Our daily message (26 June 2020)
Posted on 26 June 2020 by Mr Roundtree
Our final message this week comes from Mrs Weekes, our Head of School…
School has been open more widely (for children other than those of key workers and those who might be deemed vulnerable) for four weeks now and we’re really pleased that we’ve been able to offer more places.
Whilst the children who are coming to school are happy and relieved to be back into some kind of routine, school by no means feels complete. We miss our home learners enormously. Staff are working really hard to keep in touch by email, phone calls or even a wave through the fence. You’ve not been forgotten!
It’s great that our Year 6 children have been able to come back, even on a part-time basis, before they move on to Year 7.
The four bubbles have worked well and the staff and children have been brilliant at keeping their social distance as much as possible but it’s really important that this is being followed at home, too. As Mr Roundtree has said in Wednesday’s message, it’s really hard when children feel that they can’t tell us what they’ve been doing at home; it’s really uncomfortable for them and the member of staff. The social distancing guidelines are there to keep us all safe – please make sure you’re following them for everyone’s sake.
Also, when picking up or dropping off your child, please make sure that you are sticking to the correct times so that we can ensure there are not too many people in the school grounds.
The staff that are working in school are doing a grand job; these are the members of staff working with your children:
- Reception: Mrs Burke, Mrs Burgess and Mrs Stewart
- Year 1/Year 2: Mr Parker, Miss Needham and Mrs Potter
- Year 3/Year 4: Mrs Taylor, Mrs Freeman, Mrs Bharath
- Year 5/Year 6: Miss Wilson and Mr Wain
- Office and overall management: Mr Owen and Mrs Russell
If a member of staff is unable to be in school and there is any change of staff within the bubble, parents will be informed.
The guidance is now being changed and there has been more easing of the lockdown restrictions but please bear in mind the virus hasn’t gone away and that any news about schools is not given to us first; we hear it when you do.
Do get in touch if you’re struggling in any way.
Thanks for your support in these difficult times. Have a great weekend – in your bubbles – and stay safe.
Our daily message (25 June 2020)
Posted on 25 June 2020 by Mr Roundtree
Today’s message is especially for the many parents whose child remains at home…
How’re things with you? For many of us, it’s getting tough. We know that from some of the conversations we’re having with you. And we know that from how we’re feeling, too. If you’re finding things tough right now, it might help to know you’re not alone.
Even with some aspects of lockdown easing, there are still things that aren’t back to normal – and we know one of the most important things that’s not easing up is your child being at home, away from their friends and away from their teacher.
Way back in March, just before schools closed, some of you speculated at the school gate about this going on for the rest of the school year. Despite this, I reckon at first many of us chose to not think about this lasting so long – we just got on with things. The first few weeks might have felt it was a bit of a novelty, even, and we had the resilience and positivity to get through it.
This was always going to be a marathon, not a sprint. We’re definitely approaching the finishing line – we just can’t see it yet. And just like a real marathon (not that I’ve ever run one!), the last stages are tough.
Things are challenging because you can see some people back at school – it’s hard not to feel a sense of envy or even resentment. And things are challenging when you hear about other aspects of lockdown easing – what a weird situation that we can take children to a zoo, but not to school.
The government has announced that all pupils in all year groups in England will go back to school full-time in September. Even if that doesn’t happen (and I’m thinking worst-case scenario here), I’m confident all children will be back at school on a rota system, For us, that would mean we can plan for teaching in school and then follow-up home learning which is then is checked by the teacher… That’s got to be better than than the current situation – and remember, that’s a worst-case scenario.
In the meantime, if your child is still at home, remember the majority of children across England are in the same situation, and children are resilient – they can bounce back, and they will. We’ll all reach the end of this marathon we’re running, tired and emotional maybe, but we will reach it.
Our daily message (24 June 2020)
Posted on 24 June 2020 by Mr Roundtree
Tomorrow’s message is for those parents whose child(ren) are still at home. Today’s message is especially to the parents and carers who have a child back at school – it’s a simple one:
Please respect social distancing.
For most people, this means just three things:
- only meet outside
- only meet up in a group of six people maximum
- stay two metres apart
Yes, we know the rules will soon ease up a bit, but that’s not until Saturday 04 July.
Right now, it’s still those three things we all need to follow.
We’re not judging a family or their choices about whether they follow guidelines or not, but the choices made at home have an impact on us in school. My job is to try and keep everyone safe. Asking a family to keep their child at home for 14 days is heartbreaking – it’s not a decision taken lightly at all. The reality is that it’s very upsetting.
If you and your family don’t follow social distancing, we’ll have to send your child home to quarantine for two weeks. This is a great shame for your child, and frustrating for other parents who want their child to be in school.
School is a social place and children chat away – it’s natural for children to want to catch-up and share what they’ve been up to. Imagine how they feel when they’ve been chatting happily and they end up saying something about visiting a friend or family member’s house, maybe for a meal or to socialise.
To be really clear about this: the chats we have with children are social chats – light and cheerful. We obviously don’t intend to make the child feel uncomfortable, and it’s horrible if child ends up feeling confused and guilty, thinking they’ve done something wrong, but not sure what.
The situation can be horrible for the child and difficult for us – but we need to protect all the children and staff and so we can’t just ignore the concern.
Here’s a comment from another school leader this week:
I totally feel for the children in this sort of situation. It’s not their choice at all, but they feel the awkwardness of it, and then have to miss out on seeing their friends and getting some normal school time.
Thank you for helping us to all stay safe.
Our daily message (23 June 2020)
Posted on 23 June 2020 by Mr Roundtree
In our message today, we’ve a response to some government announcements made last week, and a reminder about the annual reports we recently emailed to parents.
By now, you should all have received a copy of your child’s annual report.
Because of the coronavirus outbreak, teachers wrote the report based on the learning up to Friday 20 March, the date that schools closed. All the information, including the attainment bands and progress, refer to the period from September to March.
We want you to know as much as you want about your child’s learning. If you want to discuss the report, please do contact your child’s class teacher or the Head of School.
Free school meals over the summer holiday
You’ll be aware of the success of Marcus Rashford in persuading the government to provide free school meals over the summer – the government had previously said the scheme would end at the end of the term.
In last Tuesday’s post (16.06.20), we encouraged caution when hearing about government plans. This is a case in point, because at the moment the information about this is that this is for a voucher scheme only. This is different to how we’ve provided free school meals over Easter, when we worked with our regular caterers who provided food hampers. It’s worth knowing so you can perhaps start to find out more about the vouchers and how they work.
If you’ve had a recent change in circumstances – a loss of job or a reduction in earnings, for example – your child might now be entitled to free school meals. Find out if you’re now entitled.
Summer catch-up programme
We ended last Tuesday’s post with reference to the summer catch-up scheme that the Prime Minister has pledged. Some of you have been asking us about this, but – as we said last week – caution is needed. In this case, it seems that the catch-up scheme is no longer part of the government’s strategy. This apparent shift might be due to the government working more closely with school leaders; in an email to members (19.06.20), the NAHT‘s general secretary wrote:
Importantly, previous headlines suggesting a ‘summer of catch-up classes’ appear to have been replaced with a more sensible, long-term plan… Our conversations with the government have not always been easy over the last few months, but I am pleased to be able to tell you that I sensed a real desire to engage with us over this particular issue and to listen to many of our concerns… My initial reaction is that, compared to where we were a week ago, this is a positive step forward for pupils and the profession.
We’re including this here so you’re aware that school won’t be open to operate any sort of summer programme of activity or learning.
As always, thanks very much for your support. Whether emailed, or mentioned to staff in passing, your supportive comments have really helped us.
Don't worry about a thing...
Posted on 22 June 2020 by Mr Roundtree
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright.
We hope you enjoy!
(Big thanks to Miss Wilson for putting this altogether.)
Update on the playground extension
Posted on 22 June 2020 by Mr Roundtree
Here’s a short update on the playground extension…
Developing the land at the rear of the school continues. We know it seems like ages – too long, really – but the process is not a simple one so extending the outdoor play space will continue to take time.
Having said that, last Friday afternoon, we were delighted to welcome two of the three Moortown councillors to our school to discuss our plans.
I met with Cllr Sharon Hamilton and Cllr Mohammed Shahzad on Friday at 2pm, making sure we were able to maintain safe social distancing when there were no children around. Mrs Rachel Greenhalgh, our Chair of Governors joined us for the meeting.
Many thanks to Cllr Sharon Hamilton and Cllr Mohammed Shahzad for their time and interest in the project.
Our daily message (22 June 2020)
Posted on 22 June 2020 by Mr Roundtree
In our post today, we have our regular Monday Living and Learning during lockdown update…
As you’ll know by now, Living and Learning is the name for all the teaching and learning we do around Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE). This half term, our theme is relationships. Each week in school, we have a Living and Learning statement. I tell the truth and say sorry if I need to… is our statement this week.
One of the Sphere Federation Health Leaders writes:
A classic story to support this theme is The boy who cried ‘wolf!’. Listen to the fable here and discuss the moral message with your child.
You may want to consider why people might not tell the truth. It could be:
- to cover something up
- to gain attention
- to manipulate a situation
- to impress others
Telling the truth might seem difficult, but it’s the best way to solve problems and move on.
Apologising or saying sorry in a caring way can make you feel good because you are trying to make things right again and help your relationship (and the other person will probably feel better, too). It shows the other person you have thought about your actions. When you empathise with them, you begin to feel sorry for your behaviour.
What might an apology look like? It might simply be saying, ‘I’m sorry’, writing them a note or doing something for the person you have upset,
You might also want to look at this article about saying you’re sorry – it could be a good read for an older child, and interesting for you to read, too.
Tomorrow’s message includes a response to some recent government announcements.
Our daily message (19 June 2020)
Posted on 19 June 2020 by Mr Roundtree
Our final message of the week is an important one for those of you who still have a child at home…
Before lockdown, what did ‘Zoom’ mean to you? A classic ice lolly from Lyons Maid? A timeless tune from the ’80s classic by Fat Larry’s Band? Now, of course, it’s synonymous with online video conferencing. (We know other video conferencing products exist, but here, we’ll refer to Zoom, which has taken off massively during lockdown.)
Before the end of the school year, teachers will host some Zoom meetings for children who remain at home.
The meetings will be with groups of children from the class. They’ll be a one-off chance for children to re-connect with the teacher, classmates and with learning. We think this is important for our friends still at home during lockdown, especially since we now know they won’t be returning until September, all being well.
One or two of you have been asking for teachers to deliver lessons by Zoom since the start of lockdown. We didn’t pursue this for two main reasons: safeguarding and effective teaching. (We have other reservations about Zoom to teach, too, but these are the main ones.)
We’re still not convinced Zoom (or any online video conferencing service) is an effective way to teach large groups of younger children online. It might work well for older children, but the important two-way dialogue that we have in school would be hard to re-create and sustain in a Zoom meeting.
There were some unpleasant stories at the start of lockdown that highlighted safeguarding concerns. However, Zoom has introduced improved security features. We’ve researched how best to secure the Zoom meetings; we’ve consulted colleagues who have begun to use it; and we’ve trialled it amongst ourselves. We’re now confident that Zoom can be used securely.
The next steps are simple…
If your child is still learning at home, and you’d like your child to be part of a Zoom call with their teacher and some of their classmates, email your child’s teacher. By now, most of you will already have emailed – the teacher’s address is something like [email protected] (first name, last name and then @spherefederation).
When you email, you’ll need to provide the name that will appear in the Zoom call – the teacher won’t allow anyone into the meeting if they’re not expecting them. Ideally, the name would be the child’s first and last name, but it can be your name. (And please make sure the name is appropriate.)
The teacher will decide a date and time for this to happen – it’ll happen before the end of term. They’ll send an invitation with the log-in details back to you. We’re sorry – there can’t be much flexibility about the date and time.
How to prepare
For younger children, your child’s teacher will have a chat and read a story. For older children (Y3-Y6), the teacher will ask a couple of questions which will include questions related to home learning:
- What home learning have you felt most proud of?
- What learning have you made most progress with at home?
- What sort of learning routine are you in?
It would be great if your child has thought about these so they’re able to answer a question like that.
Some more details
- Meetings will be with groups of children from the class: no more than 10-12 children.
- The meetings are only for those who are home learning.
- Teachers will have a list of pupils and appropriate Zoom name in advance to allow people to enter.
- Two members of staff will be present throughout the Zoom.
- A parent / carer should be present at home, although you don’t need to be on screen throughout the meeting.
- Teachers will continue to make occasional phone calls home, too, but you might not get a call during the week teachers do their Zoom.
- The meeting will last about 15-30 minutes, depending on the size of the group.
- Some Zoom features will be disabled: the chat function, the record function, and the ‘re-name’ function will all be disabled.
- Participants will all be ‘mute’ on entry; teachers will manage the Zoom meeting by ‘unmuting’ children one at a time.
- Our school rules will still apply (including We respect everyone).
- Your child can be part of the Zoom but choose not to talk – no pressure!
- Teachers are aware of actions to take if a child doesn’t follow ground rules, school rules, instructions: this could include disabling video of anyone who is not following rules, for example.
Our daily message (18 June 2020)
Posted on 18 June 2020 by Mr Roundtree
Our message today focuses on two simple things: eating and sleeping…
Have you had a change in circumstances – a loss of job or a reduction in earnings? If so, your child might now be entitled to free school meals. Find out if you’re now entitled.
If you’re finding it difficult to access food because of money problems, self-isolation, or whatever the reason, you might be able to access emergency food support. Check out Leeds Food Aid Network and Leeds Money Information Centre.
Don’t feel awkward – ask us and we’ll try to help you access the help you need right now.
Has your child (or you) experienced sleep problems during lockdown?
Perhaps with your child, read The Good-Night Guide for Children – full of facts about sleep and its importance to us all. Did you know, for example, that when we sleep, we go through sleep cycles that last about 90 minutes and after each cycle, we come to a point of partial awakening? (And it’s at that point that we’re likely to wake up.)
Get your routine right
30 to 40 minutes before your child goes to bed, carry out the same series of steps every night – make this routine your bedtime ritual. Having a regular routine at about the same time every night means your child’s body will start to prepare for sleep as soon as you start this process.
The lead up to bedtime
About an hour before your child goes to sleep, have quiet time. Tidy away the toys and turn off the TV. Research has shown light from computers, iPads and other devices can interfere with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Food for sleep
If your child is hungry at this time, avoid sugary foods and drinks. Instead, offer foods that contain the amino acid tryptophan that causes sleepiness. The best snacks should contain carbohydrates and protein and are found in foods such as chicken or turkey with brown bread, peanut butter on whole grain cereal or low sugar cereal and milk.
Have a warm, quiet and relaxing bath lasting no longer than ten minutes. Keeping the bath to a maximum of ten minutes means bath time doesn’t become a stimulating play time. The added bonus is coming out of the warm water allows the body to cool quickly triggering the sleep hormone melatonin.
Straight to bed
Then go straight into your child’s bedroom; going back into the living area at this time will lose the focus and magic of the routine and make your child think it’s time to play again.
Pre-dim the lights in the bedroom. Dim light is another trigger for melatonin production.
Dress for bed
Have their night clothes ready for your return from the bathroom so they can quickly get dressed and climb into bed.
Read a story and have a cuddle and kiss goodnight then tuck them in with their favourite soft toy so they are warm and cosy.
Now that they’re drowsy, leave the bedroom so that they learn to fall asleep independently.
(You might also want to check out a night time meditation.)
Our daily message (17 June 2020)
Posted on 17 June 2020 by Mr Roundtree
We continue our messages this week with another message that supports our home learners in terms of Living and Learning.
Last week, our Living and Learning statement was ‘I see things from other people’s point of view’. This statement linked with the British value of mutual respect and tolerance. It promotes empathy and understanding.
We got some great feedback from some parents and carers about the ideas and resources we presented, including this, in reference to the Sesame Street clip (we’ve edited the comment to make sure it’s anonymous):
‘[My child] has had a few negative comments about her skin (this was addressed). But she says every day she wants to look like all her friends – she wants white skin and straight hair. We explain about skin colour etc and how lucky [she is]. But she still wants to have white skin. This video clicked with her. She understood that everyone is the same even though they may look different.’
Whilst really encouraging, the comment made us sad to note the negative comments had been made in the first place. Imagine the impact if we all took on board the simple message of the Sesame Street clip: ‘we’re different, we’re the same’.
If you didn’t find time to think about last week’s Living and Learning theme with your child, please do.
As well as he three book list recommendations from last week, we’ve one extra book list that you might want to check out, from Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books:
- Seven Stories: ‘Black stories matter’
- The Guardian: ‘No reader is too young to start’: anti-racist books for all children and teens’
- The Daily Express: ‘Children’s books about race: The best books to teach your children about race’
- Quarto Knows: ‘Anti-racist books for kids’