question and answers sessions, to help with the application process, on:

  • Thursday 03 December 2020, 6pm to 7pm
  • Tuesday 05 January 2021, 4pm to 5pm
  • Wednesday 13 January 2021, 2pm to 3pm

When you apply for a school, you should use all five preferences – using only use one or two preferences decreases the chances of being offered a place at a preferred school.

Any supplementary information needs to be provided by the closing date (this applies if a child is previously looked after, is seeking admission under exceptional needs, or if a family wish to apply for their child to be admitted out of chronological age group).

Make sure you use your child’s actual address. Using that of a friend, relative, childminder or renting a property to gain a school place are all considered fraud and places can be withdrawn.

If you’ve any questions about the admissions process, please contact the Admissions Team at Leeds City Council on 0113 222 4414 or by email: [email protected]

Parent governor elections

Posted on 20 November 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Thank you to all of you who voted in Sphere Federation governing body elections for a new parent governor.

The governing body of Sphere Federation is made up of two staff members (including the Head of Federation), governors appointed by Leeds City Council and the Diocese of Leeds, and representatives from the local community, all of whom share the important job of overseeing the running of the school. Mr Matthew Hick has been elected as the new parent governor joining the team. As a reminder, here’s Mr Hick’s ‘blurb’ from the nomination form:

As a former pupil of a Sphere Federation school, and someone with a lifelong connection to the neighbourhood, whose two children now attend the school, it would be a privilege to become a governor for the Federation and give something back to the community. I have extensive leadership experience and am the Chair and founder of an organisation that promotes volunteering work, former Chair and Trustee of an organisation that promotes voluntary, community and social enterprise and Co-founder of a local Covid-19 support Group. Alongside this I am Head of Volunteering with a large national charitable organisation where I lead on strategy, policy, and systems. In 2019, I was nominated to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, for my work in the voluntary sector, which I gladly accepted. Away from work and volunteering, I enjoy spending time with family, sport – and, in particular, running – and film. After 12 years of working in the third sector, I believe passionately in the power of people to come together to build a better future. I believe this applies equally to social action groups as it does to boards of governors and trustees. I would relish the opportunity to apply my passion and skills to helping Sphere Federation achieve its ambitions.

We had five candidates in total and all five presented a strong set of skills for the role. Thank you to all five for expressing their interest and we hope the other four might do so again when another vacancy arises.

Our weekly message (20 November 2020)

Posted on 20 November 2020 by Mr Roundtree

We’re reaching the end of the tenth week of the school year…

We’ve been really pleased with our pupils and their positive attitudes on their return to school. We’ve assessed their learning and we’re also pleased: whilst there are some gaps and some ‘slowing down’, we’re confident we can catch up over the year, especially with your continuing support.

Talking of support, thank you to the very many of you who joined the first of six Zoom workshops to help you support your child at home – Wednesday’s was about Science and ‘topic subjects’ like history and geography. (Those who arrived early got to hear why I’m looking so battered just now, too!) Next week, we’ve two English-related workshops: one on reading (Monday, 6pm) and one on phonics (Wednesday, 6pm). Contact school for details on how to join the Zoom.

Last week, we talked about how fortunate we’ve been in not having to ‘burst a bubble’. We spoke too soon: in one of our Sphere schools, we did have to send a class home to self-isolate. (Interesting to note the date last week…) As we said, in such circumstances, check out our Home Learning page. (In fact, check it out now so you can familiarise yourself, just in case.)

Covid-19 continues to throw up new challenges each day and the range of symptoms that people report seems to grow each day, too. However, the government is sticking to three main symptoms:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

There have been instances where symptoms have been vague and a Covid test has not been done until a few days after people have felt unwell. In these cases, we’re taking the 14 days isolation period from the positive test date or from the onset of classic Covid-19 symptoms, listed above. (This might seem to contradict what Test and Trace advise you, but it’s in consultation with Public Health England and the Department for Education.)

Similarly, we’ve had a few situations where children who have been self-isolating have come back to school too soon. The reason for this is that parents appear to have had messages from Test and Trace saying that children can come back. As a school, we need to follow government guidance which states that self-isolation is for 14 days. When you let us know that your child has to self-isolate, we note when they can return to school and we’ll tell you. If your child comes back before that date, they’ll be sent home. The only exception to this is if the person showing symptoms gets a negative test.

We’re working really hard to keep everyone safe and hope you understand our position on this.

Have you done a Covid test on yourself? It’s not the nicest thing to have to do, and it seems people fall into two camps: those who hate more the throat swab, and those who hate more the nose swab! Some of you will already have administered the test for your child. If not, this guide might help.

And that’s enough Covid talk for one message!

This week, we’ve been grateful to some parents who alerted us to concerns that their children may not be drinking enough water. We’ve reminded staff in the classroom and at lunchtime that they should be encouraging and checking children are drinking to stay hydrated – so important for health and for learning. Please help with this: make sure your child brings in a bottle full of fresh water each day.

Finally…

Here’s the latest edition of Families magazine. There are lots of creative Christmas-themed ideas to do at home – we like the Christmas decorations on page 5 and the Christmas cooking on page 8!

Outstanding outcomes at key stage 2

Posted on 15 November 2020 by Mr Roundtree

As most of you will know, end of key stage 2 assessments (known as SATs) were cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. If our children had done the tests, it’s likely they’d have achieved outstanding outcomes – the fact is, they had already achieved great outcomes by February. Check out this visual overview of the results. Some highlights are:

  • 93.5% of pupils achieved the expected standard in Reading, Writing and Maths combined, placing Moortown Primary amongst the very highest performing schools in the country (percentile 2)
  • In Reading, Writing and Maths individually, the proportions reaching the higher standard (‘greater depth standard’) were roughly double that of the national figure
  • In terms of progress from Year 2 (the end of Key Stage 1), progress measures are similarly high for each of the subjects

How do we know?

This analysis comes from a service which Leeds City Council uses to analyse pupil assessment data.

Just before lockdown, our Year 6 children did a previous year’s SAT in Reading, Maths, and Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling under test conditions. They were marked and graded based on the thresholds for that particular test. For Writing, the assessment stems from teacher assessment, as it would do for the outcomes in May. Year 6 teachers across Sphere Federation and beyond met at various times in the Autumn and Spring term to review their assessments for children’s writing.

The data uploaded to the local authority’s service was almost exactly that of the tests in February, meaning that the outstanding outcomes would more than likely be even better by May!

Well done to our former Year 6 pupils. Thanks also to the parents and carers for their support over the seven years of primary school.

Living and Learning: United against bullying

Posted on 15 November 2020 by Mrs Taylor

This week, it’s Anti-Bullying Week and the theme for this year is ‘United against bullying’.

Don’t forget – we are also taking part in Odd Socks Day on Monday 16 November.

STOP is a key message linked to bullying. In our school, STOP stands for two things:

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

Recently, our school council met to review our school definition of bullying and our child friendly anti-bullying policy. Thank you to the school councillors for their valued contributions. As a result, our definition and policy have now been updated.

Child friendly anti-bullying policy

What is bullying?

In our school, this is what bullying means:

Bullying is where you hurt someone, physically or emotionally (including online), several times on purpose.

What might bullying look like?

If any of these things happen several (lots of) times, it is bullying.

  • Hurting peoples’ feelings, for example, name calling, teasing, threatening, ignoring, leaving people out or spreading rumours
  • Hurting peoples’ bodies, for example, hitting, punching or kicking

This could be in person or online (cyber bullying) and could be because of someone’s race, disability, gender, appearance, age or any other protected characteristic.

What could you do if you are being bullied?

Start

Telling

Other

People

Who could you tell?

  • Mrs Weekes/Mrs Freeman/Mrs Russell/Mrs Small (they are child protection staff)
  • Mrs Taylor (Health Leader)
  • Any other members of staff
  • Friends
  • Someone in your family
  • A trusted adult
  • Childline (0800 1111)
  • Write a worry slip and put it in your Living and Learning box or the whole school worry box
  • Email [email protected]

Our views on bullying 

STOP bullying – bullying is wrong! We’re a happy and healthy school.