News

Latest news from around the school

Our weekly message (16 October 2020)

Posted on 16 October 2020 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s message includes reference to the Health and Safety Executive and to coronavirus contacts. (There’s no connection whatsoever between these articles and the last feature, which is about ghastly ghouls and beastly bugs!) Most  importantly, though, we start the message with a reminder about an important Sphere Federation survey…

Relationships and Sex Education

A chance to tell us your views about an important policy update…

From September 2020, Relationships Education and Health Education are now statutory and form part of the National Curriculum. As a result of the changes, we’ve updated our Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) policy and we’re now consulting with parents, staff and governors. Your views are important to us. We welcome your feedback on the policy via this short survey. The survey will be open until Friday 23 October.

To help you understand the requirements further, we’ve emailed you with additional information, including the draft policy itself. Contact us if you haven’t received this. In addition, you might like to look at the following websites:

  • DfE statutory guidance on Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education
  • Guide for parents on Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education
  • List of FAQs for parents on the new RSE/Relationships Education requirements

Looking after our children, looking after our staff

We’re confident in our Sphere schools that we’ve done everything we reasonably can to make sure they’re happy, healthy and safe places to learn

Since schools opened in September for the new school year, representatives from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have been contacting schools to check on procedures in place to make sure schools have taken enough precautions to safeguard children and staff in the context of coronavirus. None of the Sphere Federation schools were contacted. However, from a wider perspective, it’s reassuring to note that it’s been reported that the HSE has been highly impressed with the work schools have done.

People have told us that Track and Trace staff have sometimes been sending out mixed messages, and sometimes the messages don’t match the advice schools have been given. When in doubt, we’ve been able to contact a Department for Education helpline. The advice we’ve been given on the helpline has been helpful. They advise we follow closely our own risk assessments.

Employers must protect people from harm. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect staff, pupils and others from coronavirus (COVID-19) within the education setting.

Department for Education, 01.10.20

We want our schools to be happy, healthy and safe places to work, too…

We’re doing our best to look after our staff, too. All staff had the opportunity to have flu jab recently, and they’ve all got access to the Employee Assistance Programme, a service that provides a variety of support for education staff. These aren’t new things we’re doing because of the pandemic – we’ve provided them for a few years now.

What’s counts as a contact?

Someone from Public Health England has communicated with us recently, and we thought some of the information about contacts which they sent to us might be useful for you to know about…

A ‘contact’ is a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 any time from two days before the person was symptomatic up to ten days from the onset of symptoms. This period is when they are infectious to others. For example, a contact can be:

  • people who spend significant time in the same household as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • sexual partners
  • a person who has had face-to-face contact (within one metre), with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, including being coughed on; having a face-to-face conversation within one metre; having skin-to-skin physical contact; or contact within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact
  • a person who has been within 2 metres of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes
  • a person who has travelled in a small vehicle with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or in a large vehicle or plane near someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

Beastly bugs and ghastly ghouls

Any plans for half-term? Perhaps a trip to Temple Newsam House is in order…

  cid:image001.jpg@01D6A212.16359650

Beastly bugs have discovered 5 star accommodation at Temple Newsam House. They’ve booked their staycation for Halloween week when the ghastly ghouls from years gone by pay their annual visit. Meet past residents and hear ghostly tales as you explore this 500 year old building. Follow the bug trail around the house, spot the miniature bug rooms and pick up your own Beastly Bug Craft pack to take home.

Visit between 11am to 4pm from Saturday 24 October to Friday 30 October (and be aware the house is closed on Monday 26 October). Pre-book your tickets to avoid disappointment. 

Following lockdown, Temple Newsam House has been open to the public for a few weeks now. They’ve had great feedback on the Covid precautions that they’ve put in place.

Fab feedback from a former pupil...

Posted on 14 October 2020 by Mr Roundtree

It was lovely to read this email that arrived recently…

My name is …, and I was a pupil in Moortown Primary School between 2006-2012. I just wanted to drop a quick, albeit overdue, letter of appreciation for the phenomenal years this school and its staff has given me. I think it goes without saying that having the responsibility of educating the younger generation has an immense impact on their development and well-being. It still surprises me today when I get reminded of my days being taught under such great characters. Each and every single one of my former teachers in this school has, in one way or another, taught me a skill in which I use to my advantage today. I arrived in the UK in the summer of 2006 from my home country Kuwait, not knowing a single word in English. Suffice to say, I felt very much at home and welcomed by a such a loving school.

I owe my love for numbers and Mathematics to Mrs. Taylor, and her magnificent style of teaching while I was in Year 2. I also owe my critical thinking to Mr. Roundtree, whenever he’d have his … long conversations about thinking outside the box.

I’m happy to say that I am now entering my second year of study in the University of Sheffield, majoring in Software Engineering.

I genuinely believe this school shaped me into the man I am today; so thank you.

Our weekly message (09 October 2020)

Posted on 09 October 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Some statistics to start this week’s message…

It sadly seems that the country is facing more restrictions due to coronavirus. Despite the challenges facing Leeds, it was encouraging to note earlier in the week that:

  • no school in Leeds is completely closed
  • in fact, 191 schools are fully open
  • a further 84 schools are operating despite a bubble closure
  • so, all 275 schools in Leeds are open to 114,814 pupils and 13,539 staff

Whilst the rate per 100,000 in Leeds has risen significantly (it’s around the 300 mark), there’s not been a significant increase in the number of pupils and staff testing positive. The numbers are currently relatively stable.

In our three Sphere Federation schools, although individual children have stayed away from school to self-isolate or to wait for a test result, we’ve not yet had to close a bubble. Thank you for your support with this. You’ve been sticking to the drop-off and collection times and it’s great that so many of you continue to wear face masks – we appreciate how responsive you’ve been.

Think carefully before seeking a Covid-19 test because colds are common at this time of year. When we showed this chart a couple of weeks ago, it proved popular. Read the full article.

Symptoms chart

Home learning

If your child is absent from school due to coronavirus, make sure you check out our home learning page. Every Monday morning, you’ll find some learning for the week:

  • five Maths lessons (usually from White Rose Maths, which is what’s used in school) (suggested time: about 30 minutes each day)
  • Times Tables practice using Time Tables Rock Stars (suggested time: about 15 minutes each day)
  • Spellings practice using the spellings list that’s published each week (suggested time: about 15 minutes each day)
  • some Reading fluency using the same text that’s used in school (suggested time: about 15 minutes each day)
  • five Reading sessions, including using the ‘RIC’ text used in school (suggested time: about 30 minutes each day)
  • two Writing sessions (suggested time: about 30 minutes each)
  • a Topic lesson which will link closely with the learning happening in school (suggested time: about 30 minutes)
  • a Science lesson which will link closely with the learning happening in school (suggested time: about 30 minutes)

Lunches

If you’re entitled to free school meals, you’re also able to arrange for a light lunch for your child each day, too – contact the school office.

Parent-teacher meetings

Thanks to everyone who has signed up so far for a parent-teacher meeting coming up in the last week of the half-term.

This is the first time we’ve run a parents’ evening online so please be patient with us. We’ll work hard to stick to timings and keep our fingers crossed for good WiFi!

And something completely unrelated to coronavirus…

We’ve added an extra feature to our website. If you go to the Safeguarding page, you’ll see on the right hand side some new content from Parent Info. Parent Info is a collaboration between  and . It provides support and guidance for parents from The content is updated regularly, and it covers six broad areas, such as technology, relationships and parenting, all linked to keeping your child happy, healthy and safe.

Our weekly message (02 October 2020)

Posted on 02 October 2020 by Mr Roundtree

This week, we’ll kick off with two thank you messages…

Thank you to so many of you who responded to Monday’s message encouraging you to wear a face mask when dropping off and collecting your child from school – it was really good to see the positive response to this so quickly. We’ve tried as best we can to manage the movement of people in and out of school – we’ve got staggered start and end times and one-way systems for example. Even so, there are still times when there are lots of adults nearby. Wearing a mask can help protect the wearer, and others around. We encourage you to wear a mask when you drop your child off at school and when you collect them at the end of the school day.

Thank you for helping to keep our attendance so high. For the month of September, our attendance rate was 97.7%. The figures don’t include children absent due to the virus (the Department for Education doesn’t require this); nevertheless, this figure is still really encouraging – please keep it up.

Talking of attendance… There’s so much information (and misinformation!) all the time about whether your child should be attending school. The government has produced this letter about when you should book a test for your child.

In addition, here’s a guide from Leeds which might help to support you when deciding if your child should be at school or not:

And linked to attendance… This BBC article about self-isolation is worth a read. It helps to explain self-isolation. The last section is especially useful – it explains the rules for schools:

If someone in a school tests positive, they must be sent home to self-isolate for 14 days. The school will then contact their local public health protection team, who will advise on who else should be sent home. Anyone who has been in close contact with the person testing positive, will be advised to self-isolate for 14 days from their last date of contact.
Sadly in one of our Sphere Federation schools, we’ve had to send a small group of pupils home based on a Covid-19 incident. Thankfully, the advice from the Department for Education (no longer the local health protection team, as stated in the BBC article) was clear and helpful.
If your child does have to stay at home whilst waiting for a test or to self-isolate, you can access home learning for them.

Graphic showing how a family should self-isolate in the same house

 

Mask up

Posted on 28 September 2020 by Mr Roundtree

This morning was the first of the autumn/winter season when I had some frost on my car windscreen. It was also the first morning standing at the gate that I noticed water vapour from my breath (read this article with your child about ‘seeing’ your breath on a cold morning).

It’s that second observation that made me think even more about the importance of wearing a mask, even when outside if there are other people nearby.

The water vapour from my breath seemed to spread quite a distance. If that’s the case, the virus might also spread quite a distance as we breathe.

I’m not making any scientific conclusions about coronavirus here. What I am doing is encouraging you to consider wearing a mask as you drop off and collect your child.

At school, we’ve tried as best we can to create some one-way systems. Even so, there are still times when there are lots of adults nearby. Wearing a mask can help protect the wearer, and others around.

Our weekly message (25 September 2020)

Posted on 25 September 2020 by Mr Roundtree

When the Government planned their guidance for the full return for schools in September, it was on the basis that Covid-19 would be contained effectively, with their Test, Track and Trace system up and running effectively. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Schools across the country are having to close bubbles far earlier than had been anticipated. This week, the BBC news site reported that ‘The number of schools in England sending home groups of pupils because of Covid-19 incidents has quadrupled in a week’. We’ve been fortunate enough not to have to do this yet, but I suspect it may only be a matter of time before we do. (In fact, the National Schools Commissioner predicted yesterday that partial closures ‘will continue until we have a vaccine’.)

Just as important are the numbers of individual children who are staying at home to self-isolate. If the testing service was working better, this wouldn’t be too much of a problem, but sadly we’re seeing children absent for four or more days while they wait for test results – all negative so far, thankfully, but the wait is just too long. That means we’re having to rush ahead with home learning provision.

Our new home learning page sets out learning for the week ahead. New content will be published by 08.30 on Mondays. The teacher isn’t available to prepare recorded lessons because they have a class to teach in school, so we’re using a mix of learning activities that are linked to what’s happening in class:

  • online lessons such as those from White Rose Maths (which we often use in class, so the teaching and learning should be very familiar), Oak National Academy, and BBC Bitesize
  • activities and ideas that link to some direct activities in class
  • some more general activities that will be familiar to your child, such as ‘RIC’ (retrieve, interpret, choice), reading fluency and Time Tables Rock Stars

Like you, we’re learning about the process as we go along. Things aren’t perfect but we’re trying hard to get things right as quickly as we can.

A free school meal while self-isolating

Your child is entitled to free school meals for two circumstances:

  • for financial reasons, or
  • your child is in Reception, Year 1 or Year 2 and are therefore entitled to universal infant free school meals

In either situation, your child can have a free ‘grab bag’ lunch provided whilst they’re isolating at home – you just need to make sure you can collect the lunch from school. Please let us know if you want to do this.

More guidance about Covid-19

Public Health England has produced a letter for parents which explains when a person requires a coronavirus test and what the symptoms of coronavirus are. The intention of the letter is to help prevent children being taken out of school unnecessarily and answer some of the questions parents may have around testing.

Last week, we provided you with this information already: this guide sets out nine different scenarios if your child, or someone in the household, has symptoms of Covid-19. The guide tells you what you need to do and when your child should come back to school.

Living and Learning: 8Rs for learning

Posted on 20 September 2020 by Mrs Taylor

For the start of this half-term, our Living and Learning focus is the ‘8 Rs for learning’. This is about promoting good learning behaviour for your child.

In class, the children will focus on different ‘Rs’. We use an animal to symbolise each ‘R’, which might help your child remember all eight – can your child remember which animal matches the correct ‘R’?

You can support your child at home – we’ve listed a few ideas to help you below. Ask us if you’ve any questions or comments.

Download top tips for promoting the 8Rs for good learning behaviour.

Risk taking

Talk about the difference between a safe and unsafe risk. At school, we want your child to take a safe risk by having a go at answering, even if unsure; trying something new and attempting harder learning.

Responsibility

Provide time and space at home so your child is able to organise themselves: their PE kit, reading book, homework, spellings and tables… Don’t organise everything for them!
Make a link between rights and responsibilities: your child has the right to a great education, but needs to be responsible for their own learning.

Responding

This could be responding to their teacher in class or responding to feedback in their learning.

Ready

Make sure your child is at school on time for a prompt start.
Make sure your child has had plenty of sleep so they are alert and ready to learn at all times.
Encourage your child to ask lots of questions – that shows they want to learn!

Resourceful

Encourage your child to be organised so they can play with a range of different toys.
Encourage your child to try new ways to solve a tricky problem.

Resilience

Encourage your child to keep going! Set a tricky challenge or puzzle for your child to do.
Encourage your child to think of different ways of doing things.
Don’t let your child win when they play a game – they need to experience losing, too!
Celebrate mistakes as opportunities to learn – be happy that your child found some learning hard and encourage them to ‘bounce back’ and learn from the experience.

Relate this ‘R’ to Humpty Dumpty and our current whole school topic, After the Fall.

Remember

Make sure they have time to learn spellings, number bonds and times tables – a little practice daily is best.
Play memory games:

Kim’s game: show them objects for 30 seconds… can they remember all the objects?
Can they build up the sequence, ‘I went to the shop and I bought an apple’… ‘I went to the shop and I bought an apple and a bike.’… ‘I went to the shop and I bought an apple, a bike and a cucumber.’ etc … Take turns!

Reflect

Talk with your child about what they’ve learnt, asking questions about how they learnt, why they learnt it, when they’ll use their learning, how they would teach this to someone else, what learning might link with what they’ve learnt today…

This week, children will have the opportunity to not only reflect on their learning in general but also reflect on how the 8Rs supports their learning.

Of course, these characteristics are referred to throughout the year across all subjects to promote good learning behaviour.

Covid-19: What to do if...

Posted on 19 September 2020 by Mr Roundtree

There’s such a lot of information about Covid-19 that it’s sometimes easy to get confused.

To help, we’ve produced this guide which sets out nine different scenarios if your child, or someone in the household, had symptoms of Covid-19. The guide tells you what you need to do and when your child should come back to school.

(We’ve also included the guide in our Autumn for All booklet – it’s on page 15.)

Our weekly message (18 September 2020)

Posted on 18 September 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Well, we’ve made it to the end of Week 2 without having to temporarily close down a class or even the whole school. Sadly, quite a few local schools haven’t been so fortunate. Whilst the government is determined that primary schools remain open in any form of lockdown (and we absolutely share this determination), please do continue to be really careful:

  • hands – wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
  • face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
  • space – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors), and stick to the rule of six, too

Letter from Leeds City Council

This letter from Councillor Saleem Tariq, OBE (Director, Children and Families) and Jonathan Pryor (Executive Member for Learning and Skills) is for you. Please read it. It includes three important ways to support you, your child and us to stay safe.

Home learning

Your child might have to self-isolate. This might be because someone in the family is displaying symptoms or if they’ve had a test and it’s positive (which means the person has Covid-19). It might be because someone in their bubble at school has a confirmed case.

We’ve been working hard to set up a way to support your child at home. If your child has to self-isolate, our teachers are starting to provide an overview of the teaching and learning for the week ahead. It’s still early days, but check out the new Home Learning page in our Learn More section.

Covid-19 tests and symptoms

Getting a Covid-19 test has proved a challenge for many this week. We’ve heard that a batch of available slots become available at different points during the day, so keep trying throughout the day (we’re told trying for slots after 8pm might be more successful, so don’t give up towards the end of the day).

Earlier in the week (14.09.20), we reminded you of the Covid-19 symptoms and made the distinction between a common cold and Covid-19. This BBC article really helps to explain the difference well. We especially like this table…

Symptoms chart

Newsletters

Very many of you have told us how much you appreciate the communication from school in the last few months – thank you.

In these busy times, we’re going to trial not sending home half-termly newsletters. There are quite a few drawbacks with paper copies of the newsletters, including:

  • it uses a lot of paper – not good for the environment
  • it costs a lot – the costs for printing are high and continue to increase
  • it takes up a lot of time – especially for people in the school office (who are currently busier than ever with tasks related to Covid-19) and for teachers who are working on home learning for children self-isolating

Instead, teachers will continue to post lots of class news and school leaders will continue to send messages such as this one.

This is a trial for the next few half-terms. During the trial, please do send us your comments and concerns – speak to the Head of School or drop us an email: headofmoortown@spherefederation.org

And finally…

…this week, here’s the latest edition of the Leeds and West Yorkshire Families magazine. This was a popular addition to our daily messages before summer. In this edition, we especially like the 18 recommended new books and the face-to-face/virtual classes and clubs…

Keep talking to us if you’ve any questions, comments or concerns. Have a really good weekend, staying as happy and healthy and safe as you all can be.

What are the Covid-19 symptoms?

Posted on 14 September 2020 by Mr Roundtree

In the Autumn term, it’s quite common for children to pick up a bug along the way – colds, for example. After a long period of isolation away from others, maybe this is even more likely if our immunity thresholds are lower. We’ve got quite a few children absent from school today, but not necessarily with Covid-19 symptoms.

The NHS list these as the three 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 3 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

It’s the cough symptom that might be trickiest. To help, do read the description: ‘this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours’.

A blocked or runny nose isn’t a symptom listed on the NHS website so we’d still expect this person to be in school.

There are two really important ways to protect your primary-aged child from Covid-19 (and other illnesses):

  • wash your hands more often, and for longer – is your child doing this as a matter of routine at home?
  • social distance – are you and everyone in your family aware of the rule of six?