News

Latest news from around the school

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 here 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 Reception on the Class News page.

Homework

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.

Attendance matters

Last year’s attendance was 97.4% (based on the actual days school was open and excluding absences directly due to Covid). This is a really 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.

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.

Workshops

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.

Our office staff

Anyone calling or popping into the office might notice that we’ve a new face here. Sam Limbert is with us for a few weeks until we’re joined by a permanent, new admin assistant. This is because Nicky Russell has moved to Year 5 as a Teaching Assistant this year.

Arriving and leaving school each day

Just in case you’re not aware, we’re trialling an extra entrance/exit: there’s a gate at the back of school meaning you can come in and leave via the park. If there’s enough people using this second entrance/exit, we’ll carry it on longer-term.

Next week’s message comes from Mr Wilks, who’s the senior leader responsible for Science and topic subjects across Sphere Federation. The message will relate to your child’s current Geography topic, Where in the world am I?

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:

  1. Monday 13 September: Phonics (mainly for Key Stage 1)
  2. Monday 20 September: Reading (mainly for Key Stage 2)
  3. Monday 04 October: Number fact fluency (mainly for Key Stage 1)
  4. Monday 11 October: Number fact fluency (inc times tables) (mainly for Key Stage 2)
  5. Monday 08 November: Our curriculum topics (for Key Stage 1 and 2)
  6. Monday 15 November: Writing (for Key Stage 1 and 2)
  7. Monday 22 November: Staying safe online (mainly Key Stage 2)
  8. Thursday 13 January: Preparing for Y6 SATs (mainly for Y6 parents; parents are welcome too)
  9. 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.

Welcome back

Posted on 04 September 2021 by Mrs Weekes

Here we are again, a new term just around the corner. It’ll be great to see everyone and hear about your summer.

Just a couple of reminders following the weekly message: the back gate to the park will be open at the beginning and end of the day. Please use this gate if it’s more convenient for you.

Also, as you know, children can come in their PE kits on PE days; here is a list of the different year groups and the days when they have PE lessons (Y3 and Y4 only have one PE lesson as they’ll be going swimming too).

  • Reception – Wednesday & Friday (from wb 20 Sept)
  • Year 1 – Tuesday & Thursday
  • Year 2 – Tuesday & Friday
  • Year 3 – Thursday
  • Year 4 – Thursday
  • Year 5 – Monday & Friday
  • Year 6 – Monday & Wednesday

I’ve been reliably informed that Year 5 & 6 will be having PE on the first day back so they can come in their PE kits on Monday.

Looking forward to seeing you all – I hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend.

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:

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 55 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.

Parent-teacher meetings

19 people said they’d like these to continue by Zoom and 10 said they’d prefer the meetings to return to being in person. 24 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.

Weekly news

We asked for your thoughts about our weekly messages – we had 50 responses. Two of the responses said there were too many or too long (‘Sometimes there are too many emails/messages each day, which makes it difficult to follow up with’) and two others commented they preferred the paper newsletters (‘I’m more likely to read the paper newsletter.’). Eleven more responses were fairly mixed or indifferent, and within many of these, the length or frequency of message was also raised as a problem. However, 35 responses – that’s about two thirds of respondents – felt entirely positive. Comments include ‘I enjoy reading them – the weekly aspect gives a more real-time insight’ and ‘They are great, going paperless has meant communication is faster, cheaper and better for the environment.’ Based on this, we’ll continue to publish weekly news on our website and by email. However, we’ll try to be more mindful to keep other communications to a minimum.

Learning workshops

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 survey backs this up. If we don’t count the four people who said they wouldn’t attend any sort of session to support their child’s learning, that leaves us with 73% who said they’re more likely to attend by Zoom and 18% less likely, with the others fairly open to either or unsure. The Zoom sessions were an efficient way for us to support parents across all three Sphere schools, and your feedback confirms that for most of you, they’re a better option, too. 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.

Homework

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:

  • Reading at home is the most important way for my child to make good progress: 86% agreed
  • Numbots / Times Table Rock Stars helps to improve my child’s recall of number facts: 84% agreed
  • We use the Talk Time prompt at home for a discussion: 77% agreed
  • The current ‘slimmed down’ homework means my child has more time for other activities that help him/her to progress: 61%

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 Moortown 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 very small minority of respondents who might have indicated they don’t know to the statements below, the proportions are:

  • My child feels safe at this school: 100% agreed
  • My child does well at this school: 96% agreed
  • 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 disagreement with this – the parent left their name so we’ll follow this up
  • Moortown Primary has high expectations for my child: 100% agreed
  • We also asked if we achieve our vision to be a happy and healthy place to learn: overall, 98% agreed with this

Additional comments

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: ‘Thank you to all the team at Moortown Primary for doing an amazing job through such challenging times and consistently providing care and support for all the children’ and ‘I’m going to miss the school when [my Y6 child] leaves. You do a great job and have been brilliant, through your communications and support during the pandemic’ were typical comments – thank you!

Of the remaining responses, nearly all contained positives mixed with a suggestion or two. We’ll review each point carefully with a view to acting on as many as we realistically can. Two things that crop up at least a few times this year (and in previous years) are:

  • school meals: this has been a concern in previous years and we had planned to work with our caterers to explore improvements, but the Covid restrictions blocked this, and in fact made school meals a very challenging area to manage – we’re going to keep an eye on this
  • after-school clubs: three parents asked about after-school clubs, but with some understanding that we haven’t been able to provide many this year – we’re hoping to get more up and running next year

 

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 Mrs Weekes. Many thanks to those of you who completed the survey this year.

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).

This week's message (23 July 2021)

Posted on 23 July 2021 by Mr Roundtree

And we’ve made it…

It’s been a tough year in lots of ways, but we’ve seen highlights along the way.

The vast majority of children have coped really well with the disruption and with home learning – we’ve seen some very encouraging outcomes in end-of-year assessments. For some, it’s been a bit more unsettling – you’ve worked with us in helping iron out problems along the way. We really appreciate your continued support.

A couple of tips for summer activities…

The next six weeks can be a long gap for children. It’ll really help if your child reads often – just a quarter of an hour or so every other day, for example. (Even watching a bit of telly will help if you turn on the subtitles!)

Of course, the holiday’s a great chance to get out and about. In eight parks across Leeds, plus the city centre waterfront, take part in an augmented reality (AR) Dinosaur Safari! Each safari features up to nine AR dinosaurs, offering routes of between 1-3 kilometres. Take a photograph of yourselves with a roaring T-rex or swooping pterodactyl as you chase around the park!

The Department for Education has asked us to promote this support, too…

The department has launched an information site for parents, to support children of all age ranges and abilities catch up on lost learning from the pandemic. The site features advice and support for parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), as well as programmes, resources and activities for children and young people this summer. Further information can be found on the education catch-up for your child homepage.

And a couple of other links…

  • You can read governors’ annual governance statement – a review of the year from the perspective of the Governing Body.
  • For parents of children in Year 6 moving to secondary school, some advice which you might find helpful.

Finally…

Our thoughts are with any children self-isolating today – what an unfortunate, unsettling end to the school year. We’re really looking forward to seeing you again soon.

Very best wishes to our Year 6 children (and one or two others) who leave us as they continue their learning journey – we’ll miss you, and parents and carers, too. Very best wishes to Mr Owen, Mr Parker and Miss Rushbrooke, all moving on to new jobs in new schools – we’ll really miss you, too!

Whether you’re staying at home, going on day-trips, or taking a few days away, we’d like to wish you all a happy and healthy summer. Thanks for all your support across a tricky year. See you again on Monday 06 September.

Thanks to Roundhegians

Posted on 20 July 2021 by Mrs Taylor

We are very grateful to Roundhegians Rugby Club for hosting our sports days once again this year and allowing us to use their excellent facilities.

Roundhegians have a variety of rugby training sessions, from under 6 through to under 17, and these sessions will resume on Sunday 5th September.

For more information, please contact their chair of junior rugby, Chris Fongwah (fongers.cfw@gmail.com).

Key Stage 2 Sports Day

Posted on 20 July 2021 by Mr Roundtree

This morning, we hosted the Key Stage 2 Sports Day. Sadly missing our Year 5 friends who are self-isolating, the children in Years 3, 4 and 6 competed in four teams.

In what was a hugely enjoyable series of races, we saw sporting prowess, jovial victory jigs, and Mrs Taylor win the egg and spoon race (due to having to disqualify Mr Parker and Miss Wilson).

The results are:

  • Red Team 38 points
  • Green Team 84 points
  • Blue Team 90 points
  • White Team 84 points

Well done to the Blue Team!

Having won the Key Stage 1 heat last week, the Blue Team are the overall winners of the 2021 Moortown Primary Sports Day!

The overall results are:

  • Red Team 64 points
  • Green Team 104 points
  • Blue Team 138 points
  • White Team 118 points

Once again, a big thank you to Mrs Taylor for organising the events so well, and to Mrs Weekes for managing the risk assessments.