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Latest news from around the school

This week’s message (Friday 29 April 2022)

Posted on 29 April 2022 by Mr Roundtree

This half-term, your child is a geographer. This week’s message, from Mr Wilks, our Sphere Federation Topic Leader, helps you to support your child at home…

However, before we dive right in, here’s a reminder about topics and what they look like.

What do we mean by topics?

Topics are the vehicle for delivering much of the learning in the foundation subjects (eg History, Art, Geography, DT). Each half-termly topic has a driving subject – the main focus for teaching pupils the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life. The driver changes with each topic to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum.

Although the learning in each topic is provided by the driving subject, there are opportunities for enrichment through other subjects. For example, learning in a history driven subject may be enriched by observational drawing of an artefact. In this example, the enricher is art.

For more information about the intent, implementation and impact of our topics, click here.

What is this half-term’s topic?

This half-term, we’re geographers. The topic is called Explorers.

We’re comparing a place in the United Kingdom with a place in another country. Y1,2 children are heading to Kenya in Africa; Y3,4 children are having a mini-break in Venice; and Y5,6 children are trekking through the Amazon Rainforest in South America.

Across the year groups, children are developing their understanding of some key geographical concepts:

  • Space is a precise location, eg a country, city a latitude or longitude.
  • Place = location + meaning. This includes the physical and human geography that make a place unique. Importantly, place is not rigid. It is changing and can be perceived in different ways.
  • Scale is defined by the relative sizes of places. This could be differences in area, population, distances. Scale can also be defined by our view of the world. For example, we may consider an aspect of geography on a local, national and international scale.
  • Interdependence is the idea that the world is connected and that countries or individuals do not act in isolation. Our actions here affect people in different countries around the world. For example, food, energy, holidays, climate.

Click this link to the Curriculum Statement for more information about key concepts (page 19) and age-related expectations and vocabulary (page 22 and 23).

Years 1 and 2

Children begin the topic by learning about the different continents and oceans in the world.  They learn about the Equator and how it splits the Earth into two hemispheres. They then focus on a specific continent, Africa, and a specific country within that continent, Kenya. They compare Nairobi in Kenya to London, with a focus on the physical and human geography of these two places. Finally, they take a visit into the countryside and compare features of the Yorkshire Dales with a National Park just outside Nairobi.

Years 3 and 4

Children recap learning about the Equator and hemispheres. They then develop that by learning about the tropics and climate zones. A focus on European and world cities and countries follows; this links to climate zone learning. After that, they focus in on Venice in Italy and its physical and human geography which they compare with York. They’ll learn about the positives and benefits that tourism brings, putting themselves in the shoes of both tourists visiting the places and locals who live there. Finally, they’ll learn about the problems posed by flooding in both localities and the solutions they have introduced to limit the consequences of flooding.

Years 5 and 6

We begin the topic by learning about the different types of biomes found on Earth and how these are linked to climate. Children then focus on the biomes found in Brazil and the UK. They then focus on Brazil more generally, building their understanding of it as a place. Next, they learn about the Amazon Rainforest and its importance to Brazil in terms of the economy as well as its importance ecologically. They’ll learn about the threats to the rainforest and the impact that deforestation is having. Finally, children consider what Brazil – and we – need to do to slow down deforestation and what we can do to slow deforestation.

How can you help?

Regardless of the year group your child is in, Google Earth is a brilliant tool to help develop children’s understanding of space, place, scale and interdependence. Zoom right in on your home and then zoom out to reveal the area of Leeds that you live in. Zoom further out to see what city you live. Zoom further for the county. A little further and you might start to spot some national parks. Further still and you can see the country that we live in. Keep zooming and you’ll see the continent we live in (though this isn’t labelled). Before you know it, you’re floating in space and circling the Earth!

Google Maps is another great tool for comparing places. Try the street view option and you can walk along a street in Nairobi and a street in London. Take a drive through the lush Yorkshire Dales and compare this to the Kenyan countryside. You could wander down the Shambles in York and compare this to the streets in Venice. You can also compare images of the same street from different points in time.

Quizzing your children about some locational knowledge will help them to remember important information. I’ve listed some examples below. Use the age-related expectations (see the links to our Curriculum Statement, above) to find the right pitch for your child.

  • Which continent do we live in?
  • Which country do we live in?
  • In which hemisphere is our country located?
  • Which county do we live in?
  • Which city do we live in?
  • Which part of Leeds do we live in?
  • Which four countries make up the United Kingdom?

If you can, go to the library and get some geography-related books, especially an atlas. You could compare maps of the same place to see what type of information they show. For example, you find lots of maps of the United Kingdom. One might show the countries and capital cities. Another might show the mountains, rivers and national parks. Another might give information about the climate.

For older children, there are lots of different games and activities on the Ordnance Survey Mapzone website. I especially like the jigsaws in the Map Puzzles section of the Games!

Also for children in Key Stage 2, there are lots of information and some tasks and quizzes on the BBC Bitesize website.

Leeds Fun Run 8th May

Posted on 29 April 2022 by Mrs Taylor

The Arena Group Leeds Fun Run is back for 2022, taking place on Sunday 8th May.

It offers a great opportunity to get families together, while staying and active and healthy at the same time.

Children of all abilities are encouraged to take part as they wheel, walk, jog or run the 1.3 km route around the city centre.

 

Catalan Soccer

Posted on 27 April 2022 by Mrs Taylor

This week, all classes are taking part in sessions led by Catalan Soccer.

Thank you to the Year 5 pupil, who currently attends Catalan Soccer sessions outside of school, who requested they came into school.

The classes have been brilliant and the coaches have fed back what a delight the kids have been to coach!

The coaches also commented how welcome they have been made to feel by your staff and teachers, so a huge thanks for that!

If your child enjoyed their session, please contact Catalan Soccer to find out more about the classes and holiday camps they run in Leeds.

This week’s message (Friday 22 April 2022)

Posted on 22 April 2022 by Mr Roundtree

With bright sunny days, what a great week to kick off the Summer term! We hope you all had a lovely break.

Attendance

Our whole school attendance is at 95.2% – that’s a rise from 04 March when we last reported. Great news!

  • Reception: 93.5% – a great increase!
  • Year 1: 96.2% – still the highest in school!
  • Year 2: 95.8%
  • Year 3: 95.8%
  • Year 4: 95.6%
  • Year 5: 95.5%
  • Year 6: 94.3%

Please remember that we’re not allowed to authorise term-time absence unless it’s in exceptional circumstances, and if you do need to request term-time absence it should be done in advance using a form you can collect at the office.

Thank you for supporting your child to attend school regularly and on time.

Updated NHS Covid symptoms lists

The NHS COVID-19 symptoms in adults and symptoms in children have been updated. Are you aware of all 12 possible symptoms?

The official advice is that adults and children who have symptoms of a respiratory infection, including Covid, should follow the UKHSA guidance. Children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people, where they can. They can go back to school, college or childcare and resume normal activities when they no longer have a high temperature, and they are well enough to attend.

 

We also want to let you know about a couple of changes to our teaching team coming soon…

As you know, Miss Wilson is expecting her first baby. She goes on maternity leave at the end of this half term: Friday 27 May (she planned it well so she could make sure Y6 completed their SATs!). For the final half of the summer term, Mr Wilks will teach Y6 with the support of Miss Kennedy and Miss Canning.

The big change for September is that Mrs Burke has made the decision to retire. With 20 years at Moortown under her belt, Mrs Burke is one of our longest-serving members of staff and definitely the longest-serving teacher. The time has come for her to hang up her Reception key and to enjoy some well deserved time for herself and her family. I’m sure you’ll join us in wishing her all the best and thanking her for all her hard work – she’ll be missed.

From September, there will be two new members of staff – one to take over from Mrs Burke and one to cover Miss Wilson’s maternity leave. This follows a very extensive recruitment process across the whole of Sphere Federation (186 applications in total!). We were overwhelmed by a very strong range of applicants.

Please note, however, that some Moortown teachers will move classes – the two new teachers won’t necessarily take over in Reception and Year 6 (although you may notice a familiar face return!).

We’ll let you know later in the term classes and teachers.

Have a happy and healthy weekend.

Big Walk and Wheel

Posted on 02 April 2022 by Mrs Taylor

Thank you to all the families who have supported the Big Walk and Wheel over the last two weeks.

Overall, we were placed 150th in the small school category, out of 643 schools, with a daily average of 74.29% of journeys to school being active. In Northern England, we were 18th out of 107 small schools. Well done to everyone who took an active journey to help to achieve this.

Over the two week period we actively travelled 1,358 times!

It would be great for these active journeys to continue. Travelling actively (walking, park and stride – Marks and Spencers car park, scooting or biking) is a safe and healthy start to the school day.

This week’s message (Friday 01 April 2022)

Posted on 01 April 2022 by Mr Roundtree

I don’t know about you, but it’s been a busy week for us…

…because we’ve been recruiting new teachers across our three schools this week. We had an incredibly high number of applications: 184 in total. We want to recruit the very best teachers so our recruitment process involves inviting lots of people in so we can watch them teach – we observed 43 teachers across Monday (Moortown), Tuesday (Scholes) and Wednesday (St James’) mornings. Following this, we invited some people back in the afternoon – we interviewed 15 candidates across the three days. Somewhat exhausted, we’re also delighted by the high calibre of people we met. We’ll update you more about staffing next term.

(A funny aside to this: on one of the mornings, one Year 4 pupil approached the head of school unprompted, and without knowing the reason for the visitors in school, to offer her views and grades for the three teachers who had visited the class!)

It’s April Fool’s Day!

But this year, I promise there are no jokes in the weekly message. Last year, I announced the departure of Mrs Weekes. Despite including the words ‘April’, ‘fools’ and ‘day’ in the news item, and then warning readers to be wary of April Fool jokes, it did seem to trick quite a few people – even Mrs Weekes’ mum! I’ve been warned to be on my best behaviour this year.

It’s Easter!

Well, not quite yet. Unlike other local authorities around us, Leeds has fixed Easter holidays – the first two weeks in April, even if Easter doesn’t fall in the holiday. This year, it does – just! We’ll be open again on Tuesday 19 April.

This Easter, schools from across the city are taking up the Love Exploring Leeds Inter-School Challenge. Help us join the challenge by using the free Love Exploring app to play augmented reality games with your child – like the new Mega Mini-Beast game, developed in consultation with bug experts at Leeds Museum.

The app uses the magic of augmented reality to bring to life magical sights on a smartphone – like the giant butterflies and ladybirds created for the Mega Mini-Beast game. There’s a Dinosaur Safari to play, too.

Love Exploring is available at 15 Leeds parks. By getting active as a family and answering questions on the interactive quiz, you’ll score points which link to our school. There are points for every question answered and for every 100m you walk. All participating schools win a prize. The family with the most points wins an iPad.

The challenge runs from today to 6 June. Look out for special activities in libraries and parks in May.

From all of us, have an egg-cellent Easter.

Maths makes money!

Posted on 01 April 2022 by Mrs Weekes

Here is a message from our Junior Leadership Team:

We hope you’re having a ‘cracking’ day playing ‘yolks’ on your family!

As you know, we’ve been raising money for our school’s chosen charity, Dogs Trust, and our new land at the back of school – The Green.

We’d like to thank you all for participating in our sponsored number challenges and, with all your fantastic sponsors, we’ve raised a massive £2001.38. How amazing is that?

Thank you all for a ‘cracking’ effort!

Christina, Billy and the Junior Leadership Team

This week’s message (Friday 25 March 2022)

Posted on 25 March 2022 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s message comes from Mrs Weekes, our Head of School…

The longer days are certainly making everyone feel that Spring’s in the air – that always makes people smile.

It’s clear from absences that Covid is still very much present in the community; thanks for your vigilance and support in trying to keep our staff and children safe.

Next week is a busy one. We’re recruiting on Monday for a teacher to take over from Miss Wilson for next year – this will be a maternity cover (and may not necessarily be in Year 6, so candidates will visit different classes across Monday morning). Teachers will send home your child’s second Learning Update of the year, too – look out for them on Wednesday.

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you about The Green (our affectionate name for the land at the back of school). Just this week we’ve received £1000 – £500 from John Lewis and £500 from Waitrose. Some of our Junior Leadership Team accepted the cheque which has gone straight into the funding pot. We’ve also just received some drawings and plans that need perusing so that we can get a definite plan in place. It’s all taking a lot of time but be reassured that there’s lots of work going on behind the scenes.

A very generous donation from an ex-pupil has meant that we could renew the playground markings and we’re really pleased with them – some great comments from the children, too. What about encouraging your child to hopscotch as they come into school (and then you hopscotch as you leave!).

As you know, I really enjoy being at the gate in the mornings and seeing everyone arrive at school. However, I seem to be standing there a very long time when most families arrive after 8.40 am. In the summer term, the internal school gates will not open until 8.40 am. This means there will be no adult at the gate until that time. If your child is on the premises before then, they must be supervised to ensure they’re safe. This arrangement will be reviewed before the end of the school year.

Finally, thanks for all your support in our fundraising efforts. Our sponsored number facts event was a great success and we’ll be able to update you on the total raised before the end of term – get that money in by the end of Thursday 31 March!

I hope you have a happy and healthy weekend – it’s Mothers Day on Sunday (and don’t forget to put your clocks forward this weekend!).

This week’s message (Friday 18 March 2022)

Posted on 18 March 2022 by Mr Roundtree

Almost exactly two years ago, schools were closing for the start of the first lockdown. Numbers of Covid-positive cases are rising again, and we’re really noticing that in our Sphere Federation schools – we’ve had close to ten staff members absent each day this week.

On a much more positive note, with daffodils springing up and the weather looking brighter, it’s really starting to feel like Spring.

This week, amongst the various messages, we’ve one related to Covid. We’ll start with an important one about reading…

The benefits of reading at home

A recent news article caught our eye. The article talks about a research study about trips to museums and art articles, which suggests that such activities don’t improve exam results. (The article also points out other research indicates cultural trips like these have lots of other benefits, even that they ‘could actually lead to a longer life’.)

What we thought was more significant was the findings about reading – findings that come as no surprise:

…researchers did find that reading activities by both parents and their children played a role in exam grades. They measured activities such as reading for pleasure, visiting a library and discussing books at home. Such activities boosted GCSE scores by a significant amount.

Parents often ask how they can support their child more. Our advice would always be to make sure your child’s reading and talking about what they’re reading.

Brighten someone’s day

The theme of this year’s Comic Relief fundraiser is ‘You’ – inspiring people to do something, however modest, to brighten someone’s day. A lot of those uplifting actions, we’d venture, can easily be accomplished online. Check out this poster highlighting ways that we can all spread some much-needed happiness through the digital world. What about each person in your household agreeing to do one thing each week?

Dealing with worrying content online

In contrast, this poster addresses the timely and delicate issue of speaking with children about worrying content they’ve seen online. Your child, by now, could well be very aware of the situation in Ukraine, even if they’re not quite old enough to comprehend it fully. Many will have watched or read potentially upsetting news items online covering the invasion – and, in all likelihood, will need extra reassurance from trusted adults during these unsettling days. Check out the practical advice on raising the subject with young ones, allowing them to express their concerns, and helping them to avoid feeling overwhelmed by their fears.

Covid vaccination for at-risk 5 to 11 year olds

The Department for Education has asked us to share the following information with parents and carers of at-risk 5 to 11 year olds…

Children aged 5 to 11 years who are in a clinical risk group or who live with someone who is immunosuppressed can get the COVID-19 vaccine, in line with advice set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). Eligible children include those with diabetes, immunosuppression, learning disabilities, and other conditions as outlined by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in the Green Book.

Vaccinations help to increase protection against COVID-19, which is particularly important for those with underlying health conditions.

Further information is available in the guide for parents of children aged 5 to 11 years published by UKHSA. We have published some frequently asked questions on the vaccination programme including information on eligibility, accessibility and advice for parents of children at high risk from COVID-19. Following advice from the JCVI, healthy 5 to 11 year old children will also be offered two 10 microgram doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The NHS will prepare to extend this non-urgent offer to all children during April.

The Big Walk and Wheel 2022

Get set… we’re taking part in Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel 2022, the UK’s largest inter-school cycling, walking, wheeling and scooting challenge. The challenge runs from 21 March to 1 April. It’s free and we’d love everyone to be involved. 

Please do your best to walk, scoot or cycle to school on as many days as possible during the event. Park and stride trips can also be included (Marks and Spencer car park provides this facility).

Getting to school by walking or wheels is a great way to build physical activity in children’s daily routine which is important for their physical health and mental wellbeing. Active school runs also help to reduce congestion and air pollution outside the school gate. A 2021 YouGov study showed nearly half of UK children worry about air pollution near their school. And that children thought active travel was the best way to bring down these pollution levels.

Plus there are some great prizes to be won every day if we get enough children taking part!

Check out this family guide.

As we said at the start of the message, it’s really starting to feel like Spring’s in the air. Enjoy that feeling this weekend!

This week’s message (Friday 11 March 2022)

Posted on 11 March 2022 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s message comes from Mr Wilks, who leads on Science and Foundation subjects. Each half-term, Mr Wilks talks about the current whole-school topic – this time, it’s about Computing…

What do we mean by topics?

Topics are the vehicle for delivering much of the learning in the foundation subjects (eg history, art, geography, DT). Each half-termly topic has a ‘driving’ subject – the main focus for teaching pupils the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life. The driver changes with each topic to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum.

Although the learning in each topic is provided by the driving subject, there are opportunities for enrichment through other subjects. For example, learning in an art topic may be enriched by geography learning about where an artist was born and lived.

Read more about the intent, implementation and impact of our topics.

What is this half-term’s topic?

This half-term, it’s Computing. Your child will develop their knowledge of computers and computer programming.

Computer programming is super. Creating games, animations and solving real world problems is fun, encourages creativity and is challenging! Importantly, the skills children will use and develop are transferable to other subjects and areas of life. For example, the concept of decomposition in programming is concerned with breaking down a large task into smaller chunks. This concept could be used when writing a story, solving a maths problem or tidying a particularly messy bedroom! Debugging is the skill of identifying and fixing an error in a program. It requires systematic, objective thinking and plenty of resilience.

Each phase has age-related specific knowledge, skills and vocabulary that they’ll learn, use and apply across the topic. See pages 15-18 of the curriculum statement document.

Years 1 and 2

Children are learning about how technology is used beyond school in our homes and all around us. They’re considering what a computer is and isn’t.

In programming lessons, they’re being introduced to algorithms and will learn about how they need to be written in the correct sequence.

They’re creating their own algorithms in ‘unplugged computing’ lessons and will debug errors in their own and others’ algorithms. Next, they’ll plan and create their own unplugged game where they have to create an algorithm to move a character from one place to another using positional language.

They’ll then use the same concepts using Beebots – simple robots which can be programmed to move and turn. Finally, it’ll be time to create their own game using Beebots.

Years 3 and 4

Children will reason about what exactly makes a computer a computer. Is a games console a computer? Is a TV a computer? Is a bedside lamp a computer? Next, they’ll learn about inputs and outputs and identify different examples of them in everyday technology.

It’s then time for programming. Like Key Stage 1, they begin with some ‘unplugged computing’. They’ll create and debug unplugged programs which use sequence and repetition before they then create their own unplugged game which will require some decomposition. Next, it’s time to program on a platform called Scratch Jr. It’s a free app available on most devices and will allow children to develop and refine their understanding and use of concepts like repetition and sequence. Finally, they’ll create their own game on Scratch Jr using all of the skills they’ve learned over the topic. They’ll to be creative to plan and design their own game, whether it’s a maze game or a simple platform game.

Years 5 and 6

As in Year 3 and 4, children begin the topic by reasoning about what makes a computer a computer. They’ll then learn about what a computer network is and that the Internet is an enormous computer network. In programming lessons, they’ll use Scratch to gain a deeper understanding of concepts like sequence and repetition before learning about selection and variables. Some of this vocabulary may sound alien to you. However, before the end of the topic, your child will be able to tell you what they mean and give examples of how they’ve used them in their projects. Some of the projects your child might make are:

  • a Spirograph style drawing animation with some potentially psychedelic visual effects!
  • a chatbot program which will ask you questions and decide if your responses are correct or not.
  • a times table quiz program that will test you on randomly selected times table questions within a set time limit.

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 children are doing.

The school library and local libraries have lots of books about coding and computer games – your child will be able to borrow the books to develop both their reading skills and computing knowledge.

Finally, try programming with your child. There are loads of programming apps and software available to download, often for free…

Key Stage 1

  • Daisy the Dinosaur (Apple only)
  • Beebot
  • Tynker Junior

Key Stage 2

  • Lightbot
  • Tynker
  • Scratch Jr
  • Scratch