Latest news from around the school

This week’s message (Friday 28 January 2022)

Posted on 28 January 2022 by Mr Roundtree

It’s been a tough week! In ten of the twelve classes at Scholes (Elmet) Primary, there have been positive cases of Covid. At Moortown Primary, one third of staff have been absent (though not all with Covid). St James’ CE Primary has similar problems, though thankfully not 25% Covid amongst pupils as is the case with another Wetherby school. With Covid cases still so high in our schools, please do stay vigilant to symptoms and get them tested if they’re not feeling quite right.

This week’s message comes from Mrs Allaway, who leads on Maths across Sphere Federation…

This year, Sphere schools are taking part in a new national programme for Reception, Year 1 and Year 2: ‘Mastering Number’. The programme aims to secure firm foundations in the development of good number sense for all children. The aim over time is that everyone leaves Key Stage 1 with fluency in calculation and a confidence and flexibility with number.

Why is fluency with number facts so important?

We want all children to develop fluency with number facts because we know this makes a huge difference to their progress in maths. For children who find maths difficult, it’s often the case that their only strategy is to count. They don’t see the relationships or make the connections that make maths easier. For example, if five and two is seven, seven minus two must be five – that’s the relationship within the maths.

An over-reliance on counting not only makes maths more difficult, it also inhibits flexibility, thinking and the development of problem-solving strategies. It doesn’t just affect calculating, it affects maths much more widely. We need children to have stopped counting by the time they move into Key Stage 2.

What is number sense?

Alongside fluency in number facts, we want our children to develop ‘number sense’: a flexibility with number where they reason; they see relationships; they see mathematical structures; and they see such things as if six and three is nine, then nine minus three is equal to six. These relationships won’t change in Key Stage 2 and beyond, the numbers just become bigger and more complex.

We want to support all children to think mathematically, make connections and see relationships because we know these are the characteristics that make maths learning successful.

Mastering Number sessions

In our short focused sessions for children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2, we give children opportunities to think deeply about mathematical relationships and time to practise and really embed fluency with number facts. These 10 minute sessions are in addition to our main daily maths lesson.

In some sessions, we focus on deepening children’s understand of the composition of number: inside numbers there are other numbers. For example, inside eight there’s five and three, there’s six and two. Knowing that inside numbers are other numbers enables children to develop fluency skills.

We’re also developing skills in subitising. This is the ability to look at a small number of objects (often a maximum of about five) and instantly recognise how many there are without needing to count them one by one. This plays a key role in helping children see how numbers are made up, avoiding an over-reliance on counting.

One of the key resources children use in Mastering Number sessions is a rekenrek – a type of abacus or number rack.  It supports children to feel and visualise numbers as well as noticing how numbers relate to each other. Children begin to build up strong visual images by first doing, seeing and noticing the maths.

How can I help at home?

Regularly accessing NumBots will support children to practise and really embed and develop crucial number facts. If you need help accessing this, please contact your child’s class teacher.

Children in Key Stage 2 who struggle with Maths could use NumBots too – ask your child’s teacher. (And don’t forget the importance of knowing times tables – including division facts. You don’t need to use Times Tables Rock Stars, but it’s one way to practise at home.)

For those of you with a child in Early Years and Key Stage 1, don’t forget there’s a Zoom session about our updated provision for learning phonics and practising early reading skills: 6pm on Monday 31 January. Contact us for the Zoom details in case you missed them.

Have a good weekend.

Spring term after-school clubs

Posted on 26 January 2022 by Mrs Taylor

After-school clubs will be restarting next week and they will run for eight weeks until the Easter break. Places can be booked via Gateway.

Our physical activity clubs continue to be heavily subsidised through the investment of our PE and Sport Premium.

Please contact the office if you have any queries about the clubs or the booking system.

This week’s message (Friday 21 January 2022)

Posted on 21 January 2022 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s message kicks off with a repeat of one we sent on Wednesday, in case you missed it.

With the government’s announcement about the ending of Plan B restrictions next Thursday, it might seem that things are getting back to normal, and it might seem like most people with Covid have a relatively mild illness compared to previous strains.

In our schools, we’re struggling.

We’ve far more cases across all three schools (and across Leeds, from what we hear) than ever before amongst our children and our staff.

For pupils, when the number of positive cases of Covid rises, we have to consider isolating the class (‘bubbling’), and even move to home learning.

For staff, we’re committed to keeping the classes open. This is starting to prove really difficult – the more staff we have absent, the harder it is to cover. (And it’s really difficult to find supply teachers right now.)

Either way, this means learning is disrupted.

You can help us:

  • Please continue to test your child often.
  • Please continue to keep your child away from school if they’re not well, and make sure you test them.
  • Please make sure you’re up-to-date with guidance, including self-isolation periods.
  • Please be patient – we’re working really hard right now to manage the disruptions as best we can.

If your child’s at home…

  • Please use the home learning materials we publish each week on our website – go to the Learn More section, choose Home Learning, and then click on your child’s year group.
  • If you’re entitled to free school meals, please let us know – we can arrange for some food to be prepared.

The things I wish my parents had known…

This might seem like something more useful for older children, but the advice here could really help avoid issues later on…

The Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza DBE, has recently published a guidance document for parents helping to support them to understand online sexual harassment. It’s a sensitive topic, and not one all parents feel comfortable discussing with their children.

The commissioner’s team brought together a group of 16 – 21 year olds and asked them to talk about what they think parents should know, and what they should say to their children when talking about sexualised bullying and the pressures of growing up online.

Key advice from the young adults in the focus groups included:

  • Start conversations early, before your child gets a phone or social media account. Keep the conversation going over time, adapting to your child.
  • Young people want their parents to learn about new technology and trends, including risky behaviours and dangerous spaces online.
  • Create a safe and trusting home environment. Young people told us the home environment is key, they want to share things with their parents but don’t always feel able.


Needing help?

We all need a bit of help from time to time…

The Family Lives charity aims to offer all parents somewhere to turn before they reach crisis point. Crisis support, provided for over 40 years through their helpline, has always been at the heart of what they do. The parents’ helpline is available Monday to Friday, 1.30 – 9pm: 0808 800 2222

Their website also offers help parents with the ups and downs of family life.


…And now it’s the weekend! Have a happy and healthy one, whatever you get up to.

Identity Day

Posted on 21 January 2022 by Mrs Weekes

As part of our Living and Learning, we invited children to come to school wearing something that demonstrates their identity. It has been great to see so many children take part and talk about their identity with such confidence and pride.

It’s fantastic to find out more about our children: clubs they belong to; religious and cultural traditions; nationalities; interests; and many other things. Here’s a snapshot of our happy and healthy school community.

This week’s message (Friday 14 January 2022)

Posted on 14 January 2022 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s message is from Mr Wilks, who leads on Science and foundation subjects. Before that, a quick heads up…

Next Friday is Identity Day. This day links to our learning on identity, part of our Living and Learning provision. We invite children to come to school wearing something that demonstrates their identity. This could be linked to a particular club or sport, it could be traditional clothes, or even just a badge to show belonging. (We’re keeping windows open for ventilation, so plenty of layers, too!)

Now, let’s find out more about the current topic your child is learning from Mr Wilks…

What is this half-term’s topic?

This half-term, we’re historians and we’ll develop our understanding of Britain’s past and the wider world.

I love history. It’s one of my favourite subjects to teach. There are so many amazing stories and characters from the past and although the people and events we study can be separated from our own lives by thousands of years, there are lots of relevant connections we can make with the world today. Children will use enquiry skills to answer questions about the past that require opinions. They’ll be ‘time detectives’, using sources of evidence to help them answer these questions. They’ll learn that certain things that they learn about may or may not be true and that history can be interpreted in different ways.

Each phase has age-related specific knowledge, skills and vocabulary that they’ll learn, use and apply across the topic. See pages 27, 28 and 29.

Years 1 and 2

Your child will learn about how shopping has changed over time. They’ll develop chronological understanding by sequencing events in their own lives before learning about how shopping was different during their parents’ and grandparents’ childhoods. They’ll look at similar products from different times and try to sequence them chronologically using logical reasoning. Your child will use photographs and other sources of evidence to identify changes and similarities on the high street over time. They’ll learn about the history of a local shop, Marks and Spencer, and how it has changed over time.

The key historical concept which we’ll explore in this topic is trade. Trade is the exchange of goods and services, initially for other goods and services, and then for money.

Years 3 and 4

Your child will learn about the Roman Empire and its invasion of Britain. They’ll examine how life changed for the people living in Britain at the time of the invasion. They’ll learn about the Celtic warrior, Boudicca, and how she resisted the Romans. Children will also consider what we know about Boudicca, how we know it and whether we can trust it. Your child will learn about the amazing inventions and advances that the Romans brought to Britain. Finally, they’ll find out why the Romans left Britain and what happened after they left.

There are two key historical concepts which we’ll explore in this topic: empire and invasion. An empire is a large group of countries or states ruled by an emperor or empress. An invasion is when a country or region is invaded by an armed force.

Years 5 and 6

Your child will learn about Viking Britain and an Early Islamic Civilisation centred around the city of Baghdad around 800AD.

During this period of time, Baghdad was the largest city in the world and was the centre of the world’s trade routes. Trade between Vikings and Baghdad happened and provides a real link between these two societies.

Through studying the Vikings, children will again learn about how people invaded and settled in Britain. Invasion is also relevant as it brought an end to the Islamic Golden Age.

The Islamic Golden Age was a period of great innovation. Learning and knowledge was key to their success. They built the world’s first hospitals, universities and observatories, as well as studied writing from scholars around the world. The contrast with Viking Britain during the Dark Ages is stark!

There are three key historical concepts which we’ll explore in this topic: trade, invasion and innovation. Trade is the exchange of goods and services, initially for other goods and services, and then for money. An innovation is an improvement or replacement for something. An invasion is when a country or region is invaded by an armed force.

How can you help?

Talk to your child about what they’ve been learning in class. The class news page of the school website is a good place to go to find out more about what the children are doing.

Find some books from the library which match what the children are learning. This will be quite easy for children in Key Stage 2 as there will be plenty of books about Roman Britain and Viking Britain. You should also be able to find some about the Islamic Golden Age. For children in KS1, you may find it more difficult to find books about shopping over time. However, any book that looks at how an aspect of life has changed over time will be good. For example, you may find KS1 history books about toys and games, houses, transport, holidays. These will all help your child to sequence chronologically and explore similarities and differences.

Watch television shows about history. Horrible Histories is great (regardless of your age!).

If it’s a rainy weekend and you’re looking for something to do, why not spend a morning or afternoon in a museum? Abbey House Museum in Kirkstall is a great museum, perfectly suited to the Year 1,2 topic as it has a recreated Victorian Street with lots of different shops and even a pub! It also has a great exhibition of toys over time. A visit to Leeds City Museum would be great for all children but especially for Y3,4 children as it has some exhibits linked to the Romans in Leeds. It’s free to enter. Though more expensive and further afield, the Jorvik Viking Centre and Jorvik Dig are both excellent days out and especially relevant for the Year 5 and 6 topic.

The only way is up!

Posted on 09 January 2022 by Mrs Weekes

We are very proud of one of our pupils in Y5. He has been enjoying climbing for a few years now but we have just heard that he has been selected for the GB Youth Development Squad. Wow! This is an amazing achievement.  Here are some photos of him in action. Congratulations!

This week’s message (Friday 07 January 2022)

Posted on 07 January 2022 by Mr Roundtree

Happy new year! We hope 2022 has started well for you. Our first message of the year has three parts: an attendance update; some information about books we’re sending home for children in Reception and Key Stage 1; and some information about forthcoming workshops.

Attendance matters

It’s difficult deciding whether your child should attend school if they’re poorly. It’s even more difficult in these Covid times. Children have missed out on so many days of learning in school because of lockdowns and isolating, and yet we know you’re careful that your child isn’t attending school if they’re displaying any Covid symptoms.

  • Thank you for taking care to look after your own child – and everyone around them, too.
  • Equally, thank you for making sure that your child gets to school as much as possible, and on time, when it’s been safe to do so.

Our whole-school attendance figure for the Autumn term was 96.2%. Over a quarter of children have 100% attendance so far this year – that’s brilliant! Here’s an update on the attendance for each class:

  • Reception: 93.6%
  • Year 1: 96.9%
  • Year 2: 97.8% – the highest in school, so well done!
  • Year 3: 97.6% – a close second!
  • Year 4: 95.3%
  • Year 5: 95.8%
  • Year 6: 95.5%

Reading at home

This section is for parents and carers of children in Early Years and Year 1. Something similar may be happening for Year 2 children – check with your child’s class teacher.

Earlier this week, we sent some information home about a change to what books we’ll send home. Since then, a few parents have asked for a bit more information about why we’re now asking you to read e-books at home.

It might help to be clear that there are two types of book.

The practice books are short books with simple words that your child will be able to ‘decode’ (to read). In school, these are physical books; at home, it’s the same text as an e-book. Your child will have read this book at least three times in school across the week. They’re for children to practise the phonics that they’ve learnt in school – matching letters to sounds. They’re also for you to celebrate your child’s increasing phonics skills. Reading the book won’t take more than about 10-15 minutes.

The sharing books are physical books (not e-books), typically chosen by your child. They’re likely to be longer. These books are to read together and enjoy. Your child is unlikely to be able to read all of the text independently. You’ll probably spend more time over a few days reading together the sharing books than the practice books.

Here are some of the reasons we’ve chosen to use a web-based approach for the practice books at home:

  • the e-books mean the hard copies of the same books stay in school and therefore there will be less chance of some going missing – this is essential as even just one missing book will undermine the impact when we practise reading in school
  • we’ve been really impressed by the appearance and user-interface of the website
  • we’ve consulted other school leaders – the feedback about e-books has been overwhelmingly positive
Like everything, we’ll continually review the arrangements.


Coming up next week is a Zoom session for parents and carers of children in Year 6, although others are welcome to attend, too. It’s to provide you with information about the end of Key Stage 2 assessments (the ‘SATs’) that will take place in the week beginning Monday 09 May.

The session is on Thursday 13 January and starts at 6pm. It’ll last around 30 minutes, and there’ll be opportunities to ask any questions that you might have.

We’ll send to Year 6 parents and carers the Zoom link. For other parents and carers, if you’re interested in attending, 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.

Talking of workshops, there are also some coming up about special education needs and disabilities (SEND). These come from Leeds Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information and Advice Support Service (not us) – read more about the workshops here.


Next week’s message comes from Mr Wilks, who leads on Science and topics across Sphere Federation. He’ll provide an overview of the History learning that’s happening in Key Stage 1 and 2, and how you might help at home. In the meantime, have a great weekend.

This week’s message (Friday 17 December 2021)

Posted on 17 December 2021 by Mr Roundtree

The last message of 2021 comes from Mrs Weekes, the Head of School…

We’ve finally made it to the end of term! As always, our children have shown great resilience and have proved themselves to be happy and healthy learners. Just recently, when Mr Roundtree and I were both standing at the school gate one morning, we both commented, at almost exactly the same time, how happy the children are when they come to school in the morning. They skip in with a smile on their face, radiating happiness. It really is a pleasure to be at the school gate every morning.

When you look at our land behind school, I’m sure you must be wondering what on earth we’ve been doing all term and why it looks so neglected. I can assure you we’ve been incredibly busy but the green space stays looking the same. With a lot of priorities at this time of year and with staff turnover, we seem to be having to juggle many balls while trying not to drop any!

Some communication from the PTA, earlier this term, highlighted the need to carry on raising money so that the land can be developed into an area that is purposeful and pleasant – this is the bit that takes the most time.

We’re still working with a company to develop plans of what the area could look like. Early in 2022, we’ll meet with them again to decide what happens next.

Talking about the back of school, we’ve decided not to open the back gate in January and February. It’s been getting very muddy over the past few weeks and this isn’t going to improve any time soon. We’ll review the state of the park in March.

As you’ll know, we made the difficult decision to move Year 1 to remote learning this week because of an increase in positive Covid cases. We want everyone to be safe over the Christmas break. Please make sure you stay safe and follow any updated guidance so that you and your families can enjoy a well-deserved rest.

As always, thank you for your support.

From Mrs Weekes and me, and from all the staff at Moortown Primary: have a happy and healthy Christmas break.

This week’s message (Friday 10 December 2021)

Posted on 10 December 2021 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s message has a couple of reminders, but we start with a ‘Plan B’ update on Covid precautions…

Since the early days of the pandemic, the Department for Education has been sending regular emails to schools. Yesterday’s came with an introductory sentence: ‘Today’s email includes an urgent update for all education and childcare settings on implementing Plan B of the COVID-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan’. Here are some extracts:

school attendance remains mandatory and all the usual rules continue to apply

settings are strongly encouraged to ask parents, guardians and other visitors to take a lateral flow device (LFD) test before entering the setting

all staff and students should test over the holidays in line with national guidance. This means that they should test if they will be in a high-risk situation that day and before visiting people who are at higher risk of severe illness if they get COVID-19

We were also asked to ‘revisit…existing outbreak plans to ensure [we] are well prepared for any future changes’ – let’s hope we don’t get to the same situation as we were in last January.

Next, a couple of reminders…

Next Tuesday, learning updates will be sent home. These are short reports that we send home at the end of the Autumn and Spring terms; they complement the parent-teacher meetings which take place earlier in the same terms. We started doing these a few years ago following your feedback in our annual surveys.

Also coming up is a non-uniform day at the end of the term on Friday 17 December (and for Y3 and Y4 pupils, on their party day, too). Our Uniform Policy contains the following:

Pupils should dress appropriately and respectfully for school, even on non-uniform days. Clothes are inappropriate if they, for example, glorify violence, feature bad language, are very short (eg crop tops), or relate to age-inappropriate topics (eg computer games)… Make-up (other than face paints as part of a specific costume) is not allowed. Flip-flops or high-heeled shoes are not allowed, even on non-uniform days, because they’re dangerous when running.

Have a happy and healthy weekend.

This week’s message (Friday 03 December 2021)

Posted on 03 December 2021 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s message is a short one. The main part is an important reminder about Covid, and we end – less seriously – with a link in case you’d like some stocking filler ideas…

Two weeks ago, we told you about a website with up-to-date Covid information for Leeds. The heatmap (the second graphic) shows that there’s still a high number of positive cases of Covid for children of primary school age – in fact, if you scroll across the second row up (children aged 5-9), you can see numbers are rising. We’re noticing this, too – in fact, we’ve had to return to remote learning for one class in Sphere Federation.

Please be alert to the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 infection:

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

If your child has any of these main symptoms, even if they’re mild:

  1. Get a PCR test (test that is sent to a lab) as soon as possible.
  2. Keep your child at home and not have visitors until you get the test result – they can only leave home to have the test.

We’re seeing children showing various other symptoms such as sickness, colds and headaches, too. Please keep you child at home if they’re not feeling right for whatever reason.

Thank you for continuing to support us to keep our school as safe from Covid as we can.

On a lighter note, if we’re all being as cautious as we can right now, Christmas should be a better one for many this year. If you’re on the look out for some ideas for pressies, check out this Christmas book guide. Giving a book at Christmas is a great way to keep children reading!