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Latest news from around the school

Home learning and other support (20 May 2020)

Posted on 20 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

We’re starting today’s message with some plans for the next week or so.

The situation we’re in right now is changing all the time, so please be aware these plans aren’t set in stone: we have to work through them in more detail; our governors will scrutinise them; and advice and direction from the government is due to be updated, too.

All along the way, we’ll have to keep reviewing numbers coming in and balancing this with lots of other considerations, like staffing and the spread of the virus.

Next week

On Monday 25 May, we will not be open to any children. This will be the first week day we’ve not remained open, and it’s only because it’s a Bank Holiday and the demand for places was really low.

The rest of that week is half-term. Moortown Primary will stay open for children who are attending regularly at the moment.

Week commencing 01 June 2020

On Monday 01 June, we will not be open to any children. This is so that we can prepare for increased numbers the next day.

For the rest of that week, we’re expecting the number of children to rise substantially. This prediction is based on your survey responses, which indicate that more and more key workers will be required to be back at work, and therefore the demand for places from families who are key workers is projected to at least treble in size.

If the actual numbers match the survey responses, we’ll already have significantly increased pupil numbers and will be somewhere close to capacity. We’re determined to accommodate these children in line with all safety guidance we’ve received.

Week commencing 08 June 2020

This week is open to some review based on the numbers we’ve had in school in the previous week. Our current aim is to open school more widely to a small number of additional Year 1 and Year 6 children. There are various criteria that we’re considering, such as criteria around free school meals, which seems a fair way to do this.

As before, we can and will accommodate these children in line with all safety guidance we’ve received.

Week commencing 15 June 2020

This week is open to a lot of review based on the numbers coming in to school. We have three broad options that we’ll continue to review:

  1. to continue to open school more widely to limited numbers of Year 1 and Year 6 children (two of the year groups identified by the government as a priority)
  2. to invite children from other year groups where we know there are exceptional circumstances and/or there is a real need
  3. to consider opening for children in Reception where the families qualify for free school meals

Our preferred options at this stage are Option 1 or 2, or some sort of combination. Option 3 is less likely based on survey responses and our capacity to make sure provision is safe for the youngest children, and – importantly – provision is appropriate (since we can’t safely offer an Early Years learning environment which the children will be used to).

As we said at the start, these plans are subject to change. We’ll continue to update you when we can.

Home learning and other support (19 May 2020)

Posted on 19 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

We’re still planning for how we might open up our schools more widely. As we said to you yesterday, the process of opening up will be slow and safe.

Heads of School are working through a very helpful document produced by Leeds City Council – this provides lots of prompts to make sure our plans are comprehensive and robust. Once this is produced, our governors will scrutinise the plans.

All this means that a dramatic re-opening on Monday 01 June isn’t realistic. It’s even more challenging because there remains a lot of uncertainty about the best course of action. The government updated its guidance for educational settings yesterday (frustratingly, they don’t indicate what or where the updates are), and this advice is due to be updated again:

This guidance is applicable to 31 May 2020 and will be reviewed before 1 June 2020.

A separate government document presenting actions for schools was also updated yesterday. The introduction to this documents does make clear that schools re-opening is not definite (we’ve added the bold):

As a result of the huge efforts everyone has made to adhere to strict social distancing measures, the transmission rate of coronavirus has decreased. We therefore anticipate, with further progress, that we may be able, from the week commencing 1 June, to welcome back more children to early years, school and further education settings.

We will only do this provided that the five key tests set by the government justify the changes at the time, including that the rate of infection is decreasing. As a result, we are asking schools, colleges and childcare providers to plan on this basis, ahead of confirmation that these tests are met.

This uncertainty is frustrating and unhelpful for you – we’re sorry about that. However, you can hopefully appreciate the difficulties we’re facing.

In the longer quote (above), please note the reference to social distancing. Thanks to those of you who emailed us to support the strict approach we’re taking, as outlined yesterday: If we have reasonable grounds to believe a family is not following the government’s message, we will ask you to collect your child and remain away from school for a period of time. We’ll continue to do this after half-term, too.

Moving on…

  • Did your child wake up at a good time this morning to get going for the day ahead?
  • Is your child having regular meals and drinking enough water?
  • Has your child enjoyed some reading in a quiet space?

These prompts, and more, are in a really nice checklist for your child which promotes healthy routines. We’ve mentioned it before, but this is one of our favourite resources because it’s so simple, so we thought it was worth a second mention.

Finally today, we’re approaching the Summer half-term. Just like at Easter, we’ll take a break from the daily home learning tasks and instead present a menu of activities – these are all optional, so your child can do as many (or as few) as you like -make this work for you all. Look out for that later in the week.

Home learning and other support (18 May 2020)

Posted on 18 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

We hope you had a nice weekend, perhaps enjoying a walk or even – since it’s now allowed – two walks! That’s provided you maintain social distancing guidelines, of course.

Our first message of the week has three parts…

Lockdown

The government’s message about who you can have social contact remains as it was before: you should only have contact with members of your own household:

You must continue to stay home except for a limited set of reasons but – in line with scientific advice – can take part in more outdoor activities.

In nearly all situations, this means you should not visit friends or family, and it means friends and family should not visit you.

Our staff are working in school to keep it open for children of critical workers and for those children who might be vulnerable. The following message is for you if child is currently coming to school:

If we have reasonable grounds to believe a family is not following the government’s message, we will ask you to collect your child and remain away from school for a period of time. We will do this reluctantly, but we can’t have staff and children in school mixing with others who aren’t following that guidance – it’s just not fair.

Opening schools more widely

Thanks to all of you who completed the survey about opening schools more widely from 01 June 2020. Your answers have been really helpful to enable us to plan ahead. Based on your answers, for example, it’s clear that pupils numbers will at least double, and that’s just for those whose parents are key workers.

This backs up something we said last Thursday: the headlines that children from Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 will all return on Monday 01 June is very different to the likely reality. It’s possible that some of the following will apply (and this isn’t an exhaustive list):

  • just one of those year groups returns to school
  • the school day isn’t a full day and/or the school week isn’t a full week
  • the whole year group does not return together
  • your child will be taught by a different teacher and in a different classroom
  • the curriculum is reduced
  • school dinners would be different

All the Sphere Federation leaders met this morning and we’re all agreed: we will open our schools to more children in a safe way, and this will mean it’s a slow, secure way back to full opening.

Leeds City Council have helpfully provided a risk assessment that we can work through to help us to continue to plan ahead. This document alone contains well over 225 points to consider or actions to take. However, it’ll help us to make sure that the plans we put in place will be thorough and keep our children’s safety at the forefront of our minds.

(You can also keep our children’s safety at the forefront of your mind by remembering to socially distance, of course.)

Living and learning during lockdown

Living and Learning is the name for all the teaching and learning we do around Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE). Each week in school, we’ve a Living and Learning statement. I make choices about my money… is our statement this week. One of the Sphere Federation Health Leaders writes:

This Living and Learning statement helps to consider different money choices. You might want to ask your child what they would do if they were given £5. They might say spend it, save it, buy a gift for someone, give it away, lend it to someone? Would they do the same if they: Found it? Earned it? Were given it as a gift? Had more money or less money?

If you’d like to cover this subject further, watch MoneySense Mondays and use the MoneySense home learning bundles to explore key money topics while learning at home.

Remember, this could be an addition or alternative to a home learning task that your child’s teacher sets for them each day.

Home learning and other support (15 May 2020)

Posted on 15 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Yesterday, we sent two messages to you. The first set out a chronology of events of the week and presented to you some of the possibilities about how our schools might begin to re-open. To help us with this, we sent a second message, which contained a link to a short survey. Please complete this survey – we need your responses by 5pm on Sunday 17 May.

The survey asks three main questions:

Are you a key worker whose child will definitely be attending school after half term?

We don’t want to start making plans to re-open for particular year groups and then discover we have more children of key workers needing a place. This wouldn’t be safe.

We need to know this because we need to be able to prioritise the children of key workers. 

If you think your child is vulnerable in any way, will you send your child to school after half-term if we can offer a place?

The government has a definition of what ‘vulnerable’ is. However, if you feel like you’ve a genuine concern about your own child, please tell us. We can’t guarantee we can support your child more, but we will try.

We need to know this because we will try in some way to meet the needs of children (in any year group) who might be particularly vulnerable, especially in the current situation.

Please note we can’t guarantee this and we may have to assess each individual circumstance and always with the goal of staying safe for everyone.

If we’re able to offer your child a place, will you send your child to school?

This question is open to everybody – not just key workers or parents of children who may be vulnerable, and not just parents of children in the years groups the government has set out as a priority.

We’re asking this so we can try to plan ahead.

We really do need as many people as possible to tell us this information – thanks for helping us to help our children and our staff to stay safe.

Home learning and other support (14 May 2020) - message 2

Posted on 14 May 2020 by Mrs Craggs

You’ll have heard the government’s plans to begin to phase in the opening of schools from, at the earliest, 01 June 2020. Given the level of planning that needs to be put in place to reduce the risk of infection to children and staff, we’d like to gather some information from you to help us to prepare to open school safely.

Please click here to complete the survey. Responses are required by 5pm, Sunday 17 May.

As mentioned in the email dated 14 May 2020, school will not look like it did when the children left in March. It’s possible that some of the following will apply:

  • the school day isn’t a full day and/or the school week isn’t a full week
  • the whole year group does not return together
  • your child will be taught by a different teacher and in a different classroom
  • the curriculum is reduced
  • school dinners would be different

Home learning and other support (14 May 2020)

Posted on 14 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

On Sunday, the Prime Minister announced the first sketch of a road map’.

On Monday, the government published its COVID-19 recovery strategy, and provided schools with two documents: Actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020 and Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings.

On Tuesday, Heads of School and I met to talk through the detail set out in those documents so we could begin to explore how our schools can provide what the government asks us to do. These discussions have been continuing throughout the week.

On Wednesday, the Department for Education’s chief scientific adviser suggested the government guidance on safety is a “draft”, and will be reissued after further consultation with Public Health England. If this is the case, and the guidance changes, it leaves us with little time and lots of questions in order to try to meet the government’s aim to re-open.

Reassuringly, Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, yesterday acknowledged the need for flexibility:

We need to make sure that schools have the flexibility to work within these guidelines to make the proposals work for both staff and for children.

And so…

On Thursday, we’d like to keep you updated about some of the possibilities that we have discussed. This is not an exhaustive list, but provides an idea of the range and difficulty of the conversations that we’ve been having. Nothing here is definite  – no final decisions have been made – but we want you to be aware that the headlines aren’t quite the same as what could be the reality in a few weeks’ time.

On Monday 01 June, we will not re-open for children other than those of key workers and those who may be more vulnerable in some way – this is the same as what we’re doing now.

We are working towards some sort of re-opening, and it might be as early as Tuesday 02 June. However, it’s possible that some of the following will apply:

  • although the government talks about children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 returning, just one of those year groups returns to school
  • the school day isn’t a full day and/or the school week isn’t a full week
  • the whole year group does not return together
  • your child will be taught by a different teacher and in a different classroom
  • the curriculum is reduced
  • school dinners would be different

When we plan for some children returning, we’ll very closely consider how we can continue to provide the best home learning activities that is practically possible.

Throughout this period, we’ve tried to communicate as much as possible with you to help you to prepare, and that’s why we’re presenting these possibilities. We know the fact they’re just possibilities might be frustrating for you when you’re trying to plan ahead, including whether you’re able to return to work, but the safety of pupils and staff has to be paramount.

To help us plan, there will be a short survey to you – look out for that today or tomorrow.

As always, we’ll keep you updated as our plans develop and when further guidance from the DfE is released. All of this will be done to make sure children, families and staff all stay safe.

Home learning and other support (13 May 2020)

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

This week’s messages have been around the announcement from the government about re-opening schools. We’re working through the (sometimes contradictory) content of these, and exploring how we might be able to open our schools to more people. This is taking time, so please forgive us if we’re not able to respond quickly or comprehensively to your questions, comments or concerns right now.

Today, let’s have a shift of content back to supporting you and your child. First, an idea for your child…

Have you used lockdown to have a clear out? Maybe you’ve noticed a room that’s needing a lick of paint? It can be reassuring to know you’re not the only one – even local sporting heroes experience the same thoughts. Triumphant triathlete Alistair Brownlee has had to clear out his garage to make way for his endless pool (he still needs to exercise, after all), but he’s finding the garage environment isn’t helping to inspire of motive him. This is where your child can help! Alistair wants your child to have a go at creating an interesting or inspiring picture that could be painted on the walls of his garage. Check out the details of this exciting competition. What an honour it would be to be able to say, next time Alistair wins a major competition, that you helped to motive him during these tough times!

And now, something for you to take on board…

Have you worried about how much work your child is doing during lockdown? In a recent survey, 53% of respondents felt that their children lacked motivation. Some of you have contacted us to discuss this and it’s natural to be a bit concerned. It’s a really tough situation: you might be working from home or you might be keeping your household in order. And on top of everything else, you’re also in charge of your child’s education. But should you be worried? Take a look at what the experts say.

Home learning and other support (12 May 2020)

Posted on 12 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Today’s message presents all the links to further reading that came from the Department for Education (DfE) last night.

Yesterday, we reflected on the government’s announcement about its aim to re-open schools for some pupils. The Prime Minister’s speech aimed to provide a ‘shape of a plan’. Last night, school leaders received an update on what the government is calling its ‘coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery strategy’. The message said:

The government has published its roadmap for how and when the UK will adjust its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

If you’d like, you can read the ‘roadmap’. For parents and for school leaders, this in itself doesn’t provide much detail – just three paragraphs on page 26 of its 60 pages in total.

Yesterday’s update to schools included four more links with more information.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions on what you can and can’t do during the coronavirus outbreak have also been published.

In section 6, you can read the three frequently asked questions about schools (we’ve been frequently asked quite a few more than that!).

Guidance for parents and carers as schools and other education settings in England open to more children and young people

We have published guidance for parents and carers on the opening of schools and other education settings to more children. This guidance provides information on when and how we will open education settings to more children.

You can read the guidance. It does contain some updates, although some of the content is quite old now (and be warned: there are no indications of what the updates are).

Actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June

From 1 June we expect to be able to ask primary schools to welcome back children in nursery, Reception, year 1 and year 6. We will also ask secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges to offer some face-to-face support before the summer holidays to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 students who are due to take key exams next year. Nurseries and other early years providers, including childminders, will also be asked to begin welcoming back children from 1 June. Existing arrangements for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers in all settings will continue, and we encourage all eligible children in these priority groups to attend.

It’s this guidance for schools that we’ll be studying in order to prepare for wider opening from 01 June. The DfE says: ‘In this document we set out the overarching aims and principles of this next phase. We will work with the sector to produce further guidance ahead of 1 June.’ We’re looking forward to getting this further guidance.

In the meantime, we’re fortunate enough to work in a federation so we can share ideas and thinking in order to draw up the best plans possible. We also have a local authority which still has strong support for schools – councillors, advisors and school leaders have a meeting planned tomorrow.

Implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings

We have published guidance on the implementation of protective measures in education and childcare settings. There are important actions that can be taken to open settings to more children in the safest way possible, focusing on protective measures that can be put in place to limit the risk of the virus spreading.

Just as with the previous information, we’ll need to study this guidance carefully.

The Heads of School and I will continue to review and reflect and plan for the best possible provision for our children. We’ll always act in the best interests of our pupils and our staff.

Moortown Primary and Scholes (Elmet) Primary remain open for children whose parents are key workers (including those who attend St James’) and for those who might be considered vulnerable in some way.

Hope you had a good day, Mrs Weekes!

Posted on 11 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

As many of you know, Mrs Weekes celebrated  a lockdown birthday over the weekend, and a big one, too: she was 50 on Saturday.

We all hope she had a great weekend!

Mrs Weekes was very grateful for all the kind words and messages you sent her way, including some from as far away as Australia! Thanks to all the pupils and parents / carers, including these pupils past and present.

Home learning and other support (11 May 2020) - message 2

Posted on 11 May 2020 by Mr Roundtree

Our previous message today was specifically stemmed from the speech made by the Prime Minister last night. We thought it best to publish this separately to the home learning support for today – just a short one, but hopefully a more useful one!

Living and learning during lockdown

Living and Learning is the name for all the teaching and learning we do around Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE). Each week in school, we’ve a Living and Learning statement. I recognise the importance of money… is our statement this week. One of the Sphere Federation Health Leaders writes:

This Living and Learning statement helps to introduce the importance of money. You might want to find out what your child already knows about money by discussing the following questions:

  • Where does our money come from?
  • How does money make us feel?
  • What can we use our money for?
  • How does our money help people?
  • How can we look after our money?
  • Are there any problems linked to money?

Needs and wants are a key part of understanding the importance of money. While we’re at home at the moment, there may be things (needs) that children don’t even realise cost money: water, electricity etc. Can your child think of ways you could be spending less such as turning lights off when you aren’t in the room? We’d love to hear their best money saving ideas.

If you’d like to cover this subject further in your child’s home learning, Young Money have designed a parent toolkit to support you with this. Remember, this could be an addition or alternative to a home learning task that your child’s teacher sets for them each day.