Latest news from around the school

Home learning and other support (17 April 2020)

Posted on 17 April 2020 by Mr Roundtree

We hope you’re doing ok.

The last couple of weeks should’ve been the school Easter holidays – they still were technically, but we know they didn’t quite feel the same. We hope you managed to find some ways to relax a bit. That might have included the Easter activities we presented:

  • Did your child create some nature-inspired art, in the style of Andy Goldsworthy?
  • If you did it, how did the treasure hunt go?
  • Were you ‘board’ silly with the new board game your child created?
  • Perhaps you even combined two activities: how was the Come Dine With Me experience in the den your child built?

On Monday, the daily home learning tasks get going again. It’ll be tough for everyone getting back into that routine, but do try – it might help to agree again the expectations around a daily timetable, and we’d suggest you even agree how your child approaches the learning (this could include an agreed amount of time to talk, and an agreed amount of time to work in silence – this might help you get on with other things).

This article sets out five top tips:

Routines and boundaries are really important.

‘Children will need them as the structure of their lives has suddenly been altered. This holds for everyone in the household. Far easier said than done, but critical over the long haul. Establishing start times, breaks and end times will help everyone, and many families will need support to plan for that.’

It’s OK not to be OK.

‘It’s crucial that there are rules and boundaries in place, but parents must know that it’s better to bend them than allow them to break. They are in charge, and it’s [difficult]… Some days will be great – others a complete flop. Fine.’

Parents need to know why and how work has been set. 

If you’re wondering about a home learning task that’s been set, please make sure you get in touch with your child’s class teacher – they’ll remind you of their email addresses in their website homework pages.

Technology can help and hinder both students and parents.

‘For young people, screen time is social gold dust… gentle monitoring… is likely to work better than an outright ban.’

Teaching is stressful.

‘The importance of self-care and wellbeing for parent-teachers can’t be overstated, especially with no colleagues to sound off to after a bad day. Having a point of contact with the school or a peer network can make all the difference between surviving and thriving.’ …so again, if you need to email your child’s teacher, please do.


And on a separate subject…

Free school meals – are you eligible?

In these challenging times, more of you might now be eligible so that your child can get free school meals (FSM). This could well be the case if your circumstances have changed as a result of work or income being affected.

If you’re waiting for a decision of Universal Credit (UC), you can still submit an application (even though the decision won’t be reached until your Universal Credit is confirmed). If you’re successful with your FSM application, then your child will keep their entitlement until the end of the Universal Credit roll out (which is currently set for 2023) and then until the end of their primary phase. Therefore, it’s worth submitting an application now, even if you’re likely to return to work in the near future!

Read more about the FSM eligibility criteria and how to claim.

Are you eligible to claim for free school meals?

Posted on 17 April 2020 by Mr Roundtree

In these challenging times, more of you might now be eligible to claim for free school meals (FSM). This could well be the case if your circumstances have changed as a result of work or income being affected.

If you’re waiting for a decision of Universal Credit (UC), you can still submit an application (even though the decision won’t be reached until your Universal Credit is confirmed). If you’re successful with your FSM application, then your child will keep their entitlement until the end of the Universal Credit roll out (which is currently set for 2023) and then until the end of their primary phase. Therefore, it’s worth submitting an application now, even if you’re likely to return to work in the near future!

Read more about the FSM eligibility criteria and how to claim.

Has your child been offered a place at our school?

Posted on 16 April 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Today is the day when families across England are offered a school place.

If your child has a place at Moortown Primary, we’re delighted to welcome you! Moortown Primary is a happy and healthy place to learn. We’re excited to continue that journey with you and your child.

It would really help us if you can contact school by email to confirm whether or not you want to take up the offer. Our email is:

In your email, if you’re accepting a place, it will help us to prepare the transition process if you tell us the following, if applicable:

  1. The name and contact details of your child’s current Early Years provider
  2. The name of your child’s key worker
  3. The hours that your child attends their current provider eg 30 hours
  4. The days of the week that your child attends their current provider

Because of the current school closures due to coronavirus, things are a bit different this year. We’ll be in touch with you in a few weeks to let you know more about how we’ll support you and your child in making the transition to our school.

The following text is taken directly from an email to schools from Leeds City Council’s Admissions Team:

Families do not need to take any action on offer day, as they have until 30 April to submit waiting list requests and 15 May to submit appeal requests. Due to coronavirus (COVID-19), appeal hearings are on hold until we receive further guidance from the Department for Education.

If families are not happy with the school they have been offered they can ask to be added to the waiting list for any Leeds school (including schools they haven’t previously asked for) and can appeal against the refusal of a place at a preferenced school. Waiting list forms and appeal forms are available at

The email goes on to make three points to any family considering refusing their offer:

  • If you turn down a place, it will be allocated to another child and there is no guarantee a place will become available at a closer school to home – you could be left without a Reception place in September.
  • Accepting an offer doesn’t impact on the chances of being offered a place from the waiting list or increase the chances of success at an appeal hearing.
  • Any family who refuses an offer must confirm this in writing to – you’ll be asked to confirm where you’ll be educating your child in September.

And relax...

Posted on 06 April 2020 by Mrs Weekes

If feels very strange to think that the Easter holidays started today!  My days are certainly merging into one but it’s official, the children are now on holiday.

Well done for getting through the past couple of weeks; I can imagine it has been really tricky for some of you to juggle ‘teaching’ and working from home.  I’m really grateful that my offspring is of an age where she is quite self sufficient (supposedly) and sleeping most of the time!  Phew!  No teaching needed.

It’s been great to see photos of home learning on the class news – there’s been some brilliant creative learning going on with smiling faces and even a baby being the teacher!  Mrs Freeman had some unusual help with her report writing – scroll through Year 2 class news to find out who helped her; I think their reports might be slightly different this year!

I hope that all of you are well and coping in these strange circumstances; take some down time if you can and make the most of spending time with your family.

Take care and stay happy and healthy.


Yaaaaaay! Well done!

Posted on 03 April 2020 by Mr Roundtree

A big well done to the mums, dads, carers of Moortown children – you’ve done two weeks of home learning now!

Has it been easier this week? Or harder in some way? Maybe a bit of both?

Just like around this time last week, our message to you is the same: you should feel pleased with yourselves. We know this whole situation is tough, and unsettling, and frustrating, and monotonous, and… but you and your family have got through it.

It’s time for a break. It’s the Easter ‘holidays’. Nobody’s going anywhere or doing anything exciting, but we wish you all the very best all the same.

A little piece of good news...

Posted on 03 April 2020 by Mr Roundtree

We all need a good news story in these unsettling times, and here’s one…

Baby Rushbrooke has arrived! Congratulations to Miss Rushbrooke and her partner on the birth of their baby boy on 01 April 2020. He weighed in at a whopping 9lb 5oz!

We send them all our love.

Home learning (02 April 2020)

Posted on 02 April 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Today’s post centres around staying safe online, and – back by popular demand(!) – the return of Red Herring.

Making sure your child is safe online should be a top priority.

During these times, your child may well be online more often than they normally would. We’ve suggested you might decide that your child shouldn’t be on social networking sites during the school hours, but the Easter holidays are coming up so you may choose to relax any rules you’ve set. But how much screen time should children have? These activities designed for use with 7-11 year olds (but easily adapted to other ages) will help your child recognise the signs they may experience when they’ve been online too long and the importance of balancing online and offline activities.

Thinkuknow can help you make sure your child stays safe online. They’ve produced a short guide for parents of primary and secondary children.

How much do you know about Houseparty?

An app growing in popularity is Houseparty – downloads have increased by 122% in the last month during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a group video messaging app that allows users to live-chat with up to eight people where they can play games and chat with friends and family in a ‘room’.

Different organisations set an age limit for Houseparty, all higher than primary school age. (Apple rate Houseparty as 12+ and Google Play urge ‘parental guidance’, but Common Sense Media and others recommend users be at least 15 to use the platform. Houseparty’s privacy policy requires users to be at least 13 years old.)

Read more about Houseparty so you can support your child to stay safe online.

What’s the government advice about staying safe online?

Government guidance now includes reference to keeping your child safe online:

There is a lot of support available to keep your child safe online. Below are some useful links to help parents and carers:

Thinkyouknow (advice from the National Crime Agency to stay safe online)
Internet matters (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
Parent info (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
LGfL (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
Net-aware (support for parents and carers from the NSPCC)

The guidance also talks about concerns about too much pressure on broadband connections:

The government is having regular calls with the major fixed and mobile operators, and with Ofcom, to monitor the situation and ensure that any problems on the networks are rapidly addressed and rectified.

Now, the return of Red Herring…

On Monday, we set you a challenge of working out which fact is the red herring amongst each of the Heads of School (and me). Today, we present five more people – our office-based staff – and with a bit of an equestrian theme. Just work out which statement for each person is a fib, a big fat lie. (Yes, we know it’s hard because you don’t know the people working in the other schools!)

Mrs O’Malley, Sphere Resources Manager based at Moortown:

  • I met my husband whilst learning to drive a tank.
  • I have three British military qualifications: artillery survey,  combat appreciation, and radio communications.
  • As well as a yellow belt in kickboxing I also have a red belt in Ju Jitsu.

Miss Pallister, Admin Assistant at Scholes (Elmet):

  • My first ever full-time job after leaving school was working for Education Leeds, in the finance department at Merrion House.
  • Before moving to Scholes, I lived in Spain for five years.
  • When I was younger I won various horse riding competitions.

Mrs Quirk, Sphere Resources Manager based at Scholes (Elmet):

  • Knitting is one of my hobbies – I love to make presents for friends and family.
  • In my teens, I was part of a group of people who raised money to buy medical supplies for a hospital in Malawi; I spent a summer over there when we took over all the supplies.
  • One of my favourite jobs was as a Wedding Co-ordinator at a country house hotel – I loved planning and organising people’s special days!

Mrs Russell, Admin Assistant at Moortown:

  • When I was younger, I fell off a horse and it trod on my leg – it didn’t put me off horse riding though!
  • I used to help mend shopping trollies.
  • My favourite type of food is fish – anything apart from squid.

Mrs Walshaw, Admin Assistant at St James’:

  • I can count to 10 in Japanese.
  • When I was younger, my family owned two Shetland ponies but I never rode them.
  • In my previous job as an air stewardess, I was part of a crew who took Manchester United football team to one of their European Cup games (now known as the UEFA Champions League).

Home learning (01 April 2020)

Posted on 01 April 2020 by Mr Roundtree

It’s April Fools’ Day – were you the trickster or the fool?

Today, we’ve news about the home learning over the Easter holiday period…

The weeks beginning 06 April and 13 April are the Easter holidays. Yes, it might seem that there won’t be much difference between term time and holiday time at the moment. We’ve thought carefully about how the home learning should look during the Easter period…

  • We’ll present a list of eight activities for your child (Years 1-6) to get up to during the holiday.
  • The list will be the same across year groups, meaning if you’ve more than one child, they might work on it together in some way.
  • Some of the tasks can take a bit longer, like a mini-project, and others will match Creative or Talk Time homework tasks.
  • You can encourage your child to do some or all of the activities – they’re all optional.

During this time, you can still email your child’s class teacher, although they may not respond as quickly as they have been doing.

Teachers will return to daily home learning tasks on Monday 20 April.

For children of key workers, and for children deemed vulnerable in some way, Scholes (Elmet) Primary and Moortown Primary remain open through the holiday, including on the bank holidays. (Thank you to all teachers who have agreed to work these days.)

…and we’ve a message from our Chair of Governors, Mrs Rachel Greenhalgh:

“It’s been an incredibly difficult few weeks for everyone, and I hope you and your families are all keeping well and staying safe through these strange times.

As a governing body, we have been closely following the public health advice and information from the Department of Education, and supporting Mr Roundtree and the Heads of School in managing the fast changing situation. Like most, we’ve had to change our way of working and have reassessed our immediate priorities for the children and the schools, but we are now experts at running virtual meetings! I am sure you will join the governing body in thanking Mr Roundtree and all the school staff for the huge amount of planning and work that has taken place over the past six weeks both in and out of school, and the support provided through regular communication and updates sent to parents and children.

A number of governors are Sphere Federation parents, and we have been hugely grateful for the work provided by the teachers and the additional resources signposted to support the children.

However, these are tough times and there are different daily pressures faced by us all trying to juggle things like home learning, work commitments and worries, family health issues, self-isolation, and general anxiety, whilst trying to keep things as normal as possible for our children. Thank you for all you have been doing to keep learning going during this time – we appreciate it’s not easy. The schools are aware that everyone is doing their best but know that there are many alternative ways for our children to learn new skills and develop knowledge – doing activities such as reading, exercise, cooking or gardening, or relaxing, watching films together, playing board games, chatting with each other as a family or close friends online can also provide many learning opportunities.

We can’t wait to welcome all the children and staff back to the schools once the restrictions are lifted, and return to our normal role of school governance (if you want to find out more about what this voluntary role entails, do look at the governor page on our website). In the meantime, thank you for supporting the children and schools during this difficult time, find time to look after yourselves, take care and stay safe.”

Home learning (31 March 2020)

Posted on 31 March 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Yesterday, we set you a challenge and prompted you to check out BBC’s Newsround. Today, we provide the answers and encourage you to look at a resource from the Children’s Commissioner.

First up, the answers to Red Herring…

We asked you to identify the red herring statement about four people from Sphere Federation…

Miss Hague, Scholes (Elmet) Primary:

  • I worked in pollution control before becoming a teacher.
  • I can talk like Donald Duck – it’s my party piece.
  • I appear in a travel brochure for Spain. This is the red herring: Miss Hague did make it to a tour brochure promoting holidays to Bridlington, though – almost as exotic.

Mrs Weekes, Moortown Primary:

  • I can juggle, but only with handkerchiefs (they’re slower than balls!) This is the red herring: metaphorically, Mrs Weekes does a good job juggling all the jobs around school as well as being the Senior Safeguarding Lead for the whole federation, but she can’t actually juggle.
  • I wanted to be a rally driver when I was little.
  • As a child, I hated wearing dresses – I used to hide them.

Miss Beatson, St James’ CE Primary:

  • When I was younger, my dream job was to be an air stewardess.
  • I used to pack tracheostomy sponges.
  • I can play the banjo. This is the red herring: Miss Beatson is musical, though – she can play the flute, not the banjo.

And me, Mr Roundtree:

  • I can do a bridge pose.
  • During university, I ate a medium pan pizza every day for three weeks. This is the red herring (although technically speaking, true as well): I did eat pizza every day, but for four weeks, not three – I was working in Pizza Hut while at university and taking advantage of this staff perk helped me save my wages (and I’m still loyal to The Hut!).
  • My favourite music is by a Dutch band called The Nits.

Make sure your child is in the know about coronavirus…

The Children’s Commissioner for England has produced this resource – a Children’s Guide to Coronavirus – to support your child. It contains facts about the virus and recommends ways to keep busy at home.

Finally, we’re still so grateful for your lovely feedback…

Here’s just one:

My sincere thanks and appreciation to everyone at school involved in the incredible communication we’re receiving including the updates, advice but mostly the fabulous work that the teachers are setting for the children. I can’t tell you how much this means to both me and the children… the work you are doing for our children is appreciated more than you could imagine.

Many thanks to you all.Home learning (31 March 2020)

Is it still Monday?

Posted on 30 March 2020 by Mrs Weekes

Hello Moortown people…

Hope you are all managing and keeping busy in these very strange times.  I don’t know about you but my days seem to be merging into one. I’m having to work at home but I’ve been keeping up to date with how things are in school and I did wave through the door at some smiling faces last week. One of the Reception parents sent some great photos of the Reception class who have all been painting rainbows – it put a big smile on my face.

I’ve spoken to a few families over the past week; someone in Year 4 was telling me about making plaster sculptures – sounds great! Hope you’re finding the learning interesting and a good way to keep busy – don’t forget to space it out during the day and not to worry if you struggle with some aspects. I bet there are a few people aching after following PE with Joe Wicks in the morning; I know they’ve been taking part in Mrs Taylor’s house!

Keep smiling, everyone – stay happy and stay healthy.