Latest news from around the school

How much do parents really matter?

Posted on 05 November 2016 by Mr Roundtree

A new book, Do Parents Matter? by Robert LeVine and Sarah LeVine, will be published in the UK next year. It was previewed in The Times last week (29 October 2016, summarised below), and it sounds really interesting. After almost five decades of research, the authors, both acclaimed anthropologists, say parents have far less influence than we think, but they do stress two things parents can do to ensure their child is happy and healthy.

The book’s purpose, arguably, is to reassure. Parents these days are bombarded with advice on what they should and shouldn’t do to raise healthy and well-adjusted children. They are often made to feel they are falling short in some way – being a parent can be a role filled with anxiety.

So, Do Parents Matter? The authors conclude that yes, parents do matter, but not as much as we would think.

The couple have spent their working lives looking at parenting practices across the globe. Children can be happy in a variety of conditions, ‘not just the effort-intensive, cautious environments so many British and American parents drive themselves crazy trying to create’ they say in their book.

In other societies, parenting practices that we in the west would regard as neglectful or even cruel can still result in happy and healthy adults. For instance, many western working mums feel guilty about leaving their children in nurseries or with childminders. Yet communal childcare is the norm in other parts of the world; in some places, toddlers are routinely sent away by their mothers after weaning and taken care of by their grandmothers and other women.

In the UK and America, parents engage toddlers in discussions about what food they would like to eat or what clothes they would like to wear. Elsewhere in the world, parents teach their youngsters to follow commands without talking back, the first step in learning about obedience and respect.

Whilst western parents tend to cosset toddlers and try to shield them from the nasty parts of life, in other parts of the world parents believe children’s development can be helped by these things. The authors tell the story of a three-year-old Inuit girl living in the Canadian Arctic. Although the girl was loved and well taken care of by her parents, they constantly challenged the child with extreme, adult questions like ‘Why don’t you die so I can have your nice new shirt?’ This is seen as an Inuit strategy to get children to realise that life is uncertain and capricious, and that they will have to work through a lot of conundrums. The authors don’t suggest anyone does this, but include the example to show that there is a huge variety of ways to teach children about moral relationships.

Another contrast is around responsibility. Modern western parents don’t give children a lot of responsibility, believing that early childhood should be play-based. In Africa and Latin America, however, children aged five or six might be expected to care for a baby or herd animals; in the Pacific islands, three-year-olds are given scaled-down machetes and at five carry heavy loads of firewood.

The LeVines’ message is that children usually turn out fine, whatever the expectations placed on them and the contexts they grow up in. They do, nevertheless, identify two behaviours they see as essential for raising well-adjusted children:

  • physical affection, whether from a parent or other responsible adult, and
  • confidence to know that they are the grown-ups and whilst they may not always know best, they do know better than a child.

'sat' or 'sitting'...?

Posted on 05 November 2016 by Mr Roundtree

Yesterday, we received this email from Elle Wild, author:

I am home schooling my child, who is in Year 4 in Canada, and have been following your very useful notes for Moortown school to keep my son on track with the UK curriculum, as he was schooled there for the last 4 years.

I just wanted to give you a heads up that you’ve included a grammar error in your homework for Nov 4th.

The sentence should read, “My cat is seated on the sofa”, not “is sat”. The cat sits, the cat is seated, the cat sat, but the cat should never “be sat”. It’s a confusion of present and past tense.

I hope you won’t mind the comment terribly, and please permit me to say that I am very impressed by the careful planning evident in your weekly reports.

We’ve replied with the following:

Thank you for your email. In particular, thank you for using our site to support the home education of your son. The grammatical issue to which you refer is quite a tricky one, in that it is becoming more and more wide-spread, and I’m sure you’ll know that language is an ever-changing thing!

Part of the cause here is that Moortown Primary and most of the staff are from the north of England (Moortown is in Leeds), as raised here. To exacerbate this, the teacher in question – who’s a fantastic teacher, and one who is passionate about grammar, providing professional development for staff in other schools – is from the north east (not quite Geordie, but heading in that direction), a point raised here. And it may also relate to the deeply embedded class system, ‘sat’ being more working class, as noted here.

That’s not to say you weren’t right in highlighting this to us because of course you’re completely correct here. We do like to be accurate and this will certainly provide food for thought!

Grammar can be tricky, but the internet is a great way to clarify confusion! One of our favourite sites is Grammar Monster.

Find out more about Elle Wild’s new book, Strange Things Done.

PS We’ve corrected the homework article!

Be bright, be seen

Posted on 04 November 2016 by Mrs Taylor

Now the clocks have gone back, here is some safety advice from the Child Accident Prevention Trust.


Visibility is a key issue all year round, all day round, whether children are walking or on their bike. However, over the winter months, it is especially important as the school day can start and end in twilight.

During term time, the majority of child road accidents happen in the afternoon and evenings, especially in the autumn and winter when it gets dark earlier in the day.

The general principles of being visible to motorists are:

  • During the day, bright and fluorescent clothing is best.
  • At twilight and night time, reflective clothing or tape that is picked up in car’s headlights is best.
  • It is against the law to cycle at night without a white front light, a red back light and a red reflector at the back.
  • Always choose routes and cross at places that are well-lit.
  • Where possible, cross the road at a pedestrian crossing
  • The message for pedestrians and cyclists is to wear bright clothing during the day and reflective clothing or accessories after dark.

Drivers should be especially careful around schools and mindful of their speed when visibility is poor.

A letter from the Lord Mayor...

Posted on 03 November 2016 by Mrs Weekes

Well done to Naran, one of our Year 6 pupils, who submitted a manifesto to become the next Leeds Children’s Mayor. Unfortunately, Naran did not make it to the final 12 but he has received a letter from the Lord Mayor of Leeds congratulating him on his efforts.

We would like to say well done to Naran for having a go.

Another well done for Moortown!

Posted on 03 November 2016 by Mr Roundtree

We have a new School Improvement Advisor (SIA). This is someone from the Local Authority who visits us from time to time and monitors, evaluates and provides any support we may seek. Here are some of the words and phrases that help to sum up his report:

  • ‘every inch of space available [is used] to create an effective and 21st century learning environment’
  • ‘professional approach’
  • ‘consistency is a key feature…displays, routines and learning behaviour’
  • ‘bright and imaginative displays captured the current theme’
  • ‘purposeful application of knowledge and skills’
  • ‘sound teacher and other adult relationships had secured the best in terms of learning behaviours from the pupils’

The School Improvement Advisor saw two classes in particular. In Year 5, he saw ‘skillful’, ‘impressive’ teaching with ‘a natural command’ and, from the children, ‘some high quality speaking and listening’. In Reception, he praises the ‘highly effective indoor and outdoor areas … imaginatively created’ and the children’s engagement and ‘purposeful learning’.

He was also impressed by the quality of support staff: ‘…skilfully held the children’s attention in an outdoor PE session’.


8 Rs for learning - our new SEAL theme

Posted on 02 November 2016 by Mrs Taylor

This half-term, we’re thinking about the ‘8 Rs for learning’. This theme is about promoting good learning behaviour for your child.

Each week, we’ll focus on different ‘Rs’. We use an animal to symbolise each ‘R’, which might help your child remember all eight – can your child remember which animal matches the correct ‘R’?

You can support your child at home – we’ve listed a few ideas to help you below. Ask us if you’ve any questions or comments.

Download top tips for promoting the 8Rs for good learning behaviour.

I take a safe risk.

Talk about the difference between a safe and unsafe risk. At school, we want your child to take a safe risk by having a go at answering, even if unsure; trying something new and attempting harder learning.

I take responsibility for my own learning.

Provide time and space at home so your child is able to organise themselves: their PE kit, reading book, homework, spellings and tables… Don’t organise everything for them!
Make a link between rights and responsibilities: your child has the right to a great education, but needs to be responsible for their own learning.

I respond to feedback.

Ask your child if they remember their ‘stars’ and ‘steps’ in English and Maths.

I can show I am ready to learn.

Make sure your child is at school for a prompt start of 08:50.
Make sure your child has had plenty of sleep so they are alert and ready to learn at all times.
Encourage your child to ask lots of questions – that shows they want to learn!

I am resourceful.

Encourage your child to be organised so they can play with a range of different toys.
Encourage your child to try new ways to solve a tricky problem.

I am resilient.

Encourage your child to keep going! Set a tricky challenge or puzzle for your child to do.
Encourage your child to think of different ways of doing things.
Don’t let your child win when they play a game – they need to experience losing, too!
Celebrate mistakes as opportunities to learn – be happy that your child found some learning hard and encourage them to ‘bounce back’ and learn from the experience.

I remember.

Make sure they have time to learn spellings, number bonds and times tables – a little practice daily is best.
Play memory games:

Kim’s game: show them objects for 30 seconds… can they remember all the objects?
Can they build up the sequence, ‘I went to the shop and I bought an apple’… ‘I went to the shop and I bought an apple and a bike.’… ‘I went to the shop and I bought an apple, a bike and a cucumber.’ etc … Take turns!

I reflect about my learning.

Talk with your child about what they’ve learnt, asking questions about:

how they learnt
why they learnt it
when they’ll use their learning
how they would teach this to someone else
what learning might link with what they’ve learnt today etc

Another letter from DfE

Posted on 31 October 2016 by Mrs Weekes

Yet another letter from the DfE congratulating us!

Over the past two years, we’ve received three letters congratulating us on results for disadvantaged pupils and for high achievement in the Year 1 phonics screening.

We’ve just received another letter, this time congratulating school on the high standard of achievement in the 2016 phonics screening check. Nick Gibb MP (Minister of State for School Standards) sends us congratulations, stating that we are in the top 8% of all primary schools in the country regarding achievement in phonics. He writes:

I would like to congratulate you, your staff and your pupils for your school’s very high standard of achievement in the 2016 phonics screening check.

We want to ensure that every child develops a firm grasp of phonics which is why I was delighted to see your results.  With at least 95% of pupils at Moortown Primary School reaching or exceeding the pass mark in the check, your school is in the top 8% of all primary schools in the country.

This year’s figures show 89% of pupils who achieve the expected standard in the check go on to achieve at least the expected standard in Key Stage One reading, which underlines the value of developing the ability to decode words effectively at an early age.

We are extremely proud of this high standard of phonics teaching, as we are of all our teaching and it shows that our staff, parents and children are committed to maintaining these high standards. Moortown Primary carries on being a happy, healthy and successful place to learn.

Save the Scholes swimming pool

Posted on 21 October 2016 by Mr Roundtree

Scholes (Elmet) Primary is one of our Sphere Federation partner schools. It’s also very unusual in that it has its own swimming pool. It’s a small, shallow one, but is great for introducing younger children to swimming. Sadly, the pool has been closed for essential maintenance and a massive fundraising campaign is underway. We need you now to vote for the school to benefit from a grant.

From today, voting opens for the Aviva Community Fund, and the campaign to Save Scholes Pool is one of the potential grant winners. If the school gets the most votes we could be granted between £5,000 and £10,000. Please vote here.

What is cyberbullying?

Posted on 18 October 2016 by Mrs Weekes

 Cyberbullying is becoming an increasing problem.  It is when someone bullies others using electronic means.  The behaviour is usually repeated. Like any form of bullying, cyberbullying can be horrible for the children involved and hard for them to talk about.

Cyberbullying can happen via text, email and on social networks and gaming platforms. It can consist of:

  • threats and intimidation
  • harassment and stalking
  • defamation
  • rejection and exclusion
  • identify theft, hacking into social media accounts and impersonation
  • publically posting or sending on personal information about another person
  • manipulation

The best way to keep your child safe online is to take an active interest right from the start. They need your love and protection online as much as they do in the real world. What your child is exposed to will depend on how they’re using the internet – social network users are more likely to experience cyberbullying, see sexual or violent images, or have contact with strangers.

Your child might be reluctant to tell you that they are worried about cyberbullying so it’s important to look out for the signs:

  • stopping using their electronic devices suddenly or unexpectedly
  • seeming nervous or jumpy when using their devices, or becoming obsessive about being constantly online
  • any changes in behaviour such as becoming sad, withdrawn, angry, or lashing out
  • reluctance to go to school or take part in usual social activities
  • unexplained physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach upsets
  • avoiding discussions about what they’re doing online or who they’re talking to

If you become aware that your child is being cyberbullied, there are a number of things you should aim to do straight away:

  • create opportunities to talk to your child in a relaxed environment, sometimes it can be less intense if you go for a walk or a drive rather than sitting face-to-face
  • stay calm and ask them how you can help
  • ask open questions and listen without judging
  • praise them for talking to you
  • don’t take away their devices unless this is what they want, it’s likely to make them angry and increase feelings of sadness and isolation

If your child is upset by something they’ve experienced online but seems to be handling the situation then advice you can give includes:

  • it may be tempting but don’t retaliate. This can have unpredictable consequences, can make arguments last longer and make it harder to see who’s in the wrong.
  • shut down arguments online before they take hold. Try not to involve lots of others in online arguments. This includes being careful what they post, what they share, and knowing when to leave a group chat or change the conversation.
  • ask people to take down hurtful or offensive content. Your child may be successful by simply being honest about how they feel, particularly if the perpetrator didn’t meant to cause them harm.

For more information please take a look at where there is a great deal of information and advice.  If you have any concerns, please come and talk to us at school, we may be able to help.

Anxiety in young people

Posted on 17 October 2016 by Mr Roundtree

As we approach the break, Halloween seems to have come early, with the ‘clowns’ craze around the country. Many children find Halloween a terrifying time in any case, particularly young people on the autism spectrum. You might find these resources useful in helping children manage their anxiety:

Anxious Child (Mental Health Foundation)
Anxiety and Phobias (Young Minds)
Worries and Anxieties (Royal College of Psychiatrists)