Latest news from around the school

Home learning and other support (23 April 2020)

Posted on 23 April 2020 by Mr Roundtree

How’re you doing? Take a moment or so today to check-in on yourself to make you‘re doing ok. Just a couple of minutes of quiet down-time for you and you alone can make a big difference to how you cope in these tough times.

I know – the Ofsted judgement’s a joke. But stop for a moment and just think what you’re achieving right now: supporting your child with home learning tasks, managing to keep your household going, working from home maybe, coping with concerns about coronavirus for your loved ones… That’s no mean feat. If you can judge yourself to be ‘hanging in there’, then well done and be proud of yourself.

(And you’ve nearly got through another full week of home learning!)

We hope the change of timings for the home learning tasks going live on our website helped some of you plan to prepare a bit in advance.

Based on what you’ve told us, we’re making another change: we’re shifting the balance a bit in what we’re asking. We’ve heard that writing can be the most challenging task to engage your child and support him/her. We also wonder about the limited benefits of writing as a home learning task compared to practising reading and maths skills and learning more in foundation subjects. That’s why we’ve shifted the balance a little away from writing, based on your feedback. That’s not to say writing isn’t important – it really is – but it’s to recognise what are the best tasks for home learning.

And now, over to some Year 6 children across Sphere Federation…

Lleyton has pretended to be me here:

Hello parents. I hope you are happy. I have been planning work for the pupils – you are probably having more fun than me. I know it is hard for both of us but just keep trying your best. Here are some ideas for working at home:

  • Give your children breaks in between schoolwork
  • Giving them food
  • Giving them drinks
  • Giving them shelter
  • Making a routine
  • Allowing our children to communicate with friends
  • Take them on daily walks
  • Giving them fresh air

I know you and I are working really hard. You’re doing great. Keep it up!

Lleyton – there’s some really good advice – I do hope your own parents haven’t forgotten to give you food and drinks!

Mya’s written a poem called Ambition that might inspire us to get through lockdown:

I just want to achieve so that I believe

Just like everyone else

Doesn’t matter how hard it may seem

I have to be eager to be a believer

I will take the opportunity

To fit in with the community

I just want to achieve so that I believe

Home learning and other support (22 April 2020)

Posted on 22 April 2020 by Mr Roundtree

It’s the mid-week point – hopefully, you and your child have settled back into a routine that’s working for you. It’s working for this parent: ‘I just wanted to pass on our thanks and gratitude for all the home learning that is being prepared… We thank you all for your continued help and support – it is invaluable!’

We’re keen to hear suggestions about how we can improve what we’re providing at the moment, and I’ve mentioned some things in the last couple of days. Something important to remember: tomorrow’s home learning tasks will be published this evening at 7pm and teachers will continue to publish the home learning the night before. This follows some suggestions from you so that you have time to prepare.

For the rest of today’s message, it’s over to the government and – far more importantly – to two of our Year 6 children!

Guidance for parents and carers on supporting their children’s education

The Department for Education has published information, guidance and support for parents and carers of children who are learning at home during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. It’s similar to the advice we’ve offered over the last four weeks or so, but you might want to read it:

The government has also updated its guidance for parents and carers on the closure of educational settings with additional information on the support available for parents, online educational resources and support for vulnerable children.

We know how to wash our hands… don’t we?

I found this update (over the Easter holiday period) more interesting – it explains a bit some advice we’ve made in the past, which is to wash hands with soak and water rather than rely on sanitiser:

It is essential that everyone washes their hands more often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Hand washing with soap employs mechanical action that loosens bacteria and viruses from the skin, rinsing them into the drain. Drying hands afterwards makes the skin less hospitable to the virus. Hand sanitiser can be effective if soap is not available or the situation makes using soap less feasible (i.e. when outside) but using hand sanitiser provides none of the virus-destroying friction that rubbing your hands together and rinsing with water provides.

Read more about the latest guidance and video on hand washing.

The e-Bug project is led by Public Health England and has a dedicated webpage for learning resources on hand washing and respiratory hygiene. Resources are currently available for KS1, KS2 and KS3.

Finally, updates from some Year 6 children…

Nothing has really been normal recently so why don’t you take advantage of that. Try baking or cooking with your child. You could even get them to do meal planning, which can teach them to be prepared when the are older. Also, email your child’s class teacher- they would love to know what your child is doing!

To make your child feel more like they are at school, try to keep a timetable but make sure you and your child are having breaks between the work.

Thanks for that, Amelie – lots of good advice for parents there.

Lily, meanwhile, has two top tips for children:

Don’t forget to get out in the sun (but don’t forget your sun protection). I know it can be tough getting yourself into the routine of doing it when it feels just like the summer holidays!

Don’t forget to send us some pictures of you doing the work and having fun at home!

There’ll be more updates from our Year 6 children (and quite probably from the government, too) in future messages from us!

Wednesday is here again

Posted on 22 April 2020 by Mrs Weekes

Hello everyone – I hope that you’re all ok and are fully aware that it is Wednesday (yes, parents, you’re half way through the week!).

I don’t know about you but this beautiful weather is certainly helping my mood – the fact that we can sit outside for a coffee or just a break is brilliant.  I’ve loved seeing all the photos on the website of the different learning that is going on – on my walk last week, I saw some rainbow sticks emerging from a hedge and they made me smile so much, I took a photo.  After looking at the website yesterday, it seems that it was one of our families who had made them so, thank you, it cheered me up no end.

Talking about smiling, click on the link below to see some photos that were sent from the Reception class.  They really made Mrs Burke and me very happy this morning – hope they make you smile too.

Take care everyone – stay happy, healthy and safe.

Reception friends


Home learning and other support (21 April 2020)

Posted on 21 April 2020 by Mr Roundtree

(In case you weren’t aware, these messages appear on both on our website and by email a little later.)

Yesterday, we talked about two main things:

  • how tough it might be to get back into the swing of things with home learning
  • some new daily lessons available online from Oak National Academy and BBC Bitesize

This BBC article links these two points. The article flags up the importance of routine, and offers three top tips to achieve a safe structure for the day (and one that will help parents working from home, too).

…what is more important, say educationalists, is maintaining a degree of normality, rather than worrying about a child’s progress in English or maths. Home-schooling for now is “about encouraging parents to help their children create regular routines and study habits”, says Prof Becky Francis, of the UCL Institute of Education.

In an attempt to support you more with the home learning, we’re making one important change: from Wednesday, teachers will publish the home learning at 7pm the day before.

This change stems from requests that we publish the tasks the night before so that you can prepare:

  • some parents like to have things printed off in advance
  • some parents want to prepare for the home learning at a time when they themselves free, ie when they’re not working from home at the same time
  • some parents say their child is awake early and wanting to get going sooner
  • some parents even mention the clash with PE with Joe Wicks starting at the same time!

So, tomorrow, home learning will go live at 9am (the usual time), but also tomorrow, there’ll be another post at 7pm – this will be Thursday’s home learning. And we’ll continue like this; for example, Monday’s home learning will be published on Sunday at 7pm (with the Monday date).

Thanks to the various parents for making this suggestion.

Finally today, a lot of families rely on friends, grandparents and organisations to help with childcare. Your child might be missing these people just now.

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst might provide comfort – it’s read here by one of our Sphere Federation teaching assistants (thanks, Gemma!).

Home learning and other support (20 April 2020)

Posted on 20 April 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Our daily home learning tasks started again today. As we said on Friday, we know it’ll be tough for everyone getting back into that routine – getting that momentum going again is bound to be hard.

You may have heard about some new online initiatives which aim to ‘teach’ children through a series of virtual lessons. Oak National Academy and BBC Bitesize are the two most widely spoken about – both have just launched today, although we’ve encouraged you to check out BBC Teach for a while now). These resources look great and we’re certainly exploring them – they’ve both got pros and cons, just like the daily package of home learning tasks we’ve been providing you. What you might notice is teachers beginning to refer to these resources when they provide the home learning tasks for your child. We ask for your patience with this: we don’t want to use online links that actually take more of your time to explain.

We’re also exploring ways to present more online lessons. Some parents/carers have suggested using Zoom or something similar, but these interactive approaches do present problems. Teachers are starting to try out other things. These might take a little extra time to put together but will absolutely meet the needs of our learners.

We’re trying hard to make your job as ‘teacher’ as easy as possible and have always acknowledged that learning is going to look different in these extraordinary times.

It might help to remember some of the tips we’ve talked about before:

  • try to develop a timetable for the tasks and stick to it – children benefit from the routine and it becomes easier
  • build in practical tasks like cooking or planning an online shop so your child can use and apply the skills they have
  • use different devices to access the tasks if you’ve more than one child, or let them have a go at the same task, but provide extra support for the younger, or additional challenge for the older
  • if a task looks too complicated for your child, be flexible – they could access the task set by a teacher in one of the other Sphere schools, or they could access some learning from our menu of home learning resources.
  • let your child’s teacher know how they’re doing – it’ll help them to stay engaged if they get some feedback (and our teachers are loving seeing all the great learning that’s coming in – check out their Class News pages!)
  • equally, feel free to ask your child’s teacher any questions about the learning
  • importantly – be kind to yourself and your child: this is a difficult time for us all, so if they’ve done just two of the tasks, plus some reading (20 minutes would be great), some exercise and some other learning from our menu, then that’s a really productive day!

Finally, today, this quote from a parent in a recent magazine article is quite a powerful one, especially the text I’ve put in bold. The article (Guardian magazine, 07.03.20) was about child geniuses, but I think it’s an important message for us all!

My main thing is that she feels happy and fulfilled, because that isn’t always the case when chasing perfection. We model failure for her, making mistakes in front of her. We ask each day what her successes were, and what she failed at, and celebrate both.

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: [email protected]

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 [email protected] – 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.